Forty is Exactly What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

I very clearly remember being five or six years old and thinking seven was old. Not wrinkly-doesn’t-know-what’s-cool old but old like it was some exclusive members-only club for which achieving access was an end-all be-all accomplishment. Seven seemed to me a goal that, once you reached, would make you feel like you’d officially “arrived.”


Approaching every milestone birthday before forty was like approaching a moving finish line. 

I remember feeling the same way about ten (two whole hands!) and then thirteen (teenager!), and basically every milestone birthday: I’d think I was about to reach the top of some mountain only to get there, look up, and realize I still had so far to go. The birthdays got bigger and further apart: sixteen, eighteen, twenty-one, thirty. Every time I thought I got close to crossing a finish line, the line moved forward again. I remember thinking that, “By this birthday..” or “By that birthday…” I’d accomplish this or that thing, or drop this or that habit. But it never happened. I was always chasing a moving target.

Forty was the first milestone where the finish line didn’t move forward and out of my reach as I approached. Maybe why that’s why people call 40 “over the hill” – because it’s like you do finally feel like you’ve reached the top (and, I’ve heard more times than I can count “It’s all downhill from here”). No more moving thresholds – you finally reach and then, by God, you cross them. There are things you achieve at Forty that you finally realize you’ve spent your entire life chasing.
Forty is wisdom. It doesn’t mean you won’t still do stupid shit, but there is a serenity and perspective that comes from experience that just makes everything less anxiety-inducing. It’s taking a breath and just being. And that makes the stupid shit a lot more fun.
At 40 … You Know Who You Are


Forty means … sometimes paying for “natural”

There is an incredible sense of accomplishment and comfort in knowing just who you are and being OK with it. Your eye color is your eye color. Your hair is your hair (even if you have to pay for your “natural color”). You’re either tall, short, or completely and utterly average, but it’s what you are and there’s no fighting it and it’s OK. Maybe you’re outgoing; maybe you’re reclusive. Point is, you’re not a recluse that is trying to force being the life of every party, and you’re not a social butterfly that is staying home because it’s what your “supposed to do.” At forty you begin to recognize that who you are and what you’ve accomplished in life – and what you have not – is meant for you or it’s not.

At 40 … You Know Who You Are Not
Guess what? Anything personal (i.e., not career-related) you have to force and suffer for… it’s probably not for you. I mean, I am all for a tough workout, or any kind of challenge, but setting unattainable goals and killing yourself to *maybe* meet them is not for women in their forties. Forcing things is just a waste of your time. Believe me. It sounds very Marie Kondo, but at forty you simply recognize that (again other than work) things that do not bring joy are not worth your time. Trust me. I spent many years trying to exist on lettuce and non-fat yogurt and at forty I know this: My body type is my body type, whether I eat a brownie a la mode for dinner or a salad dressed in a packet of mustard (true story).



Forty is… the wisdom to know that doing all the things is a hell of a lot harder with a blown ACL. 

Last summer, when presented with the opportunity to try wakeboarding, a friend of mine (also in her forties) said to me, without hesitation, “Nope. I know my limitations.” Knowing your limits comes from experience. It does not mean you lack a sense of adventure. It simply means you have the wherewithal to appreciate how hard it will be to do all the things with a blown out ACL.

At 40 … You Know Who Your Friends Are
And you have a lot fewer of them. Friends that come and go quickly before you are forty are a lot like Facebook “Friends.” The interaction has less than zero depth or authenticity. Most are not people you’d spend any real time with, nor would you want to. Nothing wrong with that. But at forty, it’s like your friend list went through a really aggressive filter and got rid of all the superficial BS. Real friendships – the ones that last and remain – are meaningful. And, unlike in your twenties, you’re totally OK with it. Because hell, you graduated high school twenty years ago and you didn’t grow this much to let mindless pettiness smudge the otherwise clear reflection who you’ve become.
At 40 … You Know Who Your Friends Are Not 
That friend with whom you’ve been trying to get a date on the calendar for months and it never seems to work out? It shouldn’t be hard. It shouldn’t be a chore or an obligation. Maybe it’s time to accept that it’s not that you don’t have time, but that you’re unwilling to really make time. I saw a great Tweet the other day that explained “saying I don’t have time doesn’t literally mean every second of my schedule is accounted for but rather I’m giving as much of myself as I am currently willing to give.” So, the people that can’t seem to find the time to see you? It may not be that their schedule is packed, but they’re not willing to give the time they do have, to you. Let ‘em go. Same applies if you’re not willing to lock in a date far in advance because something else might come up – if you are doing that, the person you are doing it to clearly isn’t a priority. It’s OK.



Our schedules are chaos and never in sync and we still see each other almost every week. Because … priorities. 

My best friend and I have six kids and three dogs between us (eleven dependent beings in all, because… husbands). We work a collective 336 hours a week and “mom” another 672 (go ahead, do the math). And yet, we see each other almost every weekend. Not because life isn’t crazy and we aren’t constantly up to our eyeballs in shit (we joke that we both clean up shit for a living – she’s an ICU nurse and I’m a lawyer). We are a priority for one another. Seeing each other is not forced. It is not a chore and not an obligation. The only “rule” is, we don’t clean our houses for each other to come over, and unless it’s something we can throw on the grill, we don’t cook. The only requirement is that there be a bottle (or three) of wine.

I have other friends that I see only once a year, and talk to infrequently, but when I do see them it’s like no time has passed and we just pick up right where we left off. We don’t have to see each other for our bond to be strong, but because of distance, schedules, or other just life in general, we know it’s hard and we don’t kid ourselves by making unreasonable promises or far-fetched plans to see each other more often. We won’t and it’s OK. Real friends and friendships are enough of a priority to get a place in your schedule or hold a permanent place in your heart and your life.
At 40 … You’re Older. And (mostly) Wiser


Forty is … an S-ton of candles. 

Luke Bryan got it right: “Youth is well spent on the young because wisdom in your teens would be a lot less fun.” The road to get here was long, and not easy. Sidenote: Holy fuck, 20 was 20 years ago! But forty as a destination feels like a goal reached, and overcoming the challenges along the way feels like a crowning achievement.
Forty seems old, but after getting over the initial shock of my twenties being half a lifetime ago, I’ve realized that who I am at forty is, in fact, exactly who I want to be when I grow up.

