My Daughter-In-Law Said “You’ll Go To Heaven For This”

When someone is struggling to accomplish something that’s important to him or her, but doesn’t have all the resources to get there, I’ve sometimes stepped in to help. Here are two examples:

EXAMPLE #1: Rouddy owns a taxi in Turks & Caicos, an island in the Caribbean where I’ve vacationed a number of times. David and I became friendly with him on one trip many years ago, when he transported us from place to place.  On the way to the airport at the end of the vacation, Rouddy’s  van was intensely hot because the air conditioner was on the fritz. He explained that he was negotiating  to get a new van but didn’t have the entire down payment. When I asked him how much he needed, he said $1,500.  I wrote him a check, explaining it was a gift, not a loan!

On our next few visits to T&C, Rouddy chauffeured us, gratis, in his cool new van (literally and figuratively).  We also met his wife and little son.  I haven’t been to the island in years, but Rouddy makes sure to stay in touch, wishing us happy holidays, and asking how David and I are doing.

EXAMPLE #2: When Laura was released from prison after 16 years, around 2004,  I interviewed her for a magazine article about her transition into society,  and took an immediate liking to her.  We developed a friendship, and I subsequently bought Laura a new wardrobe, helped her get a rent-subsidized apartment, and guided her as she searched for a job.  After you’ve spent almost two decades in prison, it’s a struggle to be accepted by, and live in, the “outside world.”

Laura and I also have been in touch over the years. I was invited to the ceremony when she married her long-time boyfriend about two years ago, and I’ve recently helped her launch her own cleaning service.  She continues to work hard to make something of herself, although it hasn’t been a cake walk.

I am not rich, but I’ve worked hard all my adult life and earned a decent living, and I’ve  never laid awake at night wishing I had a mansion,  a swimming pool, gigantic diamonds or handbags named after Grace Kelly.  Although I do wish I could have bought Rouddy  the van outright, I’m lucky I’ve been able to help people like him and Laura, even modestly.

But doing kind things for others doesn’t always require cold hard cash. (more…)

Geri’s Moving Story: The House Is Taking Shape!

Even when Douglas and I moved into our first apartment in 1968–a studio in an ancient tenement building on the upper East Side of Manhattan with lots of roaches that apparently hid when we looked at the place–I wanted to make my home beautiful.

We bought a long, lovely birchwood dresser with eight drawers, since the apartment was sorely missing storage space; a small cherrywood table that opened up to become a much bigger table, because I loved to have dinner parties, and two pretty white ginger jar lamps that sat on the dresser. I always adored buying bedding, towels, kitchen equipment, and tabletop products, too!

Many apartments later, I have officially moved into my first full-fledged home–at 69, no less!

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Leaving Manhattan After 48 Years!

When I took my friend Debbi to see the house I’m buying in Brooklyn, NY, she said: “I don’t know why you’re making such a big move at 69!”

I’ll tell you what I told Debbi in a moment, but first let me give you the details: I’ve owned a wonderful, 1,300-square-foot apartment (plus outdoor area) on the Upper East Side of Manhattan since 1992. I’ve loved living here, and if the walls had ears and mouths, they would tell you some pretty wild and wooly things.

On the less racy side, I remember the Christmas dinner buffet party I threw for about 100 employees. The weather was especially mild that year, which allowed guests to gather in the outdoor space, where the bar was set up. I hosted my own 50th birthday party at the apartment, surrounded by the people in my life who were the “most fun.” I vividly recall returning home late one evening from an exhausting European business trip and locking myself out within minutes. I remember welcoming a never-ending stream of my son’s friends, who would often gather here since it was close to their school. I loved making them meals. To this day, they call me “Godmother Brin.”

I always thought this would be where I’d live for the rest of my life, but I started to change my mind a couple of years ago, for two major reasons:

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The Price Of Keeping A Secret

TheAdvocatesDaughter-cvrIf you’d like to immerse yourself in a suspense novel that gets your attention on page one, and keeps you guessing till the very end, grab a copy of The Advocate’s Daughter, by Anthony Franze (St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 2016.)

A real-life appellate and Supreme Court lawyer at a leading Washington, DC firm, Anthony brings us into the fictitious life of Sean Serrat, one of the most respected legal minds in the country, who is on the short list to be nominated to the highest court in the land.  When Sean’s law-student daughter, Abby, is ruthlessly murdered in the Supreme Court library, her African American boyfriend is arrested, but soon Sean suspects he’s not the culprit, and sets out on his own to unveil the truth.spacer

“Sean ran up the stairs, but he felt hands on his arms. Two officers, one holding each bicep, were saying something, but he couldn’t process the words. Pacini also was yelling something he couldn’t make out. Their grip tightened as he started up the stairs. But he managed to break away.

“‘No, Sean, no!’ Pacini yelled as Sean pushed through to the dark crevice
between two massive bookshelves.

“Abby’s body was twisted, shoved into the bottom shelf. Blood was smeared on her face, her hair matted. She was pale white.

“And that’s the last thing Sean would remember from that day. That terrible day.”

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“Yay! Aren’t I An Accomplished, Smart, Successful and Lovely Person?”

When nice things happened to us, back in the day, we couldn’t wait to share the news with someone we loved. Found a new apartment? We rushed to the phone to call our best friend. Landed a dream job? Dad will be thrilled, we thought. Met a new guy? Mom will be tickled pink.

Now many of us “share” our good fortune with our world of “friends” on the internet. But we’re
doing more than sharing.

Shameless self-promotion is running rampant. One old-time PR person literally congratulates herself on Facebook every time she gets publicity for one of her accounts. For goodness sakes, that’s what these accounts are paying her to do!!!!! She sounds as if Steven Spielberg is going to make a major motion picture about the hair dryer account she represents, and we’d all better know about it.

Someone else devoted an entire blog to the news that a self-help book she wrote won a bronze award of some kind, and although she was going to keep it to herself, a friend told her she should, “by all means,” share the good word.

Have we taken to this audacious self-promotion to A) convince ourselves we’re stars in a world where everyone wants to be a star, B) simply brag, or C) enhance the lives of the 50 or 500 people we’re telling? The book award winner said that although she’s traditionally been reserved about telling anyone other than a couple of people about her accomplishments, she actually “admires people who state and share their success.”

I couldn’t disagree more. The classiest, really successful people do not state and share their success by blogging, tweeting, or instagramming about it. They let others share the news about them. An acquaintance, who happens to be one of the most brilliant, wealthiest men on the planet, never brags about his endless successes. Instead, The New York Times did devote two entire pages last week to an article about him.

A woman I know well was so publicly low-key about her successes, you’d never have guessed she was one of the most successful women on Wall Street. I still believe “actions speak louder than words.”

What we do and how we do it say
far more about us than flagrant self-aggrandizement. Just think
about Superman.

Do you tout your accomplishments?

How I Changed My Life At 51

This blog post is sponsored by MSD Consumer Care, Inc., the makers of Oxytrol® For Women.

I had risen through the ranks during my 23-year-career at a publishing company, to become an Executive Editor and Publisher. I had a six-figure salary, a great family health plan and I had been pretty much free to cultivate my own ideas for the publications I ran. I was pretty certain I’d still be an employee there when I died. Why not?

When I turned 51, in 1998, I suddenly thought I had to get out. I had given the company immeasurable passion, talent and time over two decades and continuously helped boost its “bottom line.” Why couldn’t I do the same things, but for my own business? Not only could I benefit financially; I could explore new avenues for my creativity, such as custom magazine publishing.

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