Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I've got a GILT-y Shopping Habit

Are you in the habit of shopping online? I'm in love with Gilt right now. Thursday, I was invited to a swanky Gilty Kids cocktail party at the Trump Tower's rooftop bar by my blogging brand ambassador friend Meredith Sinclair of fame. In addition to the yummy drinks and tantalizing appetizers, we guests were treated to a $100 Gilt gift certificate. So now I'm obsessed with finding the perfect object on which to blow my wad.

Yesterday I considered this Chan Luu bracelet for $110 (reg. $250)

Today I salivated over this Nanette Lepore handbag at $149 (reg. $295):

The deals are great and the designers delicious, but in the world of Gilt, if you snooze you lose, and now both of these coveted items are sold out. I can get on the waiting list, but something better might come along tomorrow. And I haven't even begun to explore the stuff for the home, or the gifts or the restaurants.

But I intend to use this gift card by the end of the week. I'll report back with my purchase!

Gilt Update as of 6/25! Here is what I bought with my gift card - a Berge Burgundy Ponyhair Belt for $95 (regularly $182.) I know it's not very summery, but I love the color, don't have anything like it, and can see myself wearing it ALL the time. It also comes in black and leopard. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Undies Uncovered - Sexy Solutions for Women over 40

It's the first day of summer and it's time to lighten up with two lingerie product recommendations I've just got to share! These two little items are not only pretty, they're practical. And they're enthusiastically endorsed by real women over 40. Of course, every body is different, so make sure you try them on for yourself to ensure they work for you.

Image -
1. Hanky Panky Thong
I can hardly believe that I'm recommending a thong, because I professed my hatred of the torturous garments at length two years ago (Confessions of a Prude.) But now I've found Hanky Panky's Original Stretch Lace style. These one-size-fits-all panties are feminine and sexy, but more importantly, the rear strip is stretchy and wide enough that it lightly skims your backside with none of the the painful wedgie effects that make other thongs so friggin' uncomfortable.  The crotch panel stays in place too, without bunching or disappearing into the nether regions.  Too much information? Oh, just try them. Hanky Panky also makes lower-rise styles and petite and woman's sizes. Sexy, comfy and no panty lines -  what took me so long? Price: $18.

Image -
2. The NuBra
I haven't tried this one myself, but this innovative garment was a big topic at a recent moms happy hour. Unlike other bras, the NuBra has no straps or fasteners. The supportive silicone cups stay in place by suction and a simple, cleavage-creating hook. With the NuBra, your boobs look (and feel) naturally smooth, shapely and perky! You can wear skimpy or sheer summer tops without worrying about ugly lines, sleazy straps, or the dreaded "nip slip."

My Fortyfabulous friend Coco* swears by it. The NuBra also has the added benefit of covering irregularities and areas dimpled by surgery. Follow this link to see a video of how the NuBra is applied. Fits A, B, and C cups. Price: $60.

After my recent discoveries, I suspect that there are a lot of other cool and useful lingerie products I've been missing out on. So please, if you've got any tips, share them here!

*Not her real name, but she's definitely a Coco to me

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Secret to Developing New Habits

Earlier this month I vowed to devote one hour a day to new, healthy, life-changing habits (see below). An hour of change per day seemed like a modest enough goal for a gal who's in the market for transformation. Nothing too taxing, lots of variety - achievable stuff designed to build my confidence that lasting change was indeed possible at this point in life.
10 mins - Quiet Contemplation
5 mins - Keep Food Journal 
15 mins -Tackle a Terrible Task 
25 mins- Vigorous exercise 
5 mins - Bedtime beauty routine (floss, skin care)

While I've made an effort in all the areas, after two weeks, the only new habit I've integrated on a daily basis is my 5 minute bedtime beauty routine - which basically is flossing my teeth and washing & moisturizing my face.  

My gums are pink and healthy and  I wake up with a fresh-faced glow, but  this is not exactly an earth-shattering achievement. But I'm also trying to think positively, so hey, at least I've developed one new daily habit! Whoo hoo!

