Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Boots

I've been thinking about the Boots. It started before I went to see Love, Loss and What I Wore.
The play is another act of brilliance on the part of Nora and Delia Ephron, a must see for women. If you're like me you'll leave thinking about your own list of what you wore.

The lemon yellow A line dress with the mandarin collar, puff sleeves and white piping my mother made for me. I wore it on our class trip to the Metropolitan Opera to see Tosca. My white Go Go boots that I couldn't afford in real leather and made my feet sweat but I wore anyway because they made me feel so cool. The purple suede Hobo bag I thought I might die if I did not own that my brother bought me one Christmas at A&S. The hand painted tuxedo shirt I bought at the end of a trip to Aspen that I never wore once but could not throw out, certain the right occasion would manifest. The zebra Capri pants that I was told only I could pull off that my dry cleaner managed to lose.

But mostly I have been thinking about the Boots.

The Boots have been with me for the better part of the last two decades. They have lived in Philadelphia and DC. They moved back to New York with me. They have walked in snow in Aspen, Vail, Jackson Hole and Lake Tahoe. They have seen every major snowstorm in whatever city I was living in at the time. They have fallen in love and out of love. They have caused people to stop me and ask where I got them. They have provoked looks of disdain and looks of longing.

I have been thinking about the Boots for the last two weeks. Ever since that first big snow. I put them on and heard a flapping noise. The gum sole had pulled apart from the boot. Again. I had tried to repair them twice. Each time the glue managed to seep inside making them smaller and tighter. This time I knew. The Boots had seen their day. It was time. I was going to have to let go of them.

As the play suggests, clothes for women are generally more than the article themselves. They contain history. They evoke how they make you feel when you wear them. And when I wore the Boots I felt safe.

They were always a struggle to get on. No zippers. And a struggle to get off. But once on they were like wearing bedroom slippers only much cooler and much sexier. My feet were warm and dry, no matter the elements.

I bought my Tecnicas in Bloomingbirds in Aspen. I think it was 1991 but I can't be sure. There was a lot that was outrageous about buying them at the time. The price for one. But when my feet were comfy inside, the world looked a bit different.

I am not sure I can really throw them out. Maybe. I've had so much change the last year and a half I am not sure I am ready to let go of one more thing. Perhaps I can just store them in a box in the back of the closet for a while until I get used to my new ones. But then that's the other thing. Where am I going to find a replacement pair? Or will I?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Silver Aluminum Tree: A Christmas Story

I think it started the year we got the aluminum Christmas tree. Artificial trees were in vogue in the early 70s. My mother had enough of cleaning up pine needles all the way to August. She seized the opportunity and bought one. Silver. She always liked to be a little different so she chose silver.

I was appalled. I was old enough not to believe in Santa anymore so I didn't care about being naughty or nice. I voiced my dissent but it didn't matter. I had been outvoted.

Christmas was never the same for me after that. In fact, ever since I have been seeking the magic of Christmas before the silver tree invaded the living room.

Christmas was a big deal in our house. No matter what our financial situation was my parents managed to have the foot of that tree overflowing with presents. My mother started baking weeks before. It seemed that every day I came home to the aroma of buttery cookies or sweet bread. Our little apartment was filled with Santa Clauses and Snow Men, the windows trimmed in colored lights.

For years our parents had us fooled that the bells from Mom's Christmas apron was really Santa making a quick stop in the living room. I caught on to Dad sneaking the presents in from the garage one Christmas Eve, but kept it to myself. My brother deserved a few more years before the spell of Santa was broken.

And then there was the family. Dad being one of five and Mom one of seven filled our home with our big fat Greek family. Before the silver tree we all exchanged gifts. Christmas morning Dad would pile my brother and I into the car while Mom got dinner started. We traveled the Brooklyn Queens Expressway making stops, dropping off gifts and oohing and ahhing at each relative's tree until we came home to the smell of lamb roasting in the oven.

I complained about that tree for years. Christmas trees were green. Bells were silver. No one paid any mind.

It was never the same after the year of the fake tree. Christmas was still fun, filled with family, food, laughter and gifts but it wasn't the same. And each year it changed more. Yes, there were certain traditions kept, usually having something to do with the food served. But it shifted a bit more each December. People passed. Some moved away. Families expanded. Seeing everyone over a two day period became impossible.

I've been thinking alot about that tree this year. Before that tree when Christmas was over the first thing my brother and I would ask is how many days until it comes again. Now I find myself breathing a sign of relief when it is done and counting the days until I can take the tree down and be on with life.

I like to blame it all on the aluminum tree, but I know that's not it. Things change. Fighting change is generally futile. What it's taken me all this time to learn is that it's easier to embrace it.
Each year since has taken on its own uniqueness. Like this year I'm serving buffett on Christmas Day instead of a sit down dinner. But the one thing that doesn't change is that moment on Christmas Eve when I stop and feel the joy and love that is what the season is all about. That never changes. Silver fake trees or real ones.
Wishing you all a joyous and happy holiday!
Thank you so much for reading my blogs!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Promise Of Spring

Something felt different when I got up this morning. I couldn't pinpoint what it was. It didn't seem quite as dark at 6:30 as it usually does. Then I remembered. Yesterday was the Winter Solstice, that day when the earth's axial tilt is the farthest it can get from the sun. The result being the shortest, darkest day of the year.

Now I am all about sunlight. The more of it the better. I admit that I get the SADS in the depths of winter. So knowing that starting today, each day moving forward will give me a little more daylight feels pretty good.

In prehistoric times the Aboriginal people experienced great difficulty in Winter. They were able to notice a slight elevation in the sun's path a few days after the Solstice and so made it cause for celebration. The Pagans celebrated with Festival. They saw this day as a time of planning for the future, of renewal and rebirth. The Hopi tribe saw the sun being ready to return and give strength to budding life. There are many that suggest that Christianity chose to celebrate the birth of Christ around this time to coincide with the Solstice.

For some reason yesterday seemed a shorter and darker day than usual. Perhaps I just noticed it more than I used to. But I like the feeling of today. That tiniest of indications of lighter and brighter, with each day bringing more sunlight. The promise that Spring will return.

I think that in the midst of all the Christmas celebration over the next few days I will follow the guidance of the ancients. Take some time for introspection and think about what Spring is going to look like for me. How about you?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What Matters Now : Letting Go

I just finished reading Seth Godin's latest stroke of brilliance. It is a wonderful ebook entitled What Matters Now, a collection of essays on the subject. Seth always challenges me to think, so I took his suggestion and wrote my own take on what matters now.

Letting go. That's what I think matters now. The world seems to be in such chaos at the moment, with so much change swirling around. Those who want to change, those who resist the change, those who can't see change. I think if you are one of the ones who wants to effect change, globally or personally you have to let go or you don't get to move forward. The more you refuse to do that, the more you resist, the more things will stay the same.

The best example I can think of is what goes on in Washington. No matter which party is in office, the other party refuses to accept that. The party not in control pushes so hard against the other that the result is very little ever getting done.

I don't believe you can fully let go without first accepting where you are and what is at this very moment. No matter how much it makes you angry or sad or how unjust it feels, the first thing you have to do is accept it. Then you can change it.

My experience has been that resistance can cause exhaustion, rage,frustration, feeling helpless and most importantly, no movement. Nothing gets accomplished. Nothing changes.

Someone told me recently that it is only through the acceptance of our bondage that we are released from it. By accepting, we are letting go, and by letting go we can change whatever we want. That's what I think matters in 2010.

It also matters that you take a moment, click here, and download a copy of
What Matters Now so you can see what all the others have to say.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Writing To Save Myself

Some days I really do wonder why I am doing what I am doing. I question my decision to go this path at this point in my life. Right out of college I chose the safe route. I took that job offer to teach school even though I knew I didn't really want to teach third graders. It was safe. It was what I had gone to college to learn how to do.

Now all these years later, when I am supposed to be winding down that second career in ad sales, I am venturing on to a third one.

Some days I think I am crazy. Last night I was reminded that I would be crazy not to.

I have been taking this great essay class with Susan Shapiro, author of Speed Shrinking and six other books. Susan is high octane, funny and passionate about writing.(If you are a writer, sign up for a class. If you are a reader, buy one of her books)

I don't remember what the question was, only the answer she gave. You write to save yourself.

