The Gratitude Challenge of an “I Used To Be A Lawyer” Volunteer

NLW LAwyer

Is it possible to complain without whining?

Or as they say in the British detective novels I love to read, without “whinging.”

(The word “whinge” sounds just like it means, don’t you think? Perhaps we should campaign to adopt the word “whinge” instead of  the word “whine” in the U.S.)

This week – when I should already be in full-on, pre-Thanksgiving mode, I am airing one small, dubiously whinge-worthy matter before moving on to the gratitude part.

The matter in question: my present status as a Volunteer compared to my prior status as a Law Partner.

Now, do not misunderstand. I am thrilled to be semi-retired and able to volunteer regularly, but I do miss some aspects of my former life as a DC law firm partner.

A tiny incident this week at a wonderful non-profit where I volunteer unsettled me.

I arrived early and saw a young staff person scurrying around busily to get ready for the workshop.  I asked her if there was anything I could do to help, she said sure and handed me a big stack of charts fresh from the photo-copier.

Could I please arrange these papers in properly numbered order sets of 30 pages each and staple the packages together to distribute to the workshop participants?

Of course I could, happy to help. Truly I was. But then it hit me again, as I sat at the table in the non-profit’s meeting room, sorting through tall stacks of paper, putting them in numerical order, that I am no longer who I once was.

I am now a Volunteer. A Volunteer who collates. Assembles. Staples. Who does what is requested of him or her. No task too small.  Without “whinging,”  (except for here.) Volunteers serve to assist an organization to fulfill its’ mission.  I feel very lucky to be part of this particular group.

Except that sometimes being a volunteer makes me feel as if I have shrunk as a person.

This small-staffed organization, like another for which I regularly volunteer, depends on its volunteers.  I know these non-profits are very grateful for our participation. I also don’t expect to get a pat on the head every time I show up. I’m fine with pitching with the smallest of tasks that need to be done.

But I’m still dealing with that pesky shrunken person feeling.

Back in the “good old days”, the managing partner of my law firm relied upon a catchy phrase – each to his or her “highest and best use”  – in deciding how to allocate legal work.

One of my law firm colleagues was a terrific negotiator so she was called upon to handle deals. An associate who was an excellent writer prepared briefs. I was considered very good at client service so I built solid client relationships. Each of us to our “highest and best use” – an approach which made for happy (relatively) lawyers and satisfied clients.

It is a sobering recognition to realize as a semi-retired person that I may no longer be sought out for my “highest and best use”.

It is not the status of being a lawyer that I miss, it is that sense of being fully utilized for what I can offer.

A few years before I left my law firm, stressed by the demanding hours and pace, I met with a career counselor who specialized in helping law firm lawyers transition to other careers. (Can you imagine? A flotilla of unsatisfied lawyers supports this career counselor specialty.)

She asked me about my non-legal experience; I told her I had done a significant amount of volunteer work over the years –  on the board of my synagogue, chairing projects at my kids’ schools, facilitating a mental health group.

She suggested I try to become an executive at a non-profit. Important to be paid, she told me, expressing her strong belief that the most unappreciated people in any organization are its’ volunteers.

I never followed through on her career change advice. My cranky aortic valve forced an early instant retirement decision. Now I think of myself as a full-time writer and part-time volunteer. A volunteer who once was a lawyer, not a lawyer who volunteers on the side.

I disagree with the career counselor’s opinion. I do feel appreciated, needed, valued. Just in a very different way than how I felt at the law firm with clients who relied on me for advice. This is an adjustment I am still making.

It is up to me now – and me alone – to figure out my own “highest and best use.”

My legal training, my ability to issue-spot, to think critically and problem-solve will always be with me. And there are times when the volunteer work lets me bring my legal mind back from hiatus. But not always. That’s my new deal.

So I will now promptly stop whining – or whinging – about this small incident and get back to being thankful that I am able to contribute to the important work this non-profit does.

Part of my pre-Thanksgiving gratitude plan.






















