To Be or Not To Be... Patient

I have spent a lot of time working on learning to be more patient

This is a virtue that remains a challenge for me. Although I am not short-tempered and I have nothing but patience for someone who is kind and friendly, patience is simply not my strong suit. I tend to be the least patient with myself. Bordering on intolerant, and sometimes, just downright mean. 

In my never-ending quest to evolve into a more patient being, I had a sign custom made for my office. It reads: 

Be Patient

My husband chuckles every time he sees it. Whenever I am frustrated that one of my projects has taken a setback or things are moving too slowly, he says, “How’s that sign working out for you?”  

I must admit, I want everything done yesterday. My hyper-vigilant tempo is somewhat incongruent to the Hawaiian lifestyle where people are inherently more mellow. There is even a bumper sticker that says, “Slow down. You’re not on the mainland.”

I have worked very hard to adapt to a slower lifestyle. I am committed to a new life that encompasses meditation, yoga, and daily exercise. I gave up caffeine. I watch my sugar intake. I am doing everything I can, short of elephant tranquilizers, to slow my roll.

I think I have made HUGE strides. I think I have evolved into a more relaxed, go-with-the-flow, Zen being. I have reminders all around my house to be what I aspire to be. I have Buddha statues at the front door and the back door. I have paperweights and rocks carved with inspirational words by my desk. Words like Breathe, Happiness and Peace.  

Yet whenever I say to my husband, “I think I am a much mellower person than I was,” he lets out a notable chortle or guffaw. He humors me and says, “I think you are working on it for sure, but I am not sure a tiger can change its stripes.” Thanks, Honey!

But, he may have a point. A few nights ago, I went to close our gate at the end of our driveway. The gate is electric and is remotely connected to our landline for opening and closing. For two years, I have closed the gate every night, but always complain that I have to punch in the code TWICE or the gate doesn’t close. My husband claims he has never had to punch in the code twice. It always works the first time.


So I decided to watch him do it. He punched in the code and walked away. I looked out the window to see if the gate was closing… and it didn’t! “Aha!” I said, calling him back.  “It doesn’t work the first time!”  But by the time he came back, the gate had closed.

Wait! What?

Are you telling me that I have been punching in the code twice every single day for two years because it simply takes a minute or so for the signal to go through? Have I been pressing it twice because I am too impatient to wait for it to close? Am I that person who presses the “Walk” button on a crosswalk multiple times? Not because it makes the light change faster, but because it just gives you something to do... while satisfying a neurotic need to do something while waiting? 

Now, in my own defense, there is another plausible explanation for this gate mystery. Perhaps I have been pressing the sequence of numbers too fast and it was preventing the gate from closing?

Of course, that only means if I had been patient and slowed down, the gate would have closed the first time anyway.


So, despite my yoga practice, my meditation practice, the sign in my office, the Buddhas, the inspirational words carved on rocks, I still have to be more patient about becoming... patient.  

P.S. I am going to be giving myself a little self-imposed hiatus from my blog. I am not sure how long my hiatus will be. Maybe a week. Maybe a month. So be patient with me. If you want more 52-Mondays, don't forget you can always start at the beginning and read it forward. It starts back in January 2016... so there are about 150 posts to keep you busy. Wishing you all Happy Mondays!


When It Rains It Pours

Is it plagiarism when I borrow pieces of an email that I wrote to my sister and use most of it for my Monday blog post?

Answer: Only if I am officially diagnosed with multiple personality disorder and one of my personalities stole it from my other without giving it credit. 

So today I bring you… When It Rains It Pours.

First, there is the literal rain. 

Thankfully, the category 4 hurricane that was headed straight for the Hawaiian Islands made a left turn and missed us altogether. Even with that, we had one crazy rainstorm that caused the power to go out and our roof to leak in two places.

The power was restored quickly, the sun came out and it has been hot and humid ever since.

Now it feels like a sauna outside. I don’t ever remember humidity like this. My dehumidifiers are working overtime. It feels like I am always coming out of a hot shower… and dripping wet. It is too hot and humid to bother blow drying my hair, so I am just perpetually sticky and stuck with frizzy hair until this weather pattern changes. I just need to remember that winter will be here soon enough, and, since we don’t have central heat, I will have something new to complain about.

Then there is the metaphorical rain.

Work has suddenly gotten crazy busy. Some Chinese fire drills. (Does anyone under 50 still use that expression?) Some legitimate progress. The studios are spending money in pre-production and filming dates are getting lined up. Dare I say there is a good chance that some of my projects might go into production? I don’t want to get my hopes up, so I keep my head down and focus on one task at a time. 

I find myself dreaming all night about the various schedules and people that I have to line up. It’s all very exciting... and very exhausting. I suddenly feel like I need a nap every day or maybe I should go back to drinking caffeine. Maybe I need both. When things start going all at once, it’s like spinning plates. Which is super fun and exhilarating. But I fear that the spinning plates will come crashing down, leaving me with nothing but broken china. So this is where my meditation practice gets tested. 

Am I staying present? Mostly.

Am I being mindful? I think so.

Am I grateful? Yes, except when I am complaining.

Am I breathing? Probably not enough. I tend to hold my breath a lot. That would explain why my shoulders feel like cement and why I can't turn my neck on the right side.

A few weeks ago, I strained my lower back while playing tennis. My back has finally healed and I am back on the court. Unfortunately, about the time I hurt my back, I started experiencing upper abdominal pain too. The pain was pretty bad, so I went to the doctor to rule out something more serious. All the tests came back negative, which is great! Unfortunately, there is no explanation about why my upper abdomen is still painful when I bend over or sit too long. They said it could be a muscle strain as well. This reminded me of an old joke. A woman goes to the doctor and says, “It hurts when I do THIS.” So, the doctor says, “So, don’t do THAT.”  

Guess what? After all my tests came back clear, I asked the doctor what I should be doing about the pain when I bend over in a seated position. His advice — “Don't do that!”

Super helpful.

So, I remind myself when it rains it pours, but then you get really incredible sunsets. 


Eighth Grade

There is a new movie out called Eighth Grade and I highly recommend it.

It is a “coming of age” story about a teenage girl who is finishing the 8th grade and preparing to go to high school. She is awkward and lonely... and a classic teenager.

My youngest daughter just finished the 8th grade and is about to turn 14. So for me, this film could not have come at a better time. In some ways, this movie is about all of us. Then, now, and going forward. It’s about finding ourselves, defining ourselves, connecting with others, fitting in, not fitting in, insecurities, philosophies, attitudes, social media, self-help, and being human. 

But the depiction of the 14-year-old mind in this day and age, the addiction to social media and screens, is so relatable. The “interference" of parents in the teenage world is particularly fascinating. When the earbuds are in or the headphones are on, these kids are transported to another world. So every knock on the bedroom door or every word spoken at the dinner table is a nuclear intrusion. I suppose we were the same way in the 1970s when we would watch TV or put on our headphones and listen to our vinyl records.

But we forget when we are adults/parents what it was like to be overwhelmed with hormones, pimples, homework, boredom, boys, girls, body images, and social pressure. 

The true beauty of this film is not just the depiction of the modern day teenager and their social media/smartphone addictions. It’s the gentle reminder that while the technology has changed radically, the dynamics of social cliques, peer pressure, and wanting things to be better (or just different) remains ubiquitous. 

If you have a teenager at home, this movie should be required viewing. If you ever had a teenager or were a teenager, you may just love it for the walk down memory lane… and the gratitude that this stage is behind you. 

By the way, I tried to bring my 8th grader to this movie, but she said, “No way. I saw the trailer and it’s simply too real. I can’t watch THAT with my parents."



Eight years has flown by and it is time to renew my driver’s license.

The last time I got my driver’s license, I completely forgot about the picture. So for the last eight years, my driver's license ID photo looked like I had just rolled out of bed. Which I probably did. But, if that wasn’t bad enough, the DMV printer had mechanical issues, so my head looked like I just came through the birth canal.

I was determined to be better prepared for my photo this time. I decided to go in for the renewal just after I had my hair done.