Fifteen months ago when I was considering my options I saw no other choice but this one. I forget some days. This morning I woke up and knew. I am saving myself. That's why I write. That's why I am doing this.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


It happens every December. That moment half way through the month when I want to stop and get off the holiday roller coaster. The list of everything that has to get done is not getting any shorter. There are cookies to bake, presents to buy, parties to attend and a tree to trim. And then there is the day job. Except that this year I don't have that office to go too. The essays I am writing, the edits on the novel and the blogs to post are as far as my desk in the living room. And I am still overwhelmed.

So how come?

I have eliminated Christmas cards so if you don't get one don't think I dropped you from the list. This year there is no list. I have shrunk my gift giving to a fraction of what it used to be. I am more disciplined than ever with getting to the gym and watching my alcohol intake. But I still feel it. Overwhelmed.

I want to give in and stop. To do what my Louise Hays calendar says today. Give myself permission to do absolutely nothing. But I am too overwhelmed. Besides I have a tree to trim.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Greek Connection

The first time I saw George Stephanopoulos off camera was Easter Week at St.Sophia's Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, DC. I was living there while working for CBS Radio. It was during the Clinton years when he was still on staff at the White House and frequently photographed as the man about town.

So you can imagine my surprise when I noticed that one of the men assisting the Priest in the Holy Wednesday ceremony was George. I nudged my neighbor standing next to me. Is that who I think it is? He confirmed. Didn't I know that both George's father and grandfather had been priests? No, I only knew that he was Clinton's Communications Director and like me, George was Greek.

Greeks tend to be proud people and boastful of fellow Greeks. Just being Greek denotes you are somehow connected. In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the character, Gus Portokalos asks to take a word, any word and he will show you that the root of that word is Greek. I grew up listening to my father point out every famous Greek , as if merely by being Greek, meant they were a little bit better than everyone else.

I preferred to keep my distance from my ethnicity as a kid. Being Greek was odd in the Queens neighborhood I grew up in. There everyone was of the Jewish faith or Catholic. Being Greek meant celebrating Easter at a different time than everyone else and enduring last names that were cumbersome and difficult to spell. I didn't think there was anything cool about being Greek.

I've changed. I love that I come from a rich heritage and unusual tradition. It gave me all the material for my first, not yet published, novel. Now, like my father I take note when someone who is catching headlines is Greek and share the same guilty pleasure watching them rise to celebrity.

Which brings me back to George. I had a swell of pride when he started hosting This Week. I enjoyed watching him grow into what is now becoming a rare quality in a network anchor. To be informed, to report on facts, to understand the difference between news and commentary and to foster healthy debate as opposed to the inciting of rage that has become so pervasive.

So when I heard today that he would be replacing Diane Sawyer as co host of Good Morning America, I couldn't help but blog my congratulations. Not only was a talented, deserving broadcast journalist being recognized but as my father would say, a Greek, to boot!

I didn't expect that later this morning after writing most of this post and on my way to take a park break I would get to congratulate him in person. Yes, as I turned the corner onto CPW, not too far from the ABC studios, there was George.

I did a double take, took out the ear buds from my IPhone and stopped. I told him I had just blogged about him. As if he knew me. He must have been as surprised as I because he didn't put his head down and pretend he didn't hear me. He extended his hand, asked me my name and thanked me graciously when I congratulated him on his new gig. I told him to look for my blog.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Friends For Life

We've been friends since the fifth grade. I am not going to say how many years that is, only that it's a lot. I don't remember how or exactly when our friendship started. We lived across the street from each other until the day my family moved away. There were no scheduled play dates, neither of us was involved in any sport. But we were always together. She came to my house to see the Christmas tree and eat my mom's Greek cookies. I got invited for Sunday night Chinese and learned all the Yiddish I know from her father. In between we spent hours on the phone in a day before call waiting and multiple phone lines.

Our lives got much different as adults. She chose marriage, children and a house in the suburbs while I opted for a career, serial monogamy interspersed with casual dating and a life in the city. We don't see each other every day the way we did growing up, but it never seems to matter. Because when we do, we pick up where we left off.

That is what happens with friends who know you from a time you didn't know you. The love is unconditional. You didn't become friends because of a common interest you just became friends because something in your young mind told you it was the right thing to do.

So when we planned for her to visit me in the city Sunday and she told me she wanted to see the holiday window displays, I said of course. Yes, I would fight the crowds with her on Fifth Avenue and yes, I would go see that tree.

These are the things I avoid as a New Yorker.

But I didn't try to talk her out of it. After all, I knew Monday morning I no longer had to deal with my own throng of people in an office. I would have the quiet of my writing space. I could look at it differently.

Besides this is what we did as teenagers. As I gave her directions to the subway from the LIRR and I heard her voice quiver. I reminded her that we used to do this, that at fifteen we would take the bus up Union Turnpike to Kew Gardens, transfer to the subway and wander the streets of the 'city'. That's what people who grow up in the boroughs call Manhattan, the 'city" We would leave exhausted and full of excitement from the adrenalin rush.

I navigated us through the crowds in that way that distinguishes the locals from the tourists. We paused at Bergdorf's, walked through the main floor of Bendels and got as far as across the street from Saks. We laughed as we always did. She reminded me of the time we saw Romeo and Juliet at the Paris theatre and when we went to Radio City to see the Christmas show. I saw the city as I did when I was a kid.

As different a path as we have taken in life, I felt as I always did. Completely me. Completely accepted. That's the thing about friends for life. The love is unconditional. Which is why I did not whine about pushing through that mob of people to see the tree at Rockefeller Center. In fact I rather enjoyed it. And got close enough to take a photo.

Monday, November 30, 2009


It is 3:44AM and I have been up since 3. Lying in bed, the covers pulled over me, trying to will sleep. But no matter what I do, nothing is working. I am wide awake. I am thinking about all that I have to do today and all that I want to do, when all I really crave is sleep. Now. Quickly. Before the sun rises.

I used to hate when this happened on Sunday nights. Especially a Sunday night after a long holiday weekend. I was refreshed after all those days away from the office and went to sleep early with grandiose ideas of all I would get accomplished that Monday. It would be a productive and satisfying Monday. It would be the start of a good week.

But then I would not be able to sleep. I would toss and turn. I would lie awake listening to the quiet and think. Think of all I wanted to do. Think of how tired I was going to be if sleep did not come fast and how little of what I wanted to do would get accomplished. But I wouldn't move. As if just lying there, still, would be rest enough.

I knew better. I knew that on nights like tonight Monday morning would come and I would feel the hangover of no sleep in every cell of my body as though I had been out all night and overserved at the bar.

That is what I have been doing since 3AM. I have been huddled under my comforter thinking of everything on my calendar and my to do list that is going to suffer from me being exhausted from too little sleep.

It took awhile before the cobwebs of the sleep I did have had washed completely away that I remembered. Lying still in bed on a Sunday night trying to will sleep is a leftover from corporate life.

I could get up right now and get something done. The time I work does not have to conform to someone else's nine to five doctrine. I can work when I want to, in my bathrobe if it so pleases me. I could write until sleep falls upon me again. I could get something accomplished. Right now.

Like writing a blog. On leftovers after a long Thanksgiving weekend. I could hit publish anytime I want.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Passion In The Face Of The Naysayers

I am supposed to be working on an essay on humiliation for a new writing class. But this is what happens when I have an assignment with a deadline. All of a sudden I get an idea to write something else.

I was inspired by an email this morning. It was in response to a request for help for the son of a lifelong friend of mine who is looking to break into what was at one time my business.

When I heard that he had found a passion for radio and the music industry I cringed. I know what the inner workings look like. What's worse is I remember what they used to look like. I asked her if there was still time for him to change his mind and his major. But she explained this is what he wants to do. Who was I to sap that enthusiasm from him?

He's relocated to the West Coast. Which I can't say is a bad idea. If the predictions of the death of radio are true, it is sure to die a much slower one in a town where people spend most of their day inside a car with only a radio and time to fill. So I reached out to my cousin. (I know, I talk alot about my cousins. I'm Greek. There are many, many cousins!)

His response was akin to my first reaction. Was he crazy? Talk him out of it! And, Are you sure you want ME to talk to him?

Funny, how differently my own thoughts sounded coming from someone else.

