Our family hosted Thanksgiving this year, which means a lot of the logistics fell to me – cooking, cleaning, shopping, meeting all possible dietary needs, and so on.
The Monday before, I found myself being especially stressed as Kaya and Ty were getting ready for school. I even stopped to jot down an idea for an appetizer, right as we were walking out the door.
“It’s gonna be okay, Mom,” Ty said. He and Kaya were waiting by the stairs. “It doesn’t have to be perfect.”
“I know, I know,” I said, “but I want it to be good. I want it to be really special for everyone.” And patiently, they waited as I wrote “roasted sweet potatoes” (I know, really original).
Finally we left. As we were crossing the street, out of the blue, Ty said, “You know? I don’t even know why the word perfect is in the dictionary. It doesn’t exist.”
Geez, my nine-year-old is so wise.
The other day my dog-walker, Pam, showed up at 1 o’clock instead of 3, like she usually does.
“Wow,” I said, “Sadie’ll be so glad to see you! Her walk this morning was pretty short.”
“I should get here early from now on,” Pam said, smiling. “I finally arranged it so that my walks are all in this area. My life is a hundred times easier. And actually, that’s thanks to you. Remember that talk we had, almost a year ago?”
I remembered. One day last year, she’d come in super-late – as in, later than usual – looking really stressed. Her dog-walking business was booming, but it was wearing her out. She had clients all over Manhattan, so every day she had to rush up and down the city to get to the next dog.
“You asked me what my bigger vision was,” she said now, “for what I wanted my business to be. And it was to have all the dogs in one area. That question completely changed my outlook.
People often tell me they feel overwhelmed when they think about setting a big goal (or doing an outrageous act).
“All I can see is how hard it is.”
“I’m so stressed out by all the things I have to do.”
“I’m exhausted just thinking about it.”
I know, I know. Big goals are scary, and they take a lot of work. (Someone on Pinterest once said, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”) But sometimes that overwhelm can be paralyzing. Every day, it stops someone from achieving a goal that they are capable of.
So how do you move through it?
When I feel that way, I remember my client Anna.
She called me one Sunday night sounding desperate. She was in the process of leaving a career in film to pursue one in hotel business, and she had her first job interview the next day. So, understandably, she felt overwhelmed.
“Why am I even trying?” she worried....
This summer, I played the role of the women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem, when she interviewed Hugh Hefner in the 1970s. While I was studying her for the role, I came across something she said that changed the way I think about my own life and work.
She was promoting her book Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, and Someone asked her about the title. Initially, she joked “It’s too long, don’t you think?”
“Not necessarily,” he said. “I’m just curious what it’s about.”
“Well,” she said, “A movement is really just people moving. In order to create a movement, you have to have people consistently moving toward what you want to achieve.”
She explained that whenever she gave a speech, she worried that the energy would stop when she stepped down from the podium. Her feeling was, “Okay, maybe I inspired people, maybe I’ve informed them about something they didn’t know....
Last week in Rio, the gold medal in the 10,000 meter track event went to Mo Farah, a British super-runner. (He holds about a million world records). But during this one Olympic race, you might’ve thought he’d lost the gold – because he wiped out in the final loop.
But what did he do? He got up and kept running. He wasted no time being upset, or worrying, or beating himself up. He just popped up and ran straight to the finish line. And he won.
It’s so simple, but what an important lesson we can take from that. Falling isn’t the end of the race. It’s not even a guarantee that you won’t win. You can take a major wipeout, and still win an Olympic medal.
Yet how often do we mistake failure for something permanent? We “fall,” or fail, or reach a setback – and we interpret it as final. But it’s not.
Falling is difficult, especially when the stakes are high. When we fall, gremlins like to jump right in with their...
Recently, my family and I went to Coney Island, and, as they often do, my kids taught me a powerful lesson.
My son Ty is almost eight, and he wanted to go on all the wild and crazy rides. Anything he was tall enough for, he’d go on. When we got to the haunted house, no one else wanted to go, but that didn’t stop him. So there I was, watching as he rode on the little cart, all by himself, into the Spook-a-Rama. His hands gripped the handle bar, and as he disappeared from sight, I caught a glimpse of his big blue eyes, wide with fear. I didn’t relax until he came out the other end.
When he did, his face was transformed. Actually, his whole body was. His fists were in the air, and he jumped out of the car and ran over, yelling, “I did it! I got through! Whenever I got scared, I just closed my eyes and faced my fear. That’s how! Just close your eyes!”
It was so cute, and at first, it didn’t strike me as anything profound. But on the way home, I...
Spring is a time of renewal, cleansing, letting go of the old to invite in the new. This week, I want to share the incredible story of how my friend Kim learned to let go of her pain and embrace a new life, while flying high above the Hudson River…
It was Monday, March 2013. I was sprawled out on my couch in Brooklyn, putting the finishing touches on my grad school application and waiting for my boyfriend to get out of work and planning what to make for dinner. When he got home, without explanation or apology, he broke up with me. Just like that.
I was devastated. We’d been together six years, talking about getting married – yet he gave me no warning, no compassion. In a second, my life came crashing down.
I fell apart. I lost ten pounds in a week, surviving on coffee and liquor, moving through my days in a painful, unreal fog. Everything hurt. I just couldn’t absorb the truth: that relationship, which had been my bedrock, my identity, was over.
The other day I went to this fundraiser for a friend of mine, where we played poker with the Poker Divas. This was the first lesson – you have to play to win. If you just play not to lose, you will almost definitely lose.
I thought, what an applicable lesson to life. It made me think of a time I was at a conference, where they asked you to put a number on a ping pong ball at registration. And then throughout the conference, sporadically, they’d come out with this big box full of ping pong balls, like a lottery, and they’d call a number and give out some pretty significant prizes.
One time when they were calling out numbers, I was out in the hallway, and a guy who worked at the conference asked me, ”How come you’re not in there? They’re giving away prizes.”
I said, “I know, but I never put my number on a ping pong ball, so, I’m not going to win.”
And he said, “Hm, that’s interesting. I wonder where else...
Recently I came across a new mindset tool that I just love. It’s basically a happiness exercise, where at the end of the day, you recap what you’re happy about. But what I love about this one is that it takes it a step further, by asking “Why did that happen?” about each thing.
What I found while I was doing this, is that even such a simple question can have this global effect of changing how you see things. Suddenly, I saw my life in a more cumulative light, not just isolated events happening one day but not another. Something you did yesterday, or last week, or even years ago, can contribute to one moment of happiness today.
The first time I tried this was after I got confirmation that I’d booked this one particular speaking gig. I really wanted to do this, but it just seemed like it wasn’t going to happen—then it was, then it wasn’t, then it was again. Then, a couple weeks ago, it became official—success! So I was...
With Thanksgiving in just a couple days, you might be hearing a lot about gratitude – why it’s important, how to focus on it, and so on. For good reason – it’s essential to both physical and mental health.
But sometimes we think that in order to be grateful, we need to be one of the Lucky Ones... those got-it-all-together, successful, confident people you meet at parties. (You know who I mean?) They must feel grateful all the time, because they’re so lucky. Right?
Yes, there IS a link between gratitude and being “lucky” – but, luck doesn’t just fall from the sky. Sometimes, you create it.
One morning last winter, I felt like one of those Lucky Ones. I woke up early; I had tones of energy. On the exercise bike, I had one of my favorite guilty pleasure songs blasting – I’m totally embarrassed to admit...
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