I'm certain the reason I've been successful with the new beauty routine is because it occurs at exactly the same point of my day - before bed. The other jobs are floating out there in whenever-land. 

This all goes back to the importance of managing your calendar, as my organizing guru, Colleen Collins Josellis taught me back in February. So, rather than beat myself up and abandon my goals, I'm going to  consider them mandatory and schedule them into my day. I hope that giving them a specific time slot will turn them into habits as rote as brushing my teeth or pouring a cup of coffee. I'll give you a progress report on how that's working for me at the end of the month.

In the meantime, for some real inspiration, check out this article written by my  friend, Christy Coughlin, called the 7 Secrets of Super Fit Women. These motivated chicks don't let anything stand in the way of their health and fitness goals. 

And if you find their routines too daunting, just remember me, dab on some eye cream and feel good about yourself!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Point of Staying in the Moment

As a latecomer to competitive sports, I'm amazed to discover how the lessons I learn on the tennis court apply to my entire life. Yesterday, I realized how important it is to stay focused on the moment. 

 (image via
My Park District team played against the Saddle & Cycle Club - a gorgeous old club tucked into the Edgewater Neighborhood of Chicago. Saddle and Cycle's courts are clay, which is good for me because I don't have a powerful game and the softer surface slows things down. Anyway, my partner Betsy and I were in a groove and quickly won the first set 6-1.

In the second set our opponents made some adjustments - they lobbed, poached, and attacked down the line. Suddenly we were down 2 - 0 and I got rattled. Instead of concentrating on hitting the ball, my mind started creating all sorts of possible scenarios; none of them good.

"If we lose this game, it will be so hard to come back to take the set."
"It's so embarrassing that we're losing! What will my teammates think?"
"They have the momentum now, we'll never get it back."
"I'm letting Betsy down!"
"I'm going to miss my dentist appointment if this goes three sets!"

My anxiety affected my play. I made errors, lost my serve - I actually swung at one ball and whiffed.

"Oh my God, I stink!" I moaned to myself.

Then, remembering the advice from Gallwey's book, The Inner Game of Tennis, I decided to pull it together. Forget about the score, I told myself. Forget about my record, my ranking, my teammates and all the various things that could go wrong in the match. Focus on this point, think about this ball.

"When we unlearn how to be judgmental, it is possible to achieve spontaneous, focused play."
W. Timothy Gallwey - The Inner Game of Tennis

As soon as I stopped beating myself up and started keeping my eye on the ball, we began winning more points. Eventually, we fought our way back to take the second set 6-4.

Driving home from the match (with plenty of time to make my dentist appointment) I thought about how all that worry was not only unnecessary, it was harmful. By thinking so much about the final outcome of the match, I'd totally lost my ability to influence the game at the point level - which is the only level any match can be won!

It's so easy to slip into a pattern of negativity and worry when something goes wrong in life, but thinking about how things could turn out is often an encumbrance to making the best out of what actually is. Making a habit of focusing on the present moment, not judging ourselves or others, and staying positive is the only way to achieve winning outcome.

I "love" tennis even more for reminding me of this.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Forget Timberlake, it's Older Women Bringing Sexy Back

 I'm reading an encouraging little book called The Secret Pleasures of Menopause by Dr. Christiane Northrup that has cheered me up about getting older. According to this prominent OB/Gyn and recent research, we women have a lot to look forward to between the sheets in middle age and beyond!

 Here are a couple excerpts from the book I'd like to pass on:
"The first idea you need to cast aside is the cultural myth that sex drive inevitably decreases after menopause. This simply is not true. The latest research shows that women in their 60s and 70's have the best sex of their lives."
According to a 2007 survey of 3000 men and women aged 57-85, "not only were most of those surveyed still sexually active, but the average frequency of sex was 2-3 times per month - the same frequency that younger adults report."

"Women aged 55 and older enjoy sex more and put more thought and effort into their sex lives than women the same age a decade ago. ... The researchers explain the difference in this way: Women who've reached midlife and beyond feel younger, are more open about their sexual needs, and are more interested in health."

