Friday, June 10, 2016

Seven Words I Cannot Say... (NYT Piece!)

This morning I said to my 16-year-old (a.k.a. SIXTEEN), "Do you want to read my essay? It's running in the New York Times today!!!"
HIM: Is that the one I read the other day?
ME: Yes!!!
HIM: Did you change anything?
ME: No. But it's in the Times!!!
HIM: In the actual paper?
ME: Well, no. It's online.
HIM: Mom. I read it already.

In case you're even slightly more interested than SIXTEEN, here it is: (!!!!)

The Seven Words I Cannot Say (Around My Children)

As always, thank you so much for reading.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Good Egg in Full Grown People

One of the reasons I don't post much here anymore is that you cannot publish something that's been published anywhere else -- even on your own little blog. And there are some pieces that I just want to be out in the world in a slightly bigger way. The essay I'm linking here is one of those, and I'm really delighted to have it up on Full Grown People.

It's called The Good Egg, and it's a story about a boy who egged my house. (More or less.)

As always, I'd be honored to have you read it.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Date Book Change - Another Whole Life Challenge Parable

Last month I changed my schedule book. I’ve never been able to use my phone or google calendar for scheduling – I need to write things down and see them in my own handwriting in order to know where I need to be and when.

I’ve been using the same Filofax system since maybe 1990. It’s in a brown leather case and the page spread shows an entire week at a time. (I need to see the whole week at once!) But, the pages are not that big, and as a result, the days themselves don’t have much room. And Saturday and Sunday are jammed together to occupy the same space that Monday through Friday each get on their own.

In July, once I started working more regularly, I needed more room to write things in (and I work on the weekends, so that minuscule amount of space just wasn’t cutting it). So I went to Staples, a store that, to me, holds the same kind of life-changing promise that other women find in a shoe store, and I found a scheduling calendar that seemed perfect. More space on each day, and Sat and Sun are treated like every other day of the week. Plus it’s light and attractive, and it started in June. An 18-month calendar that runs from June to the following December. This was huge – I could start my transition immediately.

It was a lot of work to transcribe the initial few weeks of meetings from my Filofax into my new planner, and as I did, I noticed something: Wednesday was not in the same place visually as it had been before. It used to sit on the bottom left, now it was on the top right. I suspected this was going to screw with my head, and it did. I couldn’t keep track of what was Wednesday and Thursday at a glance, so after trying the new book for two weeks, I went back to my old, familiar, too-small, inadequate planner. The one that I’d outgrown and that no longer served me at all.

I thought maybe it would somehow rise to the occasion, but it didn’t.

So in September, I tried the new book again. I still don’t like that it has Wednesday in an unfamiliar spot. And when I say I don’t like it, I mean I really cannot get used to it. But everything else about it rocks. Every single day I notice how much better my life is just from this crazy little calendar. And for now, I’m just writing WEDNESDAY in red to remind myself where it is -- I’m pretty sure after a few more weeks I’ll forget I was ever vexed by it.

Or I won’t. But I’ve committed to the new system…and this I know: it’s not going to get any better simply because I’m focusing on how much I don’t like where Wednesday is.

I know this new calendar is not perfect, but it’s so much better for me than my Filofax (sorry, Baby…we had a good run), so I'm going to figure out a way to make it work.

If this seems like another Whole Life Challenge metaphor, that’s because it is.

Monday, September 21, 2015

My Son's Green Smoothie (or A.M. Prep for W.L.C.)

It’s 8:40 a.m.  I just spent the last 40 minutes in the kitchen. I pulled out all the fruit and vegetables I use for my son’s green smoothie. (I know that sounds obnoxious, that my son drinks green smoothies, but he just started last year and, at 15, those may have been the first vegetables he’d ever eaten in his life. I don’t know how or why he agreed to try a green smoothie, but he did, and now I get to say “my son’s green smoothie.”)

Into the smoothie goes apple, cucumber, avocado, carrot, lemon, OJ, spinach, frozen strawberries, chia seeds, and, today, celery (because it was going to go bad).

My green smoothie, which I will have later, is similar (water instead of OJ, and I add ginger and protein powder), so I cut up extra of everything and put it aside so my smoothie will take 30 seconds to assemble rather than 5 minutes. I also cut up even more of all that stuff for tomorrow morning’s smoothie – just because I had it all out already. And while I was cutting, I decided to make some quinoa, which takes 15 minutes, and hard boil some eggs (also 15 minutes) and to cut up some broccoli and marinate some chicken breasts which I will throw in the oven for dinner.

I did all of that, including vacillating about using the cucumber because of the salmonella recall and cleaning up, in 40 minutes and I now do not have to worry about pounding nuts all day because there’s nothing in the fridge ready to eat.

After I write this, I’m going to make some quick egg salad with some of the hard boiled eggs. The others are going to be thrown, with some chopped veggies (cucumber, tomato, celery, olives, avocado) into the quinoa for lunch.

I do not do this every morning, but I wish I did. I have a day today that will start with a meeting at 9 a.m. and end after a meeting at 9 p.m., and it is jammed with work (and a necessary hair appointment) for pretty much every hour in between. I absolutely believe that the 40 minutes I spent doing this is doing more for my health than an exercise class. If I get a 30-minute walk in later, I’ll feel great.

I’m telling you all this because I am not organized, I don’t like to cook, I don’t ever feel like I have enough time in my day, and I go through many periods of every day feeling like I just want to sit down and have some delicious food to settle me. And this is how, on some awesome mornings, I deal with that set of circumstances.

