Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow Days

I decided to take today as a snow day. It was after all, a winter storm watch according to every television outlet in the New York Metropolitan area. Big fat flakes came down fast and furiously, blanking the city streets in the middle of the day. I checked with my new boss, namely myself. She said it was OK. Take the snow day. Use the excuse of the world getting quiet for a bit to do the same. I deserved it.

This was the first day in almost five months I officially gave myself a day off. Not that I have not had days mixed with frivolity, when nothing gets accomplished except me thinking about all that needs to be accomplished. But a day off, a day in which to indulge myself and let my mind empty from the characters in my new novel, the idea for my next blog or how I will next try to market myself.

When work meant going into an office there was no thought as to what to do with a snow day. I could sleep. I could read. I could lie on the couch and watch silly movies. I could write.

Yes, I could write without interruption! A whole day with which to write sounded decadent when writing was my avocation. Of course, I never wrote all day. I was a binge writer squeezing in an intense hour or two here or stealing a Sunday afternoon there in the way lovers do when they do not know when they will next see each other.

But now I am an entrepreneur of sorts, one who is a writer. I am no longer a corporate executive who writes for fun. I write for a living. Every day. Something. Anything. As long as I write.

I tried to not write today. I read. I baked. I caught up with friends. I did not write a word. Until now. I couldn't stop myself.

I am no longer sure what a snow day looks like when your work is something you love, something that gives you such a sense of peace. I only know it looks different.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Blogging is still new to me. So I am interested in how people respond to mine. I am often greeted by those who have not ventured into the waters of social networks and blogging forums with blank stares. They haven’t quite figured out what the point of it is. I had one friend tell me they had never read a blog, but would definitely check mine out. Those are balanced with the many who tell me they love my subject, that my voice is honest and transparent and are certain many will relate to what I am writing.

Still I was caught off guard by the reaction of a long time friend. She wrote in an email that she had looked at it, but she was “too private” a person to think of chronicling her life on line.

I found myself sensitive to this reaction. My blog is out there in cyberspace. I will never know all who read my innermost thoughts on my road to reinvention. Perhaps she was right. Perhaps I should just keep my transparency to myself.

I was raised in a Greek American household where you are taught that transparency is not a good thing. It is inherent in Greek culture to keep your business not just within your family but literally within the walls of the home you live, which might exclude a brother or sister living somewhere else. It was exactly that dynamic which inspired me to write about the secrets people keep in my novel, Forty Days.

So I wondered, why was I not concerned with my privacy? I admit to a fear that no one would want to read what I blogged and follow my journey. But I had not considered any about my privacy. It is true that in the past I had always refrained from letting the world know the truth of who I am. Why now is it something I am OK with?

And then I got it. I am on a journey of reinvention. Everything is changing.

Even just a few years ago, I was “too private” a person as well to let any but a select few hear my voice. I was not ready to be published. I was not ready to blog. I was not ready to hear the reactions of those who love my writing nor the reactions of those who do not. I was not ready to leave a twenty five year career for uncharted waters.

I was not ready to be transparent.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

In The Wee Small Hours

I’m a little tired. In fact I may have to nap today. That’s because I got up early. 5:20 to be exact. It has been a while since I have risen before the sun has. But I did and for good reason. I was invited to attend the NYWA Star Breakfast this morning by my dear friend Nancy Moon who was honored with a Galaxy Award for work she had done with the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.

It goes without saying that I am not used to being out and about when it is still dark. When the alarm went off, I didn’t budge, tucked in under my comforter, wondering what that distant noise was. I thought I must be dreaming. Until I remembered. I did have somewhere I had to be! At 7AM! In that mad rush that had been my routine for so many years, I jumped out of bed and headed for the coffee.

I used to have this down to a science. Deftly moving through my morning rituals. My colleagues would listen with amazement when they learned I had already been to the gym before the office. They were so in awe that I did not even bother to tell them that occasionally I also managed to water the plants, read my home emails and write a page or two in my book. I liked getting up early. I liked having that time before the rest of the world awakened.

The speed with which I made coffee, showered, washed my hair, put on my makeup and got dressed was clearly that of an experienced woman. It was part of a lifestyle that is still so familiar. Yet this morning, it felt foreign.

My doorman, no longer expecting to see me out and about so early, looked at me quizzically as I came off the elevator. In that way that doorman do, when they notice something is off your schedule, want to ask, but know they can’t.

Once outside the sky was starting to brighten. It was that curiously quiet part of the day in Manhattan before the city is in full gear, one of the reasons I always liked getting up early. I would savor the walk home from the gym to get ready for the office. Starbucks in hand, happy I had gotten my head start on the day I would wonder what lay ahead. Today I could only think of how quickly my life was changing.