Also, the study showed that a robust sex life has "less to do with how old you are and more to do with how healthy you are."

It's no secret that sex and health have a reciprocal relationship - the better you feel, the more sex you have and the more sex you have, the better you feel. The very good news is that age doesn't affect this equation.

So to celebrate, I'll propose a toast - To your health!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Man Up and Take a Compliment

I didn't post over the weekend because I was working on this video for The Succulent Wife - a chic, entertaining resource for chicks like us. I am guest posting there once a month, providing video updates to my midlife crisis.  Check out my latest, inspired by my April post on men and personal power, called Take a Compliment Like a Man.

As part of my midlife crisis, I’ve been considering the theme of empowerment. Because even though I’m on fire in many areas of my life, I sometimes feel insecure about my choices, or worry what other people think, or downplay my accomplishments.  You know who doesn’t waste time undermining themselves this way? Men!
Men are comfortable talking about themselves positively; they openly share their successes and achievements. It’s not bragging – it’s confidence. And guys know how to accept praise, with none of the shirking or deflecting that women often do. I say we women have something to learn from them in this area.
One place to begin is how we receive compliments. If someone is insightful and generous enough to express admiration for us, not only should we enjoy it – we should believe in ourselves enough to agree. It does take a shift in thinking, though. Watch my one-minute video to learn more.

Read more:

Friday, June 10, 2011

The "Beadafits" of being a sure thing for your husband

Last week I wrote about the book Forty Beads, the Simple Sexy Secret for Transforming Your Marriage (see my post, Develop a Sex Habit in Your Marriage.) Author Carolyn Evans explains a system where a woman gives her husband 40 beads and agrees to have sex with him within 24 hours, each time he drops a bead in her bedside bowl.

Create your own Forty Beads kit or
order this one at
The arrangement is intended to balance different libido levels in a relationship, but it seems pretty one-sided, right?

I spoke to Carolyn (who is as lovely over the phone as she appears in her video, below) and asked her - so what do we women get out of Forty Beads?

According to Carolyn, here are just some of the "beadafits" she and other women have experienced:

1. A loving, connected relationship with her husband.
2. A husband who is completely tuned into her needs.
3. An appreciation of her own sensuality.
4. The best sex of her life.

"It absolutely changed the way I feel about sex," Carolyn says, "Sex gets better the more you open yourself up to it. Saying yes (vs. no all the time) is an expansive experience."

And, while beading couples do have sex more frequently than they used to, it's not as big of an increase as you might think.  The beads create a feeling of sexual abundance in the relationship - so the guys are relaxed and not always so desperate to secure it.

Y'all, it sounds like it's worth a try to me. I say, bead me up, Scotty!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Moms, do you wanna be a MILF?

The term "Milf," which originated as an acronym for the crude term Mother I'd Like to F*@k, has evolved into a semi-legit noun that creates mixed feelings amongst we moms. I mean, we're not interested in the attention of guys young enough to be our sons (are we?) but we'd still appreciate being considered hot by other men.

Check out my article at Make it Better where I delve into the contradictions of this term and interview author Sarah Maizes about her fun new book, Got Milf? The modern mom's guide to feeling fabulous, looking great and rocking a minivan.

Milfs seem to be the sexy older chicks of choice in the media these days, but I still have a fondness for the classic Cougars which I wrote about admiringly a few years back. Follow the link to my article "Feline Fantasy" to reminisce with me!

And check back tomorrow, when I give a sneak peek to my interview with Carolyn Evans, author of Forty Beads - the Simple Sexy Secret for Transforming Your Marriage.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shut Up Gremlins, I Know What I'm Doing

I generally have a positive outlook, but sometimes - when I get criticized, lose focus, hit a roadblock or tackle something new - doubts, worries and anxious self-talk will creep into my head.  Life coach Carol Moss calls these undermining thoughts "gremlins" and they can be vicious little monsters. Here's a sampling of the nastiness my gremlins pepper me with.

