I am Fifty


It’s here. I’m beginning my fiftieth year.


It’s been a long road to get where I am through swamps, over mountains, across oceans, and under my covers. I spent the last year trying out fifty new resolutions to bring with me into the second half of my first century. I didn’t find fifty things to actually resolve, but along the way, I made some serious moves toward being the person I’ve always wanted to be.

Here’s a few discoveries I’ve made last year:

  • I’m resilient. A few things came at me like a tsunami in the past two years, and I survived them all. I might have been knocked down, but I was never knocked out. Experience makes a person stronger. I can survive some pretty good hits and that gives a confidence I didn’t have when I was younger.
  • My friends are my lifeline. A person doesn’t need a lot of friends, but the ones I have are priceless. They support me when I need it, and lately I’ve needed them more than ever. My hope is to make it up to them in the next half century.
  • Raising children is not a job for perfectionists. My kids, no matter how much I try to convince them, will not take the easy road to success that I’ve laid out for them. They push out in directions I would never go, and they face challenges that they wouldn’t be facing if they only listened to all of my advice since birth. Yet, they’re forging amazing paths that perhaps I would have been too fearful to pursue. So, as I stand back and allow them to fail when the road gets too bumpy, and watch them brush themselves off and head out into even more difficult challenges. I’m glad they didn’t listen to everything I said, because their lives are turning out perfect for them.
  • I’m privileged. I grew up in a middle class family with the most amazing parents. They supported me in all my efforts. Financially and emotionally. As a brand new lawyer, I married a medical student who worked hard and made something of himself. Our careers allowed me financial freedom many people don’t have. Today, his everyday efforts have allowed me to pursue careers in public service and writing while raising our children. Some of the hurdles I’ve had to jump over on my way to success were lower for me than for others following a similar path. I understand that and appreciate it, and my law practice hopefully will make the road a bit easier for others as well.
  • I’m a hard worker. I definitely have advantages in my life others don’t have, but I never squander opportunities. I take each task I do and commit to doing it the best I can. As I tell my kids often ( too often if you ask them), in most cases of success, it’s not about talent, luck, or genetics, it’s about showing up and putting in your best effort every step of the way. Hard workers who can overcome challenges and setbacks stand a better chance at success than someone who arrives at the top without any effort, because to stay at the top, effort will be necessary.
  • I can’t eat flour and sugar. Not even a little. I have no willpower when it comes to sweets. One bite of a cookie can become a plate full of cookies in less than fifteen minutes. I gave up eating the evil substances back in December and am surviving. In fact, I feel better than ever. My Youngest can even eat ice cream next to me on the couch and remain safe from me attacking her for the last bite.
  • Someone told me to write a bucket list for my next 50 years. It’s not necessary. I’ve achieved pretty much everything I’d wanted to achieve during the first fifty years of my life. I traveled all over the place, I met so many wonderful people, I was able to work in many fields, and I found my best friends and my home. For the next fifty years, I want to make it all matter.

Fifty Resolutions Before I’m Fifty: Pacing


Screen Shot 2017-10-16 at 11.14.32 AMMy newest resolution? Working at a solid, steady pace, not rushing myself into an unworkable frenzy.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been finishing a book. It’s done. In the process, I fell away from some important rituals that kept me sane. Meditation, diet, normal bedtime, exercise. I was all over the place in terms of pacing. Huge amounts of words in a crazy all-nighter, then nothing the next day as I survived on coffee to function. It did not benefit my writing.

I’m starting a new project today, but I made a promise to myself to pace myself. I have a set schedule and, God willing, should move a quick, but not insane pace. I’ll keep everyone updated on it. In the meantime, I have a ten minute appointment with Headspace.

Resolution: Keeping Sane When Everything Falls Apart.

New Orleans in 2005 and 2015

New Orleans in 2005 and 2015

So everything fell to sh*t last week. I made a stupid assumption that if I worked hard, I could control the outcomes in my legal practice, my writing career, my family life. NOT TRUE.