Suddenly I remembered leaving teaching to go work for WXTU in Philadelphia, months before it was about to switch to country music. People looked at me cross eyed. They told me I was out of my mind. It was a tough business. I was too nice to be in it. I barely heard the words of discouragement much less allow it to sway me. I didn't care because it I knew what I wanted. I was full of enthusiasm and on a mission.

Fast forward to today and I am once again on a path propelled by my passion. If I listened to all the people in the publishing world telling me how hard this was, how the industry has changed, how print is dead, blah, blah, blah, I would wearing a green apron and standing behind the counter in Starbuck's asking if you wanted room for milk.

I'm not because I don't care what the naysayers have to tell me. I didn't listen when I got into radio and that turned out to be a very good career move for me. My passion made me succeed then and it is what will make me succeed now.

But then why, am I, like my cousin so quick to be that voice of doom for someone else ? I don't know the answer. Maybe it will show up in that humiliation essay that is due Monday. In the meantime, if you know anyone in LA who can help a young guy who is determined to follow his dream, let me know.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In Celebration

The further away I get from my days as a corporate executive the harder it is to believe I ever lived that life. Snippets appear and remind me it was not a fictional tale. Take Monday morning. I was sitting in the Delta Crown room in the airport in Ft. Lauderdale watching all those business travelers. Laptops and Blackberries in hand, pulling their carry on luggage while juggling coffee, checking their watches, anxious they would make whatever meetings lay ahead that day. I was once one of them.

It took a lot for me to leave that world. Even when you know you have overstayed your time, it is never easy to forsake the comfort of what you know. But I did. What made it easier has been the support of a community of women I call my sisters. Yes, there are men who have been there for me on this journey, and I am grateful for them as well. But it has been my inner circle who has insisted upon believing in me, even when I have not.

This weekend I was in the company of that group. If you are a woman and have never heard of Regena Thomashauer and her school I suggest you read up and go take one of her classes. If you are a man, point your woman in that direction.

One of the difficulties women encounter in the corporate world is women not just supporting, but celebrating each other. It is something that comes naturally to men. What we refer to as the boy's club. Men doing business over a golf game. Men patting each other on the back for a job well done.

I came of age when the doors were just opening to women, many of us believing we had to act like guys to keep it that way. The rules of the game had been written by the men. Even when they didn't feel right, we believed we had to play by them or risk failure. It never occurred to us to create a girl's club. The rules did not have that written in.

The core of Regena's work is teaching women to support each other. Not to commisserate in each other's woes, but to lift each other in celebration. It is not a new concept. In fact one that has its roots in ancient times but has been suppressed in modern ones.

This past weekend I was reminded that I am where I am today because of the support of my inner circle. They insisted I had the courage to take this path of reinvention, that the easier route, to find a similar position doing something I had lost my passion for was not an option. This blog would not exist but for the women who remind me to believe in me, and who inspire me with their stories, nor would the two novels I have written and the agent who represents me. Above all I would never have had the courage to live my life as if I was twenty five again and just starting out. If it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to realize a dream.

The rules are changing and women are relearning the power of a circle of support. Women like Regena Thomashauer are leading the way. Today is my birthday as well as the one year anniversary of the launch of this blog. In case you were wondering where I am, I will be celebrating.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Out Of Practice

There are a lot of things you fall out of practice with when off the corporate wheel. The one I am noticing tonight are my travel skills.

Right now I am packing for a trip to Miami. There was a time in my corporate career where I traveled for work. I got used to navigating airports, getting up early to make a flight, assessing exactly how much time I needed, and packing light. I never worried that I would be where I needed to be at precisely the right time. I was a pro at it.

No more. I am rusty at this skill I once took pride in. The state of my living room is the proof.
All those years of honing the skill of packing light seem to have flown right out the window. I keep rearranging the contents of my suitcase in the hopes I won't get charged extra for weight.

I had to calculate the time I needed to have a car pick me up three times. I'm still not sure I have it right.

I have two alarms set and the promise of a phone call from my traveling companion to make sure I don't do what I usually do when I wake up and its still dark out. Roll over and go back to sleep.

I am channeling my former self now. The one that had a built in panic alarm on nights before an early flight that never let me down. She made sure I got up on time, that I was downstairs when the car got here and at the airport with time to spare. Let's hope she recognizes me.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Letting Go Of The Multi-Tasker In Me

I used to think I was a really good multi-tasker. I took great pride in my ability to do more than one thing at a time. It's a good quality to have in the corporate world. The ability to juggle, especially when you are in sales, can make you a lot of money.

I had an advantage. Women are predisposed to multi-tasking, something to do with the more traditional role as mother and wife and taking care of a household. Men are more singularly focused, predisposed to go out hunting in the woods for that one animal they will bring home for dinner.

If you've noticed I haven't blogged much this week. That's because I have been letting go of my multi- task tendencies. I'm discovering they really don't apply for a writer. Not when you are as I am , deep into a project.

It is not as easy as it sounds. Yes, I am loving what I am writing. I look forward to getting back to my characters and the story line I've created, cleaning up what doesn't work, polishing what does, adding what is missing. But I'm used to that place where you had to have multiple pots on the burner at all times or things wouldn't happen. I worry that because I am concentrating for the moment on this one very large creation that I might be missing something else. I am coming from a world where that was true. Letting go is not easy.

That's where I've been this week. Deep into the first edit of my first draft (working title: Seduced by Corporate America). I'll be back when I have this project on simmer. Until then.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


It's Election Day.


Your Vote Counts.

See you at the Polls!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Crossing The Finish Line

I am not a runner. I never have been. The only time I run is when someone is chasing me. Otherwise I walk. I walk fast. Fast enough that many have trouble keeping up.

I don't know what it is like to prepare for a race. To train for distance. To work your way up to 13 and 26 mile marathons. I don't know what it is like to start in a large group and set your sights on breaking out of the pack and taking a leading role.
But I can feel the excitement around it. I have all week as Central Park prepares for the ING NYC Marathon. Those fast walks I take are in the Park. Each day I have been there this week, the energy was stepped up another notch. The signs, the bleachers, the tents, the finish line, all set up in anticipation of Sunday. The activity around the entrance at Tavern on the Green requires patience navigating. That's pretty easy to find on a day as glorious as Friday, the sun shining, the Park awash in full autumn splendor. I'm OK with taking a moment to revel in the blaze of golds, oranges and reds that make the Park so magical this time of year.
I stood at what will be the finish line on Sunday. I thought about what the draw was in coming to see a bunch of runners compare their times at the end of the race. I've been there on more than one Marathon Sunday. Waiting and cheering. Even though I don't run.
The runners are there for more than just a race. It is a great big 38,000 plus person reminder of what it is to have a goal. That to reach that goal takes practice and lots of training. It doesn't happen overnight. No dream worth having does. There is some pain involved, but if it really means something to you, if it is what tugs at your heart, you endure. You keep going, one foot in front of the other until you cross over that finish line. You get to experience the euphoria of knowing you did it. Finishing first is great, but finishing is what is most important.

I may not run. But I understand that feeling. I have my sights on my own finish line. Part of crossing it is believing you can. Once you step over, the fun continues, because you know you are just at the beginning of what is next.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Learning To Not Answer The Phone

I am learning how to not answer the phone.

That might sound easy but it is not. In the corporate world part of your job as a manager is answering the phone. The phone is a medium through which you conduct business. Meetings are interrupted to take a call. Sometimes you wait for that ring, the important one that will tell you a deal is closed. The phone is never avoided. It is an important cog in the wheel that makes sales spin.

My world is different now. The phone has become an interruption that upsets the flow of my writing. Whether working on my novel, a new story, or this blog, taking that call can throw it all off, sending my story to a place where it can take me hours, sometimes even days to get back to. Especially when I am in the zone all writers aspire to, the one where the words are rushing forth, and you cannot get the sentences down fast enough. Breaking to take a call is more than a distraction. It can mean the end of any more good writing for the day. My characters do not take kindly to being interrupted mid speech.

Maybe this doesn't sound hard to you, but this is taking practice. I grew up in a world where there was only one phone in a household that everyone shared. There was no voice mail, no mobile devices, no call waiting and no caller ID. When the phone rang everyone stopped and it was answered. My addiction to answering the phone when it was ringing started long before it meant money in my pocket.

