From tears. To smiles. To oh crap. To cardiac arrest. To laughs. To epiphanies. Holy cow what a day!

Dear friends,

Yesterday was one wild ride.

It started with tears at home because, you know, I got all choked up over my own post even as I was posting it. (Yes, I’m a goofball.)

But then things started looking up as I read your very kind and insightful and empathetic comments, both on this space and on my Facebook page. (I can’t thank all of you enough for sharing your stories and bolstering my spirits.)

Then on my lunch hour I finally got around to booking our trip to NYC — er, Hoboken — for Kate’s graduation gift. I had been procrastinating because — while I’ve been to NYC four times in my life, I don’t know it all that well — and I was fearful of making dreadful, regrettable mistakes. On the other hand, I wasn’t about to pay $500 a night for a hotel room, so I eventually had to just pick one and go with it.

So I chose a little “boutique” hotel on the Upper West Side. (I don’t know why, maybe because it was close to the subway, and I stayed in Times Square once and didn’t find it all that appealing, and I didn’t think I wanted to be downtown, so I just, you know, went with the one with the pretty pictures and the good price.) And after I picked the hotel and prepaid for it, I realized it’s so “charming” and so “historic” it doesn’t have an elevator. And some of the reviews said it sometimes doesn’t have hot water, either. So lord only knows what I’ve gotten us into in the name of frugality.

And then I checked the price of Broadway tickets and had a heart attack. I really want to see Book of Mormon but I really don’t want to pay $600 for two tickets, so I’m trying to decide whether it makes sense to just stand in the Times Square discount ticket line and take our chances when we get there. (Thoughts, anyone?)

Then I sketched out our itinerary for all five days and couldn’t decide if Little Italy or Chinatown was the better bet. MOMA or Met? NBC Studio Tour or TV and Movie Sites Tour? Fifth Avenue or Garment District or SoHo for shopping?

Then I found this — a handy little map of all the shopping in Soho and it pretty much sealed the deal.

Then I got dizzy trying to decide if we could tour Ground Zero and Liberty/Ellis Island in one day, so I abandoned trip planning until I can get my wits about me.

Then I came home, where my entire family dog-piled into the kitchen because we were all starving. And, for once, I made supper while my kids made lists of the friends they plan to invite to our Memorial Day float trip. And Parker — who’s not my most decisive child — was really having trouble narrowing down his extensive list of social contacts to fit into an 8-man raft — causing me to lose patience.

And Kate finally stepped in and said “Parker! Have tryouts and make cuts!”

Which made every last one of us laugh out loud, even Parker. And in that moment — that moment where we were all together and laughing and eating and having fun — I remembered what so many of you said to me about savoring every moment.

And I did.

I surely did.

With gratitude {for the clarity to put down my hanky and embrace your wise words},

Joan, who knows even if the hotel she picked yesterday is a flea-bag, it still won’t be her biggest travel blunder ever, because her friends still tease her about the time she purchased Royals vs. Yankees tickets for their girls weekend in Kansas City only to get to Kauffman Stadium and realize the game was at Yankee Stadium


Two words for Friday.

Dear friends,

Source: Super Swoon

This week I spent some time counseling two friends. One just needed a little advice and an honest opinion. The other needed talking off the cliff. I helped both as best I knew how, but upon reflection I wondered if I could had been more encouraging. (I’m known for delivering the brutal truth and a former colleague of mine always ended our meetings with “Thanks for the pep talk, Joan!”)

I also had the opportunity this week to hear three very different but very successful businessmen give advice to a group of college seniors. To a person, they advised working hard and staying true to your values. But one also offered this: “There is very little difference between most people in the world. But that little difference makes all the difference in the world. And that little difference is attitude.”

This from a man who’s made a fortune, built and sold all kinds of businesses, managed tens of thousands of employees in his lifetime — and who’s led failed projects and been fired more than once. “Stay positive,” he added, “even when you fail. Because you will fail.”

It made me wish I had added “Stay positive!” to the advice I offered earlier this week. I know how hard it is in my own life. Now, I also realize how rare it is. And I want to be among the uncommon, among those that make all the difference.

With gratitude {for good advice shared in all directions},

Joan, the aspiring advice doctor, who thinks she’ll print the “Stay positive” poster and hang it above her desk, a la Lucy Van Pelt

Whip it. Whip it good.

Dear Friends,


At age 17, when pressed for a pithy “philosophy” to include with my senior portrait in our high school yearbook, I cribbed a line from Lennon & McCartney: I get by with a little help from my friends.

It was true 30+ years ago and it’s still true today.

I couldn’t be more grateful for the words of wit, wisdom and encouragement left by readers on yesterday’s post.  Let’s just say I was down in the dumps Monday night when I wrote the post. Then Tuesday . . . well, it was a doozy. It was one of those days that knocks you for a loop at work then smacks you upside the head when you get home.

But last night when I finally sat down after 8:00 pm to read your comments and compose this post, I smiled, I laughed, I nodded my head in agreement, and I said a silent thank-you for everyone who wrote to encourage me.

I was most tickled by Doug F’s clever analogy:

Life is roller derby. We’re the blockers, and our kids are the jammers. The jammers score the points. Our job is to whip them forward. This requires them to break away from the pack, at which point our main job is to be happy, pump our fists in the air and maybe gratuitously hip check somebody. Also: After the match, everyone gets beer, so it’s all good in the end.

I’ve known Doug a long time in my real life and he’s always been one of the most creatively talented people in my universe. At the risk of sounding gender-biased, it’s so like a man to embrace his “role” in the game with gusto. (Remember Mr. Mom’s advice about roles in this post?) But underneath that male detachment and clever wit lies a real nugget of wisdom: my job is to help Kate break from the pack by whipping her forward — then cheering her on. Doug, your words were so what I needed to hear and I thank you for putting them in terms that were crystal clear (as well as downright funny). You know what they say: a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.

Dee and Debbie and Cyrina (who commented on my Facebook page) are from my hometown, women a little older than me whom I admire so much. Hearing their personal stories and knowing “they made it through and so will I” was a much-needed dose of comfort and support from the town and the people I love most.

TexasDeb is a friend who consistently writes more insightful comments than I do posts. And knowing she has also survived the transition, with specific strategies to share, helps me focus on what I can do moving forward rather than wallowing in what I fear I will miss.

Dana is a new reader who encouraged me just by letting me know she’s about to walk my path and she’s fearful, too. Sometimes mothers just need to know they aren’t alone.

With gratitude {for you and the many friends who’ve helped me get by for, lo, these 49 years},

Joan, who would have worn a helmet and pads had she known Tuesday would be so brutal