What’s your purpose?

I don’t know about you, but whenever I’m out walking my dog and left to my own devices, I typically whip out my iPhone and if I’m not tempted to listen to MSNBC, I do what I used to love when I was kid. 

I sing.

The thing I love most and miss most in my life is music.

You see, when I was a little girl, I proclaimed I wanted to be a singer when I grew up. I sang for a really long time – all the way into my early 40’s but over the last few years, that stopped. I don’t know what happened exactly, but honestly, without music, life can get a bit depressing. 

And so, every so often, I take my dog on a stroll to a pond near our home where I belt out songs – from Broadway to 80’s classics to inspirational songs that just make me smile. 

Curious about my eclectic playlist? Well here’s some of the songs I like to sing when no one is watching. I also find that blasting these songs in my car works wonders too…

Hope you enjoy my playlist as much as I loved making it. And if you’re not really into my music, that’s okay. You can make your own list – the key is find the songs that make you smile, take a long somewhere alone and start singing!

Go F*** Yourself Fridays

Most people who know me tend to say that I’m super nice, kind, supportive and a team player.  You need me to take you somewhere or be there when things are not going your way, I’m your girl. Want to make last minute lunch plans so we can catch up on lost time? When do you want to meet? Want to pick my brain about your next big idea? Pick a date and let’s get creative.

But there’s something funny that happens to nice people. We get taken advantage of and taken for granted. A LOT. 

So after celebrating my birthday this week and being grateful for the wonderful people who reconnected with me, I also noticed people I haven’t heard from in years who I don’t trust and don’t like popping up on my social media pages.

Which leads me to my latest column for the week, F*** Off Fridays. My husband coined this brilliant phrase and is pretty excited to see my first post and my first candidate for this coveted honor. Let me be up front. I am not calling anyone out by name. I am however calling out bad behavior so if you have an inkling that you have done this to someone you know or respect, then seriously, Go F*** Yourself.

So without further ado, I’d like to say Go F*** Yourself…

THE COPYCAT

You know exactly who you are. You don’t have an original bone in your body and so, when you see someone who is leaps and bounds ahead of you professionally and creatively, you decide, “Wow! That’s a great idea.” I should totally do that too. And so, you waste no time ripping off the original owner of their idea and running with it. And sometimes you even experience more success than the person who came up with the idea in the first place.

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I called BS on that line of BS.

For the record, it’s not like I’ve only had one copycat rip me off in my life. Oh no, there have been many.

Like the copycat who moderated a few of my parenting events and was trying to sell a book on a different topic that wasn’t flying so she switched gears, took my concept, sold the idea and got a book deal.  Hey former morning news anchor: Go F*** yourself.

Or the woman who saw me launch a list targeting influencers for paid sponsorship campaigns and within one month started her own thing too and pretty much became my competition right out of the starting gate. Hey list idea stealer: Go F**k yourself.

Then there’s the serial copycatters who rip off part of the clever name you’ve created, land a column in a newspaper where they rip off more people and then decided to launch an event business like the one you started by leveraging contacts they have in the entertainment industry to connect influencers with exciting opportunities. You ladies deserve a week’s worth of Go F**k Yourselves.

There have also been those who ripped off my idea for a digital magazine and just this week, when I wrote a blog post that I published here and on Thrive Global about the 49 things I wanted to do when I was 49, one copycat who I hadn’t seen pop up on my feed in years suddenly reared her duplicitous head and proclaimed on LinkedIn that she was going to be writing about the 40 things she wants to do now that she’s 40. Hey there 40 year old! How about trying this one on for size:  Go F*** Yourself.

I know I may sound bitter but the pact that I have made with myself this year is to call out bad behavior when I see it. We will be featuring Go F*** Yourself categories every Friday so get ready to come back and you can decide if you’re one of the people who have crossed me or one who’d like to join me for coffee later today.

Now go out and have a great Friday and if anyone rips you off, you know exactly what to tell them. 