Get back in your box!
Who do you think you are?
You're ridiculous.
That's not gonna work.
No one's interested in that.
You don't have the experience.
You don't deserve it.
Your opinion doesn't matter.
You forgot something.
What will people think?
Don't stand out.
Act your age, be more ladylike.
You're fat/ugly/old/irrelevant.
You don't fit in.

When those spiteful gremlins (or some real life critic) show up and leave me feeling shaky, I've got a tried and true method for getting them back in their box - I whip out my personal mantra.

 I've used this five word phrase for years and it's nothing mystical or new age. I simply repeat to myself..

I know what I'm doing. 
I know what I'm doing.
 I know what I'm doing. 
I know what I'm doing.

This simple phrase brings me great comfort, and by placing emphasis on different words, my mantra has a wide range of reassuring meanings: I'm in control of myself, my opinion is the one that matters, I'm smart, I'm following a course of action I believe in, I'm consciously choosing what's happening to me, etc. It's awesome!

"I know what I'm doing" shuts up most of my gremlins, but you'll probably find other phrases that work better for you. For small glitches, mistakes and annoyances, I frequently mutter "It's no big deal" because most of the time, it really isn't.

I also admire Amy Poehler's proclamation (as quoted by Tina Fey in her hilarious book, Bossypants) "I don't fucking care if you like it!"

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

1 Hour of New Habits per Day

The forecast is a steamy 92 degrees, but it feels like January to me because I can't spend this month examining habits without resolving to change some of mine. I've made resolutions before, lots of them, and you probably have too. It's not that we don't know what we should be doing, it's just damn hard to do it!

There are many reasons it's hard - our brains and bodies are actually wired to resist change. Forming new habits requires discipline.

"Some people regard discipline as a chore. For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly."  Julie Andrews  

I have been disciplined about writing every day, and I feel good about it. But here are some of the many other habits I've vowed to develop in the past:

Even little habits require discipline
Floss, keep food journal, exercise daily, meditate,wash my face before going to bed, go to bed early, drink lots of water, eat dark, leafy vegetables/whole grains/lean protein, cut out sugar & junk food, take a multi-vitamin/vitamin D/ calcium supplement, be thankful, keep a gratitude journal, expect the best, stay on top of terrible tasks, send birthday cards and thank you notes on a timely basis.

Not to mention lose 10 pounds, write a book, discover my life's purpose, spend quality time with my kids and husband, contribute meaningfully to my community, organize my closets, improve my tennis game, start playing golf, travel the world, read the classics and become a sexy hot vixen - all before I hit 50.

I do some of these things some of the time but, unlike making my bed and brushing my teeth, they're not habits. I know they're worthy goals, necessary goals, but looking at the long list is overwhelming. How can I make so many changes? And realistically, how much time do I have to devote to this stuff anyway?

Let's say I have an hour. An hour a day I can do. And I want to pack as much into that time as possible.

Here's the breakdown of how I'll spend the 60 minutes I'm devoting to new habits:

10 mins - Quiet Contemplation (to increase feelings of well-being, connectedness, gratitude, optimism)
5 mins - Keep Food Journal (to be mindful of diet calorically and nutritionally)
15 mins -Tackle a Terrible Task (handle something awful but important)
25 mins- Vigorous exercise (must include sweating and panting!)
5 mins - Bedtime beauty routine (remove makeup,wash face, moisturize, floss!)

There, I've written it and so I shall do it! Oh, and based on my experience yesterday, if I need help I will ask for it.

Hey, if you had an extra hour, what changes would you make to your daily routine?

Monday, June 6, 2011

About a Man and a Kite

I was tying my shoes before heading out for a power walk this morning, when Kelly started getting all excited, thinking this meant a walk for her. I adore my pooch, but walking Kelly is not an aerobic activity. She likes to sniff and pee and and dawdle, and me dragging her along to keep a brisk pace is not fulfilling for either of us.