But as I have learned things change and I am changing with them. I get startled when one of my two phones starts making noise. I often have to breathe past the anxiety of not hitting the talk button. It takes a few minutes, but then it passes. I remember that I can return that call when I am done the chapter or when I am not sure what my characters might do next. Whatever it is can and will have to wait.

It gets easier each time. I probably will never stop checking Caller ID to see who it is. Mostly because I cannot quite predict when it will be my agent telling me we have an editor offering me a deal. Then I will slip back for a while into that other world. The one where answering the phone meant someone was ready to buy.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Reminder To Vote

It's almost Election Day. Depending on where you live and what elections are up in your city or state will determine how much attention you are paying. Here's my advice. Get yourself up to speed and remember to vote. It counts. Really.

If you don't believe me, I will share a little story from one of my favorite shows, Dancing with the Stars. It falls into the reality category when up for awards, but really it is about competition. It is about learning to dance, ballroom style. Based upon how good you are, the judges score you as well as the viewers. Not everyone agrees, which is part of the fun. But as the weeks wear on, in theory, the winner should be the best dancer.
This particular season I did not know, nor was I intrigued with the celebrity choices. But I love dancing and I love to watch and see who continues to improve and who is just never going to get it. If you have ever danced, there are always one or two, who right out of the gate, you know are going to still be there in the finals.

Unless of course, something happens. And people vote not for who is the best, but who is their favorite because they like the way they play football, or they like how pretty or hot they are they are, or they like their professional dancing partner so much, they forget who they are supposed to be judging. Or the people at home, just forget to vote, because they think their voice doesn't really matter.

Something like this happened last week. Which is the only explanation while Natalie Couglin whose partner was Alec Mazo was voted off.

I wasn't familiar with Natalie when the season started, mostly because I don't follow the Olympics or swimming that closely. Natalie is the most decorated female swimmer in World Championship history, holding sixteen medals. She was also the most decorated female in both the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2004 Athens Games. And oh, by the way, she can dance. Really dance. Extremely well. But we won't get to see her anymore. Not after Week 5.
I don't know how it happened. Neither did the judges. They feel the same as I do. I'll take some of the responsibility. I forgot to vote. I usually vote, but I was too tired after the show to sign on. I thought it was pretty clear that there were several choices of dancers that should be voted off. That it would be one of those three. I thought my vote wouldn't make a difference. It wouldn't count that much. I was wrong.
I should know better. It won't happen again. I'll vote tonight and I'll vote on Election Day. Both votes will be cast on who is the best choice, the most qualified and who deserves to win. My vote counts and yours does too!

Friday, October 23, 2009

More Please !

In another sign from the Universe, of more publication on its way, I submitted my story of reinvention to More.com.

Yes, they published it !!!!
Thank you More!

Click here:
My Third Act: Writer to read!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Please Read: Building Water Shut Off

These are the sorts of notices I never paid much heed to. The ones that say they are turning the water off in the building because of plumbing issues. The reminder to set aside extra water and do not, repeat, DO NOT turn anything on that will put air into the piping system.

Unless you are an apartment dweller, this isn't going to make much sense. But there are all sorts of things that go on during the day when you live in a large building. Much of which you don't pay attention to when your weekdays take you to a corporate office. I never did, mostly because these things happen between 9 and 5, or in today's case, 9:15 and 5. I was never home during those times Monday to Friday. I was at work. In the office.

I am still at work, except the office is now located between the bathroom and kitchen. So today I had to pay attention.

I set my alarm early so I could walk in the park. If I was going to get a shower afterwards, it had to be before the 9:15 cutoff. I had that rare glimpse into what my mornings used to look like. Jumping out of bed to the sound of an alarm, getting dressed quickly and rushing out the door.

It was still dark when I got into the park. I'd forgotten how much company there is in those early morning hours, all the other walkers and runners and bikers, squeezing in their exercise before the day starts. I hadn't seen the sunrise on the East side of the reservoir in a while. The early morning light reflects the changing colors of the leaves differently than the light later in the day. It was all as it had been, but I saw it differently.

By a quarter of eight, I had stopped by the farmer's market at 68th and Broadway and was back home making coffee when I wasn't filling extra pitchers with water. It felt good to have the early start, to step into a bit of the ritual that was my every day for so long. It felt even better to know that ritual is now a choice, that some days I can make and others not.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Embracing The Deadline

The Corporate world is all about deadlines. Whether you make them or fail to. They are the force behind what drives the day. They can give you a headache and cause you stress. There is the celebration when you make the targeted date . There is the procrastination when the deadline seems too far away to worry about. There is the triage performed when the deadline takes precedence over everything else that needs to get done.

Deadlines were one of the things I looked forward to not being faced with when I first left Corporate America. Especially those imposed upon by someone outside of myself.

But I've learned to embrace the deadline. I've learned that deadlines give structure to the day. Deadlines give you focus. Deadlines put you on a schedule.

I admit to being a little lax in my deadlines when I first left the corporate world. I wanted to revel in all the unstructured time I now had before me. All that time assured me that I would get everything I wanted to accomplish with some to spare. Or so I thought.

Without deadlines, even if you are making them up, not much is going to get done. Time slips away. Without a due date, you live in the illusion that you have all the time in the world. What's worse is you are left with a feeling you accomplished nothing.

There is something gratifying about checking off a goal list. Accomplishment breeds more accomplishment. In my year plus of being an authorpreneur, I have learned that without deadlines no writing is accomplished. I have learned to take the headache and pressure out of a deadline and embrace it.

I have a deadline to get through my second draft of my novel in the next two weeks. Another was to get this blog out today. Hitting the publish button not only feels pretty gratifying, it gives me the impetus to get cracking on that draft. You see, I am looking forward to those deadlines in my future that are forced upon me by someone else, the ones that will be given to me by my editor. But that won't happen until I check off my self imposed ones.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mom and Me

There a myriad of benefits that manifest in a life that is not centered around the rigidity of the 9 to 5 day. Many you expect. Like working in your pajamas. Not wearing makeup. Going to the gym at 11 in the morning. Then there are the others that catch you by surprise. One that I have found is the time I get to spend with my mother.

Mom will turn 87 on Saturday. She still lives by herself, drives, cooks and continues to be obsessively vain about her appearance. Her orthopedic remarked the last time we were there that she is by far his best dressed patient. When she points out someone that she feels sorry for, some ' poor old man or woman' I remind her they are probably younger than she is. Yes, she moves a little slower than she would like. Arthritic knees and bursitis in your hip can do that. But in the big scheme of things my mother is as youthful an almost 87 year old as you can get.

Now that my days are not so tightly scheduled I am able to take the two hour drive south more often, at exactly the point in her life when she needs me most. But the real gift of this is for me and in the quality of the time I get to spend with her.

When every minute and hour of my days were accounted for and not necessarily by me, a visit to Mom, was one more thing I crammed in. We'd see a movie, have a meal, maybe shop. Now I get the treat of just being with her. Sort of like when I was a toddler.

Before my brother was born we lived briefly in Edison, New Jersey. My mother had no friends close by and there were no small children in the neighborhood. It was just Mom and me while Dad was at the office. She read to me every day. I credit her with me falling in love with the written word. I was weaned on As The World Turns and The Guiding Light. I watched her cook. They didn't call it such then, but we just hung out together.

All these years later and I get that gift again. Mom told me the last time I was there that I was a lot of fun to be with. I told her she was the one who showed me how.

“Today I’m participating in a mass blogging! WOW! Women on Writing has gathered a group of blogging buddies to write about family relationships. Why family relationships? We’re celebrating the release of Therese Walsh’s debut novel today.The Last Will of Moira Leahy (Random House, October 13, 2009) is about a mysterious journey that helps a woman learn more about herself and her twin, whom she lost they were teenagers. Visit the Muffin (on the 13th) to read what Therese has to say about family relationships and view the list of all my blogging buddies. And make sure you visit http://www.theresewalsh.com/ to find out more about the author.”

Monday, October 12, 2009

Clothes As A Reinvention

Last week I had two occasions on which I needed to wear business appropriate attire. The
More Magazine Reinvention Convention and the 85 Broads breakfast. I never worry about what I am going to wear for such events. These days I have a closet full of business suits and office appropriate dresses that hardly get worn.