Filed under Baby Boomers, Books, Careers, Law firm life, Lawyers, Retirement, Second Careers, Semi-Retired, Women, Women in the Workplace, Working Women

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do? – Old Cars, Older Marriages

wedding topper

My Detroit-born husband – after much nagging on my part (let’s call it what it is) – finally bid farewell to his beloved 1999 “sports sedan”.

For years I have been jealous of the attention (and the expenditures) he showered upon his automotive mistress. On weekend afternoons he could be found spending quality time with it in our driveway. He polished, shined and tinkered. When winter snow was forecast, he rushed outside to place a specially configured cover upon his adored vehicle, while my car was always left naked in the driveway, exposed to all icy blows.

Our friends thought it sweet that JP lavished so much attention on his old car. He keeps his old car around, isn’t that nice, just as he keeps his old wife around.

Let’s put a stop to the old car/old wife parallels right there. Although old cars and even older marriages may  share certain qualities.

While JP was online researching replacement cars, I became fascinated by the tempting descriptions of the “optional” add-on packages. How could we possibly choose between the “luxury line” package, the “modern technology” package or the “premium sports” package? Each is made to sound so alluring.

But choose you must. And years later, as the aging car enters its’ tween years, you realize you made it through without falling for “luxury”, “modern” or “premium.”  Somehow you learned to manage without the “Venetian Beige Dakota Leather Upholstery With Exclusive Stitching” or the “Palladium Gray Interior Trim.”

Marriage comes with its own set of choices. Without torturing this car metaphor too much, we choose a spouse based on the new options he or she presents. Packages of personal qualities. Of course, what you don’t want to anticipate at the time you marry is all of the wear-and-tear your marriage will go through. The initial gloss on all newlywed packages inevitably fades.

So how do long marriages survive – or even thrive?

If I knew the answer to this question, I would share it with you here. Or rather I would write a best-selling book about it, make a zillion dollars and win a Nobel Prize for my ingenuity.

Sadly, I only know the answer as it applies to my marriage.

We started talking about this last week at a meeting of my writers’ group.  The six of us – women ages 48 to 64, who all happen to be married to the same man we each started with,  have been writing about marriage.

We agreed that long marriages are based upon making accommodations.  What can we can live with – and what we cannot. There is a point that some of us get to where we feel we have accommodated enough. How do you know when or if you have reached that point?

One of the younger women in our group commented that I seemed to have a happy marriage. Has it always been that way, she asked?

Of course not. If only you had known me a decade or two ago, I told her, in the middle of my working-mom, career-super-stress, difficult-child-raising, husband-frequent-arguing years. Back then you would not have thought my marriage seemed so happy.

For me, marriage grew easier as I got older. With fewer relationship borne peaks and valleys. That I was able to better tolerate the smaller stuff – and that the bigger scary stuff that will happen puts all of the smaller stuff into perspective.

This is not always the case, I know. Divorce among older couples is on the rise, according to an article in the October 30, 2015 New York Times.

“Late life divorce, also called “silver” or “gray” divorce is becoming more common and more acceptable. In 2014, people age 50 and over were twice as likely to go through a divorce than in 1990…and for those over 65, the increase was even higher.”

And what is the biggest reason for the increase in late-life divorce?

“The changing status of women”.

Women, according to the research, are more willing to take the decisive step of divorce; men don’t want to rock the boat.  Older women expect more from their emotional lives and if they are not satisfied with them, are more likely to leave an unsatisfactory marriage, even if it may mean financial uncertainty.

This conclusion did not surprise me: Women, as they grow older, still want more out of their personal lives and are willing to take risks to get it.

Let me take a minute here to reassure JP – if he happens to read this – that I consider our marriage emotionally solid. And I think he does too.

But I applaud women who make life-changing decisions later in life to pursue a deeper emotional relationship. My friends who have divorced are all the better for it. It takes great courage to leave the known for the unknown. To really rock the boat of your family’s foundations. And come out thriving on the other side.

If only I could offer the secret to long marriages to the younger women I know. Staying together and forging a satisfying deep bond as the years pass is not easy. Making fortunate choices in the initial selection of each other’s personal packages helps.

And yes, I guess, just like with old cars, shining, polishing and tinkering, showering attention on the older marriage helps too. Perhaps the automotive metaphor is not as tortured as it seems.









