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The tricky part about getting married a second time is that you’re no longer operating under the illusion that marriage is a guarantee. You’re entering into an arrangement with someone who has a free will, just like you did the first time.

I’m surprised I had the nerve. Three years into the second round I characterized my desire to get married again as reckless. There was much more at risk, and I just bounded right back in. “You’re saying yes to life,” a favorite uncle told me. I’m not sure I was armed with anything that would help me get it right the second time, which makes the relative longevity of that all the more mysterious.

It reminds me of being on the dance floor with my college boyfriend. It was at a disco -- remember those? -- and I thought I was doing an okay job of imitating the moves of the people around us. Nope. In a trivial but oddly defining moment of my life, my boyfriend looked at me with exasperation and said, “Listen to the music.”

That’s what marriage is, I decided. A dance. I vowed that if given the opportunity, I’d pay lots of attention to the music, metaphorically speaking. I’d do my best to be a good dance partner, and my marriage vows were more of a promise to keep learning than anything.

“The length of the marriage is inversely proportional to the price of the wedding.”

Ever heard that?

I teased my first husband-to-be that I’d never met as many people as he wanted to include. There were fourteen groomsmen and ushers, and our group wedding photo looked like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Did it make me mighty jaded when that starter marriage wound down, less inclined to splurge on other special occasions?

Nope!

I’m still a sucker for ceremony. We celebrated so much as Katie grew up Darrell started teasing me she got presents because it was Tuesday. But I say: “Just look at the results.”

The occasional out-of-this-world gesture may seem extravagant, but I doubt I’m the only person who finds it irresistible. Nothing says “your life is worth celebrating” than actually doing that once in a while.

Whether you’re trying to break a bad habit or make a new and better one, it’s usually easy to get started. What’s not so easy is staying with it.

If you’re anything like me, this might help. Hang on a little while more, and then a bit past that. Because one of these days you’ll be able to say, “This is who I am now. I’m not that other person anymore.”

It’s a great feeling and the glue that keeps your new identity intact.

Are you ready?
March 22, 2018

New York CityWhen it’s time to assign a new project, how do you decide which employee to approach? The person who seems overwhelmed by what’s already on his plate, or the gal who consistently finishes her tasks early and prowls the office looking for someone who could use her help?

Why wouldn’t it be the same with cosmic goodies? Why would the heavens dump more excitement -- bigger projects, more awesome responsibilities -- on the person who hasn’t demonstrated he can handle what he already has?

Clear the clutter and the schedule. It isn’t enough to want more out of life. You need to show there’s room for it.

Creativity happens when your brain feels safe or when its watchdog function is busy with a routine task like driving.”

That explains why I get so much work done while driving or running or even showering. Which reminds me what Katie told Darrell after he asked if she usually takes a bath or a shower. “A shower,” she said. “Sometimes I’ll take a bath afterward if I have a lot of work to do.” I laughed before I realized how pragmatic her approach is.

If you want to supercharge those creativity surges in the shower or on the road, work the problem first. Show the heavens you’re serious. Put in the time -- in the lab, in the workshop, in front of the screen -- and after however many hours you can say, “I’m stuck. You take over. Forces that I don’t understand can take the reins for a little while.”

Mysterious, sure. But effective!

I’ve been listening to Darrell time scripts for his farm radio show for more than twenty years. So when I heard him whispering his way through one recently -- as opposed to belting it out, as usual -- I guessed correctly that he didn’t want to distract me from my work.

Which was sweet, except I was only doing dishes at the moment. “Distract away,” I thought. I thought that. I didn’t say it. I didn’t say anything. But I did start singing: “You don’t have to whisper…” It’s been weeks, and I can still hear his laughter. Try it yourself. Break into song when someone least expects it. No one ever died (or got fired) (that I know of) for being silly.

How can you tell if you’re a good person to share an office with? If you’re too busy laughing to contemplate that question, I’d take it as a good sign!

“Is he always like that?”

That’s what my new friend wondered about my old friend. The three of us had just spent the evening with the old friend’s parents, whom I adored.

I can’t remember why we were all together, but there we were…sitting around a tiny kitchen table, howling with laughter. I don’t remember a single thing we talked about. I do remember wondering if I’d survive it, that’s how hard we were laughing.

And, yes. The old friend was always like that. Animated.

Neither gentleman is in the picture now. But they were a study in contrast. They helped me realize what I’m drawn to -- energy -- and what drains me, the lack of it.

Scott Adams says the most important metric to track is personal energy. Protect that fiercely, and you might just have what it takes to slay the next dragon.

A guy I used to know introduced me to the concept of running to stay in shape. He did it for fun. Had he ever met a 5K he didn’t sign up for? To look at his closet filled with souvenir T-shirts, apparently not.

When his job got stressful he’d come home from work, change into his running clothes, and jog for ten miles. Ten miles! Running, to him, was as natural as reaching for the remote is to other people.

BixIt was inevitable I’d become a runner myself. Right? The next time you’re at the mall, try this exercise (so to speak). Notice families, or groups of friends, or just couples. You might find, as I do, that slender people run in packs -- and so do overweight people. There’s science behind that, if memory serves.

It’s one more reason to choose your companions carefully.