I’m not God. I’m pretty much on this rollercoaster called life and am unable to stop the worst of life from destroying people I truly care about, the work I give my heart to complete, the relationships I think I have a grasp on. As I struggled with one disaster, another bit me in the ass. At one point, on a plane to New Orleans where I was supposed to enjoy a carefree weekend, I scrambled to make something work out, to fix one of the tragedies that was beating me down. I couldn’t bring anyone back from the dead, but I could resurrect my story, and I could tighten the bonds with the one person who matters more to me than anything. The plane hit the tarmac as I tried to pull a brilliant idea from my exhausted and emotionally void brain. I fell asleep in a hotel and woke with no motivation, not ambition.

Instead, I roamed the streets of the city alone for two days. Drinking coffee, watching the city that had been completed devastated resonating with life. Tourists walked through the French Quarter headed for beignets and coffee as though nothing had ever interrupted life here. Yet this city had gone through a hardship of biblical proportions. Hard work and faith brought the city back from complete destruction (only 15% of the city was inhabitable at the end of the Katrina). Time had also healed many of its wounds.

Did I have time? Had I already used up too much of it chasing the wrong dreams? Had my priorities become so twisted that what really mattered in life had fallen from my radar screen? Suffice to say, I was unsure whether to head back to bed and hide under the covers or dive into a mountain of work to fix whatever was wrong in my life.

What pulled me out of my funk? Hours on the phone with my girlfriends from every corner of the country and a few hours at a coffee shop with one of the dearest of writer friends.

Now that I’ve had time to think about all that life has thrown at me, I’m ready to accept my limited role in things that happen and move on. I can’t change the past, but I can learn from it.

I’m headed back to work this work with thicker skin, a refusal to back down from challenges, and the love of an army of friends who have my back and my heart.

I care about the braided life I’ve created with law, writing, and family, and I do make a difference in the world. I just can’t guarantee all HEAs in life, although maybe I can in my stories.

50 Resolutions Before I’m 50: Number 15 Live My Passion, No Matter What


Today is my daughter’s last day of high school. It’s hitting me harder than it is her. I taught her to read and homeschooled her until seventh grade when I thrust her into a school setting and told her to swim. Although at first, she nearly drowned, she came back and is Olympic level now. This is a kid who is mastering not one, but two foreign languages, excelling in cybersecurity classes, and kicking ass in Calculus. And I couldn’t be prouder.

Yet, I see society pushing her in a hundred directions. Major in Y and you’ll earn a boatload after college. Do job X and you’ll make even more money. Can you fit in another foreign language? Z is super popular now with employers. Just become fluent before you graduate.

Yes, even I’ve been pushing her in that way parents everywhere have of making their kids miserable adults, but limiting their options into the safe and economically feasible.  So I’m taking a step back and telling her what I’m trying to do in my own life. Live your passion.

Put everything into that one dream that fills you with joy, even on the worst days and there will be horrible days in pursuit of your dream. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it won’t matter. As a writer, I hear people questioning why I suffer so much, taking up my nights and weekends and holidays to put more words on paper that I may not even like and then suffering when my editor or agent may not like them either. My answer to them is that my worst day writing is better than all those other days living in limbo, doing what I’m expected, but not anything that strikes at my heart.

Perhaps the test should be to put out your hand and offer up your pinkie as a sacrifice. If you want to keep your pinkie attached to your finger, rather than pursue an activity, then it isn’t your passion. Because for every good day writing, there a bunch of bad days and even some downright sucky days, but I’d still prefer writing to just about anything else.

So my oldest daughter, I hope you find a life full of adventure and love, and in the mix of it all, find your passion and never let it go.

50 Resolutions Before I’m 50: Number 14 Slow Down


There’s something sweet outside right now. A floral, citrusy perfect scent that has no manmade substitute. My quest to inhale the perfume of spring pushes me outside on every non-rainy day. Why? Maybe because I can only find it when I leave my house, my work, my daily chores and breath it in.

