Routine for Success

Routine for Success

Routine for Success

As Father’s Day approaches, I think of my father and how much he inspired me. An artist captured this picture of him many years ago, living the Hollywood dream. What people didn’t know was his key to success wasn’t just talent or luck, it was adhering to a strict routine. Here’s a link to my blog this month if you feel like some motivation:

As long as I could remember, an old illustration of my father from the ‘70’s hung on his office wall. The artist depicted him with martini in hand, floating in a cloud over his desk chair, broad smile on his face, fingers typing with ease. The quintessential picture of the successful screenwriter “living the Hollywood dream.”

The irony was a martini was the last thing my father would ever use to write a script, and every time I poked my head into his office, fierce concentration, not a smile, lit his face. Success came, not from on high, but from sitting his butt in that solid black chair. Over the years, many people asked my father the key to his success.

“Luck,” was what he always said.

But I knew different, even when I was a child. Yes, luck played into his career, but it was also determination, perseverance, and a solid routine. In this excerpt from my upcoming memoir, I remember what it felt like watching him work when I was a child:

“I tiptoed barefoot down the hall to my father’s office and peeked through the door. I knew the rule: Don’t bother Dad when he’s working!  His fingers flew across the typewriter keys.  Then, he jumped up and began to pace back and forth, speaking each character’s lines out loud. I held my breath, unsure if he knew I was there, if he could see the edge of my pink flannel robe on the carpet.” 

During Dad’s workhours, I left him alone. Mom made it clear. Our livelihood depended on his routine. Every day, come rain or shine, he knocked out pages for anywhere from one to three scripts at a time. Over the course of his life, he would write an astounding 14 feature films, 39 films and mini-series for television, and three plays. He woke early, was at his computer by 9:00 a.m. At 11:30 a.m. sharp, he went on a jog. Lunch at 12:15 p.m., followed by a shower, then a nap. Back on the typewriter by 1:30 p.m., no exceptions, except a business or doctor’s appointment. At 5:00 p.m., he was done and, unless we caught him at lunch, that’s when he was available to us. Routine powered his fingers, sharpened his talent, and paved his way to the Hollywood dream.   

Many years later, I would move through his doorway, walk down the steps into his office and sit on his director’s black, leather chair, looking at the wall that showcased his framed TV Guide covers. Together, we would write his memoir, over the course of ten years. I never doubted we would finish. Even if all we had were Saturdays, we kept to his routine. He had taught me that our success as writers depended on showing up, again and again.

When Dad passed away, “living the Hollywood dream” found a place on my office wall. For the most part, I’m exactly like my father and stick to my writing routine. But on those days I need some inspiration, I look up at Dad’s picture. Yes, he was talented, had golden opportunities that would open some doors, but he knew the key to his fortune wasn’t floating in the clouds. For 50 years, it was keeping his feet on the ground.

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Routine for Success

Routine for Success

As Father’s Day approaches, I think of my father and how much he inspired me. An artist captured this picture of him many years ago, living the Hollywood dream. What people didn’t know was his key to success wasn’t just talent or luck, it was adhering to a strict routine. Here’s a link to my blog this month if you feel like some motivation:

read more
When ADHD and Sports Don’t Mix

When ADHD and Sports Don’t Mix

This month’s blog is for those of you parents who are having trouble finding the right sport for your child with ADHD. Does your child get easily distracted right in the middle of a game? Does she have problems following the coach’s rules? Do you find yourself pleading with her to give the sport just one more chance? Follow me as I set out to find answers, only to miss the one staring me right in the face.

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Less Than Perfect

Less Than Perfect

This month’s blog is for all the moms who’ve ever felt like the world’s worst mother at one time or another. And, it’s especially for those of you struggling to parent a young child with ADHD or any other difficult challenges. Balancing your needs with those of your...

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When ADHD and Sports Don’t Mix

When ADHD and Sports Don’t Mix

When ADHD and Sports Don’t Mix

This month’s blog is for those of you parents who are having trouble finding the right sport for your child with ADHD. Does your child get easily distracted right in the middle of a game? Does she have problems following the coach’s rules? Do you find yourself pleading with her to give the sport just one more chance? Follow me as I set out to find answers, only to miss the one staring me right in the face.

I stood on the edge of an indoor YMCA pool, every muscle tense, waiting for the whistle. It came shrill and loud, and I crossed my fingers. My daughter, Lee, was hanging on to the edge with one hand at the end of the pool. She glanced up at the clouds rolling overhead.

“Go, Lee, go!” the coach barked through his bullhorn. And my child went, seconds late, causing her team to come in last.

Trying not to let my disappointment show, I reached out an arm and helped her out of the pool. She peeled off her goggles and pointed up.

“Rainclouds!”

By now, Lee was in third grade and had taken occupational therapy, with sensory exercises, along with medication for ADHD. She had better focus and could sit still longer in a classroom. But it didn’t mean she wouldn’t get distracted. After a few months of swim team, she wanted out.

“I just want to swim by myself, without that stupid whistle.”

