Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
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
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
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
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
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
Monday, November 30, 2009
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
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
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
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
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
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
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
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
“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
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
"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
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 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
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
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
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
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. 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
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
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
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
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
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.
Monday, August 17, 2009
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
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
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.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
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.
Monday, August 10, 2009
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.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Saturday, August 8, 2009
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.