The (Un)Glamorous Life of a Traveling Working Mom



Last Sunday night, my BFF and I were debating (as we often do, after a long weekend and several bottles of Coppola) which one of us has the more glamorous life and which one of us is the greater Superhero. On the latter point, I win the debate by a million every time. She has twice as many kids and twice as many dogs as I do. Plus, she saves lives for a living. Clearly she wears the cape. On the former, well, she wipes a lot of asses and cleans up a lot of vomit while I get to travel the world speaking, teaching, and meeting people. Cocktailing, wining, dining; dressed up and in heels.

It’s a grass-is-always-greener type debate and as far as “glamour” it drives home the point that we only see about 10% of peoples’ lives – specifically, the good and the bragworthy – on social media. I recognize that based on the photos I text my girlfriends and post online, work and travel may look glamorous. But there’s a lot of working/traveling mom life that goes unseen.

Traveling as a mom is exhausting and de-stabilizing. 


It’s fucking exhausting. It’s de-stabilizing. To the point I sometimes look forward to coming home just to do laundry and put clothes away. I often fly through the night, or early in the morning, and always have to hit the ground running, wherever and in whatever time zone I land. I recently landed in Boston at 8.15am and at 9am walked into a board room of 30+ people from all over the globe, to whom I had to deliver a speech on U.S. law and policy. The remainder of my day – from 10am until 3am – was blocked out in half hour or hour increments, back to back. Sure, it’s cool to be meeting with lawyers and clients from all over the world. But the pressure and stress to be “on” 24/7 is draining. And it makes it more and more challenging to shift into Mommy gear for the scattered two-minute snippets when I get to check in with home.

hotel-1330850_1920I do not stay in glamorous hotels when I travel. It has nothing to do with cost and everything to do with the fact that a hotel room is completely wasted on me. I use it to store my shit and brush my teeth. I’m in it to change and freshen up for no more than 20 minutes at a time and I barely sleep while traveling. There are the late nights entertaining and drinking with clients and the early mornings starting the cycle all over again. To be honest, I prefer to spend as little time as possible in a hotel room. It’s lonely.

On more occasions than I care to admit, I’ve returned to my hotel room in the wee hours of the morning, after a night out with clients, and simply packed up and left for the airport. Fortunately I can sleep on planes but I’ve had many TSA agents ask me if I’m OK or if I need special assistance.

washing-machine-2668472_1920Even without travel, I often go 4-5 days at a time without seeing my kids because I get home from work after they’ve gone to bed and leave in the morning for work before they’ve woken up. Sure I do the invisible things like laundry and packing up camp essentials and meals for the next day, but as far as my kids are concerned, the floors in my house are magic and if you crumple your dirty clothes in a ball and leave them on the magic floor, they get washed, folded and packed up for the next day.

I miss my kids. I hate how often bedtime is FaceTime. A few weeks ago while about to take the stage as a panelist at a conference in London, I got a panicked FaceTime call from home. It was my son’s last day of First Grade and he was sad (ok, legit pissed off) that I did not remember to pack him $25 to buy a yearbook (wildly unnecessary for a first grader but that’s another story). I consoled him (o.k., I caved and said “yes” to the yearbook) from the other side of the ocean, but how many more times will he melt down to me over a phone before he decides I’m not really available? Incidentally, the last day of school conversation also reminded me that – in the single night I had home between a D.C. trip and leaving for London – that I’d forgotten to pack in my kids’ backpacks their gifts for all 97 of their teachers. I don’t let these things go.

The hardest thing to admit is that sometimes the most challenging part of being away from my kids is coming home to them.


Here’s the hardest thing to admit: Sometimes the most challenging part of being away from my kids is coming home to them. When I am away from them I miss them so much it’s like my heart is exposed and bleeding. It stings. I want nothing more to hold them. To smell them. But I’m a boy mom and they’re 7 and 3. There’s brief hugging when I first return home from work, but the welcome wagon quickly dissolves into questions (demands) about where a particular sock is, or where a Nerf bullet is, or why I didn’t pack the “right” fruit snacks for lunch (WTF?!) or why I forgot to send my 7 year old to school with an empty yogurt container, seven pennies, and a cotton ball for his science experiment.

I realize that for my kids, my travel is like a wrinkle in time. In their eyes, nothing happens in my world while I am away, and once I am back they expect me to pick up exactly where I let off. It means switching gears very quickly with no hangover or residue from one to the next. It’s hard to do in any conditions let alone jet-lagged. Believe me, when I return home I am the furthest thing from glamorous. After going days just re-applying makeup on makeup, my face is like the Berlin wall. The best dry shampoo in the world can’t keep birds from trying to inhabit my hair.

This is the part you see …

It’s 8pm on a Tuesday and I am currently at my office downtown waiting for a limo to pick me up and take me to a studio to do a live television interview for an international news network (don’t get too excited – no hair or makeup and I was instructed to arrive “camera ready”). My social media posts later tonight will absolutely make this night look glamorous. What will be missing is the fact that my kids go to bed at 8pm. There are no glamour shots of me getting home at 10.30, exhausted and starving, my kids already asleep. Doing laundry and packing up lunches and camp back packs at 11pm and finally getting to sleep at 12.30am, only to wake up at 4.30am the next morning and do it all again.

…and this is the part you don’t. My kids yelling at me on TV, crying that I am “not listening” to them.

Glamour is only surface-deep. It’s the glitter and sparkles you see, but there’s a lot of tough and not-so-sparkly stuff underneath. The ratio of glamour to hard stuff is most decidedly not balanced, but it’s the hard stuff that makes all working mamas Superheroes. Glamorous or not.

I am the Late Friend

Everyone has one. That one friend you tell to be somewhere at 7 for your 7.30 reservation. The one for which, when the waiter at a restaurant asks if you want to wait for the “rest of your party” before ordering drinks, the answer is a resounding “NO.”

I know that friend all too well. I’m her.

train-2593687_1920I come by it honestly. I grew up in a family that was late for everything. We were notorious. “Schuman Time” they called it. There’s “fashionably late,” there’s “late,” and then there’s … “Schuman Time.” Schuman Time is why I learned at an early age to execute seamless wardrobe changes in the backseat of a car while eating McDonald’s fries for dinner. Schuman Time is why I was always the anchor leg in any medley relay at swim meets. Schuman Time is why we were always seated at table 20 or higher at any wedding reception (come to think of it, I think I’ve been to about twice as many wedding receptions as I have ceremonies).

