California

Happy Everything!

We’ve only been here a few days but already we’ve had fun in the sun. And occasionally I do start humming, It never rains in California. Hardly a cloud in the sky. Mini golf and tennis. Walks./home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/83f/8618875/files/2014/12/img_7749.jpg
We’ve taken long walks in South Pasadena, caring for a very nice dog, Zazzy. I see how dogs bring joy. Zazzy seems to love unconditionally and she just wants to play. I’m not a dog person, so this is a new experience for me.

Getting out of NYC and to LA has given us time to be together. Think. Chill.

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We’ve stopped for cinnamon rolls.

Met up with old friends like Carol in Malibu.

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We went to Paradise Cove in Malibu for lunch and beach time. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/83f/8618875/files/2014/12/img_7683.jpg

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The girls. The boys./home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/83f/8618875/files/2014/12/img_7685.jpg
And then more time to hang out.

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Going for walks. Reading books. /home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/83f/8618875/files/2014/12/img_7675.jpg

Caldwell House

Cornwall House
Caldwell House
Is there anything prettier? A field of corn near the Cornwall House.
Is there anything prettier? A field of corn .

I stayed at Caldwell House in Salisbury Mills, NY. It was a perfect get-away. I love the city, but only because, occasionally, I get away to the country too.

See, it was the night before I was about to host a writing weekend at Kirkwood House in Cornwall-on-Hudson (and there will be another —  in June — check it out at boot camp for writers upcoming stuff), and I was nervous.

But spending one night in this charming B&B made me feel like everything was going to be all right. (Yes, cue the Bob Marley music — “Don’t worry ’bout a thing.”)

Every cozy bedroom room was stocked with a comfy robe and an iPad! What!

On the Thursday night, at the suggestion of the innkeepers’ daughter, I walked through the backyard of Caldwell House, rounded a corner and there I was at an Irish pub, Loughran’s. I sang Irish songs along with the locals. And the songs made me laugh and brought a tear to me eye. And so I needed the beer to chase it all down — to make me forget me troubles. Or, me ole anxiety about how me weekend would go.

One patron at the bar noticed me eyeing her IPA (I’d never tried one) — and so this older gal pushed her frothy mug over to me and told me, “Try it!” Thank you!

What! People are like that when you leave NYC. Strangers tell you to try their drinks and they don’t want anything from you but a bit of conversation and a laugh. (Kids, don’t do that. Only adults can drink from strangers’ mugs.)

The hosts of Caldwell House, John and Dena Finneran, are super nice and smart. John totally encouraged me to have confidence about my venture of writing weekends. He’s a corporate marketing dude from California who, with his lovely partner, moved back east to run this family biz. He gave me some needed advice on how to use social media — like use it regularly and use Google+.

The breakfast was lovely and abundant and my room was pretty and comfy. I felt refreshed to offer my own hospitality at Kirkwood House in Cornwall-on-Hudson, the next town over.

Part of the reason I want to host another writing weekend at Kirkwood House is so that I can stay again at Caldwell House on the Thursday night and sing along with the locals and snuggle into a big comfy bed and go for a walk in the country.

A walk in the countryside in Salisbury Mills.
A walk in the countryside in Salisbury Mills.

You know, when I see tourists dragging a suitcase from a Manhattan hotel to an airport bus, I say – to whomever I’m with – or inside my head, if I’m not with anyone, “Those poor people have to leave New York City. And I get to stay.” Maybe I shouldn’t be smug about NYC. Because one reason I love NYC so well is because I get to leave it. Regularly. And there are so many beautiful places and people to visit nearby. And Caldwell House is one such place.

Sure, there's no place prettier than Central Park in NYC, but you have to leave to remember this.
Sure, there’s no place prettier than Central Park in NYC, but you have to leave to remember this.

Talk Yourself Up

How do you “Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It”? (from the title of a recent book that I’ve got to start reading.)

Taking my middle school students on a walk to Central Park allows them to feel free and confident.
Taking my middle school students on a walk to Central Park allows them to feel free and confident.

My shyness around self-promotion started in Middle School. I was the first girl student president at Lincoln Junior High — a big and surprising achievement, given that I ran against a suave and popular boy.

After my election, during a parent-teacher conference, one of my teachers told my mother that I was getting a little too big for my britches ever since I won the election.

He should not have said that. She should not have told me. (Though, to her credit, she told me because she was very mad about his remark. “He had a lot of nerve telling you not be proud, Bethie!”)

So I cloaked myself in humility.

Years later, I was beyond thrilled when a funny story of mine appeared in Self magazine. I was on a sidewalk in Orange County, and bumped into a Pulitzer-prize winning friend of me. (Yes, I have amazing friends!) I wanted to share my brilliant little gem of a story but I couldn’t figure out how to broach the subject. Instead, I hugged the magazine to my chest, hoping he would notice the magazine and ask me about it. He didn’t.

On the sidewalk, we talked about kids, California, and my friend’s beautiful new play.

I have always felt more comfortable praising other people’s achievements than my own.

These subway performers got a ton of money, because they were good and they weren't afraid to show off their mad tumbling skills.
These subway performers got a ton of money, because they were good and they weren’t afraid to show off their mad tumbling skills.

Now that I’m starting my own business and continuing to get published, I have to rethink my humility habit. I have to let people know that I am awesome.

I can write, edit, and teach. (Hey, last month, I starred in one short comedy film and wrote and directed another for the Iron Mule Film Festival.)

I can no longer wait for people to notice the little gem that I’m hugging close to my chest.

Here are some things that help me hop on the self-promotion train:

  • Social media. People can’t see the way I cringe when I have to promote myself. I like the anonymity of the web.
  • B2B Networks. Friends who have small bizes, like me, can know, support and cheerlead one another.
  • Belief statement. Tony Bacigalupo, founder of new work city, was talking about this the other day. He’s into building community. It makes sense: you don’t have to be nervous about selling your goods or services if you really believe in them. Start with your belief. I believe making people into better writers makes them into better people.
  • Passion for the work. I love writing and leading workshops.
  • A Fact. Quoting one interesting fact or one happy customer somehow sets everyone at ease. It only takes one.

How do you talk yourself up? How do you toot your own horn without blowing it?