"Oh no," I groaned aloud, "Kelly's going crazy for a walk, but I need to exercise."

"I'll walk her," offered my 14 year-old daughter.

"You will?"

"Sure," Emma shrugged. No big deal.

What an amazing development. I practically skipped out the door.

As I headed to the park, I thought about how often I get offers for help - from friends or relatives or complete strangers - and turn them down. I'm reluctant to ask for help too; like needing assistance makes me stupid or incompetent. I hate the idea of being a burden. Also, I'm a little shy.

I certainly don't judge people that way when they ask me for a favor or advice. I feel good that I can help out and flattered to be asked. And, like my daughter offering to walk the dog, most of the time it's no big deal.

In a month when I'm examining my habits, this is one I'd like to change. I can ask for help when I need it! I don't need to know everything. It's perfectly okay!

Lovelace Park, Evanston IL
I had a chance to test my new resolution almost immediately. Lovelace Park has a lovely half-mile track that circles around a pond, a soccer field and a playground. On my first lap around the path I passed an older man serenely flying a kite.

I gave the guy a little smile as I marched by - kites are fun! Then it dawned on me how extraordinary it was that a grown man was at the park flying a kite all by himself. This is something I couldn't imagine doing myself. I spent my second lap wondering about the guy. Why was he flying this kite? Was it for the benefit of some kid I hadn't noticed? Was he mentally impaired? Was this his regular pastime or had he  decided to give it a try for the hell of it?

On the third lap, it came to me. If I wanted to know about this man and his kite, I could simply stop and ask him about it. I could ASK. So I did.

"It's so cool that you're flying a kite!" I said brightly, because I've found that people are more receptive if you give them a sincere compliment first.

"Well, thank you," he said, clearly pleased that I'd noticed.

"I just have to ask, why are you doing it?"

"Oh, it was something I tried as a kid and could never do, and a year or so ago I thought that maybe I could give it another try," he said. "A lot of people don't know how to fly kites."

"They don't?" I asked.

"Nope. See, a kite can drop 100 feet in altitude just like that. You've got to know what to do to get it back up."

This gentleman (who was perfectly normal, by the way) then demonstrated the proper technique for getting a kite into climbing mode. His kite was admirably high. I asked him if he did this often.

 "I come out here a fair bit,"  he said, modestly.

We both were quiet, watching the kite soar in the breeze while he gently tugged on its long string. "It gets kind of Zenlike after a while."

I could see that. I said good-bye, and as I walked on I felt lighter, uplifted - from both the kite and the conversation. I'm so glad I asked.

Do you have trouble asking for things or accepting help? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one. I ask you to  please comment, below.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Develop a Sex Habit in Your Marriage

June is habit month and to develop my writing habit, I've vowed to blog every day except for Sundays. Today the pressure is getting to me. It's almost 5 o'clock and it's Saturday night and my husband is taking me out for dinner. I've got 45 minutes to come up with something good and I don't have a damn thing to say about habits.

Or do I?

I write the Sex & the Suburbs column for Make it Better Magazine and in preparation for an article,  I'm reading a fascinating book called "Forty Beads - The Simple Sexy Secret for Transforming Your Marriage." I'm excited to interview author Carolyn Evans. Her book is creating quite a buzz and she just appeared on the Today Show yesterday to discuss it.

The book describes a system that Carolyn improvised as a gift for her husband's 40th birthday. They'd been going through a bit of a rough patch in their marriage - busy with other things, disconnected from one another, she was getting bitchy, he was feeling resentful. (Honestly, what married couple hasn't gone through a time like this?)

Carolyn wanted to turn things around by giving her husband a birthday present that would make him really, really happy. She figured that the thing guys want more than anything is sex. But not just one mind-blowing night of sex. Men want an abundance of sex and, even more, they want to know that sex is coming their way in the future.

So, Carolyn gave her man a bag of 40 glass beads to be used like this:

1. When hubby wants sex, he places a bead in a bowl on her bedside table.
2. Wife redeems bead by having sex with hubby within 24 hour period.
3. Couple repeats until all beads have been presented.

