The Blog

The dreading is worse than the doing, that’s what I always say. I still put things off once in a while, but much less often -- and here’s why. I took the advice to time how long it takes to complete the dreaded task. Odds are it’s only a few minutes. The next time it comes around I’m armed with the knowledge life will indeed suck -- but only for a few minutes.

Putting it off seems silly now.

Progress!

“Don’t skip ahead.”

That’s what Katie’s college roommate told me the last time we saw her. We’d been catching up on everything, including my talk show and what I’d been learning. One of my guests had been especially interesting, and Ashlie wanted to hear everything.

She’d guessed correctly that I kept winding down so as not to hold forth too long. I never forget I’m “the mom,” after all, and I don’t want to bore anyone -- least of all Katie and her friends. But here they were, two NYU graduates who’d come of age in that most amazing city, telling me to slow down and tell my stories in greater detail.

Can you imagine? As I basked in Ashlie’s kindness, I vowed to invoke more often with her and others the four sweetest words in the English language: “Please, tell me more.”

We only had a couple of hours before Katie needed to be at the airport, so she and Dad were playing cards. We happened to be in a shopping mall, next to an escalator -- where a man and his little boy were riding it up and down and back up again. The first few times it was cute. After dozens more? Hilarious. What struck all three of us was how attentive the dad was. He didn’t pull out his phone once. You could’ve sworn the only thing that mattered to him was the kid.

Do we say something? To me it wasn’t even a question. I have Scott Adams to thank for that. “Withholding praise borders on immoral,” he says.

So I stood up on their next trip down, leaned over the railing a bit, and told Escalator Dad how impressed we were. “All that time,” I said, “and no phone!” He grinned big, and we could tell he didn’t mind hearing this.

“Maybe that was his New Year’s Resolution,” I told my sweethearts afterward. To which Katie replied, “And the kid’s resolution was to ride more escalators.”

thanksOne thing Katie and I have in common is how much people cherish our thank-you notes. We speak our love.

Katie remembers what I told her when she was little, that because people are enchanted by her notes they’re likely to save them and even show them off. “How would you feel,” I’d asked, “if two of your friends compared notes and found they were worded much the same way?”

I hadn’t realized she’d remembered that, let alone taken it so much to heart. But to this day she takes a photo of her notes to make sure she doesn’t fall back on the same old. Not a bad idea, unless you’re like me -- and the thought of wading through that many more photos doesn’t enchant.

I write a lot of notes, and I write a lot of notes to some of the same people. The way I keep things original is by sticking to what just happened. When I’m tempted to say something general like “seeing your name in the program lineup puts a bounce in my step” I’ll often preface it with, “Maybe I’ve told you this before.” Repetition is okay, after all. Sometimes. That’s why advertising messages work (and annoy).

It takes time to make sure your notes sparkle in all the right ways. That’s why they mean so much.

Once upon a time I apologized to a friend for telling him the same story twice. “Actually,” he said, “you’ve told that story three times, and apologized for telling it twice twice.”

How embarrassing.

In an attempt to spare others that embarrassment, I came up with a way of responding to people who repeat themselves. “I remember you telling me that!” I’ll say. Note the exclamation point. I’m smiling, I’m engaged, I’m making it clear it was a delight to hear the first time and I’m tickled to be reminded of that fun. The person then skips ahead to the point, the reason for sharing the story -- while seeming thankful I was listening. Both times.

If I’ve had enough sleep I’m eager to get to work. If I haven’t, I wonder how soon I can have breakfast.

Does that sound familiar? Is plenty of sleep as important to you as it is to me? The reason I ask is that it’s not always obvious if you’re getting enough.

If you’re more interested in snacking than knocking off another project, you might not be hungry so much as sleep-deprived. I’m hardly the first person to have that observation, and there’s a reason. Sleep is magic.

Are you a good sleeper?
February 13, 2018

A funny thing happened when I cut back -- way back -- on caffeine. Darrell started sleeping better.

I was sleeping better, so he was.

Neither of us had any idea how much influence we have on the other, even in sleep.

Good to know!

Are you getting stronger?
February 12, 2018

moonlight croppedThe other day I shared with Darrell an idea for advancing a project. “You aren’t thinking big enough,” he said. “It will take twenty years to get anywhere that way.” Then he told me the person he thought I should pitch, and gave me a few pointers.

A wave of fear washed over me. “That’s good,” I thought. Of course it’s scary. Reaching way out for life usually is.

About a week later I got a call from a guy who joined me on the show recently. He’s a titan, and I don’t use that word loosely. He wanted help with something he’s working on (long story). But like the class act he is, he first asked about my work and wondered how he could help.

I laid out my “dream scenario,” the one Darrell had encouraged me to go after.

The titan’s reaction was swift. “No,” he said. “Just…no.” He promised that -- while not impossible -- the odds of anything good happening were almost zero.

I didn’t disagree, but he wasn’t finished.

“Let me get this straight,” he seemed to be saying. “You have ABC going on, and you think it would be a good idea to get in touch with XYZ about that? What are you, nuts?” He gave me the feeling this move would fail so spectacularly I’d have difficulty getting out of bed for a while, let alone proceed with the project. “That’s cute,” I could imagine him thinking. “That’s a good one.”

I gave myself credit for having a dream scenario. At least I’d been working the problem. More importantly, I loved my reaction to his reaction. I was not only open to the man’s opinion, I thanked my lucky stars he shared it with me. He cuts me no slack. I love that.

And, yes. He also told me how to get started in a new, less “dopey,” direction!

Several months ago I told another guest on the show I find myself running toward pain because time’s running out -- and I still have a lot to learn. “That’s brave,” he’d said. I’d like to think so. I am getting stronger. Anyone who’s ever accused me of being “too” sensitive didn’t hear my end of the conversation I just told you about. I couldn’t stop laughing when I gave Darrell the recap. “That was brutal,” I told him. “And all I could think was, ‘Bring it.’ People pay otherworldly amounts of money for this kind of advice. I’m so lucky.”

You know what else? It’s just fascinating to watch people like this work.