The Blog

Who lights you up?
August 23, 2018

TheKaOfKatie for the blog“She doesn’t look at me the same way she looks at them.”

That’s Dennis Miller, talking about his wife and kids. “At some point you realize,” he continues, “you’re just a date that worked out.”

Darrell can relate.

He and Katie and I borrowed a truck recently. After we finished using it Katie wanted to drive it on the return trip. Well, sure. She needed to back up before she pulled into traffic. Darrell didn’t want her to back up too far, so he got out of the truck to guide her.

At which point, and I mean immediately, Katie and I forgot the plan. We resumed our conversation, and to say we were immersed in that is a little bit of an understatement. You would’ve sworn we were best friends who hadn’t seen each other in years and had exactly five minutes to catch up on everything -- that’s how animated we were. We forgot we were in a truck, we forgot about Dad, we forgot about everything except how much our stomachs hurt from laughing.

All of a sudden, the knock. Darrell opened the passenger door and said, “What the (yep, that word)?”

It was disorienting, seeing him. We’d forgotten he existed!

He was a good sport about it. He told Katie he thought she was waiting for a text.

How do you rate?

Once upon a time my mother did not like the sound of my voicemail greeting.

“I was going for laid-back,” I told her.

“But you’re not!” she countered. “Make it sound like you. Up.”

Have you noticed what I have? Moms can make you feel pretty good about yourself sometimes.

“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!