Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Share Your Story and Win THE LIST!

No two women shake it up quite the same way, so if you’ve been thinking, If you’ve heard one Brazilian Wax story, you’ve heard them all — it’s just not true. I’d love to hear about your unique experience with hot wax — or anything else that’s added zip to your life. We’re running a contest for best shakeup story or idea. Go to the homepage and submit yours to If you win, you get a free copy of The List. The deadline is November 30, so send yours in today!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Listers — and Wine Lovers — Unite

Last week was the local book-signing party for The List, which was especially fun because it was totally home-grown. Amanti Vino, a wine store downtown with fabulous space, hosted the event and combined it with a wine tasting. They even brought in a cheese expert to do a complimentary sampling. Watchung Booksellers — a champion of local writers — showed up with boxes of The List in tow.

Around 70 people came: friends, family, fellow writers, wine lovers, one of our local vets and a special group of honored guests: a dozen or so women who appeared in The List. Among them were my oldest friend from college Beth; my sisters Judy and Lauren, and our host for the evening, Sue, who left a successful career in corporate sales to work at Amanti Vino and learn the wine business . . . her real passion.

It was exciting to see them together in the same room, although I feel bad because I didn’t have the chance to introduce them to one another. These women have provided me with so much inspiration in the past year; I just wish all 82 Listers could meet each other. They’d be as blown away by the combined energy, insight, optimism, and courage as I am.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Daughters (and Sons) Welcome

I’ve been driving around the East Coast this fall looking at colleges with my daughter. It’s been one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had in years. I’ve enjoyed strolling the quads after 25 years and wheedling our way into dorm rooms and dining halls to check them out. And I’ve loved having my daughter all to myself: sharing hotel rooms, exploring strange neighborhoods, laughing over really stupid stuff at dinner. She’s great company.

I’m becoming acutely aware that she’s got one foot out the door (okay, maybe half a foot.) In less than two years, she’ll be living her life, and I’ll be watching Grey’s Anatomy alone. I just hope that as she gets older we’ll have more adventures together, not fewer. Many Listers did their cool things with their grown daughters, so why not us?

Jan St. John faced her fears with her girls (#50 — Sky Dive and # 37 — Dive Off a Cliff); Ellen Yacoe takes the plunge every year with one of her daughters (#15 — Do a Polar Bear Swim); Alice Falkenstein went under water with her daughter (#78 — Scuba Dive); while Peg Krygowski went coast to coast with hers (#61 — Bike Across America).

If you’ve shaken things up with your daughter (sons are okay, too), I’d love to hear about it, so I can put it on my own list.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Women Respond to Life's Shakeups

It’s a scary time to be sure, but here’s my Pollyanna thought for the day: If anybody can weather a crisis and make something good come out of it, it’s women. We’re great at dealing with change, even if we don’t always feel like we are. We’re gifted at wrapping our heads around tough situations and finding ways to do things differently. Or to do different things. We adapt. We improvise. And we get out there.

Tough times and personal upheaval prompted many of the shakeup stories in The List.

Divorce led to seven shakeups: Make Over a Room, Conquer a Fear, Strip, Switch Careers/Go Back to School, Shoot a Gun, Audition for Something Nerve-Racking and Join the Peace Corps.

Death played a role in nine of them: Start a Charity, Learn an Exotic Dance, Join a Cattle Drive, Play Ice Hockey, Catch a Big Fish, Swim with Sea Creatures, Get a Pilot’s License, and Organize a Rally.

And Hurricane Katrina was behind Find Religion and Join a Relief Effort.

Here’s what makes women so good at handling life’s big shakeups:
• We take risks
• We can’t help but take charge
• We’re flexible
• We think fast
• We’re master multi-taskers
• We embrace challenge
• We’re resourceful
• We’ve got perspective

And we reach out to each other for friendship, advice, a crying shoulder, and a big glass of wine.

Yes, You Can

Looks like Hillary may have a new job in the not-too-distant future. I’m sure she’s up for it; she’s had a long history of shaking it up on the work front. But if she needs any encouragement and support, she can always turn to Peggy Kass and Kit Bakke (#55 — Switch Careers/Go Back To School). They both left behind solid, comfortable careers and took a chance on finding something better. And they did — with a few detours along the way.

If they can, you can. We already know Hillary can.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Make the Switch

My friend Pat had a moment of clarity the other week. After years of not knowing what path to pursue, she’s decided to get an MFA in creative writing and try teaching. She’s turning 50 this spring, and doesn’t want to waste another minute.

Yet another woman who’s living The List. See SHAKEUP #55: SWITCH CAREERS/GO BACK TO SCHOOL.