I’ve been known to walk into a 7.30 dinner reservation at 9 (with barely a surprised look from friends that are already halfway done their entrees).  I once ran down the runway at Heathrow trying to catch an Aer Lingus to Dublin (I hyperventilated but succeeded), and I’ve perfected the reverse “ghosting” where I slide into a fold-up chair in the back of a boardroom, pen in hand, and immediately start nodding my head and writing notes like I know exactly what’s going on (I don’t).airport-2373727_1920

Ever wonder who actually sits in the front aisle of a movie theater? Big old hand up in the air right here. It’s equal parts courtesy and necessity. It’s also a default as there are typically no other seats left by the time I get to a theater. 20-minutes of trailers is no match for my arrival times. Side note and a little introspection – I may have just uncovered why in college my movie dates never went anywhere.

But. As the late friend, and on behalf of late friends everywhere, there are some things about late friends that you need to understand. Other than our obvious – but perhaps misapplied – intellect and multitasking skills, it is very important that you understand we are not selfish or inconsiderate, and (with limited exceptions) we do not think our time is more valuable than everyone else’s. We’re not aloof or scattered. We’re human. We’re just … late. All the damn time.

time-2980690_1920 (1)

  • We are not selfish or inconsiderate. Quite the opposite, we try to be everything – and be everywhere – for everyone. Call it FOMO. Call it over-commitment or just a simple inability to say “no.” Call it whatever you want. But I know that if I am invited to a wedding the same day as a wine tasting and a bonfire party, I will try and figure out in what order to show up for each event so that I can get to all of them. Or, perhaps more correctly, so I do not miss the ‘free drinks’ portion of any of them.
  • We are not poor planners (per se). We are actually Type A Category 5 Schedule Packers. I recently read somewhere that a “Type A” character trait is being early for everything. Bullshit. You can be Type A and be early and on time for everything, or you can be Type A and be notoriously late because you book yourself solid. I am as Type A as they come, and I simply hate downtime. I won’t hesitate to commit to a soccer game that ends at 11.45 and karate that starts at noon, when there is a 15-minute drive in between. I typically leave zero room for error and zero gaps in the schedule. This has even been (appropriately) characterized as “optimism” – See what My Domaine said about creativity and lateness here. 
  • Yes, I own a watch. Please don’t tell me to buy one. I wear it. I even look at it, sometimes obsessively. Telling a late friend to wear a watch (or use a calendar, phone, etc.) suggests that we don’t know what time it is, or that we lose track of time. I guess for some (ahem, my husband) that’s the case, but for the most part we know exactly what time it is, and what time we have to be somewhere, we just find ways to make it impossible for the two to meet. Also, my watch is permanently (and intentionally) 7 minutes fast. Great, in theory, but the reality is that I build in 7 extra minutes for everything, including when I am looking at a clock that’s actually
  • Sometimes we have the opportunity to be On Time for Something. And when this happens, we quickly kill that opportunity like a bug on the windshield of a semi. We squash it. Again, I hate downtime and I constantly feel like I have to maximize every ‘free’ minute by making it a productive one. So, if I arrive at 11.45 to a noon birthday party, I will try and squeeze in a 15-minute trip to the grocery store, just so I am accomplishing something instead of sitting and waiting. Inevitably, in the grocery store checkout line I will end up behind a Mrs. coupon-clipper (the type that clips the coupons but does not organize them or buy anything that does not require a coupon) so that I end up walking my kids in late to the birthday party.
  • We’re Trying. Really, we are. And we’re sorry. I’ve known some people that are boldly late for everything, but I don’t think in my lifetime I’ve ever known anyone that is truly unapologetically late. My typical greeting includes at least the statements “ohmigod I am so sorry” and “I hope you got started without me!” And without fail, each and every time I am late for something I promise myself I will do better. And I do. But, baby steps.

This is not me saying “I’m late and I’m not going to change and you’re just going to have to accept me the way I am.” It’s just a little glimpse into what’s going on behind the scenes as my friends are checking their watches and watching the door when the restaurant hostess asks if they want to go ahead and be seated without me. Full disclosure: I am likely driving and freaking out about the clock and calling my friends to tell them I’m 5 miles further and 10 minutes ahead of where I actually am, all the while exhibiting a level of road rage that would make Hulk Hogan look like a kitten.

I promise I’ll continue to work on it and I’ll get better at being on time. But, if change is a destination… I might be a little late getting there.*

*I started writing this twenty-eight months ago.

Picture Day is a P.I.T.A.

Picture Day is a Pain. In. The. Ass. Seriously. A royal and irrefutable pain in the ass.

You know who it’s not a pain in the ass for? No one. It’s a pain in the ass for everyone. Especially the recipients of those adorable 3 x 1 “wallets” of your kid. For the love, please don’t feel obligated to give one to everyone you know. They’ll be stuck with them forever because, while there is nothing anyone can actually do with these microscopic photos, they also can’t throw them away. I have a desk drawer full of adorable smiling little faces that I can’t recognize without a magnifying glass, and yet I still can’t chuck them.

Go ahead and disagree with me. If you think Picture Day is not a pain in the ass, congratulations and good for you. Maybe you are raising child models.

Tax formPicture Day anxiety starts with the order forms (that are usually crumpled and barely legible by the time I find them in the bottom of the black hole that is my kid’s backpack). The goddamn forms. I’ve never done a tax return, but I imagine tax returns are easier to complete than a school picture order form. First, you have to choose a background.  Each background choice is supposed to look like some extravagant and wildly unbelievable landscape but, when all is said and done, they actually look like the set of an indy soap opera. Like, are people supposed to believe that my kid had his Kindergarten photo shoot at the base of Niagara Falls when it actually looks like he’s an extra on a Tellemundo soap?

Once you decide whether you want your kid’s picture set on the beach under swaying palm trees or in the Oval Office, you have to pick which “pose” you want, and specify the quantity and size of the photo for each. How about this: I’ll take ninety 3 x 5’s of the “pose” that shows my kid’s eyes open and his fingers somewhere other than in his nostril (ok, or down his pants). Shit you not, I’ve gotten pictures back of “Pose #3” that show my son picking his nose. With his eyes closed.

