Friday, January 30, 2009

Yes She Can ... And So Can You

It’s been a long time since I felt like I could do anything I set out to do, so I’m living vicariously through my daughter. (You’re welcome to, too.) At 16, Madeline’s already decided she wants to be a journalist when she grows up. But why wait?

Last year, she and a friend started talking about making their own magazine. Two weeks ago, they sat in my living room with 8 fully designed, written, and edited spreads of the soon-to-be-printed Edge magazine. They came up with the concept and all of the story ideas, and then “hired” a young designer to work on spec. Next up: pitching local businesses to advertise.

I had nothing to do with this project…which is exactly how it should be.

A few days ago, when were together in the car, I told Madeline how cool it was that they had made this magazine happen. Most people don’t follow through on their big ideas, I said. Like the time my friend Louise and I thought of creating cliff notes for book-group books and did nothing about it, only to have Barnes and Noble launch its own series a year later. Or that other time when…

Madeline responded with great conviction: “If there’s something you want to do, you just have to do it. And don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.” She laughed, adding, “I should be a motivational speaker!”

I bet she could, too.

Friday, January 23, 2009

What’s Old is New Again

Okay….now I’m nervous. I just took an assignment doing something I haven’t done in years (many, many years). I’m writing about business and money. That’s how I started out my career—as a business reporter and editor. I had no idea what I was doing; I just bluffed my way through it until I did. Same thing when I switched to women’s magazines, but at least that was an area I had some personal experience in. So here I am, at 47, in a place that’s both familiar and scarily new. It’s been a while since I felt this way. I kind of like it.

If you’re embarking on a new venture, or dusting off an old skill, tell me about it. We can cheer each other on.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Two Million Changelings Can’t Be Wrong

For months, we’ve been shaken up by forces way beyond our control. But this week, we did the shaking. Despite a daily barrage of bad news (or maybe because of it?), a few million people buttoned up their overcoats and went to Washington to celebrate change. They certainly whooped it up…and why not? Change feels good—especially when you bring it on yourself.

If you were in Washington for the festivities, tell us about it. We can be vicarious whoop-it-uppers together.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The List Recommends:

The holidays are over, so why can’t I stop baking? It’s very hard to get back to work when there’s enough sour cream left in the refrigerator to make another walnut spice cake. I have tons of work to do, and yet I keep sticking my head in the fridge to avoid it.

I decided to start fresh with the easiest, most enjoyable task on my plate: writing a grad-school recommendation for my writer friend Pat, who’s getting an MFA in Creative Nonfiction and starting a second career as a teacher.

It’s the third recommendation I’ve written in three months, but unlike the other two, who were former students of mine, Pat’s was easy. We’ve worked together many times; I’ve edited her work at both magazines and websites. She also contributed a fabulous essay to a collection on midlife relationships that I edited, Over the Hill and Between the Sheets.

I knew exactly what to say about how graceful and thoughtful a writer she is, and how committed she is to taking her craft to the next level. But the exciting part for me was being part of the process that’s going to take her to the next level.

It’s thrilling to watch someone you know and love transform her life. Not just to switch jobs (Shake-up #55), but to find a new passion. Pat’s doing it at 50; my sister did it a few years ago at 44. That’s when she totally gave up on her law career and started teaching history and law at a specialized high school in New York City. She loves it.

I know so many women who are itching to start over. I certainly am—it’s part of the reason I wrote The List. At a certain point, things start to get old (note I said “things,” not “we”) and we miss the energy that comes with finding inspiration, taking a risk, and being petrified of failing. I’ll happily take that chance . . . as soon as I figure out what I want to do.

What about you? Are you out looking for new passion in your work or personal life? Or have you found it already? Let’s hear it.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sarah's List Is Looking Good

Quiz time. Which is the bigger shakeup: Becoming a late-in-life mom (Shake-up #92) or an early-in-life grandma? Ask Sarah Palin, who, at age 43, has done both in just eight months. (Throw in the vice-presidential stuff, and she’s had quite a year.) Either way, it’s a shock to the system, and potentially the most wonderful thing that could happen. It’s all in how you look at it, and what you make of a change that turns your world upside down. Maybe, if it happens twice in one year, you actually end up on your feet.

So, Congrats, Gov. Palin. Twice.