Filed under Aging, Baby Boomers, Female Friends, Husbands, Marriage, Men vs Women, Midlife, Relationships, Women, Working Moms, Working Women, Writing

Why Colleges May Offer “Parent Only” Dorms by 2025



Why are we, parents in the U.S., a decade ago and still now, so ridiculously over-invested in where our offspring go to college?

Nearly ten years ago our daughter spent her spring college semester studying in Florence, Italy. Beautiful Firenze! My husband and I visited her in early March.

From my albeit brief experience as a world traveler, I can confidently tell you that parents in other countries may not be quite as invested in their kids’ college acceptance outcomes as we are.

Wrapping scarves around our necks in Florentine fashion to walk around the city every morning, my husband would ask for “caffe macchiato” and I said “prego” to every shopkeeper.  I’m sure we did not fool anyone into thinking we were Italians, but we liked to pretend that we were.

Being on vacation for a week that March distracted me from what was really on my mind. Waiting for college admission news for our younger child back home, then a senior in high school.

So while I was standing in line to get in to see the statue of David, admiring the crenellated tower of the Palazzo Vecchio and discovering the varied delights of crostini and ribollita,  inside my head I was partially back at home waiting for the mail to arrive.

This was in the day before email notifications of college admissions so I was visualizing thick envelopes (yes!) and thin letters (no) –  and worrying.

Whenever we travel, my Detroit-born husband likes to point out what kinds of cars the locals drive. He has gotten me in that habit, too. On our Italy trip that March it struck me what the cars I saw did NOT have.

Not a single car had a college sticker on its’ bumper or rear window!

How was that possible?

And in the other parts of Tuscany that we toured in our tiny rental car, we did not spot a car window or bumper sticker that said “Universita degli Studi di Firenze” or “di Siena” or “di Pisa”.

I remember thinking, if only we could never leave Italy, where there did not seem to be a parental obsession with where their children went to college. Unlike back home where parents wore college identifying caps, t-shirts, sweatshirts and drove cars sporting omnipresent rear window and bumper stickers as if we were the ones enrolled in college instead of our kids.

Our vacation ended, as all vacations (sadly) do, and we had to return to the land of overly-abundant college affiliation indicia.

Why do so many of us point with such pride to our kids’ Higher Ed affiliations in what we drive and wear as if we were the ones who actually did the hard work to get admitted?

Earlier this fall – prior to my recent Fabulous Fibula Fracture  – I had started to volunteer with a terrific college access organization which helps first-generation kids apply to, find financing for, get accepted by and once there, stay in college.

I can’t wait until my ankle is healed enough so I can hobble on back to it.

In this program I work directly with high school seniors. Not that I have anything against parents –  heck, I am one – but having been through the college admission process 2x, I would not want to deal with any parent who behaved as I did.

Thinking back to those past Octobers and Novembers when we were in the absolute thick of the college admission process, when the “C” word was like a curse word at our dining room table, I know that I was not at my best and highest self.

Those fall days when my kids snapped at me if I asked innocent questions such as “Good morning” or “How are you?”  – which my children wisely recognized as Mom code for “Have you finished your applications yet?”

The tension in our house was palpable. Luckily, my kids were accepted at great colleges because of what they, not me, accomplished.

This fall of 2015 the media reminds us that parents are even more involved (if that is possible) with their kids’ college choices. If this over-involvement trend continues, where might it lead to in another decade?

I see the future:

By the year 2025 The National Association of Over-Involved High School Pre-College Parents  (“NAOIHSPCP”) will have successfully lobbied for and won the right to be College Co-Attendees!

  • New “parent-only-variants” of the SAT and ACT will be adapted so parents will be able to submit their own corollary college applications.
  • Parents will be required to write their own “Why I Am Unique and Have Passion So You Should Admit Me” essays.
  • And by the 2025 colleges will have created specially configured dorms so parents may live on campus near their offspring.

Satirical, maybe – but really, if this hyper-pride-in-where-my-kid-goes-to-college trend continues on its current trajectory, perhaps Parent-Only dorms will be the Next Big Thing?