As if all the planning and preparation are not enough, Picture Day comes along and now you have to execute. You have to actually clean and dress your kids and convince them to hold it together for just a few hours until pictures are done. It’s a daily struggle for me to convince my Big One to wear clothes at all and we usually settle on “fast” shorts and a tie-dye t-shirt, even in January. There is so much riding on this that I can hardly handle the pressure. Getting kids dressed for Picture Day sounds so simple. It’s not, and particularly for a mom of two nudists.

I had these dreams and aspirations of my two boys getting adorable photos together, in front of a (desperately fake) apple orchard background, each holding a book and an apple and wearing matching white button-downs and khakis. I was so focused on this I even stayed home the morning of Picture Day so that I could make sure the kids were dressed properly. n.b., not saying my husband is not capable of dressing them, but he’s (in no particular order) Alaskan, color-blind, and pattern-blind if one can be such a thing. He does not have an appreciation for the big deal that is Picture Day, nor does he care to.

I got Little One dressed by bribing him with Eggo waffles and “salsa” (ketchup) (so my kid). He won’t let me brush his hair but I pick my battles. Plus, I mistakenly assumed the teachers or photographer would handle this during the shoot. They did not. His photos look like Billy Ray Cyrus and Joe Dirt had a love child, albeit a smiling, happy one (with dried ketchup on his face and most of his body).

Big one was having none of it. Not the clothes, not the hair, and certainly not the underwear. He would prefer to be naked but settled on going commando as long as he did not have to wear the khakis and white button-down. We fought. He cried. He threatened to not leave the house.

IMG_8855Then I stopped. I stopped and asked him what he wanted to wear (as long as it involved clothing). He said the “shirt like Daddy’s. You know, the one the Hawaii people wear.” I cringed. He was talking about a multicolored Hawaiian shirt – though to his credit it’s a button down – that makes him look like an old creeper in a strip bar. The buttons stop just below his rib cage and the top falls open so that he gets Flash Dance shoulders. BUT.


He loves wearing this shirt. It makes him happy. He feels confident and good about himself. He smiles. Oh, God, does he smile. And his pictures – all eighty-seven of the 5×7’s I caved and ordered – are pretty great. If you can get past the one-dimensional plastic-looking apple orchard in the background.


Elves on Shelves…And The Lies We Tell To Protect Them

Christmas time means me waking up every morning in December and thinking “Crap! I didn’t move the damn Elf!!” Or, “Crap! Where the eff did I hide that little bugger last night!?”

Our Elf has been in our family for five Christmases if you count this one. His name is Otto Goose Cookie. He’s been found at the bottom of a very large glass of wine, eating ice cream in the freezer, and pooping chocolate chips into a martini glass. Are you getting the symbolism here? Yes, Otto is an extension of his Maker, and I am not talking about Santa Claus.image1-3

I have a very perceptive 4-year-old that questions Otto’s every move. We’ve gotten pretty adept at making up on the fly excuses (lies) for Otto’s …erm…’extracurriculars.’ But, the truth is often much funnier:


LIE: “Ooooooh. Elf did not go to see Santa at the North Pole last night. You must have been very very bad. Better luck tonight, Ralphie!”

TRUTH: Big One got slightly out of order at bedtime. My husband and I high-five each other once he’s asleep – Hall Pass!!!


LIE: “Silly Elf! He must have been exhausted after all that travel  to the North Pole and back that he didn’t realize he fell asleep there!”

TRUTH: Honestly, the details of how and why are fuzzy, but Daddy’s doing Dirty Girl Scout shots at a holiday party *might* have something to do with it.


LIE: “Oh  that Elf! He must have had a lot to report to Santa last night so maybe he just stayed over night!”

TRUTH: Mommy has absolutely no recollection of what brilliant hiding spot she chose for Elf… after she opened that second bottle of Vouvray.


LIE: “Ooooh! Elf is magical” [sprinkles air glitter with hands]

TRUTH: The dog used Elf as a chew toy and the only Elf left at WalMart at 3am was Asian. Our Elf was not Asian.


LIE: “Elf must have been really cold after his trip to the North Pole!”

TRUTH: Daddy thinks he’s real funny.  And may possibly have a thing for Barbie.


LIE: “That Elf is so sneaky! He’s tricking you because he knows you wouldn’t look there again!”

TRUTH: Shit.


LIE: “Poor Elf! He got Lymes Disease from one of the reindeer and he’s been too tired to move. I am sure he’s communicating with Santa telepathically, though!”

TRUTH: Double Shit! Christ, I have a car that can park itself and a phone that can tell me how to get to Alaska and back. Is it too much to ask to make a damned stuffed toy that can relocate itself?


LIE: “It feels like home to him!”

TRUTH: Look, Mommy’s got two hands. That’s about one hand too few to eat ice cream out of the carton and hide the Elf.


LIE: “Maybe Elf was looking for a present for Mommy. Mommy needs presents too!”

TRUTH: Replace the “Elf” above with “Mommy” and this one is not so far from the truth.


image1-2LIE: “He was using it as a telescope to check in on you while you were sleeping.”

TRUTH: Mommy should really pay more attention to the Elf’s whereabouts. Might help to piece together my December…




Halloween (Because My Creativity Is Spent)

It’s Halloween Eve (yes, apparently that’s a thing, although I always knew tonight as Mischief Night) and I am sitting here wondering who was the crackhead that came up with Halloween.  Like, ‘Hey, here’s a great idea – let’s have a (mostly) non-secular holiday that involves pulling apart over-sized cotton balls to make fake cobwebs that are actually more annoying to walk into than real cobwebs. And let’s make everyone wear complicated costumes that never look like Pinterest suggests they will!’ Add a shit ton of chocolate for the kids, administered over the course of several hours – or even days – and one late night of wandering the neighborhood like feral cats, and voila! Halloween! A single day for which the level of excitement may be eclipsed only by that for Disneyland or Christmas.


 Pinterest says he’s a donut.

Halloween is fun. I get it. But it’s gotten a little over-the-top. Maybe it’s the ‘it’s everybody’s holiday’ thing, but I feel like Halloween has gotten disproportionately huge. There are Halloween freaks like there are Disney freaks and Christmas freaks – always happy to take it to the next level.  And retail answers – Halloween decorations start popping up in every storefront sometime around the 4th of July, rivaling only Christmas in the prematurity race. Self-proclaimed Costume Contest Moms are the new Pageant Moms: It’s Honey Boo Boo meets Paranormal Activity.