The great thing about living in Hawaii is that you don’t need an appointment to go to the DMV. You can just walk in and generally the lines are fairly short. Since it was just a renewal, I figured I would hand over my old license, do a simple eye test, snap a new photo, and be on my way.

Silly me.

Apparently, in 2012, Homeland Security and the Immigration Department decided to have a baby and call it the new DMV. What was once the happiest place on earth (at least on my 16th birthday) has turned into the seven circles of red-tape hell.

If you are a man, the new process is probably no big deal. If you are a woman and have never been married or changed your name, you are in the clear as well. Congratulations, by the way. But for those of us who are married, were married, or have ever changed our names, the process is horrible. And I suggest you read this VERY VERY carefully. I may be able to save you a lot of time and trouble.

Unaware of the new demands on those of us who have ever changed our name, I strolled into the DMV with my freshly coiffed hair and my cheerful pink blouse. Usually, I am in a simple white tee-shirt, but I wanted to brighten up my photo with something more colorful. Within moments my number was called to meet with one of the DMV clerks. She was super nice and smiley. I thought, “This is even easier than I thought.” I gave her my current driver’s license and she asked me if all the information on the license was still correct. I proudly said “Yes!” Then, just as I was digging my lip gloss out of my purse to re-apply for my photo, the nice lady explained that the Federal rules for renewal have changed. She handed me the renewal application and a list of legal documents required. None of which I had with me.

Determined to not waste a good hair day and with a few hours of free time, I decided to drive back to my house and get the required paperwork. Unfortunately, I didn’t fully appreciate just how specific this “list” really is. It is like some kind of sadistic-competitive scavenger hunt. So, I just grabbed every legal document that I had, along with my most recent utility bills, and raced back to the DMV before they closed. I waited 45 minutes for a clerk to call my number. 

I was called to a different, but equally nice, lady and we started the process all over. She asked for my current driver’s license - Check!

She asked if my address was current. Check!

She requested my original birth certificate (Original! No copies!) - Check! 

So far so good.

She asked for my social security card - Check! 

Then she made a face. Uh oh.

She pointed out that my last name was different than on my license. Oops! I had accidentally grabbed my old social security card from my previous marriage. I pointed out the number has not changed and I happened to bring my divorce decree with me. Won’t that work? No. However, I could use a recent paycheck stub or a W-2. Great. Except that I didn’t have either of those things with me. They would be back at my house along with my current social security card. Oh and that would be another 60 minutes round trip.

Then she asked for TWO recent utility bills. No problem, I brought THREE! Check! 

She made another face. No. Not check. All the utilities were in my husband’s name. But why does that matter, we’re married? I even brought my marriage certificate. So I hand her that. Check!

She looked it over and started shaking her head. Uh oh again. She explained that I brought a copy. Not the original! It MUST be the original!! Seriously??? And to make matters worse, I don’t know where the original is. She tells me that I better find it unless I have a passport.

Check! I DO have a passport AND I brought it with me. I proudly hand it over and she starts shaking her head again. Apparently, my passport expired six months ago.


At this point, she looks at me like I have failed my driver’s test. Except that I haven’t taken a driver’s test. I don’t need a driver’s test. I have a perfect driving record and a VALID driver’s license,

But for those of us who have ever changed their name, there is a new test at the DMV. It’s called “Prove that you exist in 10,000 different ways.” And I have failed that test.

So she sends me home with a list of homework. First, I need to get my passport renewed immediately. Then I need to come back with a valid passport and my original marriage certificate, my current social security card, two pieces of identification that prove where I live. And no, my VALID driver’s license ironically does not fulfill that requirement.

THEN I can take my photo and THEN I can get my driver’s license renewed. 

So the next day I go to the post office. Apparently, a lot of post offices process passport applications. Unfortunately, not the post office that I chose.

So, I drove to another branch. The second post office did process passport applications, but they don’t take passport photos. So, they send me to a nearby Walgreen’s to take the passport photos.  But Walgreen’s couldn’t take my photo because I was wearing a white tee shirt.  If only I was wearing yesterday’s pink blouse. But since I had such a terrible day trying to get my driver’s license renewed, I figured the pink blouse was bad luck, so I went home and burned it. Now I was back in my usual white tee-shirt, but Walgreens takes their passport photos with a white background and the passport office won’t accept white shirts on a white. Not kidding.

So, I had to go buy something to put over my white tee-shirt so I could take the photo. Then I headed back to the post office and mailed off my passport application. I paid extra to expedite my passport processing. I paid extra to send it priority mail. All so that I could get my driver’s license.

I returned back to the DMV with all of the correct documentation and the proof of mailing the passport renewal. I had a different clerk help me this time, but fortunately, she was sitting next to the woman who had helped me the day before. She said, “Oh I remember you. You are the TV Producer.” She must have seen that in the “occupation” box on the form that I was required to fill out. The new clerk sifted through my mound of paperwork and issued me a temporary driver’s license until my new passport arrives or until I get my original wedding certificate sent from the state of California which requires a notary and won’t be available for several weeks. 

Then both women quizzed me on what shows I have produced and suggested I do a show about the DMV. I assume they were suggesting a comedy, but at that moment, I failed to find any humor in this environment.

So, in turn, I suggested to them that they simply fingerprint people for their driver’s license and then they wouldn’t need this insurmountable amount of paperwork. It turns out they do that anyway.  

Sooo, let me sum it all up:

-Three trips to the DMV

-Three trips to the post office

-Two trips to Walgreens

-AND the added pleasure of paying $400 in fees for my driver’s license renewal, passport renewal, passport photos, expedited passport processing, expedited mailing costs, and a request for a certified ORIGINAL marriage license...

I was finally ready for my new driver’s license photo!

Unfortunately, now I was in a plain white tee-shirt. My hair was no longer freshly blown dry. I was hot and sweaty from running around in the summer heat. So, even with a fresh coat of lip gloss, it turns out I am stuck with another dreadful driver’s license photo for the next eight years. 


Hedgehog Diaries

My middle daughter got a pet hedgehog and she named her Macaroni.

I know. Who gets a pet hedgehog? I didn’t even know that a hedgehog could be a pet. I thought it was something you wipe muddy boots on by the door. But apparently, it’s the new hamster for hipsters. She would cringe at that statement, but it made for a nice alliteration. It’s more of the new pet of millennials. After asking her a million questions: Where will it sleep? What does it eat? Who will take care of it while you are in class or at work? She explained that right now the hedgehog is being cared for by her boyfriend who is on the east coast. He will take care of it during the summer and then my daughter will take it when she gets back to school.

But apparently what started out as a truly sweet gesture has turned into a potential problem. My daughter’s boyfriend has really bonded with the little hedgehog. He has bought her a new playpen, a new bed, and a hamster exercise ball. Apparently, the hamster ball did not go over too well. Macaroni became disoriented and pooped inside it. It turns out hedgehogs are more like hogs than hamsters. So he made it up to her by buying some kind of hedgehog baby carrier (think Baby Bjorn). I would say a hedgehog carrier qualifies as a red flag of over-indulgence.

Now my daughter feels like she’s missing out. She feels like maybe the baby hedgehog is imprinting on her boyfriend. She is concerned that when she returns to the east coast, that her boyfriend won’t want to give up the hedgehog or worse, the hedgehog may not like her as much since he is the one who is spoiling her. 

The boyfriend sends her photos every day, but not a single photo has been well-executed, which just adds to my daughter's frustration. Apparently, Macaroni looks better in video than still photos.. but don’t we all? Meanwhile, my daughter fears that the hedgehog might come between them. I fear that the hedgehog may feel threatened by another woman and end up being “prickly” to her when she finally meets her.

I suggested that she could always get “another” hedgehog. She said, “We don’t need two hedgehogs… besides this one is mine... I named her."

Before we hung the phone, she asked if I knew a good lawyer.  


This darling little hedgehog is NOT Macaroni because Macaroni has yet to be photographed in focus, so I went with a generic hedgehog model.  :)

I Am A Butterfly

I have been feeling stuck creatively for the last few weeks. As much as I try to not let my work define me, I find that when my projects take giant setbacks, I can’t help but feel that sense of failure creep in.