Always being a bit of a fashionista I never minded getting dressed for the office. It was just another role to preen for, in the way I wore yoga pants to the gym or a bathing suit to the beach. I prided myself on accessorizing the suit so it didn't look too stodgy or finding the exact dress that made me feel like a girl without making me look like I was going to the bar to pick up a guy. I would find the right shoes, good looking without pain and the most comfortable stockings to get through a day. I chose fabrics that would hold up on long plane rides. I had it all down to a science. In the right outfit, I felt like I could face any challenge, close any deal.

What hit me last week, was how utterly confined I felt. Even though I chose my most comfortable dress for the More event, I could not wait to get out of my high black suede boots. I looked around the 85 Broads breakfast and thought only how glad I was I did not have to dress like this every day anymore. Not for one moment did I see someone wearing something that I thought might be fun to have. It was almost as if I could not breathe. As if I was trying to squeeze my new self into an old image.

I felt it again as I went through my closet this weekend, swapping the summer clothes for the winter. Each sweater and each jacket looked like it belonged to someone whose life I no longer recognized. As my hands rested on each suit, I thought about sending them all to Good Will. But I didn't. I couldn't. Not just yet. Instead, I selected the jackets that might look a bit different with my jeans or leggings and boots and the skirts that might look different with a sexy t-shirt and shoved the rest to the back of the storage closet.

I'm not ready to burn them all. Not just yet. My life is still somewhere in between Corporate America and that of a Writer/Entrepreneur. I may never be able to. The new life may just wind up being some sort of a hybrid, in which that jacket that used to look so good with the matching pants now looks better with jeans.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Sign From The Universe

Yesterday I got this message on my Facebook wall from author Maryann McFadden:

"OMG, I just realized it was your picture The Boston Globe ran with my book review last month instead of my author photo! They apologized and I kept saying "I know that face!" Didn't realize it was from FB! LOL"

I am not sure how it happened but it did. While I am still a publishing offer away from The Boston Globe wanting to review my book, I am taking this as a sign from the Universe that I am very close!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What Exactly Does Reinvention Mean?

I have been thinking a lot about the word reinvention. What exactly does it mean? Is it overused in this recessionary climate? Is it a destination or a journey? And if it is a destination, what happens when you get there? Do you just stop or does the reinvention start to morph into something else? Like another reinvention?

This is after all the topic of my blog. Now almost a year old, I have been wondering when exactly the form of it will shift. Is it time now? When am I officially ‘reinvented’? Will my topic always be about life after Corporate America?

In the name of research I attended for the first time More Magazine’s Third Annual Reinvention Convention on Monday.

At the top of the agenda was former first lady, Laura Bush. While not a fan of her husband or his party, I was looking forward to hearing her speak. She always impressed me as the luckiest thing that ever happened to George W. I would often wonder what she was thinking as he continued to trip over his words in speech after speech. With her White House days behind her, I was ready for some candid conversation. A little girl talk in a room of five hundred women, not including the Secret Service.

I was as surprised as I was disappointed to see that she had the same discomfort and same defensive posture in front of an audience as he did. Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s Morning Joe was interviewing her. The excellent questions Mika asked were answered in much the same way her husband used to. With no real answers. It made me wonder if Mika was having as much trouble paying attention to Laura as I was.

Judging from the whispering and mumbling surrounding me, I was not the only one thinking such thoughts. It was clear there would be no transparency on Laura Bush's behalf. The former first lady has still not let go of the field day her husband gave the media. I suppose her withholding was an attempt to not give anyone in the room anything to work with. The irony was that her avoidance of the questions did just that.

Her withholding was even more visible when contrasted with the next speaker I listened to,
Barbara Corcoran. Success aside, here is a woman who owns who she is so much, transparency comes easily. Barbara doesn’t like the word reinvention, a pretty bold statement at a convention with that in its title. She prefers repackaging. I am not sure I agree with her, but what I can say is that her candor, wisdom and humor made me think and I could have listened to her for another hour.

The contrast continued when Mika interviewed Nora and Delia Ephron. When the conversation began with the idea that a woman is her purse, Mika emptied hers (which looked from where I sat to be more of an overnight bag) on the podium for Nora and Delia to dissect with that incredible wit and humor that has made them both famous.

The room loved it. Not just because it was funny, but because it showed a realness and truth that we could all relate to. Mika made me think I should start watching that Morning Joe show and the Ephron’s have me ready to buy a ticket to Love, Loss and What I Wore.

When Laura Bush’s interview was over I was disappointed. But as the day wore on, I saw the purpose it served. It was such a contrast of all that came after.

I learned that before you can truly reinvent you have to let go of the past. You have to have a real sense of who you are and the transparency to own up to it. Or no one is going to think you’re for real.

After my day of research I now believe reinvention never really stops. It just goes through different phases, depending where you are in life. So for now, the premise of this blog will continue, with transparency.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I Said I Was Not Going To Write About Sarah Palin

I said I was never going to write anything here about Sarah Palin. I said I would not contribute to her celebrity. I said I would not add to the incessant use of her name to get a click, buy a paper or tune in to the news. There is little of importance (unless you happen to be a comedian looking for material), behind whatever the teaser line is.

I admit that I check. I am not one of her fan base. But rather one of those who see it
analogous to slowing down when you see a car wreck. You don't really want to look, but you find your fascination with the horror makes you slow down. You can't help yourself.

Besides, what has she really got to do with my observations on life after Corporate America? It turns out, more than I thought.

Her infamous memoir is about to hit the stores and it appears she is giving Dan Brown's historic presale figures competition. Which is troubling. Dan Brown, has a story to tell. Dan Brown has a track record. Dan Brown is intentionally writing to entertain the reader. Sarah Palin does it by accident with her unusual twist of the English language.

As an author trying to get published in a difficult economic environment I can only say I am appalled at the kind of advance she received. Dan Brown has earned getting a huge advance. She has not. Her advance supposedly was in the $7 million range. I cannot begin to tell you how many new fiction and non fiction authors who have a great story and are capable of writing a sentence by themselves would be over the moon to get a $200,000 advance. Thirty-five new voices could be heard out of that $7 million!

I can hear the bean counters now. Oh, but would that sell? Unfortunately, we won't know. Because the fragile publishing industry is not necessarily concerned with good new talent, but in how much and how quickly the money can be pushed forward. Or at least the appearance of it.

I don't know anyone who is going to buy her book. I know I won't. I don't know where the advance sales are coming from. But after spending 25 years selling media I am skeptical. I can't help but wonder who is really making those purchases. I can't help but wonder where these figures are coming from.

Could it be possible that the numbers are inflated from large group sales from her backers and supporters who want to make a statement that she is more popular than she really is? That she actually has something to say. Maybe. Maybe not.

So yes,there is a reason for me to write about Sarah Palin today. Her book deal and all the greed that surrounds it is a perfect example of what goes on in Corporate America. Try as she may to say there was another reason she stepped down as Governor of Alaska, it was because of the money. She was able to access the cash on this advance sooner than later. Harper Collins made the offer because of money. They anticipated that her publication would cause a stir and the money would flow. It was not offered because of a good story line, fiction or non fiction. It certainly wasn't because she could write. They paid someone else to do that part. It doesn't matter whether anyone is going to take the time to read her memoir, the advance sales are already there. Whether there will be enough to recoup her enormous advance, not to mention the cost of printing, remains to be seen.

It's a good thing for her she got this deal. Word has it she is not selling as well on the lecture circuit. I guess there are no ghost speakers as there are ghost writers.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Do Miss Something About Corporate Life

When people ask me if I miss anything about Corporate life, my answer is only the steady paycheck. But the other day as I was lunching with a former colleague, I realized that was not true. If you think I am about to add having an expense account to the short list of what I might miss I'm not. I do miss that, but more so would be the people.

When I say, the people, I am referring to that group of individuals who over the years became more than my colleagues, they became my friends.

I was lucky. No matter how crazy Corporate life got, I was surrounded by co workers who made it easier to get through the day. Many of them I worked with for most of the eleven years I was at my last stint.

