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

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 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.