Throwback Thursday…The College Years

Freshman drop-off at UMASS circa 1986

It’s a good thing today it’s Throwback Thursday since I’m continuing to feel a bit nostalgic this week. Last night, I attended an alumni event for my alma mater, UMASS at the Peloton Interactive penthouse in New York City. It turns out that one of the co-founders of Peloton was a UMASS alum (class of 1988). After he shared his favorite memories at the University – living in Orchard Hill, the five college program and a vegan place called BASICS, I decided to take a trip down memory lane too.

The photo above is with my dad on the very first day he and my mom dropped me off at my dorm. I lived in Southwest in a high rise called JQA. While we didn’t have Facebook groups to connect with roommates or like minded friends back then, the rumor was that everyone from New York lived in Southwest so it seemed like that choice would be the best option for me. Plus, when the Mets won the World Series that year, it was pretty exciting to be living in those dorms – who can say they were caught in the middle of a riot after the Red Sox lost in Game 7. Um, that would be me.

My first roommate’s name was Becky Blood. I remember Becky being pretty aloof and within a week of us moving in, she already started rushing a sorority. The good news is, Becky moved out by the second semester and I had the place to myself.

During my first semester, I tried out for a few musicals and while I narrowly missed out on a role in “The Fantasticks,” I did manage to land the spot of Jan in “Grease.” I made a few friends in the production and at the same time, decided to rush a sorority.

Later that spring, I was accepted into Alpha Chi Omega where I lived for the next year and a half. I remember at the time having a long distance boyfriend who I would call from the house phone which probably annoyed the other girls because I took up way too much time during our calls. There’s not much that I remember from the sorority house other than it looked like a ski chalet, I bunked with six girls my first year and we had cardio classes in our living room. I also had an awesome big sister who reminded me of my cousin Cindy and encouraged me to try out for a job at the UMASS Daily Collegian as an advertising sales executive. Despite the stiff competition, I landed the gig and got a great territory – Route 9 and then when one of the seniors graduated, I took over his area – the mall! I also started writing for the paper and wrote restaurant and soap opera reviews too. I was destined for stardom as a People Magazine writer – or at least that’s what I kept telling myself.

By the second half of my Junior year, I decided to do a 15 credit internship at home where I worked at WNBC-TV. That eventually led to my first job in talk show publicity. When I returned to UMASS my senior year, I moved into a house with my good friend Laurie and her Delta Zeta sorority sisters Smiley (that was her awesome nickname, but her real name was Ilene), Jean Kelly (always loved her name) and Christine. We lived right near the cemetery where Emily Dickinson was buried so that was kind of cool and creepy at the same time. We also ordered the best salads and pizza at Andy’s after a night of bar hopping. Sadly, after doing a Google search, Andy’s is no longer in operation but trust me, their salads that were always covered with a heaping serving of mozzarella cheese, were off the hook. 

I also remember the fantastic concerts at UMASS including the Romantics and Heart – it was an 80’s girl dream. While I didn’t attend the sporting events, one of my roommates was close with the basketball team and even cooked for them at our house from time to time. I remember super tall guys eating alfredo pasta at our house that Christine expertly prepared for them.

As far as my actual classes, I had some of the best professors at UMASS including Sut Jhally who was my internship advisor and is a major force in the Communications field to this day. I also had another professor named Justin Lewis who I loved – he had this super cool British accent and taught us all about how the media distorts messages about current events.  

Looking back, I really am grateful to have spent my college years at UMASS. I took advantage of a lot of opportunities as a student that set me up for success in my career and developed friendships and made connections that I will never forget. Here’s hoping the same will happen for my kids. I have promised to stop bugging my son about touring the campus but I am going to give it one last shot next spring. Here’s hoping for a nice sunny day with lots of ducks swimming in the pond. That’s what got me the last time around so you never know…

Wednesday Wisdom…A Letter to My 12 Year Old Self

Dear Beth,

I know that your lifelong dream is to appear in a Broadway musical but this is your 49 year old self telling you that if you decide to give up because you don’t like rejection, it’s not going to happen for you. Beth, you’re a really good singer but you need to take some acting lessons in order to really make it in the big leagues. Plus, I know you live in Brooklyn and most kids don’t go away to sleepaway camp, but you should really tell your parents about this place called French Woods where you’d like to spend your summer performing with other kids obsessed with musicals.

