The Blog

I’m fresh out of college, working for a big company, flying to Kansas City from Minneapolis for a meeting. At the Kansas City airport a gentleman strikes up a conversation with me. He’s, shall we say, gorgeous.

Gorgeous and well-mannered and the sweetest. Just the sweetest. We keep talking, and eventually discover I’m headed in the same direction he is. Would I like a ride from him to my hotel?

Well, sure. Nothing shady about this guy. I'm sure. And sure enough, the conversation in his rental car -- while lively -- is as respectful as it had been from the beginning. He does say, after learning I have the same engineering degree he does, that engineers didn’t look like me when he was going to school. But that’s as forward as it gets.

Back then I was telling my parents pretty much everything, so of course I told them how much money I’d saved the company by not taking a cab from the airport. To say my parents weren’t happy is a little bit of an understatement, but I didn’t think too much of it for the next thirty or forty years.

Then I watched the new movie about Ted Bundy.

I get it now.

“You look great!”

Nothing wrong with telling someone that, right?

Wrong.

If you’re saying it because the person is suddenly slender, he may wonder just how awful you thought he looked before. And unless you’re sure he owes the weight loss to a better diet and more exercise, definitely keep it zipped. Weight loss is small consolation to someone who’s seriously ill.

If you’re saying it to a woman who looks gorgeous, really gorgeous, without makeup -- but rarely goes without it -- go ahead and say it, but not so often she wonders if you don’t like her the way she apparently likes herself.

If you’re telling people in the office they look great, be prepared for at least the occasional person to take it the wrong way (read: a way you didn’t intend). It’s probably better to let the sparkle in your eyes tell people you’re happy to be working with them, and get back to work!

coffee in SwitzerlandDarrell and Katie and I like our morning coffee on the veranda.

Now, keep in mind. “Veranda” might mean our respective perches at Katie’s place. It might mean the edge of our bed in a hotel room while Katie grabs another five minutes of sleep in hers. It might mean the back corner of an airport gate at Ungodly Hour O’Clock.

Wherever it is, calling it the veranda turns it from “morning coffee” into “cherished ritual.”

Even when there isn’t technically time to have coffee on the veranda, even when we’ve just delayed work for a measly five minutes in the morning, calling the office the veranda makes that coffee more of a treat.

How do you make the ordinary sacred? Call it something that invokes sacred. Simple as that!

Google“Let me Google that for you.” You’ve probably heard the expression. It’s a way of telling people they’re being lazy by posing you a question they could’ve asked the Internet.

But what about the reverse? What about researching something you’re sure someone’s already asked the Internet, as if you’re endowed with some sort of searching superpower? What would be the point?

Katie was wrestling with a serious problem recently, and I knew she’d researched it. That’s who she is. I couldn’t imagine discovering something online she’d missed.

But I really, really hated the problem she was having. I couldn’t let it go. And I remembered how many times I’d gotten better answers from searches than other people had because I’d asked different questions. I tried that with Katie’s problem and…it helped.

That’s why not every breakthrough comes from someone with an advanced degree. Sometimes your lack of experience -- and fresh perspective -- is the key to a solution.

I’ve been off sugar for ten years. I thought I knew a thing or two about addiction.

I was wrong.

Addiction is bonding to relief from a traumatic environment, and the opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety -- it’s connection.

Don’t let anyone tell you there isn’t hope. If you prefer that hope in cinematic form, be sure to watch Rocketman. You won’t be sorry.

“Advice is what you ask for when you know the answer but wish you didn’t.”

Ever heard that? Can you think of another sentence that packs more wisdom?

If you’re anything like me, you know what to do. You just don’t want to do it.

There’s something so freeing about (1) admitting that, (2) doing it anyway, and (3) realizing the dreading was worse than the doing.

But what if the dreading isn’t worse than the doing? What if the doing is really, really difficult and you can’t imagine surviving it?

Take lots of breaks. Let yourself grieve. Cry your eyes out if that’s your style. Sometimes the only way to feel better is to let yourself feel even worse.

Whenever possible, we record our radio interviews over landlines. Real ones. Not internet impersonations. In our experience (we’re talking many thousands of hours of experience), a landline connection almost always sounds better than its cell counterpart.

A while back someone couldn’t quite put her finger on the hour of pristine audio we thought we’d captured. So Darrell, to his dismay, set to work on producing the show with the backup, her cell audio. Six hours later he leaned back in his chair. Finished.

At which point the woman eMailed him to say she’d found the other file.

Now what? It did occur to Darrell to call it good -- but for less time than it’s taking you to read this sentence! He took a breath. Then he got back to work for another six hours.

Which reminds me of the story about a cabinetmaker who was as meticulous about the back of a drawer as he was with the front of it. “Why?” someone asked. “No one will ever know.” To which the classy cabinetmaker replied, “I will know.”

Excellence is a habit. It’s who you are.

flowers 640x480“The length of the marriage is inversely proportional to the price of the wedding.” I’d heard and laughed about that often, long before I met Darrell. It’s one reason I had such high hopes for him and me. We got married on a Wednesday evening with almost zero fanfare, then went right back to work the next morning.

My first wedding had been the opposite. I’d never met as many people as my ex wanted to include in the ceremony. There were fourteen groomsmen and ushers, and our group wedding photo looked like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

It didn’t occur to me to lobby for anything fancy with Darrell. I’d had “The Big Day” and found, as the joke I opened with suggested, it guaranteed exactly nothing in terms of happiness.

But you know what? That day, that first wedding day, was really fun. Perfect.

You won’t get everything you want in life, and perfect days are rare. I’ve learned to grab them when I can, though. Who cares when they show up? They still count!