How to Keep Your New Years Resolutions

Lisa writes: As a kid I thought New Years Resolutions were magical, like wishes made while blowing out birthday candles. On this one special night of the year, I could hope and dream for something to be different and a year hence, it would be. As I got older I made resolutions, often failed to keep them and was disillusioned only a few months into the year. Still later I stopped making resolutions, believing that magical thinking was for kids, and that the hard work of changing ourselves, was just that, hard work and need not be tied to any particular night.

new york city, train station clock, Grand Central

But there is something special about New Years. Every year we are offered a new beginning and that just might be magical.

So, are resolutions of any value? Why do we keep them or break them? And most importantly what can we do to make it to year-end still in position of our resolve?

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A Hotel Room of My Own at BlogHer14

I feel like I should preface this with telling you how much I love my husband and kids but am going to skip straight over that and tell you how much I love staying in a hotel room without them.  I can’t wait to check into the Fairmont where I’m not having a roommate at BlogHer14.  A hotel room of one’s own is a little lick of luxury that does not happen very often. But when it does, I savor every minute.

hotel room, BlogHer14, Fairmont

What’s so great?

There are no distractions, none.

I cannot empty the dishwasher, listen to someone’s problem or wonder why there is no OJ left when I remembered putting it in the cart…thirsty teens, left it at the checkout?  I can’t throw in a load of laundry or worry if the dog was limping like that last week.  I can just think…just me, my thoughts, it is like a spa for the soul.

I love waking up in a strange room.

I love a strange bed, different linens and an unfamiliar view out the window.  I moved constantly throughout my life until my kids were in middle school. Since then life has been geographically stable, so I love this taste of earlier days and the novelty that goes along with it.

I love the spotless bathrooms

and exploring new toiletries…I know they come with the cost of the room, but it always feels like small personal gifts to me even when I know I can buy the same things at CVS. If they are good, I swipe them.

A bathroom to myself.

I shared bathrooms with brothers, roommates and then, a husband, and while I am not complaining, a bathroom to myself, even for a single night or two, is certainly one of life’s little luxuries.

I love watching TV in bed.

In our home we only have one TV, in a valiant effort to control my children’s watching habits and to encourage all of us to read in bed (yes, I know this was pre-internet.)  TV in bed feels like a guilty pleasure. During  BlogHer ’13, I will wield the remote control, never having to share it with child or roommate.

Room service.

Need I say more.  Not sure why I can’t get this at home?

Almost every morning for eighteen years I have awakened one or more of my kids and my husband for school, jobs, sports…whatever.  I love setting my alarm and then walking into my sons’ room and softly calling their names to begin our day.  But in my hotel room I have only myself to worry about and for a night, that sounds just about right.

blogging, BlogHer14

blogging, BlogHer14

blogging, BlogHer14

blogging, BlogHer14

blogging, BlogHer14

blogging, BlogHer14

blogging, BlogHer14

blogging, BlogHer14

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The Day Women Took Over Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School, women grad students

Dear Harvard Business School,

Celebrating 50 years of women MBA graduates is a major milestone and please accept my sincere thanks for inviting me to the big bash.

Here is what I loved about last week’s “W50 Summit:”

*I spent time with 800 women, 99% of whom I had never met before. We struck up conversations at every opportunity and discovered the varied paths each of us has taken since graduation. Women in their 20s, their 70s, married, single, gay, straight, SAHM, moms who have worked every day since they graduated –  all in.  There was no judgement, no mommy battles, just deep curiosity and respect.

Harvard Business School, women's summit, standing ovation

* We listened to Drew Gilpin Faust, the first female President of Harvard University, welcome us and speak of how educating girls around the world is “fair, smart and transformative.” The standing ovation we gave her was the first of many.

* I met women from the first class (‘65) and imagined what it was like to be one of the eight who  studied beside 676 men.  Unlike the men who resided in dorms on campus, they lived across the Charles River. Barred from the campus dining room, they brought their lunches and used makeshift ladies rooms still equipped with urinals.

* We listened to Sheryl Sandberg (‘95, COO, Facebook) remind the SRO crowd, “to believe in ourselves, to keep raising our hands, to take a seat at the table.”  And, if anyone describes a little girl as “bossy,” correct them, saying that she has “early leadership potential.”  These were words every one of us could have used when we were still in your classrooms.