Together we saw children born, others off to college, parents age. We attended birthday parties, weddings, and funerals. We laughed more than I can remember, sometime at each other, often at the absurdities of what we witnessed every day. We cried when we lived through the tragedy of one of us dying too young, sat in a conference room and watched in horror as that plane hit the second tower. We felt the fear it might happen again the day of the blackout. We saw the dot com boom and crash along with the stock market. In between it all, we did our jobs.

You can get to know people pretty well when you work with them every day. Some you don't want to know any better than you have to. But if you're lucky, as I was, alot you do.

There are not many of that group that are still there. A combination of time, moving on to bigger and better ventures and downsizing are responsible for that. The ones still left know who they are. So if you are reading this, and you think I don't miss anything about that world. I do. I miss you.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Dad, 23 Years Later

My Dad died twenty three years ago today.

For a long time after I could not remember the exact date. I just knew it was the end of September. My mother generally reminded me. She remembers dates. Birthdays. Anniversaries. And yes, the dates that those closest to her died.

Not me. I wouldn't remember a birthday, outside of my own, if it didn't show up in my Outlook.

For a long time, I kept trying to remember the exact date, but I refused to write it down. It seemed rather morbid. After a while I gave up. Because really, why did I even need to remember such a thing?

I prefer my memories to surround the happier times, the laughter, the jokes, the love, the smiles. Why remember the date he died?

So I could relive getting that awful call from my mother's neighbor telling me I should get home fast, that my mother was going to need me? Or that drive up I-95 from my apartment in downtown Philadelphia, trying to convince myself this was just another ER visit? He was OK? Even when I knew he was gone already? Or that terrible moment when I went into that little room with no windows where my mother and brother were waiting for me and I knew before the doctor came in and told us the awful truth?

I only remember the date now, because a few years ago I made the connection it was also my friend MaryEllen's birthday.

There are those defining moments in our lives when everything becomes the way it was before and the way it was after. Those times when you can't imagine the world will really move forward. Collectively it is moments like the day JFK was shot or the day the planes hit the twin towers. September 27 became one of those times for me. Life before my father died and life after.

The day of my father's funeral, my mother sat me down and told me that it was going to be OK. That I would go on and have a good life. I'm not sure at the time, even though I knew I wanted to believe her, I did. But she was right. No matter what happens, we always do move forward. But that never stops us from looking back and remembering.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday Mornings

Even though it has been over a year since I have done the 9 to 5 routine, I still think Saturday mornings feel different than the rest of the week. There is something in the air that says it is not a work day. It sounds different outside. It is quieter. There is less hustle and bustle. The gym has different hours on Saturdays. Even Starbucks does. I always thought the sun shone slightly different on Saturday morning. Perhaps because that was always the one day I was sure to take the time to notice.

Even though the days can run into one another when the only structure is self imposed, I still get that thrill out of knowing it is Saturday and the weekend is in full swing. It doesn't matter that I sometimes get my best writing out on a Saturday, often working more than say a Monday. It doesn't matter that I know that nap I can take in the afternoon is one I can now do any day. There is still that anticipation of two full days ahead of me that I can do whatever I want.

Saturday is that day to give permission to read the More magazine that has been sitting on my desk all week, stroll down Columbus Avenue with no destination in mind, allow myself the day off with absolutely no guilt.

Unless the muse strikes. In which case, it doesn't matter that it is Saturday morning. My keyboard is where you will find me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

97,690 Words

Seth Godin discussed in a blog this week, that we are entering a time where we all have our own media channels. An author, if they want to be successful, must own their own channel. An author no longer has to rely on a publisher to be heard or to gather a following.

If anyone who reads this is not sure yet, my intention is to be one of those "successful" authors. At the moment the media channel I own is this blog. And if that is all true, this channel has been dark for a bit. In fact this is the longest I have not blogged since I started blogging last November. In the olden days, before 24/7 television, a test pattern would go up on a dark channel. But those days are long gone. Content is continuous. If there is no content you run the risk your readers or viewers go elsewhere.

I hope that didn't happen. Because there was a reason I was not blogging. A very good one. I was finishing the end of Draft #1 of my second novel, working title, Seduced by Corporate America.

For a while I was trying to do both. Blog and finish up the draft. But I found that when I was blogging, I got sidetracked, away from the plot and my characters. So I had to make a decision. I threw all my creative energies, all the words there were there, waiting to pour out of me, into the story.

I didn't think about blogging. I didn't read other blogs. I did not check for comments or obsess in Google Analytics over how many readers I was getting with no new content or where they were coming from. I even kept my Facebook/Twitter status to a minimum.

It worked! Last night I finished. 97,690 words at the moment. The story will still need a lot of accessorizing but the plot line is done. I like to think of it as I know what dress I am wearing to the party, but still working on which shoes, hair, jewelry and makeup work best. While I'm figuring those details out I will be blogging. So stay tuned.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I'd Forgotten

I'd forgotten that today was September 11. When I first woke up and heard the wind blowing , the rain beating against my window, I turned over and went back to sleep. It was Friday. There was nothing on my schedule but writing plus I had a late night. So I decided to take advantage of the fact that I am my own boss and do what I could have only longed to do when someone else determined my work schedule, stay under the warmth of my comforter.

I'd forgotten. For the first time in eight years I did not wake up remembering that picture perfect September New York day when it seemed the most unlikely thing in the world that tragedy would descend in just a few hours. I did not reflect on exactly where I was, far enough north of ground zero to not be in the thick of it, but close enough to see the looming clouds of smoke look as though they were about to spread and encapsulate all of Manhattan.

I suppose if I was still on that old work schedule where my alarm would blast the radio and quickly switch to Pat Kiernan on NY1, I would have been reminded. But I don't wake up like that anymore. I ease my way into the news, logging onto the Internet first to see what the headlines are before I decide if I am up to stomaching more. I'd forgotten. Something I said I would never do. Something I never wanted to do.

Even now as I write this, and a thick grey fog outside my window blurs the tops of the buildings I have to dig deeper to remember that yes, it did really happen. And then I know I did not really forget. It was just the blessing of a day that looked so opposite that caused my delay. I did not forget. I never will.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

My Back To School Message

I am troubled today. Not just by the uproar over whether the President of the United States should be allowed to address the future of this country as they start a new school year. As if in this day and age with 24/7 news, Twitter and Facebook any parent can completely control what their kids hear and read. No it is more than that.

I am troubled by a recurring conversation. I have a lot of friends whose kids are in or about to start college. Many of which have true passion for writing or acting or art. Yet their parents are encouraging them to do instead what they can “make a living” at.

Which is understandable. We all need to earn a living. But why is the idea of doing what you love and earning money deemed mutually exclusive? And why is it if the passion the young adult has is in medicine or law or in building machine guns it is deemed acceptable but in the arts not?

And why would they not encourage their child to at least try? Why at such a young age would we reinforce the idea that you don’t get to do what you love in life? Instead you get to do what earns a buck and only, if you are very, very lucky will you love it too?

Now I am not a parent, so I suppose some would say there is something I just don’t get. But I was a young adult once who heard the story about making sure you always had a job, whether you were happy or not and were earning money. I didn’t think work was ever about finding joy. It was something you did until, if you were lucky enough, you got to retire.

Turns out not many of my generation are going to see retirement any time soon. But if you are doing what you love, it doesn’t matter. There was a clip on CBS Sunday Morning this week in which Bea Arthur, before she passed, had been asked why she was still working. Her response was that only people who are in jobs they don’t like retire.

So here is my Back to School message. Do what you love. Find out what that is. It may be what you love is a lot easier to earn a living at than what someone else loves. But in any case, go for it. Try. If your passion is as strong as you believe the money will come. And if not, you will find another passion.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Taking Note: Lisa Genova

While I am still more in a vacation mode than a blogging one, I just finished reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova and am compelled to write.

I learned about this book because of the circuitous way in which it was published and achieved acclaim. Lisa Genova had written this moving story about a fifty year old Harvard University professor who is struck with early onset Alzheimer Disease. For a year Lisa could not get an agent to represent her, much less an editor to publish the book. But Lisa believed in the importance of this story told from the perspective of the woman who is losing her memory. She believed so much that she contacted the National Alzheimer's Association. The group, after reading the manuscript, endorsed it and asked her to write a blog for their Voice Open Move campaign that was launching at the end of that month. Which was all wonderful news, except for that one little problem. The book was not yet published.