And (except for your son drinking green smoothies, which I cannot promise), I’m pretty sure you can too.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A Whole Life Challenge Parable

Once upon a time, I went to a nutritionist. I was sent to her by an acupuncturist whom I was recommended to by a chiropractor. I saw all these people because I was having recurrent pain and tightness in my back.

The nutritionist asked me a lot of questions, some of which made me cry – not because they were particularly probing, but because once upon a time almost any question about anything made me cry. 

After an hour and a half together – time spent listing all the foods I ate each day and taking a lot of blood, she suggested I might want to consider varying my diet – namely, having something else for lunch besides my daily tuna salad on a bagel.

“I’d rather die,” I told her, and at the time, I meant it.

I’m not sure what it was about tuna salad on an onion bagel in 1995, but I could not imagine a day without it. I had a great bagel store in Hoboken and the bagels weren’t huge but they were really dense and doughy. I looked forward to my tuna-salad bagel from the moment I woke up and upon taking the last bite, I started pining for the next day’s lunch so I could do it all over again.

“We often feel that way toward foods we’re ‘addicted’ to,” she said. “Those foods we really crave are usually the worst for us.” She was talking about the bagels and I felt my eyes start to sting again, a typical response to my being told I shouldn’t be doing something that’s not good for me.

“That’s just bullshit,” I said, and I left her office armed with a few vitamin supplements and absolutely no intention of ever giving up bagels.

I now cannot remember the last time I ate a bagel. It has surely been years. I mean, I can’t remember the date, but I can remember the experience: plain bagel, cream cheese and capers. As I was eating it, I was pretty sure it was the best thing I’d ever had in my entire life. It’s like I got high from it and I thought, Why don’t I eat these all the time!?

I also cannot remember when I started moving away from bagels as a staple in my life. I’m sure it had something to do with wanting to lose weight, but even when I’d “diet,” I’d manage to find ways to maintain the foods that soothed me in my diet.

And that’s what bagels do. They soothe me. Bagels are like a nice big dose of Xanax – they simply take the edge off everything.

For a bit.

And then I need another hit.

I don’t know how much I’ll be blogging about the Whole Life Challenge this time around, but it’s starting on Saturday (9/19) and if I do, be forewarned, most of the things I have to say about it will probably fall into this category:

If we are not happy with our energy levels or our health, it probably has a lot to do with how we are or are not taking care of ourselves. And if we’re not taking good care of ourselves, it’s probably because we’re partaking in things that may not serve us, but that soothe us. No one is asking anyone to go around unsoothed – that’s not a good plan – all I’m suggesting is try going for a day, or two days – some teeny tiny amount of time – without your usual “bagel” and just see how it feels. Keep a bagel nearby just in case it’s intolerable. If it turns out not as bad as you thought…that life really is worth living, even without a bagel for lunch, see if you feel like that the next day. No pressure. Just see.

There's never a good day to give up bagels, so you may as well try it today.

If you’re reading this thinking, oh I wonder if this is some message to me because I said I haven’t been feeling good lately but I'm also not “ready” to give up the things I need to give up in order to do the challenge, the answer is: yes. It is.

Saturday, August 8, 2015


I am so unspeakably excited to have another personal essay run in the New York Times. As always, I'd be honored to have you read it. This was a hard essay for me to write and even harder to put out there. I'll say this: the comments in the Times have blown me away.

The link to the essay is here:


Thank you for reading, responding, supporting.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My Gift To You

I walked up to a man in the grocery store today that I’ve been trying to approach for years. I live in the town where I went to college, returning here as an adult, and this is a man I recognize from my past. When I was 20, I used to see him walking around town. At the time, he was an “older” man to me, though he was younger than I am now.

I’ve seen him around town for the past 15 years, walking up the main street or in the grocery store. I knew I knew him instantly, but it took me a long time to remember from where. He looked exactly as he did in 1980, so much so that for a while I thought maybe I was seeing a ghost.

When I saw him today, my impulse was to shy away as I have at least a dozen times before in this very store. But I felt oddly brave today, so I walked up to him, said excuse me (twice, because the first time he just moved against the bread shelf so I could pass) and told him what I just told you: that I’ve seen him for years and he looks exactly the same as he did 35 years ago.

You would have thought I just handed him a winning lottery ticket. He said that I’d made his day and then told me it again, three more times. “I’m 76,” he said, a piece of information he shared, I’m sure, to impress upon me how giddy I’d just made him. (He seriously looked giddy.) After our short encounter, he came to find me in the dry goods aisle to let me know just once more how touched he was that I made the effort to share with him.

I had avoided talking him for years because I worried: that it would be awkward, that he’d be mean, that he’d think I was insane, that I’d sound stupid. An exchange that took two minutes (and a modicum of chutzpah) totally changed this guy’s day.

And here’s the thing: it changed my day too. I’d been having not just a bad day but a bad stretch of days – inexplicably weepy and constantly ready to pick a fight. Poof – all that disappeared. In fact, I felt so high from this encounter I did something nice for someone else in the store – a surprise, and anonymously – and that moved me into a state of euphoria that I didn’t think possible without chocolate on my tongue.

Then I came home and told my 15-year-old son and his friend what had just happened. “It’s the antidote to angst,” I told them, thinking maybe 15-year-olds might some days have a need for such an Rx. “Just make someone feel awesome,” I explained. “If it doesn’t work immediately, go make someone else feel awesome. It won’t take long before you yourself feel great.” They looked at me skeptically, but I could tell they knew it was true. They just needed to be reminded.

As we all do. (You’re welcome.)