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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I’m Going to BlogHer and Can’t Wait for a Hotel Room of my Own

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 Sheraton where I’m not having a roommate at BlogHer ’13.  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.

Sheraton Chicago, hotel room, my own hotel room

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.

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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.

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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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I Love Hate Blogging

BLOGGINGWe were blogging virgins. Neither of us had any idea what a blog was and had never read one, let alone written one. But as we have dipped our toes into this corner of the social network and are now up to our knees, I have realized a few things:

I love:

Thinking about parenting issues with the clarity that writing imposes.

Meeting people all over the world. I guess I could have done this with an airplane, but my computer, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and our blog are so much easier.

Trying to think of something original to say.  On the rare moments that it happens, it makes my brain sing. [Read more...]



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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.

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“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...]



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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...]



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Caring for Women’s Rights She Thought, Those Could be My Children

There are certain things that you’re just passionate about and it could be anything.  Mine has always been women’s rights, and particularly women’s economic empowerment.  That has been my personal soapbox, I think since I was in high school.   –Connie Duckworth, founder and CEO, Arzu Studio Hope

Arzu studio hope, connie duckworth, rug weaving, Afghanistan, arzu

Credit: Arzu Studio Hope

In 2003, Connie was a retired partner of Goldman Sachs.  She had four school age children and a calendar full of board and speaking responsibilities.  She wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but she was looking.  This interview is the story of her journey from Wall Street partner to social entrepreneur, from working in a world of privilege to one in which the need is overwhelming.  Arzu Studio Hope commissions women in Afghanistan to weave top quality rugs for sale in the United States and Europe.  ARZU addresses three interdependent needs: consistent and improved employment, access to education, and access to basic healthcare, with a particular focus on maternal and infant care.

You really don’t have an international affairs background? [Read more...]



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Back on the Career Track, pt. 2

back on the career track, irelaunch, career reentry, restart careerCarol Fishman Cohen, co-founder of irelaunch,  returns today with some concise words of advice for anyone looking to reignite a career or maybe change direction. She gives us some great personal stories that we hope will provide inspiration and direction.

If you want to hear more Carol gave a great interview with Better After 50 (BA50) and you can read it here.

5 ways to relaunch a career: [Read more...]



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Back on the Career Track

Empty Nest, Carol Fishman CohenIs it time to go back to work?  Or maybe time to change career paths with the kids on the way out the door? As the nest empties, these questions naturally arise.  But where to begin?  If you have been out of the workplace for a number of years, dare we even say a decade or more, a job search with a dusty, outdated resume can be a daunting task.  One of my oldest friends, Carol Fishman Cohen,  became a stay at home mom when the company she worked for (remember Drexel Burnham Lambert?) went into bankruptcy while she was on maternity leave.  A decade later Carol was successful in finding a great job, but ultimately her real calling was in helping others tread the same path.  Carol wrote a great book called Back on the Career Track and she has a hugely helpful website called iRelaunch.

I went to one of Carol’s conferences last fall at NYU and it was an amazing networking/information gathering/educational event—even the food was good.  So rather than speak for her, I have asked Carol to give you a few of her most important points, and if you need more you can follow up on her site or at Amazon.  Today Carol is going to talk about mistakes people make in trying to renter the workforce, tomorrow she will give some of her top suggestions on how to get back on the career track.
Three common mistakes people make when trying to relaunch a career: [Read more...]



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