Annals of Success: Be an Anteambulo

What is this anteambulo, you ask, Readers? It's a Roman term. An anteambulo was an artist slash writer with a patron. Ah, the glory days of Roma, when patrons took on artists....

Dignity and Success

I’ve been writing and thinking about what makes people feel successful for quite some time. I have concluded there are five essential planks on the scaffolding of success.

The Joys of the Small Life

Is it enough to live a small life? That is the question, Readers. After all, small lives are often the subjects of books. Of big books, even.

Why Success Matters

I think the drive for success is built into us. It's intertwined with the desire for meaning. Sure, people put a lot of emphasis on happiness, and happiness is definitely desirable

Imposter Syndrome

I was recently infected with Imposter Syndrome. You’ve heard of it. It infects many women. You know you have it if you feel like a fraud in your own life.

Cognitive Distortions and a Myth About Success

The idea that successful people are somehow different from other people. That they have special DNA that gives them a deep down, elementary sense of the inevitablity.

Submarine Parenting

If I’m not supposed to be a Helicopter Parent, and I’m not a Free Range Parent, then what am I supposed to be? A Submarine Parent, says Marie Schwartz, CEO of Teen Life.

Success Is Like Light

What is so difficult about defining success?

Failure Equals Success - and Other Perplexities

In an episode of "Silicon Valley," the very weird genius chief executive of a hugely successful Google/Apple type company launches a product that just totally fails. It’s a bomb.

Success and the Oozing Nature of Work

Scene: Kitchen. Three women, two on the passenger side of a kitchen island. One on the cockpit side, deveining shrimp. All three are mothers. One is a professor, one is a painter of the visual artist variety, not the interior/exterior house variety, and the third is a writer. The professor is cooking. The other two are her guests. What I left out ....

Success Is Not a Zero-Sum Proposition

As upsetting as it is to face, I am grateful for the attention I’ve been forced to pay to structural racism. As a white woman, I don’t expect to be profiled by the police, except, perhaps, if there is a profile for white, suburban moms jacked up on anti-anxiolytics.

Mastering Self-Control. Or Not. Part 2

Here's a video about Walter Mischel's book, The Marshmallow Test. I'm demonstrating one of Mischel's strategies for developing self-control: distraction.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and Success

Seeking success is not frivolous, it’s natural and essential. It's a building block towards the highest goal of self-actualization. Some people say there's another level beyond Maslow's tip - transcendence. In any case, a drive towards self-actualization and/or transcendence makes us look outside our lives and help others.

Mastering Self-Control. Or Not.

Scene: kitchen table. Remains of dinner present. Children absent. Just the husband and I and the dog, despairing of collecting any treats at all. The husband reaches into the snack cabinet and takes two cookies. He offers one to me. Me: (After a pause.) No, thanks. IF I don’t have one now, THEN I can have a bigger one later. Husband: Ah! The Marshmallow Test in action.

Why Success Is Like a Jalopy

I used to have a narrow definition of success: professional advancement. Because I had very little of that as a mother and as a writer, I felt like a failure. Now, my definition of success is different. I think of it as a system. And when the system is operating, I feel successful.

Getting Back on Track Successfully

Now seems like a good time to check in with those New Year resolutions. It’s the end of February, and my email inbox and Twitter feed are full of strategies for implementing habits, keeping resolutions, and bits about why We Are Failing To Do So. When I say “we” I mean me. I was struggling to get my routine back on track. I have resolutions to keep me busy.

Mastery and Success

Most of practice is failing. For example, an ice skater spends every practice trying to refine upon and improve technique to accomplish the next challenge, the next turn, inevitably more complicated than the previous one. She spends most of that time trying and falling, trying and falling, until she manages her triple lutz. Then it’s on to the quadruple.

Balancing Negative and Positive to Achieve Success

I’m liking this damaged people, damaged microwave analogy. I could really run with it. But is it what I want to get into? The point is, if there is a point, that once you get to know even those microwaves that look fully functional, those microwaves with deluxe features, even those combination convection oven-microwave ovens, their defects become apparent.

Nap Your Way to Success. Or Death.

I’ve been binging on the - what shall I call it? - the Self-Care, the Maintenance, and it’s got to stop. Physical therapy, regular therapy, facials, waxing, hair cuts, Pilates. A massage. I’m living like a millionaire, which I’m not. I have so many appointments I hardly have a free day anymore.

The Undergarments (the Lingerie?) of Success

It has been a long time since I posted here. I don’t know why. That’s not entirely true. I do know why, in part. Because of me. Me and my tendency to lock myself up in internal conflict. Which is why I began this success blog – to unlock myself. That I’m still prone to locked internal conflict these many months – okay, let's be honest, years - later, is discouraging.

Dress for Success

"What’s this focus on French chic?” The husband asked the other day. I was embarrassed he’d noticed. Although, really, how could he not have? Instead of reading our book club book for our upcoming meeting, I’d read three books on fashion and style. Plus, I'd been spending a lot of time reading style blogs by women over forty. The interest was both literal and symbolic.


50 is of course a highly symbolic birthday. On the other hand, as others remind me, it’s just a day. It’s not as if I’m going to change radically on that day. In fact, in anticipation of it, I’m having my breakdown ahead of time. I already feel fifty, if fifty has a feeling, in that I think of myself as fifty already.

Calvin and Tiger Mom and Me

8:45 a.m. I’m going for my first colonoscopy, Readers. I’d like to tell you that I am approaching this milestone with sang-froid, with insouciance, or even with stoicism; but alas, I am approaching it with my usual mix of abject anxiety and fear. It’s at these times that I confront the chasm between the real me and the me I'd like to be.

Winter Follies

Readers, it’s January, a new year, and I feel a metaphor coming on. God help me, I do. A clichéd metaphor about cars and drivers. I apologize. I am helpless before it. All I can do is put it out there for us all.

Am I a Millenial

“Most creative artists, even successful ones, are not able to earn a living.” That’s what the article says. You know, it’s good to see that in print. And bad. Most of all, it’s a relief. Of course it’s the final dousing of any idea I had of, um, making a living from my writing. From my creative writing, that is. But it lifts one burden of failure from me.

Envy and Jealousy as Gifts

Many of us are seriously cultivating gratitude in order to shape our brains to be more positive, and not just on Thanksgiving. As I said, this is all to the good. Every little degree positive anyone turns has got to be good for all of us. As long as there’s no deviation into smarminess. Smarminess is just aggressive do-gooding.

Fall Back, Then Leap In

Thought for November: I’m challenging myself. That’s my new plan. Not that I don’t challenge myself. I mean, writing a book is a challenge. Only I haven’t been writing that book consistently enough to feel like I’m really in it, really doing it.

System Breakdown is Part of the System

The other day I went on the treadmill with my old friend Kimberly the StarTrac coach, and even though I’ve been jogging outside, the treadmill whipped me. That is pretty pitiful, since people say the treadmill is easier than running outside. Since everyone including me knows sports function allegorically, I left the gym feeling not only exhausted, but depressed.

5 Secrets of Sustainable Success By Billy Jean King

In 1973, when Billy Jean King beat Bobby Riggs, I was an overexcited nine year old, more thrilled by the phrases “male chauvinist pig” and “battle of the sexes” than by the symbolism of the match. Billy Jean King and Free To Be You and Me represented Women’s Lib to me. Forty years later, it turns out Billy Jean King is an excellent example for us once again - of success.

Borgen and Me: The Political Gets Personal

So I have to ask myself, who benefits from the way things are now? Who benefits if things don’t change? And what might things look like if this so-called feminist—but really just humanist—agenda came into being?