Have you recently switched careers or gone back to school? Tell us about it if you have!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Men + The List

My friend Mike tells me that men need a shake-up book more than women do. “Women are much better at taking action,” says he. “We just sit around, then go nuts and buy things like fancy toys.”

Meanwhile, my old colleague Jim (who I haven’t seen since the early ’80s) posted a comment to an earlier post, saying that after spending time on the site, he’d made his own list. I’m still waiting to hear what’s on it, because for the life of me I wouldn’t know what to put in a guy version of The List.

If there are any men reading this, or wives, girlfriends, and partners who have ideas of what men might do to shake up their lives, send some ideas. It will be fun to compare!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia?

I’ve been trying to locate my friend Marcia for over a year now. We met in fourth grade and stayed close until we graduated from high school. She was one of the first of my friends to get her license, and every morning she’d pull up in her light blue VW Beetle to drive me to school. That old car had no heat, no floorboards, and no FM radio. The last time I spoke to Marcia was nearly 10 years ago, when I still worked in New York, and she still lived in Maryland.

I first tried to reach her to interview her for Shakeup #18: Go Horseback Riding Bareback-Style. Marcia didn’t come up in Google search, or on But today I logged onto Facebook, and there was an invite from Marcia!

I literally screamed. You would have thought she’d returned from the dead. In fact, she’s been in Pennsylvania with her husband, starting a new direct marketing business. She sent her phone number and we talked for a half-hour, catching up in big gulps. I’m sure I sounded like a lunatic, but it’s amazing how great it feels to reconnect with an old friend.

Another shakeup to add to the ever-growing LIST: Join Facebook!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Shake Up: For Your Loved Ones

Shakeups aren’t always about thrills. Getting involved in your community or working for causes that are meaningful to you can be just as energizing as bungee jumping or racecar driving. In The List, two women shook things up by helping with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Another started a charitable foundation. Yet another organized an anti-gun rally that ended up with 750,000 participants.

I just found out about a cause that two “Listers” have been involved with in the last year. Liz Becker, who you’ve met, and Kim Merkin (#73 Throw an All-Girls Party and #65 Skinny Dip) both contributed essays to a new book called Knowing Pains: Women on Love, Sex and Work in Our 40s. Most of the writers in the book are not professional writers — they’re teachers, artists, businesspeople, moms, etc. — but they have one thing in common: Someone in their lives has had breast cancer. The proceeds from Knowing Pains will go to Breast Cancer Action for research and access to care. So when these women shook it up, it was for a cause near and dear to them.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


* Jody Ordioni (#24 Learn Trapeze) is getting her motorcycle license. Apparently, swinging upside down above the Hudson River wasn’t enough of a thrill.

* Liz Becker (#41 Learn to Sail and #31 Hike Machu Picchu) followed through on her goal and is in the process of getting re-certified in Basic Coastal Cruising.

* Louise Tutelian (#48 Make a Big Move) passed the one-year mark of moving to LA, and she totally loves it there. She’s been writing a lot for the New York Times.

* Lisa Solod Warren (#46 Make Over a Room and #77 Go Topless) has been writing about politics exclusively for the last four months on The Huffington Post.

Women in The List: Please let me know what you’re up to these days. And women not in the book: I’d love to meet you and hear about your adventures.

Monday, November 3, 2008

7 Days and Counting

The site and Facebook application have been up for just under one week, and I can’t believe how many friends and friends-of-friends are showing up. Thank you! I’m hearing from women I haven’t seen in years.

As of tonight, seven people have posted comments on the blog, including two of the 82 fearsome women featured in The List; one fantastic writer who contributed a laugh-out-loud essay to a collection I edited in 2006, one new colleague who started a writer’s loft that I belong to, a warm and very funny woman I know from my town whose son was in the same second grade class as my son, and my friend and fellow writer Candy, who’s encouraged me through all kinds of projects over the years.

The blog has one official follower. She found out about The List and through an old colleague of mine who only just hooked up with me on Linkedin after 6 years), and 17 fans!

This reminds me of a party that my friend and fellow editor Louise and I threw years ago in New York for women’s magazines editors and writers. Louise (featured in #48 in The List: Make a Big Move) belonged to a writers group in Westchester; I belonged to one in New Jersey. We thought it would be fun to get them all together. By the time we were done, we’d amassed about 50 women from various aspects of our work lives. (The only invite rule: No scary editors allowed.) We mingled and gabbed in the private party room we’d rented at a midtown restaurant—downing Cosmos and hors’ devourers, making connections, and talking with people we’d known for years, but never met before.

So I’m adding an item to my list: Connect with other women! What better way to meet likeminded and interesting people than to share your conquests, hopes, and inspirations.

Thank you, again!