Take it from someone who’s been there, done that -> Rip up your NAOIHSPCP membership card now while your pre-college child is still talking to you.

Remember: Your kid is the one going to college, not you. Repeat as many times as necessary. And one small bumper sticker per family only, please.












Filed under College, College, Education, Family, Moms, Parenting, Raising Kids, Travel

Speaking of Hilarious Humor on a Serious Subject

Head Library - flat concept vector illustration

Friends in high places? I have exactly one. She is a top political reporter for a national newspaper and I am lucky to count her as a good friend.

Three of the best things about her are:

  •  she lives in my neighborhood
  •  she is a very generous person &
  •  she appreciates my sense of humor.

One night a few years ago, when we were sitting in her family room, as she had her ever-present iPad on her lap, following along on social media (reporters are allowed to do this at all times), she looked up at me and said:

Nancy, you know, you should be on Twitter. You’re funny!  You have a lot to say. You should start a Twitter account.”

Now you have to understand this was said by someone who currently has (I just checked) 56,300 followers on Twitter!  People follow my friend because she is astounding insightful on all things political, but also because she is very generous in sharing the work of others.

Plus she has a wicked sense of humor. Which is extremely hard to do in a maximum of 144 characters,

I thought sure, why not give this a try, I love to communicate, to stay on top of the news, Twitter will be fun. Just after I created my account, my friend tweeted to her thousands of followers, something like:

Be sure to follow @_nwolf, new on twitter and very funny”

Within a matter of hours, I had nearly 1,000 Twitter followers!  And then within a matter of days I had nearly lost them all.


Because being funny on Twitter is an art form I could not master. As soon as my friend told her twitterverse to pay attention to me, her funny friend, my sense of 144-character-driven humor disappeared.

Since then I’ve figured that my sense of humor comes through better when I speak than when I write. Not that everyone gets  my sense of humor. Some do not.

Humor like cilantro or olives, is an acquired taste. You either enjoy it right away or sniff in distaste and never come back. I happen to love both cilantro and olives; you may not.

And oddly enough my sense of humor really shines through when I talk about difficult topics.

A few years ago I gave a talk about the parenting of teens and young adults with mental illness to a roomful of Jewish clergy at a DC area organization. The rabbis wanted to know to respond when a congregant with a troubled kid came to them for advice. What did they need to know about awareness, stigma and support?

I launched into my tale of my experience as a parent, laced with insights from the many families I’d gotten to know while I was leading the parents’ support group (“parents of young adults who struggle”) I founded at my synagogue.

My audience nodded appreciatively as I spoke, laughed often. When I finished, one of the rabbis came up to shake my hand, and said something like –

Thank you so much for your candor and helpfulness; you really have a knack for being hilarious when talking about mental illness.”

I smiled, said thank you but as I was driving home, suddenly thought, what did he say? Is it a good thing or a bad thing to be funny when speaking about such a serious subject?

I decided it was a good thing. Humor can often reach people in a way that solemn speech cannot.

Ever since then I’ve tried to talk about “mental health” (which everyone has, even your dog or cat) and “mental illness” (a diagnosable medical condition which everyone does not have, but some do) in a relatable way.

To carry the message that mental illness is a disease of the brain – you can think of it as a broken brain. You’d go to a doctor and easily find the appropriate care if you break your ankle (as I did 3 weeks ago), but when you have a broken brain, it is inexplicably much harder to find the right treatment. (and to stick with it.)

When is the last time you saw someone stigmatized because of a broken ankle?

(I thought so.)

If in February, 2016, you find yourself in or near Marin County in northern California,  I am thrilled to tell you that I will be speaking there at a reform synagogue about young adult mental health and mental illness. Fair warning that what I will likely say will not be solemn or serious but it will be heartfelt.

And in case you are as fascinated by the connections we make on social media, I have not given up on Twitter.

You can follow me @_nwolf  – where I tweet about books, college, mental health, parenting, women’s issues and other topics that strike my fancy.

Just don’t expect to laugh out loud when you read my tweets. For reasons I am still trying to comprehend, my funniest moments come when I am talking about the most serious of subjects.