When I was a kid, you had to ransack your closet, your parents’ closets, your basement and attic to make your costume.  Costumes were original, yet there were few that could not be created without some duct tape, a trash bag, and face paint (sold in an $8 package of five gold-wrapped colored face paint crayons). Now, there are goddamn Halloween stores.  Like, stores that sell nothing but Halloween crap. Spirit Halloween: “For $180, you, too, can dress your 6-month-old like a chicken!” (yeah, I was tempted). And, “Hey kids – wanna be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle? Here’s a strap-on green and yellow pillow and a red bandanna for only $150. Don’t forget you need the nun chucks to complete the look! On sale for $80 if you buy with the strap-on!” Then there are the home decorations and displays. $2 grand for a fake fucking straw bale with a skeleton and fake mums on it. No, that’s not a typo: Two. Thousand. A 2 with 3 zeros.


THIS is how you do Halloween like a boss.

I am not as anti-Halloween as I sound. But, for the last three Halloweens, I’ve been “drunk,” “haggard,” and “pregnant,” respectively. As in, someone asks “What are you for Halloween?” and I respond “drunk.” I don’t even have to dress up. If I was feeling really ambitious, a $10 dollar investment at Spencers would have me set. (Note to self: Spencers has little in the way of costumes that are appropriate for kids. Who knew?!). As an adult and a parent, though, Halloween just can’t be taken so lightly.

I have learned this: Making any kind of decision on a kid’s Halloween costume before October 30 is like betting on the Super Bowl in June. My 4-year old usually starts telling me sometime in August exactly what he is going to be for Halloween.  A “Doctor Dinosaur.” No, not a doctor that’s a dinosaur and not a doctor for dinosaurs, but a Doctor Dinosaur. It has to have beady red eyes and a green stethoscope and a spiky long tail. I never did figure out what the fuck a Doctor Dinosaur was, and it didn’t matter because by the time Halloween rolled around, he’d gone through 18 more costume prospects before settling on being . . . a cop (pre-packaged and purchased in one of those clear plastic bags from – you guessed it – Spirit Halloween).img_5029

This year, my 4-year old wants to be a “Skeleton with drippy hands and a broken head and an oozing brain that carries an orange gun.” W. T. F????? I have less than 24 hours to figure it out, in which time he will almost certainly change his mind. I can only hope Plan B involves some part of the skeleton leotard and orange gun we already bought.

Just like every female 21 and under prefaces their Halloween costume with “sexy,” a the 4-and-under set prefaces every Halloween costume with “dead” or “oozing.” Which is all well and good until we are talking mainstream loveable characters like Doc McStuffins or Mickey Mouse. It’s at least mildly disturbing to see Doc with a bloody knife through her head. I am confident that neighbors have suspicions about my son’s future as a homicidal maniac.

halloween-candy-1014629_640We have learned which neighborhoods – and which houses in those neighborhoods – to hit up for candy. The houses with real hearses on their lawns (as decoration, of course), fog machines, and a Wes Craven soundtrack (playing on their outdoor Bose surround speakers) are most likely to have King Size somethings. When I was a kid, my neighbors gave shit like raisins and pennies.  One used to tell us to “pick five pennies” out of her damned plastic orange pumpkin (that smelled like an old milk carton), and if we were “lucky” we might “get a shiny penny from this year!” No, lady, if I’m lucky the next house will understand that Halloween is not an acceptable substitute for a trip to Coinstar. If I’m really lucky, next year I’ll remember to skip yours.

Also, in 2016, trolling the neighborhoods for one night apparently is not enough. Now we have “trunk or treats” everywhere, too. Because, after finally deciding on and wrestling my kid into a costume that offends as few members of the general population as possible, and selecting a completely allergen-free candy (maybe the penny people were on to something), I definitely have time to decorate the trunk of my car. (n.b., most days my trunk could pass for a scene from an early 80’s horror film, no decorating required. Throw a bag of Tootsie Pops in and I effing rule the preschool parking lot).

Despite all the complaining, I am actually looking forward to Halloween. We do it right and take a hay wagon with friends through a rich neighborhood that gives lots of King Size somethings. No pennies; no raisins. Just a bunch of parents sitting and pretending to ration kids’ candy (some for you; some for me) while the kids jump off every few hundred yards like passengers from the Titanic. Make no mistake, the hay wagon is fully stocked with adult refreshments. And if history tells, our kids will pass out before the end of the night and we can pilfer their KitKats. Or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Oh, those tiny little chocolate cups of peanut-buttery deliciousness . . . OK, Halloween. Bring it!


This is how we go door-to-door trick-or-treating on Halloween. 

What To Expect When You’re Not Expecting

It’s taken me two years and a successful pregnancy to put pen to paper on this issue, but it’s consumed my mind every day since. I have a lot to say about it, and it’s time.

I had a miscarriage.

I recently heard “People will never truly understand something until it happens to them.” This could not be more true when it comes to the loss of a pregnancy. When I had my miscarriage, the best piece of advice I got was from someone who knows the pain of loss all too well. She told me that people will offer advice, but to ignore the comments that don’t make sense. Over time, I learned this meant listening to people who had been through it, and ignoring the (well-meaning) people who had not. It is for this reason that I offer the following: If you’ve been through or are going through a miscarriage, talk to someone that truly knows what you’re going through. Listen to someone  who’s lost a baby and let them listen to you. Ignore the insensitive people and comments that don’t make sense.

The one person in the world that you want to understand – that you need to share your pain – can’t.

A miscarriage is a heavy and lonely experience. The one person in the world (husband, partner, father of your child, etc.) that you want to understand – that you need to share your pain – can’t. It’s not for lack of caring or trying – men just cannot physically or emotionally understand the loss of a pregnancy in the same way – or to the same depth -the mother does. This is science; this is fact.

Your Hormones

Quick chemistry lesson, and an explanation of what happens to your hormones when you get pregnant. Women have hormones called LH and FSH.  These trigger your period, and ovulation, so they are NOT present after a woman gets pregnant (think about it – you don’t get your period while pregnant). During your period, estrogen and progesterone set up camp. These are like the Feminazis of female hormones, and can be credited for all of the delightful symptoms of PMS. When you get pregnant, your body starts producing hCG (this is the hormone that at-home pregnancy tests test for, and is only present in a woman’s body while she is pregnant – this is why a positive PT almost always guarantees pregnancy). hCG levels hit the accelerator on estrogen and progesterone, and the hCG levels themselves double every 48 hours early on in a pregnancy, until about the end of the first trimester. hCG is the ultimate mommy hormone – it prepares you for carrying a baby, labor and delivery, and even breastfeeding.