There is so much uncertainty in producing. There is so much that I can’t control. I really like clarity. I like when things are black and white. I like when things are transparent. 

Producing is pretty much the opposite of all those things that I like. There is a ton of gray. Everything is uncertain. No one truly has control… and very few people are transparent.

So I sit at my desk, staring at my computer, on the phone… and I try and push things forward and problem solve. I try not to get too caught up in the drama and the hurdles of bureaucracy. I try not to take it personally.

But when you’ve been working on each project for over a year, and just when you think they are about to go forward, another roadblock comes up… it’s hard to stay positive. 

So I remind myself.

I am in transformation.

I am building a second career.

This is reinvention.

I am in a cocoon working all by myself trying to make something beautiful.

And I am comforted by the prophecy of this quote:

Your time as a caterpillar has expired. Your wings are ready.


Just One of Those Mondays

I had a very nice weekend.

We had intermittent cloudbursts, beautiful blue skies, rainbows, and sunshine.

It was a social weekend too. My family saw Ant Man and Wasp which was really fun. We went to a friend’s birthday party. We played tennis. We did yoga. We had dinner with my brother. All good.

But sometimes even after a great weekend, you STILL wake up and you get smacked in the face with Monday!

It started with taking my car into the body shop to fix that "minor scratch" from a few months ago. I am trying to be grateful that no one was hurt in my one-mile per hour accident with the corner of a random mailbox. Not even the mailbox was injured. It’s just the scratch/dent/impalement happened to be in a place that requires the entire side panel to be replaced. $2300 later… it kind of sucks.

Then, I went to get a “safety inspection” for said car and it didn’t pass because the tread is too low on my tires. I am not sure how this is possible as they only have 20,000 miles on them, but apparently, that is "common" according to the car dealer. The dealer carries the tires, but they cost $300 (each!) plus installation. No one else carries the stupid tires, so I need to have them shipped from the mainland (which is cheaper), but still ridiculously expensive. That kind of sucks too.

My husband was kind enough to pick me up from the body shop, but he needed to run into Lowe's for just one thing on the way home. I decided to go and do the grocery shopping next door. I buy a week’s worth of groceries in 15 minutes, but I find myself standing in the hot sun (with melting ice cream) and he was still not out of Lowe’s yet for his “one item." 

When I got home, my daughter was annoyed with me that she had to get out of bed before Noon because “It’s summer."

Needless to say, I am feeling a little cranky today. Even when I sat down to write today's blog, I went through three attempts, all of them as annoying as this Monday has been so far.

So I went searching through Instagram for inspiration (aka procrastinating from writing), and I saw this little gem posted by my favorite yoga teacher:

"This week is going to be filled with miracles, breakthroughs, good news, abundance, and love."

I decided to share it with all of you because maybe you are having an annoying Monday too. Maybe it's a sign and will turn things around for the rest of the week.

Happy Monday!


Sleepless in Seattle

No not the movie… nor the love story. Just my inability to fall asleep due to jet lag while visiting my daughter in Seattle over a long weekend. (Warning: This blog post might make you hungry.)

Friday, while my daughter was doing her summer internship, I spent the day exploring a bit of the city. I went to a museum, made a few calls, answered some emails, and did a lot of walking. I stumbled upon a handmade vegan ice cream store (no dairy!) called Frankie & Jo’s. I ordered their monthly special which had caramel, coconut, almonds, and kale. I know that sounds a little weird, but it was positively the best ice cream I have ever had in my life -- regular or otherwise. It was like a heaven in a cup. I loved it so much that I took my daughter there after dinner, and the line was around the block. We waited 45 minutes, but it was totally worth it. Yes, I even had another scoop.

Saturday and Sunday, we spent our days taking in the city like tourists. We visited the three different museums, the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and took a boat tour around Puget Sound. We ate at all the local tourist haunts including Beecher’s known for their world-famous Mac n Cheese and Grilled Cheese sandwiches. These are my daughter’s two favorite foods in the world and mine too. They are, also, what I affectionately refer to as my "gateway drugs." More specifically, white flour and cheese. But when in Rome or Seattle...

We ate late-afternoon pizza from a chain restaurant called Mod. Surprisingly it was one of the best things I ate while I was there -- second only to the vegan ice cream. Mod does a paper-thin mini-pizza with any toppings you choose. They have a gourmet selection of fresh and grilled veggies, so I did mine with fresh arugula and grilled asparagus. It was to die for. My daughter did a pesto pizza with grilled asparagus and broccoli and roasted garlic. I think they went overboard on the garlic because I counted at least two dozen cloves. When I was 21 years old, I would have loved that too, but there is no way I could digest that much garlic at my “middle-age.” (I love saying middle-age because how many people truly live to 106?)

Later we went to the movies, walked more, and went to a late dinner at an over-rated Italian restaurant. We shared a mediocre pasta appetizer and a salmon entree. Both unmemorable. The best part of the meal was their bread. Whenever I eat bread, I always think of the Amy Schumer’s stand-up line “Remember bread?” She says this line in a wistful nostalgic voice. It’s the same tone of voice we use when we talk about an unrequited love we had as a teenager. Anyway, I ate the crunchy Italian bread with the soft center and the homemade butter… and it was so good. It almost made up for the unmemorable-over-priced meal. We sat next to a twenty-something pop singer, whom I didn’t recognize, but my daughter said was kind of a big deal. 

We walked home from the restaurant. More walking. More talking. We laughed and giggled. We walked everywhere we went. Apparently, we averaged 7.3 miles per day for three days straight--according to some app on my phone, that I didn't know I had, but my daughter showed me.

Normally, my daughter can out walk me (in both speed and distance), but I had boundless energy and she was having trouble keeping up with me for once. She may have been slightly handicapped by her mild indigestion (undoubtedly due to her roasted garlic festivities from earlier). Or perhaps I was just jet lagged and wasn't aware of how late it really was. Or maybe it was just the excitement of just spending time with my daughter in a new city together. The whole glorious weekend reminded me of a Dr. Seuss book:

We walked and talked.

We talked and walked.

We ate and ate.

I almost hate...

How much we ate.

Fish fish fish.

There was fish on every dish.

Ice cream without the cream.

Which tasted just like a dream.

We walked up and down every hill.

We thought our feet would surely kill.

We walked and giggled.

We walked and jiggled.

Although there was barely any sun.

We still had tons and tons of fun.

Two girls in a city.

Who were positively giddy.

Just mother & daughter...

and a great weekend by the water.



Yesterday, I had a friend visiting from out of town. We got together with another friend to play tennis and then have a BBQ. It was just great. The sky was blue with big puffy white clouds. The temperature was about 78 degrees. There was a light breeze. The tennis was really fun and my 13-year-old daughter was my doubles partner. My out-of-town friend commented, “This is the best. I love seeing Y'all and playing tennis on this fabulous day.”

Yes, it was kind of perfect. 

This prompted a discussion between all of us about "being present" and a new appreciation for the “little things.” Little things like good weather. A blue sky. A soft breeze. A great tennis game. Delicious food and getting together with friends. Anyone of those things would have been lovely, but all of those things in one afternoon made it exceptional. Oh, and for me, having my daughter as my tennis partner was the icing on the proverbial cake.

Being present in the moment (dare I say mindful) is a new superpower for me. I was totally present and enjoying every moment that we were playing, eating, and catching up. Having spent a lifetime of juggling a big career, small children, and all of the responsibilities of being a working mom, especially one with an overly heightened sense of perfectionism, I was rarely ever present. I always lived in the future: Lists, deadlines, preparation for the next activity, the next meeting, tomorrow, next week, ten years, etc. 

Only now am I trying harder to do LESS. Less multi-tasking. Less worrying. Less living in the future. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I still make lists every day. I still keep a tight schedule. I am still a prepared-ness freak. But I am re-training my brain to stop and smell more roses. To savor my food. To enjoy my meditation. To be mindful when I am playing tennis or practicing yoga. I am learning to be grateful for the little moments... as well as the big ones.