The New York Hilton was a flurry of activity when I arrived. Barbara Walters was receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award. Despite the sagging economy, the room held close to a thousand, mostly women representing the many organizations NYWA is the umbrella for. I have been to these types of events more times than I can count, yet this time was different. I was not representing any organization that employed me. I was representing me.

It feels awkward for me to explain what I am doing when meeting new people. I am never sure if what will come out of my mouth is the confidence I have in my best moments that I am on exactly the right path or the uncertainty I have in my worst that I must be out of my mind.

I chose confidence today. It was hard not to. The room had gathered to celebrate the contributions of a group of remarkable and inspiring women. The message from each speaker receiving an award was consistent. Take the risk, follow your passion, find work that brings you pleasure and support each other as women. The message was a reason to get up early.

So I took the risk. I shared with enthusiasm my writing, my novels, and my new adventure. I offered my freshly printed business card and a link to my blog. I was happy for the reminder that a lot transpires in those wee hours of the morning and happier still that I can now go take a nap.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Simply the Best !

So I have been feeling melancholy this past week. It started with Thanksgiving and that thing that happens to me at the beginning of the holiday season. I have trouble staying present. Not staying present is especially dangerous for me in this particular moment on my reinvention journey. If I am not fully present I am somewhere in the past debating the should haves and what ifs or somewhere in the future worrying about what is or is not going to happen next. It’s not pretty and rather exhausting. The energy that swirls around me is not a rainbow of color designed to create and inspire, but instead a murky grey that leaves me in a state of inertia.

That is where I was yesterday, December 1, the first day of the last month of this whirlwind of a year of changes. That is where I was despite the fact I had tickets to see Tina Turner Live at Madison Square Garden. The tickets that had been in my hands for months since I got that little email from American Express encouraging me to buy them before they went on sale to the general public.

The day of a concert I usually like to listen to the music of the artist I am going to see. Immerse myself in their sound. Dance around the house a bit. Sing along. Take my anticipation up a notch!

But I couldn’t yesterday, because I was in that spot, the one where I feel like my feet are encased in two cement blocks that do not allow me to move. The one that questions my decision to pursue my passion. The one that second guesses myself. The one that allows me to get nothing done. Still, the allure of getting to see one of my absolute favorite performers on stage, cracked through and I was there, on the floor of the Garden when the red velvet curtains parted last night.

This woman, this rock star legend, who is almost seventy years old, captivated the audience and me with them. What struck me as her energy swept over the crowd is that what she brings is so much more than her extraordinary talent. She genuinely likes what she does and who she is. That’s what makes her a true performer and not just another voice. Tina Turner does not just sing, she has fun. And she wants to make sure you do as well. She is a woman living her passion.

That’s why she looks so amazing. She is happy and she is even happier to share that with you. She gets to do what she loves to do. I won’t discount the boyfriend that is sixteen years her junior or her financial means, but that is not enough to create the radiance she emits. She followed her heart to get to where she is. And she had the courage to do that.

So, thank you Tina. Not only did you entertain last night, you inspired. You reminded me why I have chosen this particular path at this particular moment. You showed me what that looks like. You reminded me about the having fun part. You are, simply the best!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Monday, Monday, You Gave Me No Warning...

Monday has always been the day of the week that separates the weekend from the work week. On Monday, you leave home and go back to the office. Except now, for me, my office is that section of my living room where the armoire sits. And going to work means opening the cabinet doors that hide the files, the computer, the printer and turning them on.

The first Monday of this adventure I relished. I was living that after the weekend fantasy we all harbor. You know, the one where you hear the alarm go off on Monday morning and wish you did not have to get up.

Still it was August, and vacation time and lots of people take off on Mondays in the summer. So, it didn’t feel that different. Not yet. The significance of Mondays in my new world had not sunk in. Mostly I felt like I was on that vacation I had planned to take all year and had not around gotten to.

And then Labor Day came. The summer was officially over and everyone was back. To school. To work. To getting serious again.

That was the Monday it hit me. Things were different now. Everyone had some place they had to be. I did too, but apparently I was already there.

Mondays were always an important day to me. That was the day to plan the week, to assess what needed to get done and to take care of that pile from last Friday I said could wait until after the weekend. What I wasn’t prepared for was that working on my own, writing, it was more important that Mondays were productive than ever. If on Monday I did not feel like I had made some progress there was no hope for the week. It would slip away from me.

I am a bit superstitious. It is the Greek in me. We are a superstitious lot. My Monday superstition has always been that if I can complete the entire New York Times Crossword, the easiest one of the bunch, it is going to be a good week. Now I have a new superstition. If Monday is productive, if I get some good writing done, the rest of the week will flow easily.