Lisa Genova made what is a difficult decision for any author. She decided to self publish. She already had a website, because, in the true spirit of anyone who has a dream, she was already acting as if.

The book not only generated great sales through Amazon, it received an enormous amount of positive press which led to an agent soliciting her. Funny how tables can turn. The book then sold at auction to Simon and Shuster for just over a half million dollars.

I am struck by Lisa's story. She did not pay attention to the doors that were initially slammed in her face. She believed in herself and that her novel was important enough to be published until eventually those doors swung open.

But beyond this story of publishing success I am also moved by the importance of the work. Alzheimer's is one of those frightening diseases, to those who succumb to it and to the families and loved ones of the victim. While my tendency here is to write about books that are inspiring in their tale and entertaining, this one is different. It is heartbreaking and at times frightening to imagine. Nevertheless is one that should be read, whether the disease has personally affected your life or not.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Staycation's All I Ever Wanted

So I am still in vacation mode and am planning on staying like that until after the Labor Day weekend. Which is why my posts have been limited recently. Mine is a hybrid staycation, with my travels taking me only so far as the East End of Long Island.

With that in mind, it was was pointed out by my good friend and brilliant artist, Linda Eckstein, one needn't go very far if they call New York home to feel as though they are traveling the world.

Check out Linda Eckstein's New York. The inspiration was the multitude of cuisine to choose from on the Upper West Side. Yes, somewhere above 59th Street between CPW and West End Avenue, a restaurant exists for each and every one of these exotic locales!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What's A Blogger To Do When They Don't Have A Blog To Post ?

This is the thing with having a blog. It takes care and feeding. You have to be consistent or your readers wonder where you have gone or, worse yet, just forget about you.

But sometimes you just can’t think of anything you really want to blog about.

That’s where I’ve been. A blogger without a blog to post.

Once I got into the swing of blogging I started planning ahead. On Sunday I would have a pretty good idea of what I was going to post that week. Sometimes, and this is what I strive for, by Sunday night they are all in the cue and ready to be published.

That was working really well until this past weekend. I could not think of anything I really wanted to blog about. I thought perhaps it was because it’s August. Here we are in the last week of the month with the summer about to be over. I’m in vacation mode. But do you really ever get a vacation when you blog?

My thoughts are to the beach, the pool, drinking in the last days of summer before I go “back to school” and get really serious about life again. That leaves me inspired only to play. Which is what I’ve been doing.

I thought perhaps it was my self imposed moratorium on taking in too much news. News often inspires me to blog. But the noise and chatter about Health Care Reform or Not to Reform has been tiresome and filled with so much misinformation I have found it exhausting. So I am on vacation from that. At least until the US Open starts.

And here I am, not quite 300 words later,still left with the question. What do you do when you are a blogger without a story to blog? Does anyone know?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Contact Lessons

I recently got my first pair of contact lenses. My distance vision is still fine, but without my reading glasses, this computer screen I am writing on becomes nothing more than a blurred vision of gibberish.

I never thought contact lenses would be for me. I am generally a squeamish sort who could barely get an eye drop in without it running down her cheek. The idea of anything foreign floating in my eye left me edgy. But when not one, but two of my girlfriends started raving about these multi focal lenses they had just gotten, I decided to give it a try.

I left my eye doctor with my trial pair, an instruction sheet for the first time I put them without the guidance of one of his staff, and a starter kit of cleaning solution and moisturizing drops.

I learned quickly this was not going to be easy. In fact, it was going to be frustrating. I was going to have to practice something that is always a challenge for me, patience.

My first solo attempt was like an episode of I Love Lucy. I kept misplacing the right one. Once I found it on the floor. The left one got folded in half and while the instructions made it sound very simple to unfold, I did not find that to be the case.

My frustration level was high. Of course the more frustrated I got, the more difficult it seemed. So I walked away and waited.

Then I came back and tried again. This time it worked. First the left and then the right. I could do this! It was possible!

I was feeling pretty proud a few days into it. I was getting the lenses in and out in less than a half hour. That was until I had a set back.

I accidentally had torn the left one in half. It got caught on the edge of the container and I didn’t notice it was not in all the way. A couple of screws on the lid and that lens saw an early death.

I was really frustrated now. Maybe reading glasses were just easier. Why was I making things harder? So what if once they were in, I could see all my food in front of me. Did I really need to see what looked to be a new crease at the corner of my eye? Cleaning the kitchen is a lot quicker when I can’t see all the dirt that has accumulated.

But I called the eye doctor anyway and had them order my full set. For I am not a quitter.

Now a few weeks into it, I have gotten the hang of things. Some days it is a little harder, but I always get them in. I wait if I am having trouble and try again when I feel refreshed. And then it works. Most times, at least.

I’ve learned my contact lessons. Like my journey to publication, this has its moments of frustration. At that point, it is better to pause, breathe, reassess and then try again. And each time is better, each time easier, each time closer to perfect.

My near vision is definitely better with my contacts than my reading glasses. My distance suffers a bit. But perhaps there is a lesson in that too. Maybe for right now, I don’t need to be looking that far away. Maybe for right now, I need to be concentrating on what is right in front of me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Taking Note: Karen Quinn

I have been taking notes on Karen Quinn since the first day I met her. Until then most of the authors I knew personally where the ones I had paid to take a class with.

I was in awe. At the time Karen had just published her second book, Wife in the Fast Lane. She had come to writing later in life, having started out in a profession (she holds a degree in law) and then spending fifteen years in the Corporate world working for American Express. She had reinvented herself more than once, this time as a successful published author. Her background bore similarities to my own. I wanted to know her.

Lucky for me I got to.

Since that time Karen has published two more novels, Holly Would Dream and her most recent The Sister Diaries. The film rights to her first book, The Ivy Chronicles have been optioned, with a script currently in the works and Sarah Jessica Parker signing to star in it.

I chose to write about Karen today for two reasons. The first being that she inspires me. Karen is living my dream. She reminds me publication after rejection is indeed possible. And because Karen is not just another author, but a friend she gives me an inside eye into the ups and the downs that happen when you choose writing as a career.

For instance, you can have success and still have challenges. You can find publication in the UK and not in the US. In fact, her latest book, The Sister Diaries has hit the best seller list there.

I just finished The Sister Diaries and found it to be a fun, entertaining, often hilarious read and my favorite of all her books to date. Karen has a gift for this genre of women's fiction.

I also found this another reminder of the puzzling world of the US publishing industry at the current moment, where $2 million advances are often awarded to books that will never see that return and good story is challenged to find a home. Fortunately for us all, Amazon has a UK branch and makes it easy, seamless and relatively inexpensive to ship this particular good story right to your door.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Rejection Is Not A Four Letter Word

There is a reason most people don’t go for their dreams. It’s called rejection. The words that first come to mind for me when describing rejection are not words I would write here. On line or on air, they would be a series of four letter words. Something like this. !!##**@//\\/#!!! But you get my drift?

It’s not pleasant. It’s exhausting. It’s frustrating. It serves only to make one question. Am I doing the right thing? Is this really what I want? Am I really good enough? There are easier ways to make a living.

But I’ve already gone that route. And easy doesn’t make happy.

Yes, in case you haven’t figured it out already I got another rejection on my first novel last week.

Rejection is not a four letter word. It is part of the process. I get that. In my twenty five years of corporate life, selling those snippets of air on radio and television stations I learned how to deal with the dreaded NO, WE don’t want what YOU have. It toughens your skin. You learn how to bounce back quickly, because really, there is no other choice.

But rejection is different when you are a writer than when you are a salesperson. It’s easier when the product being rejected is some inanimate object of nothingness like air time and not something you have created that contains part of your heart and soul.

As a salesperson I knew exactly what to do when someone said they didn’t want to buy my station. I asked the reasons why, got a sense of what I might do differently next time and dialed another number on my list of prospects. But as a writer you don’t have that much control. The industry has been so designed that your agent is the person who does that for you. It leaves me feeling a bit helpless with the only constructive thing left to do, to keep writing.

But I never keep writing when I get news of a rejection. I have to wallow for a bit. Rant. Rave. Question. My head, for those moments, is out of the lives of my characters and into my own.

This time I gave myself the entire afternoon. I had been up since 4:30AM and writing for over three hours before I found out. So I called it a day and went to a movie. I chose Julie and Julia. Pretty apropos, huh?