Filed under Communications, Female Friends, friendship, Jewish, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Parenting, Raising Kids, Social Media, Talking, Women, Writing, Young Adult Mental Health

Faster, Faster. Slower, Slower: 60-Something.

Frozen Time


A few weeks ago, just before my Fabulous Fibula Fracture, I had started to draft a new blog post prompted by an interesting comment made by my friend, Liz.

She wants to freeze time. To stop the clock. Right now.

Liz and I are both in our early 60’s. As are many of our friends. And we are finding this to be an age – and a stage – (an inadvertent rhyme) – where we would like to freeze time. So we can enjoy life as it is for a while longer.

If only we could hit the “pause” button.

We are (mostly) healthy and happy. Our spouses/partners are also (mostly) healthy and happy. We are all working full or part-time or reinventing ourselves in semi-retirement. We are (mostly) empty nesters. Our adult kids, in their 20’s and early 30’s are finding their own ways  in the world – mirabile dictum.

We have reached a unique stage of life where – for the first time ever – we are not constantly pressing the “fast forward” button.

Think about this -> In every earlier stage we were always anticipating, waiting for the next phase to begin.

When we are young, we can’t wait to grow up.

When we are in college, we push to graduate.

First job, when’s my next vacation.

Engaged? Plan for the wedding.

Married, think ahead to a family.

Young working mom? Always tired, count the minutes till bedtime.

On the job, march on to the next project, await the end of each workday, hope the weekend comes quickly.

Empty Nest? We made it – and it is our turn. (wasn’t there a movie with that name?).

Finally – We arrive at a stage where we want time to stop – let’s hit the “pause” button!

Which is a wonderful thought, we should savor our current lives, have not a care in the world as to the unforeseeable future…

EXCEPT for that awful TV commercial that keeps replaying in my head. The one that translates to “we interrupt your normally scheduled programming to bring you a slice of unpleasant reality.”

Perhaps you have seen this ad for a financial planning firm? Where the people interviewed are able to recall that both good and bad things happened to them in their past – but somehow anticipate only good things will happen in their future.

Wrong! The announcer intones in a Dreadfully Serious Voice that it is likely as we enter our 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s – yes, bad things WILL happen. And we should prepare for them by saving lots of $$.

Of course, we know this. We aren’t idiots. We read, watch the news, our heads aren’t buried in the sand. And $$ is likely, frankly, to be the least of our problems. You have it or you don’t have it, at least you have some control over it. Unlike good health where we have absolutely no control.

And no control over the “pause button” or the time clock either.

Which is too bad because I would really like to speed up the next six (more?) weeks of this fibulastic (made up word) healing process so I can set aside my skills at hopping. And then after I get back on both feet, to freeze time for awhile.

From my perch on the couch, I watch my husband delighting in grandparenthood as he plays with our visiting two-year-old grandson.

Faster, faster” our grandchild (actual toddler pronunciation = “wasta, wasta”)  tells my husband as he spins him around and around while seated on a desk chair on wheels. The little guy’s idea of an indoor amusement park ride.

The two-year-old wants to go faster, faster; I want to go slower, slower. And there we are.










Filed under 1st Grandchild, 1st Job, Aging, Baby Boomers, College, Empty Nest, Female Friends, Midlife, Parenting, Retirement, Second Careers, Semi-Retired, Women, Women's Health, Working Moms

Friends, Husbands, Media and Moms: Five Thoughts of an Adroit Hopper



woman thoughbubble

Given last week’s Fabulous Fibula Fracture, I suddenly find myself with a significant amount of time on my hands.

Time I cannot spend on my feet. Or at least on my left foot on which I cannot bear any weight. Which has turned me into a rather adroit hopper.

But I cannot hop all day long.  So how to spend this unexpected gift of time?

Thinking. And Writing.

Here’s my chance to write without any filter, to dredge up my innermost thoughts, to articulately reflect on the state of the human condition.