Frustrated, I dug into articles on the Internet about children with ADHD participating in a sport. Most experts said individual sports were the best way to lower hyperactivity, help with self-discipline, and make friends. So, I turned to karate, which was also reputed to build self-confidence. Thanks to keeping her body in motion with the kicks, yells, and race to get belts, Lee hung in there for nine months. But the last month, I found myself chasing her before practice around the parking lot and into the bushes that held lizards outside the karate studio.

“Lee, we’re going to be late!” 

“This is more fun!” 

First swim, then karate was fitting a pattern of initial enthusiasm, followed by boredom and distraction. Not only was I wasting money, but her complaints were wearing me down. Her impulsivity, difficulty with following directions, and paying attention was making it impossible for her to take part in a sport.

Much to my surprise when Lee was in sixth grade, she showed an interest in the surf team. The coach gave directions, and the kids took their boards into the ocean. They all sat in a group waiting for a wave, except Lee who drifted away, headed down the coast. I took off running, doing my best to keep up and waving my arms. Lee spotted me and paddled in.

“It’s taking too long to find a wave,” she said, ditching her board. She plopped down on the wet sand and dug a gigantic hole, looking for sand crabs.

As I look back now, I realize the signs were already there. Whether she was watching the clouds roll by, or chasing lizards into bushes, or digging for sand crabs, Lee was already choosing her own form of activity. She was happy playing at her own pace without any rules or directions. It wasn’t until she went to nature camp, a summer month spent exploring the Santa Monica Mountains, that Lee found her favorite activity.

If you, too, have a child with ADHD who is having trouble fitting into sports or activities, take note of what she loves to do. What distracts her, causes her to hyperfocus with intensity, and brings a smile to her face? Lee is now a young adult with a job outdoors, surrounded by plants, butterflies, and plenty of lizards. Some things never change.

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Routine for Success

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As Father’s Day approaches, I think of my father and how much he inspired me. An artist captured this picture of him many years ago, living the Hollywood dream. What people didn’t know was his key to success wasn’t just talent or luck, it was adhering to a strict routine. Here’s a link to my blog this month if you feel like some motivation:

read more
When ADHD and Sports Don’t Mix

When ADHD and Sports Don’t Mix

This month’s blog is for those of you parents who are having trouble finding the right sport for your child with ADHD. Does your child get easily distracted right in the middle of a game? Does she have problems following the coach’s rules? Do you find yourself pleading with her to give the sport just one more chance? Follow me as I set out to find answers, only to miss the one staring me right in the face.

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Less Than Perfect

Less Than Perfect

This month’s blog is for all the moms who’ve ever felt like the world’s worst mother at one time or another. And, it’s especially for those of you struggling to parent a young child with ADHD or any other difficult challenges. Balancing your needs with those of your...

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Less Than Perfect

Less Than Perfect

Less Than Perfect

This month’s blog is for all the moms who’ve ever felt like the world’s worst mother at one time or another. And, it’s especially for those of you struggling to parent a young child with ADHD or any other difficult challenges. Balancing your needs with those of your child takes extraordinary strength and confidence. In this blog, I give into my guilt, only to realize how little it matters.

I was running late, really late this time. The traffic light ahead was yellow, and I decided to run it even though I could see the scary blue video light attached. I pushed the pedal to the floorboard and gritted my teeth, barely making it through the intersection before the light turned red. Exhaling, I tried to reassure myself. My daughter, Lee, was happier in preschool, she had friends to play with. It was an extended playdate, I told myself, better than a harried mother. I’d never done it before, but the school offered extra care at four dollars an hour and I’d traded our afternoon together for a pedicure. I felt like the world’s worst mother.

I tailgated the elderly man in front of me. “Go, go, go!” I urged, knowing he wouldn’t. This was ridiculous, I told myself. Lee was supervised, I didn’t have to worry. But an image of Lee from last week filled my mind. There she stood on her little stool in the bathroom, orange cough syrup in one hand, a spoon in the other, triumph written all over her face. “Mommy, I drank my medicine all by myself!” 

Her rosy mouth was ringed in orange and crumpled when I grabbed the medicine away, the liquid shooting out of the bottle high in the air and staining the carpet. My pulse hammered as I stared at the contents in the bottle. I must have left it on the bathroom counter the night before, after I’d given her a dose. How could I have been so forgetful? How much had she drunk?  She stomped her little foot, “Give it back to me. I like medicine!”

There was no time. I hoisted her up in the air and pressed her into my chest, gave her Ipecac to vomit, and raced to the nearest hospital. And boy did she vomit, all the way to the hospital and right into the emergency room. Instead of pumping her stomach, they decided to monitor her vital signs over the next few hours.

When a doctor examined her, she reported that Lee hadn’t ingested enough to do any damage, probably only a teaspoon or two. Then her voice grew stern. “From now on, you must make sure all medicine is out of a child’s reach.” I nodded, a deep red blush spreading across my face. Picking up Lee, I slunk out of the hospital and took her home to sleep it off.