That's it. Apparently this gift has made her husband deliriously happy and revitalized their marriage.  Carolyn has reaped all sorts of unexpected and delightful benefits herself and other women "beaders" who followed in her footsteps have been similarly delighted. It's not just the regular sex that has worked this magic - it's the anticipation, appreciation, and mutual agreement that accompanies it.

Wow. I haven't finished the book yet, but I'm already formulating my interview questions. It sounds so one-sided and transactional, and it must be anti-feminist, right?

But if it really works, well, hmmm.

I can't completely give away my article for Make it Better, but I'll give you a preview of my conversation with Carolyn after we talk next week. You can learn more for yourself at

And now, I'm off to enjoy my Saturday night!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Don't Mess with My Morning

Since I'm writing about habits, I decided to take a detailed look at mine, starting with first thing in the morning. I'm pretty attached to my routine, and honestly, I'm not looking to change this part of my day much. I like drinking coffee in bed. I like time to myself before my kids wake up. But I bet I can tweak it a bit and squeeze in another meaningful activity or two.

So here goes - in great detail, these are the things I do every single weekday before 8:15 a.m.

6:15am - Shut off alarm
Groan, moan and roll out of bed
Must have this.
Open shades and curtains
Go to bathroom, brush my teeth, grab my glasses
Go to kitchen, turn on coffee maker
Put away dishes left in sink from night before
Let dog out of mudroom, scratch dog's ears
Grab mug, heat Land o' Lakes Fat Free Half & Half in microwave
Pour brewed Starbucks Caffe Verona into mug
Do same for hubby if he hasn't left for work
Go back to bed with coffee and dog
Sip coffee, begin to feel human
Read newspaper/book or write in journal
Wake up daughter at 6:45am
Pour more coffee, continue reading/writing
Kiss husband good-bye
Make breakfast for daughter at 7:20am (she likes leftovers)
Yell at daughter "Hurry up!"
Eat bowl of Special K w/fresh berries and multi-vitamin
Discuss plans with daughter for the day
Open door for daughter's friend, greet her
Yell at daughter "Friend is here, hurry up!"
Say goodbye to daughter
Let dog out
Feed dog, freshen water
Make breakfast sandwich for son
With this.
Engage in monosyllabic conversation with son
Give son money and/or more food to take to school
Say goodbye to son
Go to computer, check calendar, weather, email
Write top to-dos for day on orange post-it note
Go back upstairs
Close kids' bedroom doors to avoid seeing frightful mess within
Go to bathroom
Take off clothes, step slowly on scale
Squint suspiciously at weight and body fat numbers displayed
Mentally subtract 4 pounds to account for cereal and coffee consumed
Wash face, moisturize, brush teeth
Examine face in magnifying mirror for stray hairs; pluck as needed
Put in contacts
Dress in workout clothes
Make bed
Take newspapers and coffee cups downstairs
Prepare to start day

Yep, that's pretty much my current morning routine. Next, I'm going to see how I can improve it.

I actually found writing all this down fascinating and now I'm super curious about other people's mornings. How do you wake up? Do you exercise, stretch, meditate, pray? Do you do laundry? Do you listen to music or NPR? Are you going to miss Oprah?

C'mon, share some details with me - while I pour myself another cup of coffee.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bad Habits - I've come a long way baby

I'm devoting this month to an examination of habits, because I'm convinced my daily routines are the best predictors of where I'm going to end up down the road. My plan is to 1) identify bad habits and shed them, and 2) introduce good habits that will set me on the path to fame, fortune, and a bod like Beyonce's.

Now, I realize this isn't going to be easy. But I've been doing some positive thinking and realize I already have a track record of breaking some significant bad habits. I'm no longer a terrible nail biter, for example. And I don't smoke.

I used to be a smoker, though. I started early, in 6th grade, the year I moved to Milford, Michigan when my mom got remarried. Back in the 70s, Milford was a pretty, rural town with apple orchards, lakes and dirt roads. It was also a hotbed of juvenile delinquent behavior and shockingly advanced compared to Rosedale Park, my former neighborhood in Detroit.