What do I have strong feelings about? Here’s my list of current issues – sarcasm first, serious to close:


1. On the Importance of Having Wonderful Friends: Even those friends who assure me in all sincerity that they will stop by, visit, bring me lunch and then forget to do so while I am home with my propped-up ankle, I still like you. I remember those VERY BUSY days when I was working f/t when I could not jam everything in. When I made promises meant in good faith as the words dripped from my lips. It’s fine, I am here – bored, hungry and lonely on the couch if you ever find a few minutes to drop by. I get it.


2. On the Value of a Deeply Caring Husband: Even one, like mine, who is constitutionally unable to close a bureau drawer after opening it. Who kindly opens said drawers, gets out my clothes and even helps me pull on ratty old Pilates pants over my “booted” left leg. And then “forgets” to close the bureau drawers. Or the closet doors. He thinks I am a bit off in my insistence that what was opened must then be closed. While I temporarily cannot do these chores, they will not get done. His mild little revenge on one of my pet peeves. I get it.

3. On the Efficacy of the News Media: Even before the Fabulous Fibula Fracture, I was overly attached to being well-informed. So with this extra time, I’m absorbing more content than ever. CNN. MSNBC. World affairs. Domestic Politics. I’m finally caught up. Which is why I am not at all bothered by the Breaking News crawl that flashes at the bottom of the screen for up to a full seven (I’ve counted)hours after the original event took place without providing any new details. Don’t move on, CNN. Stay with that story with no updates. Being told over and over again that the same thing has “just” happened makes me internalize it better. What an innovative news technique for us slow learners. I get it.

4. On the Need to Remind Us That We Are Getting Older: Even I recognize that aging dulls one’s ability to stay on-trend. Which is why I’m happy to be reminded via all forms of media, social and otherwise, which I now have the time to appreciate, how hard I must work to keep up.  I recently learned what “on fleek” means. I know that “Hulu” is a video streaming service, not only a dance done in Hawaii. And that “streaming” has nothing to do the rush of water downhill. Thank you, Millennials who create these new phrases and technologies to torment us, your parents, the non “digital natives.” We provided the same torment, sort of, to our own parents. I get it.

And MUCH more seriously.


5. On the Wisdom of Knowing What You Do Not Know: These past few weeks (and really for far longer than that) I have wanted to opine, oh how I have wanted to opine, on what I think about the uptick in mass shootings. About how my first sympathies –  beginning with Virginia Tech, running through Columbine, Sandy Hook, Tucson, Aurora – are always, bizarre as it may seem to others, for the mothers of the young male shooters, for the moms who also lost a child, now vilified for the ages. Our national focus is, as it should be, on the victims of the shootings and on the multiple, interconnected reasons for each tragedy, but somehow my heart also always goes out to the mothers who loved their sons but could not reach them. From all that I have read, I know with certainty just two things:  (i) all of these young males had access to guns, which they should not have had and (ii) that they were socially isolated, lonely individuals who needed help from their communities which they did not receive. The larger answers to this troubling puzzle?  I have the wisdom to know that I do not have those answers. But ponder them I will.




Filed under Aging, Communications, Female Friends, friendship, Husbands, Mental Health, Midlife, Moms, Sons, Women, Women's Health, Writing, Young Adult Mental Health

10 Minutes of Media Fame Before The Boot


In one of those rare cosmic coincidences I was granted my fondest wish – to appear on TV and Radio – on the same day.

This Monday morning I was on TV. And on the Radio three hours later.

Thrilling! Truly.

I am one of those rare (?) people who loves public speaking. I enjoy having an audience. In another life, perhaps, I would have been a stand-up comic or a morning talk show host on the newsy first hour of the Today show rather than a lawyer.

And have I mentioned my own, yet unfulfilled, second career idea for a radio talk show aimed at an all-women-of-a-certain-age demographic – tentatively titled “The Post-Menopause Hour”?

Where I plan to offer my own insightfully entertaining thoughts on getting older but better, and have guests on to talk about such fun topics as women’s health and caring for elderly parents while at the same time parenting our adult kids.

(If any radio or online show programmers are reading this post and think this is an excellent idea, please get in touch. My tentative show title – the “Post-Menopause Hour” is entirely negotiable.)

Radio station KPCC, the NPR station in Los Angeles, asked me if I wanted to be interviewed as a guest on “The Brood” segment of their “Take Two” show this Tuesday to talk about my recent blog-post-turned-Washington-Post article asking whether the lessons of failure should apply to our adult kids too.

