February 21, 2011
Happy President’s Day all!
I’m not sure if one is supposed to say “Happy President’s Day.” I mean, let’s face it, what’s so happy about remembering Presidents Washington and Lincoln, who are positively ancient. And while I do appreciate what they did for this country, I appreciate them even more for giving us a reason to take a day off work and relax. Yes, I am this shallow. It’s sad.
Meanwhile, I really am grateful for the day off. First of all, Mark is here from California (see! – thank you, Presidents Washington and Lincoln). We’ve had a bi-coastal marriage this year so we only see each other every month or so. He has a job in San Diego and I’m staying in Miami until Sam graduates. Sam is so grateful for my sacrifice. He thanks me almost every day and even cooks dinner and does my laundry to show his gratitude. Okay, he doesn’t even notice that I’m around, but a mom can dream, can’t she?
In truth, it’s just me and the animals – Olive, Bronco, Smokey and Cookie (who you might recall, disappeared for 10 days and was miraculously found in a neighbor’s pot on her patio last December). Every once in a while Sam emerges from his room and asks me for money. I’m so grateful for the conversation that I try to prolong the conversation as much as possible. ”So, will you be going to the TD Bank or just a regular ATM? If you’re going to a regular ATM, I’ll have to give you 2 extra dollars…” ”Will this be from next week’s allowance or are you asking for an advance, because if you’re asking for an advance, you know the policy on that.” Yes, I am THIS desperate for conversation at home.
With Mark gone and Sam and the animals busy with their own lives, I’ve thrown myself into my new business, www.TestingMom.com. If you know anyone whose kids need to be tested for private school or a gifted and talented program, my site’s the place to go! I started the site with my partner, Michael McCurdy, after my book, Testing For Kindergarten, came out. Speaking of my book, if you happen to be in Miami in March, I’ll be at Books & Books (Bal Harbour, right next to Neiman’s) on Tuesday, March 1 at 7:30 p.m. to talk about this and my other novels. Please come if you’re in town. We’ll go out for drinks after!
If you can’t come to my reading, you might want to listen to my radio show – 30-Minute Mom on Webtalkradio.net. Yes, yours truly now has a radio show. I was shocked when they asked me, and even more shocked when they heard my voice and still wanted me. I’m one of those people who, when I answer the phone, the person on the other end always asks, “Is your mother home?” Even my mother says that and she knows Schuyler doesn’t live here anymore. My voice is high with a definite squeak factor. And yet, they asked me to do a radio show. So I said (imagine this in a high Minnie Mouse voice), “Why not! I’ll do it!”
Here’s what the show is (just between us) – it’s me getting the low-down on everything I did wrong as a parent. The first show is about how not to spoil your children (which I did). Then there’s a show about how to get family meals on the table which are SO critical for kids (did I know that when my kids were little? NO! Did I cook family meals when they were young? NO!). There’s a wonderful show with Ashley Merryman, author of NurtureShock, where she offers insights on the right way to praise children so they are motivated (Did I praise my kids that way? NO!). Anyway, you get the picture. I may not have raised my own kids right, but I’m damn sure going to help you raise yours right! Hmm, maybe that should be my new motto! Check out the show if you have time. And please forward the link to the shows to anyone you know with young children. After you listen, let me know if you find my voice 1) annoying, 2) cute, or 3) inspiring! CLICK HERE to listen.
The first show we taped (on how not to spoil your kids) was with Tracey Jackson. Tracey wrote, produced and was featured in a documentary called Lucky Ducks, which was inspired by her own spoiling of her daughter, Taylor. To bring Taylor back to earth (where she happily resides today), she took her to work in the slums of Mumbai. It’s a very powerful documentary. Anyway, I bring up Tracey not just because of my radio show, but also because she has just written a book which I HIGHLY recommend if you are over the age of, say, 45. The book is called “Between A Rock and A Hot Place – Why Fifty Is Not the New Thirty.” This is a MUST-READ if 50 looms ahead or even behind you. It covers all the things you are experiencing at this point in your life and it does so truthfully, informatively (is that a word?), and with a great deal of humor. Yes, you will LOL; I guarantee it!
My favorite chapter is called “If She’s Fifty, Chances Are Alice Doesn’t Work Here Anymore.” It’s not my favorite chapter because she mentions “The Ivy Chronicles” in it (which she does), but because she writes about the fact that so many of us lose our big careers in our late 40′s/early 50′s and once we do, that ship has sailed, as they say. I could really identify with this because I was in my late 40′s when I got fired from American Express. When Tracey’s Hollywood career came to a screeching halt, she found inspiration in a Virginia Woolf quote: ”Arrange whatever pieces come your way.” Tracey had to let go of trying to arrange pieces that were no longer coming her way and find some new pieces she could arrange.
That spoke volumes to me as it is what I have had to do since leaving Amex – first, start a business I was inspired to start by my son, Sam (Smart City Kids), then write a novel about that business (The Ivy Chronicles), then write more novels inspired by my life, loves and friends, write a non-fiction book inspired by my work with Sam and children at Smart City Kids (Testing For Kindergarten), create a game to prepare kids for testing (IQ Fun Park), create a website to help parents help their kids test better (TestingMom.com), start a radio show to help parents raise their kids better than I did (30-Minute Mom), and so on and so forth. Since losing my job, my new brilliant career has been a matter of arranging whatever pieces and possibilities came my way. It’s not easy, but it’s what happens to many of us after a certain age. I may not be making as much money as I made at Amex, but I’m having a lot more fun working in shorts and flip flops every day, surrounded by my animals, doing what inspires me.
Tracey covers this “arranging” phenomenon beautifully in “Between a Rock and a Hot Place,” along with chapters on menopause, hormone replacement therapy, sex, dating, colonoscopies and other medical indignities at 50, plastic surgery, kids going to college, saving for retirement, death and all that fun stuff that you are forced to confront when you reach 50. Fifty is definitely NOT the new thirty, but this book really helps you stop and take stock in your life at a time when it’s appropriate to do so. And it does this with grace and humor. Tracey also has a wonderful blog called “Tracey Talks” that I love reading whenever she posts – www.traceyjacksononline.com. You should subscribe. You’ll love it. I actually turn off The Today Show to read her blog in the morning!
Meanwhile, I hope you’re enjoying your President’s Day weekend. As you can see, I’ve been working pretty hard on things, so the weekend off is a welcome relief. Mark and I are about to take our dogs for a long walk, something we do whenever he’s in town. I actually think Mark is walking me but he doesn’t want me to know it. We wait until it’s just dark and then we trespass on the golf course of a private country club while we exercise our little furry ones (I’m talking about Olive and Bronco – get your mind out of the gutter)!