I want you to know that I am really proud of you for losing a ton of weight – I know how hard it is and trust me, you will experience ups and downs on the scale your entire life. But that’s okay – you can’t go through life without pizza, chocolate or wine. The good news is I found a great substitute for peanut butter that’s only 50 calories so there’s hope for our sweet tooth after all.

As far as boys, I know you are just starting to decide who you like or who you may want to hold hands with when you go to the Nosher or the pizza place. Just know that the perfect guy is out there for you. I’m actually married to him now and we have two beautiful kids too. I’m not going to lie though – your heart is going to be broken big time and I do wish I could go back in time so I could stop you from going down the wrong path, but sadly, that decision happened and you did finally get over it.

I know you have the world at your feet right now. You love to sing, read, write and hang out with your friends. The good news is that you still love all those things now and you’ve even maintained your friendships for more than 30 years and counting. There’s nothing quite like having old friends who know all your quirks and still love and support you no matter what.

So enjoy your day at school today Beth, try out for the school play, run for class president, keep going after your dreams and don’t let anyone or anything get you down. Along your journey, you will find the perfect man to marry, you will become a mom with two great kids, have friends that bring you joy, parents who love you unconditionally and a career that continually changes as you figure out how to get back to dreaming like you were 12 again.

Introducing…Try it Tuesday!

Climb a Mountain or Go to an Exercise Class? That is the question…

In my new and improved commitment to writing again, I decided that every day each week, we’ll have a different theme. So here’s what we’re going to offer:

Monday Motivation

Try It Tuesday

Wednesday Wisdom

Throwback Thursday

Friday Favorites

Since it’s Tuesday, we’re going to offer up some ideas of things you can try that might interest you. For the thrill seekers out there, I’ll share some crazy ideas like jumping out of a plane but for those of us who would like to keep our feet on the ground, here are some Try it Tuesday ideas to get you motivated this week!

  1. Dance class – Come on – you know you used to dance like it was 1999 but something happened on the way to the disco. You haven’t been to a club in years but you still love to do the macarena every now and then. If you’re bold and interested in dancing with other people, there’s always Jazzercise which I tried for a few months until I threw out my knee. If that doesn’t do it for you, go to the App store on your phone, plug in the word dance, and you can find a host of options – from Zumba to avatar dancing, and even games. Whatever you do, just dance!
  2. Paint & Sip – My friend Komal loves this option and is dying to host a paint and sip for our local Facebook community group. If you’re not a decent artist, then you’re in luck, there’s wine. And if you love to paint, the wine will help you explore your creative side even more – just don’t get sloshed because then your painting will look more like modern art and less like a Monet.
  3. Peloton – I may sound like a broken record with this one but I am obsessed with Peloton. I bought my bike about two years ago and take on demand spin classes right from my guest room at least 3-4 times per week. I actually started by downloading the Peloton app so I could try a few of the workouts and I really loved it so I went all in. These days, I’m contemplating buying the Peloton Tread – a brand spankin new treadmill that features coaches who help you build up your endurance while running. The best part is that you can take the app with you on the go and run outside or even head to a hotel like the Westin that features Peloton bikes in their gym and in some of their private rooms! And if you don’t want to do cardio, there’s also yoga, weight lifting and strength training too. Something for everyone!
  4. Cooking Class – Much like the Paint & Sip, there are two levels to this one. If you’re a decent cook, then a cooking class at a place like Sur La Table will help you take your skills to the next level. And if you’re a novice, then any cooking class will at least get you more comfortable using dangerous kitchen tools like the Mandolin – watch out with that one, because it can get dicey and land you a visit to the emergency room.
  5. Impromptu Networking – Check out events that are taking place in your neighborhood and sign up to attend something that catches your eye.  The easiest way to do it is to visit Facebook and check out what events are happening in your area. How bad can it be? You meet new people who you might actually like and there’s usually food there too. 