My dad has been gone now for three weeks and I have been thinking about him a lot. He was unintentionally “mindful.” He never drove by a beautiful tree without admiring it. It was always a good day when he saw family or friends. He loved what he did for a living. He took great pleasure in driving a car or just riding in a car when he no longer could drive himself.  As his grandson said in his eulogy, “He thought every meal he ate was the best meal he ever had.” 

My dad always told me to “worry less and count your blessings.” For him, it came naturally. For me, it has been a slower process. (50 years or so). But each day that I remember to admire a tree, note the color of the sky, or just be more present, I am honoring his memory. Implementing his sage advice, I find myself a little happier.

Yesterday, my cup ran right over the top... and it was the little things that made it so joyful. 


I Really Miss French Fries

I miss French fries. 

I miss potato chips.  

I miss cold beer. 

I miss warm chocolate lava cake. Especially since Costco started carrying it in these adorable individual ramekins that are ready in the microwave in less than one minute. 

I miss these foods because I decided to cleanse my body of all junk food and bad eating habits that I developed over the last holiday season. 

I have been watching documentaries and reading articles and books on the latest new theories on eating for optimal health. As an added bonus, I might shed a few unwanted pounds… and what middle-aged woman doesn’t want to lose a few?

So I went on a modified Keto/Paleo/Whole30/low-carb-high(good)fat program. This means:

No alcohol

No sugar

No bread or pasta 

No grains (wheat, corn, rice, etc.)

No potatoes

No artificial anything

No fruit (except some berries)

No fun

The good news is that you don’t count calories or portions. You eat lots of veggies, healthy oils (avocados, olives, coconut), meats, eggs, fish, seafood, and nuts (no peanuts or cashews). Macadamia nuts have been the most fun to eat without any guilt. My number one goal was to reduce inflammation in hopes that my muscles and joints would hurt less. Soooooo... 35 days, 16 hours and 20 minutes later (but who’s counting?!), here are my results:

I lost a whopping THREE pounds. I know. I know. Totally ridiculous.

My joints hurt exactly as much as they did a month ago. That should have been a deal breaker right there.

My neck has been stiff for weeks and is still tight as a drum. My chiropractor, however, is very happy as I currently have him on speed dial.

I don’t sleep any better. Which sucks.

My hair is no shinier. Maybe if I put the coconut oil ON my hair instead of IN my food, I might have had better results.

My nails didn’t grow any faster. So, my dream of being a hand model isn’t going to happen.

My skin isn’t less wrinkled. But if it were, I would be writing my own diet book and be making millions.

I didn’t suddenly win the Pulitzer… nor an Oscar. 

And sadly, I am just as neurotic. Well, no one thought that was going to change. Although, there is a theory that my underlying neurosis might actually be the root cause of my muscle tension. But we’ll explore that in another post.

And in spite of my unremarkable results of junk food deprivation, I actually DO feel better in a whole host of unexpected ways -- I am calmer. I have a lot fewer sugar cravings... and I have a lot more energy. So, believe it or not, I am going to keep it going for a little longer. I don’t know if I am doing it out of self-preservation or due to some kind of masochistic tendencies.

I had one friend recommend that I stop eating nuts to reduce inflammation. Another friend told me to stop eating tomatoes. One doctor told me to stop drinking carbonated water. Another one told me to stop playing tennis. I have tried everything, but my muscles are still tight and my joints hurt. But I remain open to suggestions. So, if anyone has a (natural) magical cure, I'm all ears.

My favorite comment, since I started this dietary program, was from a friend who simply said:   

“You lost me at no alcohol.” 




The Five or Six Stages of Grief

Last Monday, I didn’t post for the first time since I launched my blog. I even posted on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day (Mondays!) But, last Monday, I could not write a post because I was too preoccupied with writing my father’s eulogy. 

My dad passed away at the age of 91. He had a pretty great life. Well into his 80’s, my dad still practiced law, drove a car, traveled the world, went to concerts, played bridge, and had a very active social life. Around the age of 87, a complicated stew of aging, dementia, Parkinson’s, and three different kinds of cancer started to slow down the fun train. His body was no longer reliable enough to navigate the world independently. He accepted a new life with full-time caregivers quite well. Over the last two years, there was a steady decline in the quality of his life. Still, he remained happy to go out every day, eat in restaurants, and continue to see friends and family regularly. It was only in the last few months that his mobility and cognitive skills were so diminished that he started sleeping most of the time. When he was awake, he just had a blank stare as if he was always in a dream state. Finally, he passed away quietly in his sleep.

When I got the call, I went into hyper-vigilant-mode to help get things organized (long distance). My brother was doing the bulk of the heavy-lifting — making the funeral arrangements and organizing the reception. I just needed to do a handful of things, but everything was going wrong. It felt like I was trying to move in quicksand. It took me hours to write his eulogy. Hours to write his obituary. Hours to book my travel. I even booked the wrong dates the first time. Then the electricity and the internet went out. I thought it was some kind of sign. I am still not sure a sign of what, but maybe that no matter how prepared you are for someone to die… you are never really prepared.

I flew to Los Angeles where we held the funeral. It was well attended by family and friends. His 88-year-old brother gave the first eulogy. His 83-year-old sister gave the second. All four of his children gave a eulogy along with two of his five grandchildren. Without knowing who would say what, each person told a funny story -- stories that my Dad had told them. Each one commented on how full and joyful his life was. Each one commented on his love of food, family, and storytelling. He was well honored. He was appropriately adored and admired for his zest for life. The service was filled with genuine laughter through some heartfelt tears. Everyone who attended felt that it was a celebration of a life well lived.  

The theme of my eulogy was my father’s relentless optimism and how grateful he was to have been alive for 91 years. After the chapel service, we had the traditional burial. My dad was buried next to my mom where she was laid to rest 43 years earlier (minus five days). Ironic that they both passed away in the month of June. I remember my mom’s funeral as if it had happened yesterday. I remember what I wore. I remember being terrified of cemeteries and caskets. At her funeral, no one gave eulogies except our family rabbi. No one uttered a word. No funny stories were told. It was nothing but sadness. She was 45 years old, and in the prime of her life, when cancer robbed her at the halfway point. She left four children (ages 10-21.) She left a husband who adored her. She left a mother, father, sister, and a huge group of friends who were all devastated. I remember thinking my world ended the day she died and wondered if the sun would come up the next day. I remember thinking even if it did come up, what would be the point of it? Without her, my world had ended. She was my best friend. 

But I survived that day… and the next 43 years too. Now I was standing on that same patch of grass, burying my father. But this time everything was different. With maturity and perspective, I was able to celebrate my dad’s life. I was able to appreciate the time we had with him. I was grateful that he passed away peacefully. I was grateful to all the dear friends and family that showed up for the service. Losing a parent is always difficult. But there is no comparison between losing your mother when you are a little girl and saying goodbye to your father as an adult... when their life was truly complete.

After the service, we had a wonderful reception at my aunt’s house. We feasted on deli platters (my dad’s favorite) and sat around sharing more stories. Then for the next four days, my siblings and I got together to eat meals, sifted through old photographs and talked more. We dredged up a lot of memories… some hilarious and some emotional ones too. By the end of the week, my heart was full. There was very little sadness or grief. I had my first dissonant moment when I wanted to call my dad and tell him about this incredible memorial service… but then remembered it was his.

By the end of the week, my siblings and I went back to our respective homes in our respective cities. And now the melancholy is starting to creep in. When my siblings and extended family were all together, it felt like my dad was with us. He was laughing too and enjoying the lox and bagels. But with everyone returning to their separate homes, it suddenly has become very quiet. Feeling a bit unmoored, I decided to look up the Five Stages of Grief. I did this the same way I might look up a recipe… as if there is a formula for making this feeling go away.

Here are the Five Stages of Grief:






Yes, those emotions would definitely apply to other times in my life. But this does not depict my current emotional journey. My stages have been more like:

Numbness (the initial news)

Overwhelm (funeral planning and travel logistics)

Teary-eyed (seeing family and friends at the memorial)

Laughter (storytelling about his wonderful life)

Gratitude (for the beautiful sendoff and his longevity)

Melancholy (when the family all went home)

So I am having my own SIX stages of something else, and I don’t like it. I want to hold onto those stories. I want to hold onto that celebration of life. I want to hold onto the virtue that defined my dad: Optimism.