I don't know if kids in Milford had more space and freedom to act out or if they were just bored, but lunch recess at Kurtz Elementary was a rule-breaking free-for-all.

Kids would gather under the tall oaks on the far side of the playground to conduct pretend "marriages" - really just a forum for boys and girls to suck face in public. The playground equipment included huge tractor tires that we could climb into and hide from the supervisor. It was there, desperate to fit into any social circle that would have me, I tried my first puff of a cigarette.  It was disgusting. But it was also dangerous and exciting and, even though the other kids laughed at my inexperience, I was "in."

Smoking was super cool back then. Ads made it look modern and glamorous, and tons of parents smoked, so it was easy to filch leftover packs of cigarettes from adult parties and carry them to school in your knee sock (also a good place to store a tampon, I later discovered.) I liked the rebelliousness of smoking, and even though I got into big trouble - I was suspended from school for three days in 7th grade - I kept it up. I snuck cigarettes in my basement, in school bathrooms, out in the woods.

I wasn't a heavy smoker - never more than a few cigarettes a day - but I defiantly kept puffing away until my mid-twenties, when one day I thought, "What am I doing? I don't like this, it tastes awful, and I'm always smoking stale cigarettes anyway. I'm in charge of my own life now, what the hell am I rebelling against?" I couldn't come up with a good answer, so I quit. I've been smoke free for over twenty years.

Oh, I had a few relapses. The hardest thing about not smoking is you don't get to hang around with the smokers anymore, who are often the coolest, most interesting people at any party. The whole ritual of smoking creates a bond - bumming a cigarette, getting a light, huddling together out in the cold. I missed that for a while.

But once I stopped looking at smoking as an act of rebellion, I just didn't need it anymore.

I think many bad habits originate for reasons that make sense at first, but don't stand the test of time. This month, I'm on the look out for those.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Forget the Muse, Just Get to Work

I'm taking an amazing class I call my "Woman Empowerment" class, but the name doesn't come close to describing the wide range of material we're covering. As part of our curriculum, we've read and listened to some of the works of Steve Chandler, a life coach, business consultant, public speaker and author of 30 books. Our group was lucky to have a Q&A session with him by telephone.

Steve's books have powerful titles like 100 Ways to Motivate Yourself and Reinventing Yourself, so when it was my turn to talk with him, I wanted to discuss writing.

Image via Wikipedia
"Steve, I'm a writer, and lately I've had trouble getting motivated. I think it's because I'm feeling really happy! I usually write about things that are problems for me, or at least puzzles to work out. But right now I'm content, so I got nothin'. Do you think creativity is fueled by dissatisfaction?"

I felt pretty smarty pants about my question. Here I was with a successful author, about to compare notes about  the creative process.

Steve has a deep voice and speaks verrry slowly, but it didn't take long for him to identify my happinesss as a run-of-the-mill form of procrastination.

"When I'm working on a book, I take a very blue collar approach to creativity," he said.

In other words, Steve Chandler doesn't wait for his muse to show up; he sits down every day and does his job. He may or may not feel inspired every moment, but he does the work because he knows it requires consistent effort to achieve his goals.

He speaks to this very issue in his book, Time Warrior.
If I only work when I'm "inspired" my work won't be reliable, and it won't be accountable. It won't be a grown-up activity. I'll be like some kid always trying to decide something.
My problem with productivity only happens when I don't have a discipline. Because then I wake up every day trying to decide if I feel like doing it. And that's like waking up and trying to decide whether I "feel like" flying to New York, even thought I have a ticket and a seat on the plane.  
Okay, I get it. It's accountability.

Happiness be damned - moods cannot dictate whether I write or not. Call it blue collar, call it grown up, or call it a good habit (this month's theme) - but I need to develop the discipline of honest to goodness hard work, whether I "feel like it" or not.

More on this and other good habits to come!