Having a miscarriage is the hormonal equivalent of bungee jumping onto a concrete slab.

After a miscarriage, your hCG levels not only stop increasing, but they come crashing down. Within a very short time after a miscarriage, hCG levels return to about zero. Having a miscarriage is the hormonal equivalent of bungee jumping onto a concrete slab. So, a person that has never experienced a miscarriage – and men in particular – can’t possibly understand the physical and emotional fire drill.

Your Partner

In addition to the scientific facts, further proof that men do not understand:  During my recent (and fortunately successful) pregnancy, every time a doctor asked “what number pregnancy is this?” I would respond that it was my third, even though I only had one child at home. The first time I was asked was in my OB’s office, and at the same time I said “third” my husband said “second.” He looked at me like I was out of my mind and she looked at us like maybe she should leave the room. I’ve talked to a number of women that have lost pregnancies and they had similar experiences. My second – and failed – pregnancy just did not have as significant an impact on my husband as it did on me.

Your Emotions

Ladies, we need to talk with one another about this  because we’re the only ones that can understand.

For all of the same reasons that a miscarriage is lonely, it can also feel shameful.  This is a big part of the reason so many women don’t – and indeed won’t – talk about it.  You and you alone are pregnant.  You are solely responsible for growing and nurturing a baby to delivery (and for a significant time after). And then you lose that baby. You feel as though you have failed the baby, failed your family… You feel as though you’ve failed, period. Doctors, psychiatrists, friends – hell, everyone – will tell you it’s not your fault, but your human and hormonal brain needs reasons. Needs answers.  Needs something or someone to blame. But there’s only you, so it has to be your fault, right? Nothing can make a woman feel inadequate and lonely the way infertility can.

Pain hits in pieces, and grieving is like peeling away layers to get to a core you may never reach.

While I talked pretty openly about my miscarriage, I don’t think I ever really fully grieved. Pain hit in pieces, and grieving is like peeling away layers to get to a core I still have not reached. I may never reach it. Loss leaves a space in your heart and in your life that can never be filled.

When It Happens

My own miscarriage made me feel powerless. Guilty. Confused. And I was delusional. I’d been bleeding for more than 24 hours when I went to the ER. I refused to believe it was anything serious. I still didn’t understand what was happening when I was wheeled away in a bed to an X-Ray room for the trans-vag exam, but I do remember feeling that never in my life – not before and not since – have I felt that vulnerable and exposed. I cried and screamed at the technician that she was hurting my baby.

She looked at me like I was crazy. What baby?

Even as the on-call doctor waited until my husband was in the room and the door was closed to deliver my diagnosis, I still couldn’t comprehend – and refused to believe – what was happening to me. To my baby. To us.

I left the ER that Saturday with a printout that said I’d been treated for “abnormal bleeding” and a “threatened miscarriage.” They told me there was nothing I could do. Nothing they could do. But I mentally refused to accept that. I prayed. As if by sheer will I could stop the inevitable from happening. I begged, I pleaded. Demanded my body to make this right. I willed my baby to hang on. Just hang on. We’ll get through this, just hang on for me.

On Monday morning, while discussing my hCG levels with my OB, she said she was pleased to see them going down so quickly, and that I would probably not need a D&C (Dilation and Curettage). Going DOWN. When I know – I KNOW – they’re supposed to be going up. Doubling every 48 hours. I nodded like I understood – like this was good news – but I felt like my head was sinking into wet cement while the rest of the world spun around me. I finally realized I was not pregnant anymore. That there would be no baby in September. That the Chinese gender chart was meaningless and the baby – that next week would be the size of a raspberry – was no more.

My OB called this a “miss.” Yes, a “miss.” She had a goddamn nickname for it. You miss a party. You miss a train. You don’t fucking MISS a pregnancy. But in her world, this was as typical as a confirmed pregnancy. She even reminded me that miscarriages are very common. As if that somehow made it OK.

I’m not a big fan of statistics, but the statistics on miscarriages tell us that one half of all pregnant women miscarry.  One half. Indeed, among myself and my immediate group of 5 close girlfriends, three of us have miscarried. But, of the women I know well, I would not say that one half have told me they’ve miscarried. I was shocked by how many “me too’s” I heard when I shared my own experience. Someone close to me told me, “I wish I could take your pain away.”Now I fully understand what she meant. For my girlfriend that miscarried after me, it just seemed so unfair. Like, didn’t I already take the bullet? Why should she have to go through this, too?

My pregnancy ended in a level of obsession and paranoia that turned me into a person my husband probably would never have married.

I will not share my whole story because the details don’t matter. And everyone’s story is different. What matters is that each story ends in a common denominator – loss and pain. Confusion and tears. Anger even. Mine ended in a level of obsession and paranoia that turned me into a person my husband probably would never have married.

Ignore The Things That Don’t Make Sense

People say some really stupid and insensitive things when they learn you’ve miscarried. I know, because before I had my miscarriage, I was one of those people. I said stuff like “At least it was early,” and “It wasn’t meant to be,” or “This was just God’s way.” “You can always try again,” “At least you already have a perfectly healthy 2-year-old.” I asked “Do they know why?” and assured friends it wasn’t their fault. I thought these things made sense; would make someone feel better. The first thing I did after my miscarriage was call my friends that I had “consoled” before, and apologize for all of the insensitive comments that I thought were helpful.

I bit my lip to hold back tears of pain that I only pretended were from the needle.

People that don’t understand will be uncomfortable around you. I remember having to go to the lab a couple of times a week following my ER visit, to ensure my hGC levels got back down in the zero range. No longer did the phlebotomist chat with me about nursery colors, names, or Chinese gender charts. Now we sat in uncomfortable silence as I bit my lip to hold back tears of pain that I only pretended were from the needle. I could hear the women in the booths next to and across from me talking about due dates. Complaining about morning sickness.  Complaining when really they were wearing some badge of honor I was no longer entitled to. They were having the conversations I was supposed to be having. I felt torn between wanting to slap them and wanting to be them.