So I remind myself of three simple things:

My dad is in a better place.

On this earth, he is in his final resting place… next to my mom.

In heaven, they are taking a walk in Paris… and catching up on the last 43 years.

Dad, may you and Mom both rest in peace… you are loved every day and never forgotten.




The Kids Are Alright

My husband’s cousin and her boyfriend were visiting us for the last two weeks. She is 23 years old. 5’9” with long blonde hair and crystal blues eyes. Everything about her is perfect. She is beautiful inside and out. She is smart, strong, and athletic, and her boyfriend (28) is truly her equal. He is tall, lean, and muscular with piercing blue eyes and a big bright smile. He is from Germany and she is from Austria, and they met doing competitive alpine sports. They are both outstanding athletes. Highly educated. Polite. Organized. Bilingual… and just lovely. I don’t know what they put in the water in Europe, but they are truly awesome young adults.

They rented their own car and would often leave early in the morning and not return until early evening. They saw the island the way it is meant to be seen. They went to the beach. They swam in the ocean. They hiked into the crater. They played tennis. They snorkeled. They surfed (for the first time and loved it). They fell in love with Coconut's fish tacos so much, that they drove 45 minutes (each way) and ate them every day for a week. They are both triathletes and compete in cross country skiing, downhill skiing, ski mountaineering and Ironmans. They are a gorgeous couple and couldn’t be sweeter or smarter. It was a real treat to have them visit us.

Meanwhile, two of my daughters are traveling in Italy. My oldest daughter (23) is halfway through her nine-month global backpacking adventure. After four months in Southeast Asia, she is now in Europe. For my middle daughter's 21st birthday, I gave her a plane ticket to meet her sister there for 10 days. Their uncle, who loves Italy and will use any excuse to go, decided to join them as well.

So, now my brother and two of my daughters are eating their way through Italy. Their uncle has been to Italy dozens of times, so he is taking them to all of his “favorite restaurants in the world.” Apparently, my oldest daughter started crying when they went to this one restaurant in the countryside and tasted the "Lard and Truffle" bruschetta. She said, “It was the greatest thing she has ever tasted in her life.” Meanwhile, my middle daughter (who adores pasta) is in heaven eating all the fresh-made pasta she can consume. Their uncle insists that they eat gelato every day because “it’s the greatest in the world,” and in honor of their other Uncle who never passes up gelato. Sometimes they eat it twice in one day. 

They are having a ball and sending me pictures daily. I can’t explain how happy this makes me. They sent me one picture of the two of them drinking wine and laughing their first night in Florence. When I got the picture, I burst out crying (tears of joy) because they looked so happy to be together and enjoying life. 

And me?

Somehow all of these travelers have inspired me (dare I say given me permission) to play hooky from my normal overly-regimented-adult-life. My husband, my youngest daughter, my sister-in-law, our cousins, and I played tennis for hours and hours on Mother’s Day... and it was awesome.

Later in the week, another friend of mine was visiting from the mainland, so I took the day off to play tennis with her one morning. After the game, we had lunch at a restaurant right on the ocean. We had a fun playing and a great time catching up. I felt like I was the one on vacation!

Later, I went to pick up my daughter from her tennis lesson, and I ended up playing with another group who needed a fourth. After that match, my husband and daughter and I stayed to play another match before dinner.

Yes, I took my own advice and I chose fun! How did it feel? Glorious. It was the first time in a long time that I wasn’t watching the clock, worried about the laundry, what to make for dinner, giving notes on a script, or preparing for a conference call. Okay, maybe I had a little twinge of panic at the end of the day, but not for a moment while I was playing. Yay me!

I haven’t felt joy like that in a long time. Although my immediate family wasn’t physically all together, we were together in groups… and doing what we love most. Knowing that the older sisters were together, and having a ball with their uncle, made it just perfect. Meanwhile, I was home with the other half of my immediate family playing tennis... and we were having a great time too. 

But it’s Monday now. My houseguests have left. I have a post to write. I have scripts to read. I have errands to run. I need to prep something for dinner. And, of course, I need to finish the five loads of laundry because no matter how much fun you might be having… somethings never change. 

But these two girls are a great reminder. Enjoy your life... and don't forget to do what makes you happy. It just might be contagious.


Mother's Day

As the saying goes, “It’s Complicated.”

Mother’s Day is a complicated holiday for me. When I lost my mother at the age of 10, Mother’s Day became one of many annual reminders that opened up the gaping wound in my chest and poured salt directly on my heart.

Losing your mother when you are a child is one of those battle scars that you carry for your whole life. Only those who have fought a similar war can truly understand what it feels like.

Growing up, I didn’t know a single other kid without a mom. I always felt like I was "the girl whose mother died.” It was like being a minority, a foreigner, or having a handicap. Mostly a handicap. I was the one who walked around with a hole in her heart.

For years, I had to fight the melancholy that came over me on these kinds of holidays. At every family function, it felt like the guest of honor was always missing… especially on Mother’s Day.  

At the age of 30, twenty years after my mother died, I started my own family. I wish I could tell you that having a child made the pain magically disappear. While I was grateful to have had a baby of my own, in some ways, it was a painful reminder of my mother's absence all over again. My friend’s mothers were there to plan their baby showers, hold their babies when their daughter’s needed to rest, answer all of their questions about newborns, run errands for them, babysit, and celebrate the milestones of their grandchildren. I felt overwhelmed, and often alone, trying to figure out how to even be a new mom. 

When my second daughter was born, two weeks before Mother’s Day, I started to feel a slight shift. I felt more confident about being a mother. I felt like Mother’s Day was no longer about what I was missing, but what I had. As my children grew older, I was able to share stories about my mom and my own childhood. They would come to know her through me. 

All three of my daughters delighted in the fact that I was such a different child than they were:

I was a worrier. They are not. 

I was clingy. They are not. 

I was a homebody. They are not. 

All three of them will take any opportunity to go on an adventure, travel, or be with friends. In fact, on this Mother’s Day, my two oldest daughters are traveling in Europe together. (Both remembered to call me… which made me very happy.)

My youngest daughter will be spending the day with me, and we will spend the day doing my favorite thing: playing tennis… which coincidentally was my mother’s favorite hobby too. 

So Mother’s Day is no longer a sad day. It remains a day of remembrance, but also a celebration of life. I am grateful to my daughters for making me feel like a good mom (most of the time). And for allowing me to tell them the same stories over and over again about the woman who had the most influence on my life... even though she was only in my life for such a short time.


Advice From My Teenage Daughter

Last week I was having a pity party (table for one please). My work projects were all in a state of chaos or on life support. I was feeling kind of blue. Frustrated. Angry. Dare I say bitchy? (Mostly bitchy.)

So, I wrote a sad sack poem about my feelings. It was really less of a poem and more of a list. 

I like lists.

I like grocery lists.

I like To-Do lists.

I like gratitude lists.

I like lists for when things are bugging me. (Since this is the opposite of gratitude, I call them my  attitude lists.)

Lists help me think. They help me clear the cobwebs out of my brain.

I was planning to just post the list of my feelings under the guise that it was poetry… but it wasn’t really poetry.

It wasn’t particularly insightful.

It certainly wasn’t witty.

I would have been better off posting my grocery list... which might have been more entertaining.

But when I wrote my list/poem, I was hoping to kill two birds with one stone:

1) Write my way out of a bad mood.

2) Write something that I could post today.

But that didn’t happen.

So our family dinner conversation was consumed with my complaining about my frustrations at work. I was lamenting to my husband that all of my projects seemed to be blowing up all at once. While in mid-rant, my 13-year-old daughter looked up from her spaghetti and meatballs and asked me this:

“Mom, of all the producers you have ever worked with, which ones had success right away?” The question stopped me in my tracks. I thought long and hard and finally said, 

“None of them. It takes years to get even one project off the ground.”  

She smiled and said, “So why would it be any different for you? Success takes time. Just keep going.”