Why yes, I said, very calmly as if being interviewed on the radio was a regular gig for me, I’d be delighted.

The good thing about radio is that it is just that – radio. No visual element. No one to see that I was overdue by a week for my regular gray-be-gone hair coloring process.

Note: I practiced communications law for 33 plus years, talking daily to radio general managers, on-air talent and producers at stations all over the country. I often felt I was on the wrong side of these phone calls – that I should be the one doing the creative part, appearing on air rather than giving legal advice.

Just as I was getting excited to be on the radio for the first time…

I was asked, at the last-minute, to appear on a local CBS affiliate WUSA TV talk show –  “Great Day Washington” – to talk about Mental Health Awareness Week on behalf of my NAMI chapter where I am on the board of directors. I jumped (literally) at the chance.

As soon as I hung up the phone after agreeing to show up at the TV studio early the next morning, I thought, my hair! Radio may not be a visual medium but TV certainly is.

Luckily, my handy aerosol can of an extremely useful product that sprays dark brown temporary color onto those pesky gray/white/whatever roots came to my rescue.

I showed up at the TV studio on time. I wore a TV-friendly solid blue shirt and black pants that were mostly clean. The co-hosts introduced themselves to me, they were irrepressibly bubbly.

Who wouldn’t want to talk about the myths of mental illness (how common it is, 1 in 5 adults, treatable) with two hyper-cheerful talk show hosts??

I had my talking points prepared. Confident, ready to go. Until I saw the stairs.

The new-ish TV studio for Great Day Washington was constructed to resemble a living room, with the requisite talk show white couches, coffee table, bookcases and color-coordinated plants.

And stairs.

I was told I would be introduced by the hosts, and then would have to enter the set through an opening at the rear, walk across the floor – then down three stairs to take my place on the white couch#2 while the two show hosts sat at a right angle from me on white couch #1.

Stairs. What if I tripped? I am rather clumsy, not wild about stairs in the best of times. Having to walk down them on live TV?  Scary. But at least my hair looked good.

Here is the link: You can see from the short video that I DID NOT FALL. I walked down the stairs with ease and joined the hosts for my 3 minutes of sound bites on a complicated subject that cannot be easily covered even in 3 hours.

Interview on WUSA Channel 9 CBS TV for Mental Health Awareness Week

After my TV stint, like any media person (so I imagine), I took a short break to re-caffeinate and drove to the NPR radio studio on the other side of DC where I donned headphones, followed the producer’s instructions (“hot” mike?) and talked for a full 7 minutes with a gracious host in Los Angeles (NPR hosts are gracious, not bubbly) about parenting adult kids through their own life crises.

Phew, came home, pretty darn pleased with myself, ready to settle in for a lovely fall afternoon on our small deck with our dog, my laptop and the newspapers when –

I FELL. Yes, I tripped on a 4-inch step from the door of our house, landed flat out, splat onto the wood deck, feeling as I went down my left ankle twisting at an odd angle.

Let me spare you the anticipation. X-rays. Broken ankle. Fibula bone to be exact. (“Really, broken?” I asked the ortho doc. “Are you sure? Not just a sprain?”. Ortho doc not amused. How they hate to be questioned by lawyers.)

Now sporting a large, unlovely gray air-cast “boot” up to my knee. Told not to put any weight on my left foot at all. Have never broken a bone; many things to do and places to go but now Totally Immobilized.

Was it hubris that caused me to fall? So overly pleased with my brief brushes with the media on the same day that I did not look where I was going in my own house on a step I have safely taken a million times?

Irony that it is fall – and I fell when no one was there to see it happen? My 2x media day was going so well until it wasn’t.

A life lesson on not getting ahead of yourself from me where I sit with my left foot elevated on my non-white couch in my own family room where I remain available 24/7 for all media interviews. Gray hair, gray boot and all. Call me.





Filed under Adult Kids, Aging, Baby Boomers, Blogging, Communications, Law firm life, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Midlife, Parenting, Second Careers, Women, Women's Health