There is also the inescapable observation that suddenly, everyone is pregnant. Everywhere you look, there are shower invitations, sonogram pictures proudly plastered all over Facebook, birth announcements in the mail. In the block between my train stop and my office it seemed every woman was  waddling in her Pea in the Pod dress to show off a barely-there bump,and exhausted-looking new moms walking their infants in strollers, instinctively peaking in at them every 2 seconds. God, I hated pregnant women and new moms. Didn’t they know how lucky they were? Didn’t they know how hard it was?

There is also the inescapable observation that suddenly, everywhere you look, everyone is pregnant.


You have to grieve. Because a miscarriage is a loss and one that you cannot escape or get over quickly. Grief is a process that takes time. Months after my miscarriage, I opened my Hotmail to see that The Bump and Babycenter were still sending me updates and, according to them, my baby was now the size of a coconut and I should be busy preparing the nursery and packing my bag for the hospital. All of the “if only’s” I’d tortured myself with over the past few months were right there in front of me. Staring me down in the form of fucking e-mails.

Even after you’ve accepted you’re no longer pregnant, the “what if?” and “could’ve been” thoughts still invade your conscience and your better judgment. 

The truth is, unless and until you successfully get pregnant after a miscarriage, there are so many moments in time when the “what if” thoughts creep in. They invade your conscience and your better judgment. You stop and think: “I’d be showing,”  “This was supposed to be my due date,” “She’d be three months now…”

Over time, the pain will lessen. The empty space will narrow. The pain and emptiness will never go away altogether, but it will get better. Tolerable. While I would never compare one woman’s loss to another’s, I do recognize that I am very fortunate.I know there are so many women for whom fertility issues are a barrier and not just an obstacle. I know there are women that miscarry many times, and others that carry babies they never get to hold, or hold only for a short time.

But, if my sharing can help even one person feel less lonely – and less hopeless – then it’s worth it.


The Most Important Lessons In Business Can Be Learned Waiting Tables


My childhood dream was to become a waitress. Every Career Day from 1st until 5th grade, I went to school with a tray and apron. I should mention, this was because I saw an Arrid Extra Dry commercial featuring a waitress whose outfit I liked. Yes, my early career ambitions were based solely on a 1980’s deodorant commercial.

My dream came true when I was 19.

It’s been more than 10 years since I last clipped on a pager and apron or carried a Guest Check, but I still have recurring nightmares that I forgot to deliver drinks to table 31 or that I forgot to fire table 22’s filets. I still harbor a fear of the number 86 and fight the temptation to run to the kitchen every time my phone vibrates.guest check

Waiting tables is not easy and if you think it is, you’re either not doing it right or you’ve never done it…

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9 Daily Struggles Only People That Work From Home Can Understand

Working from home. Some view it as a luxury, others view it as a sentence. Whatever side of the debate you’re on, if you’ve ever worked from home, you know it can challenge your willpower, your productivity, and your waistline. Here are 9 struggles work-from-homers face every day:

1. Getting Dressed.

There’s just no good reason to do this. Besides, pajama pants. The more time you work from home, the greater the likelihood that you’ve grown out of your dress pants and into your pajama pants. Yoga pants equals overdressed. Working from home also makes it less likely that you shower with any sort of regularity.

2. People That Do Not Work From Home Do. Not. Get it.

This drives me crazy. I work from home on Fridays, I am not “off” on Fridays. I constantly hear “You are off on Friday, so can you …[insert time-consuming errands here]…?” NO. Just, NO. I don’t have the day off, I just take my job to a different zip code on Fridays, so that I can also do my Mommy jobs and housekeeper jobs without a three plus hour commute. So, think of it more like I am too busy on Fridays to go into the office, because I am working three jobs.

3. Cleaning.

Nothing can induce the urge to do housework quite like reviewing a 192-page license agreement with 37 schedules. Dishes, changing light bulbs, laundry . . .You can do a TON of laundry when you’re home all day. However, to “do laundry” means to spend the 2 minutes it takes to throw in an extra-large load of mixed whites and colors. It necessarily excludes anything that involves folding or putting away. We live out of our clean wash basket. And fuck ironing. That’s what the “fluff” cycle on the dryer is for.

4. Food.cereal-1444496_640

There’s no breakfast. There’s no lunch. There’s a free,  all-day, all-you-can-eat carb buffet right there in your fridge. If you’re like me and sometimes work from the kitchen counter, your home office is right there in the buffet line. “Meals” blur the lines, but can be defined as follows: Too Early For Tostitos and Too Late For Cereal. Of course, when you’re working from home, it’s really never too late for cereal. Especially Fruit Loops. Fruit Loops are like the unsung hero of superfoods.

5. Human Interaction.

There are two types of people in this world: Those that admit to talking to themselves, and liars. I fit squarely in the former camp, and there is a window of time between morning radio shows and Ellen that I find myself asking and answering my own questions, just to avoid feeling like Will Smith in I Am Legend. I’ve cross-examined myself and even taken my own deposition. Look, it can get pretty lonely. Not lonely enough to join a video conference, though. . . that would be crazy. And also dangerous, in light of the pajama pants and all.

6. Getting Out Of The House.

You will find ways to validate trips to CVS, the grocery store, the dry cleaner, etc. This is as much to get out of the house as it is to create some semblance of structure. Like, “I have an 11.” (aka you’re going to CVS to get toilet paper, gum, and body wash because, you know, you’ll need them at some point.) You inevitably delay your departure in half hour increments until you finally walk out the door at 2. And while nobody needed anything from you all day, they suddenly need you at 2, and for the entire hour of time you spend lost in the store’s magazine aisle.

7. Guilt.

Working from home necessarily takes “work” and “life” and forces them to co-exist in a confined, cluttered space. There’s no balance – you have to choose one or the other and will inevitably feel guilty about your choice. If it’s nice outside you feel like you’re wasting a day sitting in front of a laptop. If you go outside you feel like you should at least bring your laptop with you. Multiply this emotional tug-of-war by a bazillion if you have kids at home.

8. You Get N-O-T-H-I-N-G Done. Because, Kids.children-593313_640

I am convinced that kids are the sole reason for one of the most seemingly asinine inventions ever: the mute function on a phone. Unless you take calls from the engine room of a cruise ship, what other reason would you have to mute a device that is at least 50% for talking into? I once had opposing counsel ask me if I was taking our call from a shooting range. I was about to explain that it was just my 4-year-old playing Hungry Hippos – with TNT Pop-Its instead of marbles – when I realized his theory made me sound much more bad ass.