So go out and try it every Tuesday and then let us know what you did. You’ll never have fun if you don’t try.


49 Things to do When You Are 49

I wrote a list like this several years back in my early 40s when I was contemplating the meaning of life and the challenges that lay ahead. Little did I know that things wouldn’t get easier, but significantly more difficult. From finances, to health, to unexpected situations that have tested my resolve as a woman and a parent, I’m now entering the last year of this decade so I figured I’d give it a shot again and attempt to stay true to my list!

49. Stop complaining about the opportunities that didn’t come your way or second guessing decisions you made in your past. 

48. Make a list every day of things you want to accomplish that’s just for you!

47. Tell your family members you love them – every single day.

46. Reconnect with friends you know care as much about you as you do about them.

45. No longer chase after friends who always seem to be too busy to make time for you.

44. Start doing the things you used to love when you were 12 years old.

43. Travel more to places you keep saying you want to visit.

42. Step out of your comfort zone every single week.

41. Say “No” more.

40. Don’t let toxic people rent space in your head.

39. Volunteer for causes that feed your spirit and your mind.

38. Read more.

37. Write more.

36. Sing more.

35. Play more.

34. Drive to the airport and book a trip to somewhere you’ve never been before.

33. Get in your car, pick a destination and stay overnight in that city.

32. See more Broadway shows.

31. Finally go see Hall & Oates in concert. (Okay, pretty lame but I say it every year and never do it).

30. Pitch your writing to a major women’s magazine and don’t stop until you get published.

29. Go out dancing or do karaoke with your girlfriends.

28. Keep yourself open to opportunities. You never know where your journey may lead if you open a new door.

27. Enroll in a creative writing course.

26. Connect with amazing women whom you admire and respect.

25. Reconnect with your mentors or find new mentors who can help guide you into the next decade.

24. Detach from social media at least 1X per week.

23. Exercise more – without being on your phone while you’re doing it.

22. Close the door on projects that are no longer working for you.

21. Write a new chapter of your life every single day.

20. Write a keynote speech and figure out where you’re going to deliver it.

19. Align with like minded individuals who can help you grow and thrive.

18. Sleep more.

17. Walk your dog at least 2-3 times per day for at 20-30 minutes.

16. Take an art class that has wine.

15. Share your stories with the world.

14. Spend time with your parents and appreciate the time you have with them.

13. Support your kids but instill in them the confidence that they can become anything they want to be as long as they put the time and the work into it.

12. Don’t be discouraged by rejection.

11. Be grateful for the things you have.

10. Do not be envious that other people may seem to have more than you. If you’re happy, you have everything.

9. Tell the people who make you happy that they are so special to you. Nice people need to know they are truly appreciated.

8. Find your way back to you.

7. Build your next decade tribe by surrounding yourself with women and men who lift you up.

6. Don’t be afraid to apologize if you’ve screwed up.

5. Hug it out with the ones in your life who bring you pure joy.

4. No matter how busy you are, always make time for your family 

3. Compliment perfect strangers and see how it changes their day.

2. Stop worrying about how you are going to make a living and just start living.

  1. JUST DO IT!!!!!!!

Welcome to a New Year

It’s not January 1st, but it’s my birthday and I have to admit, I have neglected Role Mommy for a long time. Perhaps it was because my kids aren’t little anymore and frankly, I just don’t feel like a “Mommy” anymore. Way back when I started this blog, a friend of mine said I would outgrow the “Mommy” role and I never expected that to happen. But dear readers, it did. But that’s okay, because Role Mommy is back. I’m committed to writing more on my blog in an authentic voice. I’m going to talk about things that might be tough to deal with as parents. It’s not going to be all rainbows and unicorns. It’s going to be about real life because as our kids get older, the stakes are higher and we can’t sugar coat the fact that everything is going to be fine because frankly, it’s not.