The thing I am learning about rejection is that my years of selling prepared me well and have given me an advantage in dealing with it that many writers don’t have. The latest rejection stopped me from writing only momentarily, long enough to dwell in my disappointment and see an inspiring movie. This one reminded me that selling a novel is a lot like finding true love. It can involve a lot of rejection, it’s a matter of personal taste, timing is everything but in one split second it all connects and your world is forever turned around.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pink Slip Advice #10, The Last In The Series

Keep a Sense of Humor

Someone at the gym recently told me that every time you laugh you burn three calories. If that isn't reason enough to keep your sense of humor I don’t know what else is.

But seriously…don’t take yourself too seriously. Some days that is easier said than done. But high drama serves no one, least of all yourself. I firmly believe that the people who will do the best during these times are those who see it all as an opportunity and laugh and giggle their way as they create what's next or if they are like me or some of the folks in the Lemonade Movie trailer, reinvent themselves.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pink Slip Advice #9

Get to Know You Again

Many years ago someone remarked to me that the best thing that had happened as a result of him losing his job, was that he had gotten the chance to know himself again. Somewhere along the line, his position had become so consuming, there was no separation between him and the job. When he suddenly had time to look in the mirror he didn't really know who he was any more.

I suggest making a list of all those things you haven’t had time for and do it, no matter how simple. A trip to MOMA or an afternoon at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Think about what you used to do, before your life got so hectic, when you had the time to wile away an afternoon, and do it. And remember to enjoy it without letting the worry about when the 'what's next' is going to start. Treat this period as a gift to reenergize yourself as you prepare for what will be your next success.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pink Slip Advice #8

Make New Friends But Keep The Old

Stay in contact with the network you have already cultivated. Even if like me, your aspiration is to create something entirely unrelated in your career as you move forward, don’t forget about those folks. In this interconnected world you just never know how one person leads to another. Just remember, the onus is on you, the one who left to keep those relationships alive.

But make new friends. Widen your circle. Get out there and mingle in person. If you feel naked without a business card in hand, order some inexpensive ones on line from sites like Vista Print.
I am a big believer in social networks, but nothing will ever replace good old fashioned in person conversation to really forge a new connection.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pink Slip Advice #7

Learn Something New

Take a class. Maybe it is that drawing class you always wished you had time for. Or maybe it is a skill that will make you more marketable when you are ready to go back to work.
Read a book. One from that pile you bought that you never got around to. Learn how to use Google Reader so you can start reading more blogs than just this one.

Think about what you would REALLY want to do if money was no object. If it's not what you were doing, then see if you can figure out a way to make money doing this new thing. Maybe this is the time to just do it.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Pink Slip Advice #6


Get rid of the stuff that you were holding on to from your last job. You know, what you kept around, just in case. Unless it was really important and might be useful in another endeavor some day, get rid of it. I am partial to purging on days like today, when the sky is overcast and the morning light grey. It sets the mood.
Purging feels good, often cleansing. Especially, if like me, you get a thrill out of putting that shredder into overheat.
There are many, myself included, who believe a good sage smudge after a purge will rid your home of any lingering energy associated with that old job. While that might seem a little too "out there" for some of you, keep in mind that this is an ancient tradition that will only help with the letting go of that old place of employment as you move forward to your next success.
But even if you forgo the sage part, Purge. Now.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Pink Slip Advice #5

Take Care of You

Exercise. Even if you weren't doing it before, exercise now. Go to the gym. Play tennis. Ride a bike. It can be as simple as walking in the park.

Eat well.

Shower, get dressed and get out of the house every day. This was the hardest for me in the dead of winter. It was cold out there and I had plenty to do inside where it was nice and warm. In fact for the first time in my life I developed a Vitamin D deficiency from lack of sunshine.

But get out. Create excuses for yourself. And I don’t mean just taking the elevator downstairs to get the mail and chat with the doorman. Even if it is just to indulge in a Starbucks down the block, get out.

Lastly, try not to drown yourself in alcohol. That will only serve to keep you lingering at the edge of depression.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pink Slip Advice #4

Social Network

This might be especially scary for the over 40 set, but if you have not yet been on Facebook or Linkedin, if you still don't get Twitter, take the cyber leap, sign yourself up and see what is going on. This is a great way to dip your toe back in as you start to widen your network.

Connections are being made every day and not just with your long lost friend from college. Information is exchanged. Yes, some is useless, but a lot more is not. Make some new business friends without ever leaving your house. And remember, you can no longer simply send out your resume and hope someone will call you back.

Case in point. Read about the job search The Murphy Goode Winery just completed. They created a cyber campaign as they set search for the newly created position of social media strategist. Yes, that is an actual job. Not only did one lucky person get hired but the brand received over $7 million in publicity.

Lastly, let's not forget these networks take some of the loneliness out of not going to an office. When you want to see what the conversation for the day is about, you can just sign on and see what people are talking about. It’s like hanging out at a giant water cooler in cyberspace.

Pink Slip Advice #3

Avoid The Naysayers.

There are too many out there who believe what is going on in the economy is the end of the world. Their energy is thick and lethal and will only make you want to retreat back into your mourning period and pull the covers over your head. Stay away from them.

There are those who will be afraid to get too close to you because they are certain that what you have (unemployment disease) might be catching. There is so much fear circulating these days around having a job or not having one that it can be physically debilitating if you are not careful. In the words of FDR, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.".

Remember, this is only the end of a chapter in your book. There is a new one waiting to be written. Find like minded people who are creating new things and believe the sun always rises. Keep them close.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pink Slip Advice #2

Do Not Start Interviewing Immediately

Before you get yourself back out there, make sure you have completed your mourning period. There is no surer way not to get a job than still seething over the fact you don't have one.

Next start thinking about what you REALLY want to do next and get clear on it before you sit in front of a potential employer.

Maybe like me it is time for complete reinvention. If you are willing to go for it and have an idea that moves you, this is a great time to go the entrepreneurial route. Maybe you still love corporate life, but want to go in a slightly different direction. Whatever it is, make sure you know what you want before you take an interview.

There are jobs out there. Maybe not as many, but there are jobs. I have friends who dove right back into another Corporate job. But if that is what you want, remember , no one is going to hire, especially in this climate, someone who is not absolutely certain of what they want to do next. So take the time to figure it out. An interviewer has the luxury of a talented, large pool to tap into it. The ones who get the jobs are the ones who are positive and certain. So make sure you are one of the certain ones before you take an interview.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pink Slip Advice #1

In my first year of non corporate life I have gotten more calls than I can count from those who have joined the ranks of what I like to refer to as the Pink Slip generation, one that is not defined by demographics, but instead by a Cobra package and a letter of separation agreement.

I listen to the uneasiness and apprehension in their voices. Even those who were expecting it or see it as a door opening instead of one closing have shaky voices as they wrap their arms around the idea.

While the consensus in this past week's news seems to be that we have reached a turning point in the recession, one pointed up, it is expected that unemployment will be the last to recover, in fact it might still get a little worse.

So I have decided to impart what I have learned, my advice for those with pink slips in hands, in a series of blogs. It's my collection of all those things no one advises you when it happens. If you are not a pink slip holder (and I hope you aren't) you probably know someone who is. In which case, please pass these on to them.

#1 Mourn

Give yourself a set amount of time to mourn your loss. This is a big deal. It was your livelihood, your income, perhaps it was and still is your passion.

So really mourn. Once the numbness of the initial shock has faded, feel sorry for yourself. Do nothing. Dress in black if that makes you feel better. Write a hate letter and then take the shredder out. Watch those pages ripped to ribbons and let go of that anger and resentment. It serves to hurt no one but yourself.

But keep the timer on . Decide in advance how long you want your mourning period to be. The Greeks believe in 40 days to mourn a loss. ( Hence the name of my first book) They believe that is the amount of time a soul wanders the earth, making amends before it ascends to heaven. Yes, this is a job, but really, it is also a death in another form.

For you, mourning may be a week, two weeks, maybe a month. If you are financially able I always suggest taking a good long break before the job search ensues. Even if you can't, you still need to mourn this, only in a shorter period of time.

After which, let go of the sadness, the anger, the resentment and the fear. It WILL be alright. Besides, it's almost time to start thinking about what is next and what's that is going to look like.