For the past year, I’ve been in a hurry. I wanted to fix the problems with my career, my family, my fitness.


Yet change doesn’t happen overnight and where exactly am I trying to get to anyway?

I love my family, I love my ever increasing careers, I love my friends, I love my house, and I love life itself. So why am I so stressed out?

My next resolution is to slow down. To enjoy every blessing I have in my life and I have a lot of blessings. Some I’ve worked relentlessly for and others came to me as a gift.

What’s the point of my kids going to a million activities to better them if they’re miserable?

Why do I need to publish a bazillion books in a year, or bill a hundred hours per week if I have no time to enjoy the view my husband and I worked so hard to find?

How do I keep friends or connect with family if I never see them?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still climbing the mountain, but now I want to enjoy the hike, smell the sweet flowers, and remember why I started the journey in the first place.

50 Resolutions Before I’m 50: Number 13 Being Happy with Me

Black and white- forward

I had new author photos taken this past weekend. I found the most amazing photographer, Lori Mann, who looks at photos as art and helped me show the exact feeling I wanted to portray. After having more makeup on me than I generally put on in week and my hair curled into something closer to Veronica Lake than my normal flyaway frizz, the photos showed me that nearing 50 is sexy, and fun, and a place where I can be me without apology. Yes, it would be awesome if I could keep Aleks Ambrose, the brilliant makeup artist with me on a daily basis and have someone expertly “shade” away some of my lines, but let’s face it, going into that fantasy world is better when you arrive from an everyday life.

Was there airbrushing? Ummm, yes. I’m excited by what I look like now, but let’s be realistic. I don’t exactly have my 17-year-old daughter’s perfect skin. So I’ll allow my aging to appear to the photos, only a bit softer.

My resolution this week? To embrace my external appearance as much as I embrace my internal essence. They are both me, and they both affect my mood and well-being, for better and worse. And with the help of my friends- I’m even better!

50 Resolutions Before I’m Fifty: 12 – More Meditation

Photo on 3-29-17 at 10.14 AM

Does meditation work? For me, yes.

My mind runs in circles. It’s not gathering amazing bits of information for future books. Not generally. Most of the time, the focus of my thoughts involve a lack of time, too many body aches, deadlines, dinners, family dynamics, a need to be alone, a need for friends, a need for family, a desire to be in nature, to find comfort in my own home, an urge to help others outside my circle, and total exhaustion when I can’t reconcile everything.

When I’m in sync with a current activity, everything flows together and creates milestones in my life. A finished book, a painted room, a planted garden, or a stack of bills being paid. At other times, when there are too many issues to think about and too much emotion and pressure piling around me, I fade into nothing. I can maintain basic tasks at these times, but the quality isn’t top notch and my overall feeling of accomplishment is empty. Those are some of my toughest days. Going through the motions of life without passion.

Meditation has changed that. Each morning I take ten minutes. I’d like to brag to you and say I’m in the zone for an hour, but for now, ten minutes is all I can spare. I sit on the sofa in my office. It’s one of my favorite rooms in the house. I get comfortable, which for me involves clasping my hands together and tucking feet under my legs. Exposed hands and feet freak me out and I can’t relax. It’s my quirk and I refuse to fight it.

I listen to the guru from Headspace guide me through a breathing exercise and an ability to separate from the crush of ideas and thoughts in my head. When I emerge ten minutes later, I still feel a bit crushed (it’s not a miracle cure), but the intensity of life dies down so I can find my focus for the afternoon, whether it’s spending time with my children who need someone to listen to them, staying clear on my clients’ need and wishes, or writing a story where I can be present with my characters’ thoughts and actions.

The new resolution? To embrace meditation even more than I had. During emotionally draining situations, if I have a chance, I’d like to take an extra ten minutes and clear my head so I can handle what ever life throws at me with clarity and calm.