[Read more…]

The Tragedy Behind my Class Reunion

Class reunion, memoria

Mary Dell writes: There are reunion people and non-reunion people and I am one of the former. The invitation arrives and, almost immediately, I add my name to the list of attendees. I returned for my 30th class reunion last weekend, like I have done every five years, not only to see my former classmates, but also to revisit the painful and tragic memory of one friend, in particular. She is the reason I think I will never miss a gathering. For her, in memoriam, I can only offer tears.

We were members of a post-graduate program that was large, 750-people large, and far away from our hometowns. It took us southerners just about one week to find each other. We created a social island, several dozen strong, where it felt like home – Atlanta or Austin – instead of the banks of the Charles River.

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Thank you, Mrs. Ainslie, for being in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Mary Dell writes: Airplane trips offer few comforts – no food, uncomfortable seats, dreary in-flight entertainment. Last week, however, on a flight with my family, American Airlines offered a movie I wanted to see. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was well worth it. One of the main characters, Mrs. Ainslie, was a disagreeable woman who nagged her husband, complained about everything, and feared leaving the hotel to which they had traveled.

Thank you, Mrs. Ainslie, for being the type of woman I never want to be.

Perhaps you have already seen the movie? Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, and Maggie Smith headline the outstanding cast of vintage English actors. Mrs. Ainslie is played by Penelope Wilton, familiar to fans of Downton Abbey as Isobel Crawley, the somewhat pushy but kindly mother of heir-in-the-making, Matthew. While she is a sympathetic character in that miniseries, in this film she is a royal pain in the arse.


My reason for thanking her now?  We are on a family vacation and my husband is a terrible sitter.  I am an excellent sitter and that creates a tiny conflict as he picks adventure and I am content with a stack of magazines and books.  However, in watching the less than rosy outcome for Mr. and Mrs. Ainslie at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, I have been inspired me to get off my own arse and join in the family adventures.

Yesterday the three of us headed to the beach.  The relaxing chairs on the sand called to me, but I resisted as the explicit goal was to try paddle boarding. Perhaps you have seen pictures of bikini clad women standing upright regally gliding through water with a paddle gently dipping into the surf.  This was not me. But, with Mrs. Ainslie’s shrewish barks in my ear, I pushed myself to try it and, to my great surprise, I stayed upright and actually did passably well for a non-athletic person with mediocre balance.

The moral of the movie’s story for me was this – don’t self declare that you are past peak, unable to learn, explore and evolve.  Your spouse, partner or friends want your companionship. Your children most definitely prefer to see you active and Lord only knows that any future grandchildren will simply want you to get on the floor and play.

Mrs. Ainslie is my guide.

“When Did You Know Your Dog Needed Pet Therapy?”

Mary Dell writes: At lunch with a new friend,  I chatted about attending pet therapy.   Very delicately she asked “When did you know your dog needed therapy?” I  must have skipped a few crucial details in discussing how I work with my dog to give, not receive, treatment.

Pet therapy, Paws for Patients, volunteer job, labrador, chocolate labrador

Slipping the lanyard with the pair of IDs over my head, I walk to the car and open the door for my partner.  He jumps in the back, waiting for me to lower the window and, soon enough, I see him in the rear view mirror – head out, ears flapping back, and tail rhythmically wagging. I swear he is smiling. [Read more…]

Please Accept My Apology

Kara Gebhart Uhl, who blogs at Pleiades Bee, published a great piece a couple of weeks ago that resonated with thousands of readers. She issued an open apology to all parents she had judged so harshly during her child-free years.  I, like many of the 47,000 others who shared her post, had the proverbial been there, done that moment.  But as I hover at the mid-century mark of life I, too, feel the need to issue my apology to all women who crossed my path for the past five decades and in the quietest, never to be uttered part of my brain I thought, I would never dress like that, act like that, eat like that or treat my kids like that and, here is the kicker, if I were her age. Well here I am, officially her age, and now it all looks, well, so completely different.

please accept my apology, i apologize, non-judgmental, i am sorry

So my apologies. [Read more…]