Wait a minute! Did my 13-year-old daughter just give me advice? Is she actually paying attention to things I have taught her? Things I have said? Is this the same daughter who can’t remember to pick up her wet towel off the floor every day? 

Yes, it is.

Her words were so simple and yet so perfect. For this one moment, I stepped out of my self-indulgent, panic-induced, stress-riddled, producer-ranting, irritated professional-self, and took stock in a joyous moment of motherhood.

My daughter is paying attention. Not just to me. But to the world. She is able to assimilate a lot of amorphous information and distill it down to a few words of wisdom. My daughter is compassionate, insightful… and 100% correct. My daughter is listening. This means she is learning... and in turn, I am learning too. I am reminded (yet again) that everything takes time: My producing career. Raising a child. Even this blog post. 

So this week’s life lesson (and post) is dedicated to my daughter. It is her sage words of advice that I am sharing because we all need the reminder (especially on Mondays): 

Just Keep Going

P.S. Her wet towel was on the floor again this morning, but she gets a free pass today.


Accidents Happen

I believe it was the brilliant comedienne Carol Burnett who said, “Comedy is tragedy plus time.”

The other day, I offered to help a friend with her daughter’s birthday party at the beach. My daughter and I volunteered to make cupcakes for the party, so we were up late the night before frosting 36 sprinkle cupcakes with bright blue icing. It turns out that blue icing is a messy business, so cleanup went later than I expected.

In spite of our late night, we got up early the next morning. I thought I had plenty of time to start the weekend laundry, make breakfast, wrap the gift, meditate, and try out my dog’s new bark collar. My dog has always been a barky little guy, but it has escalated to a new level lately. It’s like having a car alarm go off every time a stray cat wanders by the window or a bird lands on our roof… which happens more often than you might think. I considered putting him on some kind of doggy Prozac, but my sister-in-law, who has three barky dogs, swears by this collar. I read the instructions and double-checked to make sure the “shock” setting was off so that it would only vibrate and beep. I figured the perfect time to test it out would be during my morning meditation. We went into my bedroom, like we do every morning, and sat on my reading chair, and started my 20 minutes of attempted tranquility.

Unfortunately, I underestimated just how much he didn’t like this new collar. It is kind of bulky and anything new scares him. About two minutes into my meditation, my dog jumped off the chair, and I heard a terrible retching sound.

Normally I don’t get up from meditation even when he barks. But this wasn’t barking, this was that horrible pre-vomiting sound. I jumped out of my chair to grab him before the vomiting began. I could hear him, but I could not find him. I looked all over the bedroom, in the bathroom, and the closet. More retching, but no sign of my dog.

Then I realized the sound was coming from UNDERNEATH my bed! I rushed over because the only rug in my house is in my bedroom, under my bed… and it’s a shag rug. Needless to say, I didn’t need him throwing up on that. I have a low-profile bed frame, so I wasn’t sure exactly how he was able to get underneath that three-inch clearance, but he did. My goal was to grab him before he threw up, and in my frenzy to try and save the carpet, I dove under the bed like I was sliding into home plate. I heard a sickening thud, which turned out to be my face hitting the hard ground. (No, the shag rug did very little to cushion my fall, and I got a nasty rug burn to boot.) I laid on the ground with my arm stretched out as far as it would go under the bed, but I still couldn’t reach him. It was dark under the bed, and my face was contorted at an odd angle on the rug, so I couldn’t see much. Finally, I coaxed my nervous little dog out from under the bed, but could not assess the damage he might have created under there. I immediately took off the bark collar, which never even beeped or vibrated, but in spite of that, he still managed to work himself into a full state of hysteria.

After I got him out of my bedroom, I went into the kitchen to grab some paper towels and my daughter screamed, “Mom! Your eye is all red and bleeding!” I grabbed a bag of ice and went to assess the damage. Thankfully, it wasn’t bleeding, but I did have quite the “shiner” under my eye. Yes, in an attempt to prevent my dog from barfing on my shag rug, I gave myself a black eye! Well technically, it was a bright red eye from a broken blood vessel, but it was turning a lovely shade of purple as I sat there staring at it in utter disbelief. I placed the ice bag over my eye while wondering if this was the best remedy? I distinctly remember Fred Flintstone always used a Brontosaurus steak whenever he had a black eye, but I was fresh out of Brontosaurus steaks.

In spite of my boxing match with my hardwood floor, we still made it to the beach party on time. Around lunchtime, I offered to go pick up all the pizzas. The beach parking was in a residential neighborhood and the street was quite narrow. I got in my car, backed up a few inches, and suddenly heard the terrifying sound of metal on metal. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw nothing behind me. Phew! But when I got out to investigate, I discovered that I had scraped my car against a mailbox that was hiding in my blind spot (ironic I know!) Don’t worry, the mailbox was fine. My car, on the other hand, not so much. The corner of that mailbox carved out an 8-inch gash along the side of my car. It looked like it had been “keyed” with the edge of a crowbar. In the blink of an eye (my swollen, black eye), I just had my second accident (dare I say tragedy?) of the day. But I was there to help my friend, so I got back in the car and went to get the pizzas that were waiting for pick-up. When I returned to the beach, we had 20 starving kids ready for hot pizza and homemade cupcakes. They were all so happy, and for a moment, I almost forgot about my two unfortunate accidents. But I couldn't help but worry that bad things happen in three’s... and it wasn’t even Noon yet.

Later that evening, I had a charity dinner to attend. It was kind of a western-themed jamboree. I had bought cowboy boots (my first pair), a cowboy hat, and a simple tee-shirt dress. For someone who doesn't like to dress in costume, I thought I pulled it together pretty well. But then there was the issue of my freshly-created black eye. I wasn’t really planning on this last minute accessory. I don’t own actual cover-up makeup, so I ended up improvising by using a lot of tinted moisturizer. I just kept layering it on until it almost looked normal. If nothing else, the bags under my eyes would be very, very moisturized.

The party was great fun, but the whole night I felt like I was waiting for the other shoe (or cowboy boot) to drop. What was going to be the third mishap of my day? I found myself walking extra slowly, dancing cautiously, and made sure that I didn’t drink more than one alcoholic beverage. I made it through the evening without any more incidents… well almost.

In celebrating the survival of my black eye, my car damage, and an injury-free jamboree, I might have over-indulged in the rich comfort food... and I definitely went overboard on the pie tasting. Everything was delicious, but all that rich food (and pie) didn’t sit well. So, I went home feeling a little queasy. I went to bed with a bad stomach ache and woke up with an even worse headache. Is there such a thing as a “bad day” hangover? I think I had one. So between my upset stomach, my blinding headache, my black eye, my really ugly dent across the side of my car, I decided that should fill my quota for bad luck happening in groups of three’s.

The next day I was really feeling sorry for myself. Then I decided that I was looking at it all wrong. I had three minor mishaps that almost ruined my weekend. But I had a weekend of being surrounded by good friends, good music, good food, and good fun.

My headache and stomach ache only lasted a few hours… with a little help from a handful of antacids and a couple of aspirin.

My black eye should heal in about a week or two. Needless to say, I won’t be appearing on the new cover of Vogue.

My car will get fixed. Although, I haven’t seen the estimate for the repair, which might end up being the real tragedy in this story.

The good news is that nothing was permanently damaged… and I did attend two great parties. So the lesson learned is that accidents happen. Or more aptly sh*t happens. As for the silver lining… at least I had something to write about today. And maybe even something to laugh about later.

Much later.


My Sanctuary

I have this place I call my sanctuary.

My husband built it for me.

Not with his bare hands. For he is not a builder.

He is more of an architect.

Not the kind that draws, models or applies for building permits.

He is an architect of ideas.

He was the architect of having a different life.

His actual vocation is finance.

He spends his days with spreadsheets, presentations, and emails.

But he had the vision to get us out of a rat race that was causing too much physical and emotional stress.

He wanted to live somewhere more peaceful.

Somewhere with less pollution and traffic.

Somewhere with more nature and land.

He wanted us to have more life, and less work, in our quest for work/life balance.

He wanted me to have a refuge. A place to live that turned down the volume.