9. Moral Dilemmas.

It’s 3 o’clock. Answer e-mails or watch Ellen?

E-mails; Ellen? E-mails; Ellen?

E-mails put up a pretty good fight, but Ellen wins. Every damned time.


If you’ve ever worked from home, you get it. If you have not, you probably are one of those that thinks a day working from home is a day off.  And clearly, you’ve never had to battle your own conscience just to put on your pants.

The Most Important Lessons In Business Can Be Learned Waiting Tables

My childhood dream was to become a waitress. Every Career Day from 1st until 5th grade, I went to school with a tray and apron. I should mention, this was because I saw an Arrid Extra Dry commercial featuring a waitress whose outfit I liked. Yes, my early career ambitions were based solely on a 1980’s deodorant commercial.

My dream came true when I was 19.

It’s been more than 10 years since I last clipped on a pager and apron or carried a Guest Check, but I still have recurring nightmares that I forgot to deliver drinks to table 31 or that I forgot to fire table 22’s filets. I still harbor a fear of the number 86 and fight the temptation to run to the kitchen every time my phone vibrates.guest check

Waiting tables is not easy and if you think it is, you’re either not doing it right or you’ve never done it at all. If you are doing it right, you’ll learn some really important lessons about customer service that you can carry with you through business and life.

  1. The Customer Is Always Right. Clichéd, I know, but so true. Lady wants the chef’s sushi grade Ahi done medium well? Let her know – as diplomatically as possible – that the chef recommends rare. At the end of the day, she’s going to order it how she wants to eat it. You can arm customers with all the facts and advice – and even warnings – in the world,  but you can’t make their business decisions for them.drink-1543251_640
  2. You Have To Take A Certain Amount Of Shit And Give A Certain Amount Of Fucks. Listen up, Millennials. I know it’s super trendy to not give a fuck about anything and to not put up with any shit. But guess what? That’s not how business – or life – works. I am not saying take everything personally, but at least take some responsibility and hold yourself accountable for mistakes. Sometimes a customer wants a Grey Goose up with olives, but you (or the bartender) screw up and order him grape juice in a cup with olives (true story). Own up to your mistakes. Don’t take it personally if you hear some static for them. But, for God’s sake, swallow your pride and care enough to fix them and make it right.
  3. Fake It Till You Make It. Maybe you don’t eat red meat, but your customers do. So put on a smile and work those Calcutta nights until you can sell a 64 oz. Porterhouse to an 84-year-old vegan wearing dentures. Approach the sale of a steak with the same level of enthusiasm as you would coconut-battered tofu (and vice versa if you’re a carnivore). This may come as a surprise to some, but your clients’ and customers’ ideals will often deviate from your own. Tough shit. Suck it up. Customer service is about the customer… Not you.steak-1138563_640
  4. Every Table Is Your Only Table. News flash: people like to feel important. They like to feel like you care enough to make them a priority. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 2-top that asked you for a bottle of ketchup or a 10-top dinner party that wants you to prepare table-side Caesar salads. Customers are needy and sometimes downright demanding. Meeting their needs and keeping them happy is your effing job. 
  5. You Have To Keep A Lot of Fires Going, Balls In The Air,  Etc. If you did not pick up on the sarcasm in no. 4 above, let me spell it out: you’re rarely going to be waiting on only one table. And every table is going to have different needs, and be at different stages in their meal. The same is true for cases, projects, portfolios, etc. You need to come up with a system to organize and stay aware of what your customers’ goals are, and where they are with respect to meeting
  6. Know What You’re Selling. You’re not going to sell a single Veal Saltimbocca if you can’t answer whether the chef made it with Prosciutto or Chorizo. You lose credibility and trust when you try to sell a customer something you know nothing about. Sometimes clients or customers will ask questions for which you have no answer, and it’s OK to say “I don’t know.” But for the love of God, do your homework and get an answer. And if you’re selling products or services, you had better get your head around them and anticipate your customers’ questions and know how best to answer them.
  7. Know What Your Customers Like and Do It. We had one customer, Mr. Mariano*, that needed his filet still mooing in the center but medium well around the outside. It was so particular that we added an extra temp button to Micros with his last name on it: Mariano Rare (for real, can’t make this shit up). We never asked him how he wanted his steak done – we just had him confirm he wanted it Mariano Rare. No two customers are alike and none fit any particular mold. They all have their quirks; they all have their preferences. Learn your clients’ rhythms and dance to them.
  8.  Know What Your Customers Don’t Like. And Don’t Do It. Hell hath no fury like a lady that gets dressing on her salad when she asked for it on the side. If you serve her with a plate of lettuce drenched in Peppercorn Ranch, when you know she wanted the Ranch on the side, not only will you be taking that shit back, but it’s likely she won’t want to pay for it. If your customers hate itemized bills, it doesn’t really make sense to send them a 20-page detailed invoice. Don’t piss people off by ignoring their preferences. This is such a basic concept but so many struggle with it.hello-1502386_640
  9. Learn Your Customers’ Names And Use Them. Often. My waitressing experience was unique in that, at a country club you are seeing the same people over and over, and you are expected to know their names. But this concept applies anywhere and goes hand-in-hand with making customers feel like they are important. Learning and using their names shows that you care. Where appropriate, learn more than just their names. Pay attention. People want to do business with people they like – showing interest makes you likable.cups-961430_640
  10. Know How To Delegate When You’re In The Weeds. You can’t clone yourself (yet). I’ve tried. I had some nights where my entire section filled up at the same time. I was always terrible at delegating and would try to be everything to everyone, which meant I inevitably sacrificed attentiveness and my own sanity. Serenity came when I allowed another server to deliver drinks I’d ordered, or asked our M.O.D. to drop entrées. No one likes a frazzled server and no one likes to be ignored. It’s totally OK to let go and delegate tasks you simply can’t get to. In fact, it makes you a better, more efficient manager, and keeps your customers happy.

One of the greatest compliments I ever received as a lawyer was from a client that said they “always feel like [my] highest priority.” Providing standout customer service is a skill, and one I learned and honed entirely waiting tables.

To the managers, chefs, staff, and club members that taught me, thank you. I am eternally grateful.

*Name changed to protect the nutty