While the artist in me is thriving, I get this is no time to forget about my Type A business side. So, Mondays have become days to plan. Plot a schedule for my writing. Time to blog. Time to work on the novel. Look at the calendar. See what’s already planned. Check in with my agent. Create my to do lists. Because if I don’t, the day gets away from me. I water plants, do a laundry, sip some tea, take a nap, read a magazine and put off the writing for later. And if Monday slips away, as my superstition goes, so goes the week.

Discipline is important. You can’t produce without some discipline. As much as it is my right brain that kicks in when I am in the zone, my left brain is there to make sure I show up. Writing is a muscle that needs to be exercised like any other. Practice makes you better. Practice requires discipline. Mondays are for planning my discipline.

So here it is Monday again. A short week with the Thanksgiving holiday. That probably explains why I missed a few in the crossword today. There are only three days of work this week. Three days to be productive. So if I change my superstition rules a bit, ( which being Greek, I am allowed to) and use the shortened week as an excuse for why I did not finish the whole puzzle, it is going to be a good week.

Friday, November 21, 2008

What did you DO today ?

The other night I was out with friends and I got THE question.
“So,” they asked, their eyes filled with bewilderment as to how one fills day after day when those days no longer include going to an office, “Tell us, what did you DO today?”

I admit that the question throws me off a bit. I am rarely at a loss for words, yet still this question makes me stumble. Do I dare tell them that I was in my bathrobe until 10 after which I ran to a dance lesson with my dancing guru, Alex Tchassov to pretend I am Julianne Hough on Dancing with the Stars? Should I lie a bit and omit the little nap I squeezed in before the shower I did not get to until 4, giving me just enough time to get ready to meet them? Do I tell the truth or do I create a story for those hours they were in and out of meetings, their eyes glued to their Blackberries? Do I concoct a more impressive story of what my day was like so no one worries about what I am doing or how I am going to pay my bills?

I know what is going on inside of their heads. I was them once, looking at my friends downsized or squeezed out of high paying, corporate jobs, wondering how they filled a day. I thought they must miss the energy inside the office, the tension, the gossip, the thrill when they get to the coffee machine in the kitchen and find there is still enough left to fill their cup, a sign for sure that it will be a good day.

I judged. I worried. I wondered when my unemployed friends would forget about that idea floating around inside of their head that they were going to pursue their dream, the one we all have about doing something we really love, instead of something that pays the bills. The one we had when we were first starting out, before life got in the way. I wondered when they would get a grip and get a real job.

Their faces reflect back to me the challenges I am all too well aware of. The economy is in a shambles. How many writers really make enough to earn a living? How many people really LOVE what they do? Why do I think it will be any different for me?

Before I can open my mouth, I notice something else in their faces. Hope. Hope, that there is life beyond the steel and glass of the business world. I see their desire for me to create something big. Because if I can, then perhaps their turn is next.

So, I went for the truth. I told them about my day, relishing each morsel of it. And added in one more thing I accomplished. I posted a blog.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Welcome to My Blog !

Welcome! I am off on a new adventure! After a career that includes seven years teaching public school and twenty five years in Corporate America I am taking a reinvention break. My intention is to use this time to make a go of my true passion, writing. Yes, you read that right. I am going to do what I love most, write and ask the Universe to support me in my journey.

In the last five years I managed to write a novel in my free time. Forty Days. When others in the world of nine to five flocked home to tend their children or ventured to the golf course to hone their game, I would squeeze in some writing time. An hour here, an evening there. A notebook in my purse for a good idea that might find its way into a busy day. A supportive writing group to urge me on. I found when I was writing I was happiest. Lost in the world of my characters, hands to the keys, I escaped the pressures and craziness of what life is like for a sales executive in the business world.

Now I am a victim of downsizing. Except I detest that word. Victim. It denotes such helplessness and that is not something I believe in. So let’s rephrase that. I am the recipient of a downsize package that I can now use as an opportunity. I could seek another position at another corporation OR I can see what new I can create.

So far, I have started my new novel, Seduced by Corporate America, a fictional account of a child of the sixties who set out with dreams of changing the world and finds herself side tracked, lured into the intoxicating world of the Reagan eighties only to wake up one day and find that a new millennium had dawned and she wasn’t sure what had changed except for her.

And now my blog. On this my birthday, November 18, I launch One Woman’s Eye, my very own on line journal to chronicle what I observe as I recreate. I make no promises of what it will be. Entertaining? Perhaps. Amusing? Could be. Thought provoking? Depends on what provokes you. Interesting? I hope so. Sexy ? Could be. Worth Reading ? That, I promise it will be. Worth Reading.