He wanted me to stop saying things like: I Hate Mondays…

and Sundays because they were ruined while preparing for Mondays.

He knew that I needed an exit strategy from my old job. My old life.

So, he became the architect of a new life.

One that allowed us to move to Hawaii.

One that allowed me to leave my high-pressure job for an opportunity to create a new career for myself.

One that allowed me to think for myself... and work for myself.

He knew that I needed an office.

He knew that I needed a door to shut out the noise.

He knew that I needed a window to look out... to daydream for inspiration.

He knew that I needed to look out at something beautiful.

There was no place for that in our new home.

We had plenty of space, but nothing private.

So he figured out a way to give me that office.

He figured out a way to turn a walk-in closet into an office.

By adding a window and a door, he made it feel bright and beautiful.

Now I have beauty right outside my window.

Now I have fresh air... rather than recycled air-conditioning.

I wanted my office to be uncluttered and minimalistic, so I have white walls and minimal furnishing.

He set up a system for me to play my classical music while I write.

For the first time in years, when I get up in the morning, I am excited to go to work.

My office is my sanctuary.

A place where I go, with my little dog in tow, turn on the music, look out the window... and I write.

A place where I no longer hate Mondays, because I love what I do… and where I do it.

My husband was the architect of my sanctuary.

It’s not just a physical place, but a state of mind too.

In honor of our fourteenth wedding anniversary this week, I am dedicating this post to my architect.

I am truly grateful.


Choose Fun

I saw an ad for Carnival Cruise lines. Their new slogan is: Choose Fun.

Isn’t that just the simplest thing you’ve ever heard? Take the cruise. Slide down the waterslide. Jump on the trampoline. Drink the umbrella drink. Watch the waves go by. Enjoy the sunset. Eat the food. Dance. Sing. Laugh. Fall in love. Perfect.  

Although cruising isn’t exactly my idea of fun, I couldn't stop thinking about the tagline Choose Fun. I contend that I am too much in my head to be truly happy. I am always thinking about stuff. Not necessarily useful stuff. Just stuff. Always processing. Always wanting to find better processes. Always wanting better results. This simple advertisement has sent me down a rabbit hole of introspection.

Do I Choose Fun? Do I have enough fun? Am I having any fun? This reminds me of those bumper stickers: Be Happy --another catalyst for rabbit hole introspection. Am I happy? Am I Happy-ish? Is anyone happy? Is happiness a choice too? Are people who Choose Fun happier?

It is not an issue of discontent. Nor a lack of gratitude. It is not about wanting something more out of the world around me. Or even something different. It is about wanting more out of me! I am just a constant self-improvement project. Constantly striving to be better. Be more patient. Be more Zen. Be more peaceful. Be more productive. Be in better shape. Be in better health. Be more joyful. Be more fun.

Cue more introspection: Why do I have to be more? Why do I have to be better? Why do I have to be better at being me? Why can’t I just be?

I was always a planner. A worrier. A neatnik. Even when I was a little girl, I shared a room with my older teenage sister. When she wasn’t home, I would tidy her half of the room because it made me feel better. Now I do that with my youngest daughter. Old habits die hard. A sad statement that my idea of fun is tidying up.

One of my dear friends says that for better or worse, I am a Type A person. She claims that Type A people just aren’t as good at Choosing Fun. Even with success, she believes that Type A’s are too driven to simply relax and enjoy their lives. Driven to succeed. Driven by perfection. Driven to a fault. Driven to the point of restlessness. Always forward thinking and struggle with living in the now. I desperately want to disagree with her, but I am afraid she might be right. Even though I am my own boss, and live in paradise, I remain a workhorse. A rule follower. I watch what I eat. I watch how much I drink. I wear sunscreen. I color within the lines. And, sadly, I still sweat the small stuff.

I want to be one of those people who Choose Fun. Which isn’t to say that I don't have fun. I certainly do. I just have to pencil it in. It’s a little bit more (dare I say) work for me to have fun.

I feel like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland racing to the next thing on my perpetual To-Do list: Go to the grocery store. Make a healthy dinner for the family. Do the laundry. Write the thank you note. Walk the dog. Pay the bills. Buy the birthday present. Order the wedding gift. Plan the baby shower. Bake for the bake sale. Bring snacks for the field trip. Bring snacks for the volleyball game. Bring snacks for the potluck. Buy more snacks! Drive carpool. Exercise. Get a manicure. Lose weight. Do more squats. Clean out the closet. Plan the graduation party. Write a book. Have more projects in development. Get more sleep. Meditate. Do more. Do better.  

I don’t think my To-Do list excludes me from feeling happiness. I just think it gets in the way of enjoying my fun. My sense of order and responsibility are noisier than my desire to just relax.

This weekend I thought a lot about those two words: Choose Fun. Yesterday, my husband, my daughter and I played tennis (quite possibly my favorite thing to do in the whole world). I was completely present as we played for hours, and we all had a blast. (Fun!) My husband wanted to stay and continue to play another match with friends. Since we had all driven in one car, I felt an immediate sense of panic about the time. I had errands to run, scripts to read, and laundry to do. I needed to let the dog out, start prepping dinner, and my daughter needed to clean up her room. But I started thinking about Choose Fun… and I said, “Okay.” My daughter and I grabbed some lunch, and then took a walk on the beach while my husband played more tennis. She was thrilled to be putting off cleaning her room for another hour or two, and I was thrilled to have the leisure time. So this whole concept of fun might actually be more about my perspective than my actions (well maybe it is a little about actions too). I guess I struggle with my relationship with fun. I am always putting a clock on it, and I think it needs to be a little more fluid. It was a beautiful day, we were all together as a family, and the messy room would still be waiting for us when we got back. That change in my mindset created the space in my day for fun (and dare I say happiness) that I might have otherwise missed.

I would love to be the girl who always says “yes” to having a drink after the tennis game. Or grabs an impromptu dinner with friends. Or eats more dessert (because dessert is fun!) and doesn’t worry about gaining weight. Let me be clear. I do all of those things on occasion, but it comes with an unnecessary sense of guilt… and there goes the fun, right out the window.

I admire people who know what makes them happy... and go for it.

I admire people who give themselves permission to put themselves first.

I admire people who don’t sweat the small stuff.

I want to be one of those people, but I have been this way my whole life. I am wired to be hyper-vigilant. But like I said, I am also a lifelong self-improvement project. So, if I want to change, I can change. I don’t want to be a different person, but I sure would love to lighten up a bit. Maybe like everything else, it just takes practice.

So, like any good Type A person, I am writing down the words Choose Fun... and adding it to my To-Do List.

IMG_4136 (1).jpg



You Are Not Alone

There are 7.3 billion people on the planet… and growing.

As human beings, we all essentially want the same things. Yes, of course, food, shelter, and safety are paramount.  But after the basic needs are met, I believe what most people really want most is to feel connected. In some ways that is why I started writing a blog: To connect with others. Sometimes that connection happens with a relative stranger. Right place. Right time… and maybe the right questions.

Last week, I was taking a long walk and ran into someone who I knew… although I don’t know her well. We started talking about the weather, our dogs and then our kids. She was excited to share some good news about one of her sons becoming a dad and her daughter was getting married. She seemed happy as she shared her good news, but there was a “but” in her voice. So I asked, “This is all good news right?” That’s when she casually mentioned that her other son was having trouble finding a job. Keeping a job. Apparently, her son is very bright (as are all her three kids), but this one seems to have more trouble staying focused. As we started talking more, she admitted that he was having trouble getting out of the house. Her house. He still lives at home. Apparently, some days her son doesn’t want to get out of bed. I gently asked, “Do you think he might be suffering from depression?” She got very quiet and then said, “Maybe… and he’s been drinking a lot too.” She said that she and her husband have struggled with what to do about this situation. Their other two kids seem to be thriving, but this son dropped out of college and is living at home with no prospects of further education or employment. I asked if he was getting counseling or taking any medication? She said, “No.”  They tried something a while back and the drug made things worse. She also, confided in me that her best friend’s son lost his own battle with depression and committed suicide a few years ago. She’s afraid this might happen to her son too.