I’m not a helicopter parent – in fact I pride myself on providing my kids with the tools and training they need to succeed. If they were interested in a sport, I signed them up for a team or lessons. If they were interested in the arts, I helped them hone their skills by guiding them towards a program that would cultivate their talents. Every step of the way, I am trying to be a “lighthouse parent” – helping to guide the way for my kids but not micromanage their lives to the point where they feel like I am forcing them into doing something that they don’t want to do. 

When it comes to colleges, I have to admit, I have tried to convince both my kids to give my alma mater a shot but both of them have made it pretty clear that UMASS is not going to make the cut. And while that bums me out, it’s okay because it’s not my life, it’s theirs.

Both my kids are as different as night and day. With a girl and a boy, I juggle with a range of emotions practically every day. Anxiety, stress, depression, one word responses, ups, downs, you name it, I’m like a baseball shortstop just trying to field the plays as they come in. And trust me, it was so much easier trying to get my kids potty trained and walking than it is to manage teenage rejection, angst and anxiety.

The one thing I do know is that communication is the key to parenting. If your kids are hurting, you can’t just sugarcoat it and tell them it’s going to be okay. You need to listen to them, share your own personal experiences but validate what they are feeling. I’m still learning as I go but I’m trying and that’s all I can do at this point.

So, welcome to Role Mommy, the teen and empty nest years. It’s stressful, it’s scary and it’s not easy, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

Outlier Parenting with Gavin Doyle

It’s Back to School so we are back with our Outlier Parenting podcast! This week we are featuring Gavin Doyle, a best selling author and Disney guru who started his business as a teen and is now a college student who is continuing to build his media brand. Find out the secrets behind Gavin’s success and learn how to save on your next Disney vacation!

 

My Immigration Story: A Tale of Two Doras & How My Parents Met

I have always loved hearing the story behind how my parents met and fell in love. It started with my grandfathers, Benjamin (Benny was his nickname) and Murray, who met after emigrating to the United States from Russia and Romania. Both came into the States through a port in Philadelphia in their teens. Benny and Murray instantly became friends and both moved to New York to find work and eventually, they found their wives too. My Grandma Dora Berger made it to Ellis Island prior to World War II along with several of her brothers and sisters. Grandma Dora always said that she was from Austria but according to her immigration papers that I recently found online, she actually came in from Poland.

Benny and Murray arrived in New York and a short time after, they met two women named Dora. Benny’s Dora was actually an American – born and bred in Brooklyn, New York and Murray’s Dora was tough as nails, knew what she wanted and was a total straight shooter. Eventually, Murray and Dora Stoller moved to the Bronx, while Benjamin and Dora Goldman moved to Brooklyn. They still managed to stay in touch and when they started having children – two boys for the Stollers and two girls for the Goldmans, the couples dreamed that their kids would one day walk down the aisle together. While there weren’t any sparks between my aunt and uncle, it turns out my mom and dad fell for each other in their teens and eventually married when my mom was 20 and my dad was 21.

I consider myself incredibly lucky that my family came to the United States prior to World War II. After reading about the village where my grandfather grew up in Romania, I discovered that nearly all the Jews were killed in that location during World War II. Considering the fact that my grandmother was from Poland, there’s no telling what could have happened to her family too.

I am named for my Grandpa Benny who sadly passed away the year before I was born. My son and my daughter are both named for the Doras. The tough Dora from Austria/Poland always spoke her mind – my favorite line from Grandma was this one: “Rich or poor, it’s good to have money.” While that definitely is true, I have to say, that while they were never rich, my grandparents gave my family the greatest gift by taking a chance, leaving their native homes behind and pursuing the American Dream.

Q&A With Timeless Star Abigail Spencer and Costume Designer Mari-An Ceo

Prior to the People Magazine Q&A with the talented women behind “Timeless,” I got to participate in  Q&A session with the executive producers, Abigail and the show’s incredibly talented costume designer Mari-an Ceo. Here are some of the highlights…

Q&A with Abigail Spencer and Mari-An Ceo

Question: How has it been like being back shooting the show?:

Abigail Spencer: I don’t feel more pressure, I feel very grateful. I mean we got cancelled, I don’t know if you guys know about it and then three days later we got picked up, We moved the production from Vancouver to Los Angeles, so we’re all home. I have a nine year old, Mari-An has a 13 year old. We’re all parents so it’s nice to be home so our kids now come and see us at work. I feel grateful for being given another go at it and we are so grateful to the fans. It was really their love and their rabid appetite for the show that brought us back.

