The Blog

Once upon a time I was in a Toastmasters club whose leader was, shall we say, confident. When he told me my hands should be down at my sides while speaking it didn’t occur to me to get a second opinion. Why would it? I hadn’t joined the club because I was already as good as I wanted to be.

That’s one of the first things Dr. Nick Morgan noticed about me when Darrell and Katie and I joined him for a day of coaching last spring. I was an easy sell for keeping my posture open, my hands above my waist. It takes so much energy to keep your hands down and close to your sides. Try it sometime.

Ironically, it signals low energy.

Practically, it made for one strained persona. I’m as high energy as anyone I know, and I was trying to tamp it down. What a relief, not to have to do that.

As I talked with Nick across the conference table, it struck me that I was gesturing just fine in casual conversation. My posture was open, my hands high. Why would it be different just because I stood up? It wouldn’t.

It reminded me what took Darrell forever to get through to me on the talk show. “Just talk,” he’d say. “When the light goes on just start talking the way you’re talking to me right now.” Easier said than done!

That’s the task of all of life, isn’t it? Shed the affectations. Get comfortable with who you really are, and don’t be surprised when you inspire more comfort right back.

How long can you stand on one leg with your eyes closed without losing your balance? Brain expert Dr. Daniel Amen says if you’re in your twenties you should be able to make it to twenty-eight seconds. By the time you’re seventy? Four seconds.

I’m closer to seventy than twenty, but I’m still going for twenty-eight seconds. I made a big leap recently (so to speak) when I realized how much easier it is to do with my arms outstretched and above my waist.

We’re talking much easier.

It reminded me of the photos and video I’ve seen of surfers. They use their arms for balance. Why did I think I was cheating if I used my whole body to stay upright?

Which reminds me of the worst public speaking advice I’ve ever heard -- and, unfortunately, used. I’ll spill (!) tomorrow.

Somebody said there are two types of people: Inbox Zero and Inbox One Million.”

MailbirdI’m an Inbox Zero gal, definitely. And Mailbird would like me to stay that way, judging from the encouraging words (and exclamation points!) when I clear out the last message yet again.

If there’s anything sillier than those greetings it might be my reaction to them. I get such a hit of happiness every time.

What perks you up?

The worst way to find out what someone’s thinking is to ask him. That’s according to emotional marketing expert Graeme Newell, who told us on the show recently people rarely make purchases for the reasons they say they’re making them.

I think I’m an exception to that, but who knows? I do know one thing. I like a pretty package. I’m happy to pay a little more for the name brand just for the packaging.

Darrell knows what he likes, too -- a good deal. Which means it drives him more than a little crazy to spend more money for the same shampoo in a different package.

So we buy one beautiful bottle -- price be damned! -- and refill it with generic. The bottle I like is on display, and the shampoo Darrell likes the price of is stashed where I don’t see it.

A great solution to a minor problem, granted. But anyone who’s been married more than a few months can probably attest to the glee at taking even one problem off the list.

Who defines you?
May 22, 2018

“You are relentless,” a best pal once told me. She meant it as a compliment, and I took it that way. She’s still a best pal, and we make a point to get together in person whenever we can. We could talk all day every day for the rest of our lives, it seems, and still feel like we’re only getting started.

I hope you have people like her.

If you’re anything like me, there are many more people you think of with affection who’ve faded from “best pal” status. I used to feel vaguely guilty about that, until I realized how difficult it was to make time for everyone. It isn’t personal, not necessarily. It’s just math.

And besides, everyone you’ve ever loved is still part of you. You’re the swirl, as Anne Lamott might say, of every person you’ve ever known. Isn’t that the sweetest thought?

“Here goes nothing.” That’s the first thing I thought when I woke up the other day. I almost said it out loud. I was sure the day would suck, sure the most important thing on the agenda was deciding in which order I’d give up on a smattering of projects.

But you know what? It was a great day. I hit the pillow as encouraged as I’d woken up defeated. Which reminded me all over again you just never know. Unless you quit. Then you’ll know.

Otherwise? Keep going.

more flowersWhen it was time to find out who’d advance in the Public Radio Talent Quest, Darrell decided the lawn needed mowing. Smart man. I like a little time to get used to even good news, and there was no guarantee -- not by a long shot -- there would be good news.

There wasn’t. The call never came. So we played tennis with Katie before going out to dinner to celebrate the reaching. I got in touch with someone else that evening about the possibility of working together on a talk show. You press on. It was important to send another proposal right back out into the world. You do not take no for an answer. Darrell laughed when I told him that some people don’t know when to quit: “And I’m one of them.” He laughed harder when I teased Katie I was teaching her resilience “the hard way.” I had a lot of empathy, suddenly, for contestants on The Bachelor: “I thought we had a connection!”

But I wasn’t the same person before I entered the contest. I was a better one, even though it stung to be kicked out of a club I was sure (for a few weeks) I belonged in. We’d had so much fun. We’d created something really good. I’d survived another broken heart, and had coped the same way I had when faced with other disappointments by putting myself right back out there. This was just another opportunity to say, “Well, that chapter didn’t turn out the way I thought it would.”

And then to turn the page.

The Public Radio Talent Quest was as close as I can imagine getting to Reality TV (well, minus the TV). When voting closed a few weeks after the auditions were posted I got a sick feeling in my stomach. The experience was winding down, and I’d miss it. Win or lose it would soon be time to move on.

I was probably the only person, I told Darrell, who was a bit terrified of making the next round. “I’m not necessarily pulling for myself,” I teased him. “I’m worried that when they say, ‘What else do you have?’ I’d have to tell them, ‘It was all in those first two minutes!’”

I remember once being told in a career planning workshop we’d approach the workshop as we do life. I approached the talent quest the way I had the workshop. I mostly stayed in my corner of the room, but if someone said something nice to me I said something really nice back. Once in a while I’d venture out and make a comment, start something. But mostly I just watched, took notes, and enjoyed being in the same room where all the drama was unfolding.

Like a true journalist, I guess.

It hurt to want something this much, I admitted. I was so proud of that! Bonus feature: Katie had a front-row seat to the reaching. What would she learn from whatever I learned from the experience? The exciting conclusion in my last post in this series.