Suddenly, the tone of our conversation shifted dramatically. Apparently, she and her husband have kept this situation very private, and they have very different points of view on how to handle it. The husband thinks it will resolve itself in good time. She thinks it might be more serious than that. I could see that there were layers of pain being revealed here: The admission that her son was not functioning in society. The admission that it has caused stress in their marriage. Then the admission that her son might be suffering from depression and that they don’t know what to do about it. When she was done confessing this family secret, I could see a visible sign of relief, but I could also feel her pain. It was palpable.

So it was my turn to share.

I told her that just in this past year, I have had a few friends and family members who have suffered from debilitating anxiety and depression. Thankfully they all found help, but for each one of them, it was a different path. I reassured her that there is a lot of help available:  Inpatient programs. Outpatient programs. Psychiatry. Cognitive Therapy. Behavioral therapy. Family counseling, western medications... and alternative treatments too.

She felt like her son would benefit greatly from a daily routine to avoid becoming totally reclusive. She frequently asks him to take walks with her, but most of the time he is not interested. I, too, am a big believer in having daily routines and think walking (and talking) can be very healing. I even know a therapist who does “walking therapy.” Rather than sitting in an office doing “talk therapy,” she takes it outside and so they “walk and talk”. The irony that we ended up having our own impromptu therapy session on this walk is not lost on me.

As we were talking, her son came down the street to take a walk (I had never met him before). Aside from his disheveled appearance, he was a handsome young man with a gorgeous smile. He was quite engaging, although quite shy. We talked for a bit. He was on his way to physical therapy for a shoulder injury. We bonded when I shared my own stories of struggling with a shoulder injury myself. He found it particularly amusing when I recounted my tales of plotting to kill my husband during that time — as my husband continued to play tennis for hours at a time, paying no attention to my chronic pain, or my isolation. This story made him laugh, and in turn, I could see his Mom was smiling too. I got the feeling that she hadn’t seen her son smile in a long time. For this moment in time, there was a connection made… and there was a shared moment of compassion, hope, and optimism.

We said our goodbyes and I realized the serendipity of running into my friend and her son. My friend was silently suffering over her beautiful, intelligent son’s struggle with life, and she was at odds with her husband about how to handle it.

I don’t know if they will get him in the right program or find the right medication, but for the 30 minutes that we chatted, there was this profound connection. A relief from the unburdening of a family secret… and a family stressor.

How did I know what questions to ask? I didn’t. People will tell you what’s on their mind… if you just listen. In this case, it was a Mom excited to share some good news about two of her adult children, but I could see there was something else on her mind. What started as a mother’s casual concern about her son finding a job was really about something much deeper.

She needed to connect with someone about this. I just happened to be there at the right time to ask a few simple questions... and the floodgates opened up. My hope is that this chance encounter will have a positive impact on this family, and become a lifeline to finding the right help.


Quieting The Voice In My Head

Ursula is back. For those of you who are new to my blog, Ursula is the really mean voice that lives inside my head. We all have one of these. Ursula embodies doubt. Ursula is my editor before I ever type a word. Ursula is my alter-ego when I am feeling down. Ursula never has anything nice to say. Ursula is a bully. Ursula tells me I can’t. Ursula tells me I shouldn’t. Ursula makes me feel stuck. Ursula is negative self-talk.

I hate Ursula.

When the slow simmer of negative self-talk gets out of control like a small grease fire, I like to read a good memoir or inspirational book to help quell the flames. But lately, it’s not as simple as throwing some baking soda into the frying pan. This is more of a brush fire, and I needed some bigger water cannons to drown out this sucker.

So, I’ve been reading a LOT lately.

At the recommendation of a friend, I started listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s (Eat, Pray, Love) podcast: Magic Lessons. Gilbert offers wisdom about letting go of fear and embracing your inner creative artist. She invites guest speakers to elaborate on the subject of unblocking creativity. During one of the podcasts, she invited Blogger/NY Times Bestseller Glennon Doyle Melton. Glennon caught my attention like a lightning bolt. I went home found her blog, read it, subscribed to it, and then ordered her latest book: Love Warrior. When it arrived, I read the entire book in two days. I couldn’t put it down.

Usually, a good memoir will inspire me and get me out of my own head. I read memoirs because I love the first person narrative. The personal journey. The human condition. People who have struggled and found their voice through survival. I was inspired by Glennon’s story as she raised three children and started writing her blog in a closet. I have three kids and write my blog in a closet too! (Well technically, it’s my office now, but it was a converted closet because I needed an office more than I needed a walk-in closet… but I digress.)

I was so excited about this book, I called another friend and asked if she had heard of Glennon Doyle Melton. She said, “Oh yeah. I went on Oprah’s SuperSoulSpeaker cruise last summer and heard her speak. We’ve become friends.” A million things run through my mind: Oprah has a cruise? If only I liked cruising. I read Glennon's book and subscribed to her blog. Will she be my friend too? Can she help me get rid of Ursula? I am sure with a million readers and tens-of-thousands of social media followers, she is pretty busy. But I decided to write Glennon an email anyway. She hasn’t written me back yet, but I did receive an automatic reply thanking me for subscribing to her blog. (For those of you who have subscribed to my blog, I am thanking you now and apologize for not knowing how to send an automated response. But, if you write me an email, I promise I will write you back.)

Something in the universe must be signaling that I needed more guidance because another friend suggested a podcast by NY Times Bestseller Jack Canfield (the co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul). Canfield’s philosophy is all about setting goals and accomplishing them through positive affirmations and actions. He has written dozens of books on the subject, so I decided to order two of them. After listening to his podcast, I realized that I engage in a lot of negative self-talk (Hello Ursula!) and I probably don’t set high enough goals for myself. I have a lot to learn about dreaming big and not being afraid to fail.

Then another friend recommended that I read Maria Shriver’s new book: I’ve Been Thinking. It’s part memoir, part self-help, and part inspirational guidebook. Although it doesn’t have the rollercoaster, soap opera, witty ride of Love Warrior, it still speaks to me just as deeply. Shriver’s book leans heavily on prayers, religion, and her relationship with God. While I am not super religious, I still found it very inspiring.

Since I started writing, meditating, and practicing yoga, I believe I am having my own spiritual awakening. When I was a busy television executive, raising three children, juggling a divorce, a second marriage, all while trying to figure out when I would find time to eat right, sleep or exercise, my spiritual life was non-existent. I had no time for self-reflection or creative outlets, I was just trying to survive my day-to-day hamster wheel. (By the way, I don't think hamsters are all that spiritually enlightened either.)

Although I was raised with a healthy dose of religion, it was defined by holidays and food (the good part) with a layer of guilt and obligatory temple appearances (the bad part). Spirituality was not really part of the equation. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think religion and spirituality are mutually exclusive, I just hadn’t discovered the spiritual part yet. Spirituality, for me, is my connection to other human beings and living things. A sense of purpose and mindfulness. As I got older, I find myself yearning for more of this.

But even after two podcasts, two memoirs, and two self-help books, I was still looking for more inspiration. The brush fire of doubt is now a forest fire burning out of control: Will I ever finish a book? Become a bestselling author? Be anointed by Oprah? Make a living in my second act.

Afterall, Glennon hasn’t even written me back... and Ursula is laughing.

Back to the bookstore. Upon another friend’s suggestion, I pick up Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. If I didn't love her enough already, she had me at Page One with the words: Writing is Hard.

She gets it. She gets me. Every chapter of her book is a perfect balance of honesty, self-doubt, self-deprecation, and pure comedy. She even has her own version of Ursula whom she refers to as her “demon.” (Maybe if I send her an email, she will write me back?)

Armed with a stack of inspirational writers and marching instructions, I am starting to feel validated and inspired. Writing is hard. Everyone struggles. Everyone has demons. The key is to keep going. Set goals. Lose the negative self-talk, and implement daily positive affirmations.

So if positive affirmations are the secret sauce to success, here is my list for today:

I am a writer. I am successful. I am grateful. I am healthy. I am calm. I am peaceful. I am inspired. I have a wonderful family… and I have the cutest dog in the world.

So take that Ursula and go back to the rock you crawled out from under.