Question: Do you outsource or make all the costumes on the show?

Mari-An Ceo: For our principal actors, because they have to have multiple outfits – it’s hard enough to make one but it’s really hard to make three in a couple of days. For background players we go to costume houses and sometimes we’ll buy things depending upon what we need but with principals, we pretty much make everything.

Abigail Spencer: They make it in front of my eyes, there’s this guy named Carlos who pretty makes Ihem in front of our eyes.

Mari An – She (Abigail) asked for a dress for a photo shoot and we pretty much designed the dress together in like five minutes and Carlos draped it on her and you look down and he made it within a few hours.

Question: What are your feelings on gender issues and gender equality?

Abigail Spencer: I will say that Frances McDormand, dovetailing what she said in her speech let’s talk about an inclusion rider. If we just level the playing field across the board, because there are so many talented women in every department that are just not getting the opportunities because they haven’t been able to have enough stuff to be hired. So I am very curious about that statement, the inclusion rider. If we just reset the standard, reset the tone as actors, as artists and make those requests, I think things could really change. We have to over correct in order to achieve balance.

Question: What time period is your favorite?

Mari-an Ceo: All of them! I have this amazing experience where I go in and read a script and have to quickly learn about that era. We have to do it very quickly – I may know that part of history but then when you get into these scripts you really have to know. You really have to know where the hemline is. During certain periods in history, women held onto their clothes for 15 years – you have to make sure that you know what they were truly wearing during that time or you aren’t staying true to the clothing worn during that period.

Abigail: If I had my druthers the whole show would be about why the costumes are they way they are. It would be one long runway show!

Abigail: The best day of production is when we are in a brand new time period. We are dressed to the nines our hair and makeup department are just so great this year. It’s really funny. We shoot right next to “This is Us” and they’re all with their jeans and t-shirts and we all look like we’re really doing something. And they’re like “Oh look at them, the “Timeless” crew they always look like they’re working so hard.” We take over the whole lot, the New York streets, Milo sees me in a different outfit every time. I actually visited their set in my suffragettes outfit and Chrissy Metz was doing her scene and they were rolling and I almost accidentally walked into the frame. And I thought how funny would it be if I was sneaking behind her in the scene. It’s so nice to be right next to them because they are so lovely.

Question: As an actress, what character would you one day want to play?

Abigail Spencer: I want to play Katherine Hepburn before it’s too late. As an actor, I’m really not super into playing real people but she’s someone I would love to play. I can definitely sound like her and I can look just like her and Mari-An made one of my dreams come true this year because she actually made the Philadelphia Story dress for Lucy to wear in our Hollywood 1940’s episode and it was my dream. I’d like to play her while she was making “Philadelphia Story.” Here’s a little history on her. She was box office poison before this movie was made. She actually could not get hired – every movie she made was a total bomb and she was a total diva. She ended up doing Philadelphia Story on Broadway and her boyfriend was Howard Hughes at the time and he bought the rights to the play and gave it to her as a gift and told her, this is how you’re going to make money. So she became the producer of the movie. She made that movie happen and then the movie was so successful and that movie turned the tide for her and she became one of the most famous actresses of all time.

Question: Do you think the Times Up Movement has had an impact on your career path?

Abigail Spencer: I’ve always said no to a lot of stuff. I always protect my characters and how I represent women. Especially as a mother I was more conscious of it when my son was born. I now have a community behind me where that’s not even a conversation. I think we are really intentional with Lucy on Timeless in how she looks and we are careful not to sexualize her. She’s beautiful but she’s brilliant. The producers pitched it to me that way – her superpower is her brain. I wanted her to start out that way. I wanted her to feel very normal so when she’s having to do these extraordinary things.

TIMELESS – 2018 – EVENT – “NY Premiere Event”