My car’s clock read five minutes after five, and I cursed my pretty, pink toenails. I gunned the pedal to the floor, whizzing past the elderly man. The playground came into view when I made a right into the preschool’s curvy driveway.

Lee was carefully building an enormous sandcastle, stopping to lick the sand off her fingers. I parked, jumped out of the car and dashed toward her. She looked up, her eyes locking on mine. “Mommy!” she screamed. “My mommy is here!”  She ran to the chain link fence that separated us, and we shared a sandy kiss through the opening.

            “I’m sorry I’m late, honey.”

            “That’s OK, you’re the best mommy in the whole wide world.”

My guilt dissipated into the evening breeze. Maybe I wasn’t such a bad mother after all, at least in her eyes, which were the only eyes that really mattered.

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Routine for Success

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As Father’s Day approaches, I think of my father and how much he inspired me. An artist captured this picture of him many years ago, living the Hollywood dream. What people didn’t know was his key to success wasn’t just talent or luck, it was adhering to a strict routine. Here’s a link to my blog this month if you feel like some motivation:

read more
When ADHD and Sports Don’t Mix

When ADHD and Sports Don’t Mix

This month’s blog is for those of you parents who are having trouble finding the right sport for your child with ADHD. Does your child get easily distracted right in the middle of a game? Does she have problems following the coach’s rules? Do you find yourself pleading with her to give the sport just one more chance? Follow me as I set out to find answers, only to miss the one staring me right in the face.

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Less Than Perfect

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Speak Up!

Speak Up!

Speak Up!

For many children with ADHD, one of the most difficult skills to learn is how to self-advocate. But, it becomes critical when they go to high school and into adult life. In today’s world, where so many kids struggle with anxiety or depression, learning to advocate is a skill not to be underestimated.

As a person with disabilities starting a first job, there are many challenges my twenty-two year-old is confronting.  But I also know Lee has the knowledge and skills to speak up.

“Mom, I can’t handle the walkie-talkie they want me to carry around.”

“Too loud?”

“It’s a shriek that freaks out my sensory.”

“So…”

“I know, I know.  I have to tell my manager.”

When Lee was in grade school, there were no classes to teach children how to self-advocate.  I was her mouthpiece, often dismissed as a troublesome, helicopter mom who just wanted to make up excuses.  But, when Lee’s diagnoses started to mount, I encouraged my child to stand up and use her voice.

“You know, if I do something while you talk, I can hear you better,” she told her second-grade teacher.  And, “Mom says a squeeze toy in my pocket would calm me down.”  Fortunately, the second-grade teacher was open to new ideas and let my child draw during lectures, and bring a squishy ball in her sweatshirt to class.  

Then middle school rolled around, hormones kicked in and social anxiety ratcheted up. Lee’s self-confidence took a bad tumble.  Shy and struggling with learning disabilities, she kept her mouth shut in the classroom.  But at home, she had no problem telling me what she needed. 

“Don’t ask me what I’m going to do after school. We ADHD’ers can’t focus on what to do now, let alone later!”  And, “Mom, I forgot to turn in my homework again.  I need the teacher to remind me, more than one time.  Can you put that accommodation in the IEP?”   

In the classroom, it was a different story.  When she needed to tell her math teacher that staring over her shoulder was triggering her anxiety, or she needed more time to process questions on a test, she lost her voice.

I stayed the spokesperson in middle school, but in high school, I handed over the baton.  Teachers made it clear that I could be there for support, but Lee would have to speak up.  It made sense for her to practice.  In college or working a job, she’d be on her own.

Lee was slow to start, but in eleventh grade, she realized she had power in her voice and gained more self-confidence.  Even then, I wasn’t prepared when I listened to her ask her counselor for another teacher. 

“I have a bad anxiety disorder, and Mr. Peter’s classroom environment and expectations cause my sensory processing to go crazy which makes me nauseous and dizzy.  When I was in his class before, I missed a lot of school.”

The counselor’s eyes grew wide.  A grin split my face.  Not too many kids, I guessed, could self-advocate like that.      

Too many kids go through the school system mute, unable to stand up for themselves.  With anxiety and depression so pervasive in our schools, it seems more important than ever for our children to develop the skills to ask for help.  Then, they will have a shot at finding success in their adult lives. 

Without a walkie-talkie.

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Routine for Success

Routine for Success

As Father’s Day approaches, I think of my father and how much he inspired me. An artist captured this picture of him many years ago, living the Hollywood dream. What people didn’t know was his key to success wasn’t just talent or luck, it was adhering to a strict routine. Here’s a link to my blog this month if you feel like some motivation:

read more
When ADHD and Sports Don’t Mix

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This month’s blog is for those of you parents who are having trouble finding the right sport for your child with ADHD. Does your child get easily distracted right in the middle of a game? Does she have problems following the coach’s rules? Do you find yourself pleading with her to give the sport just one more chance? Follow me as I set out to find answers, only to miss the one staring me right in the face.

read more
Less Than Perfect

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Apartment 3C–The Newlyweds’ Dream 

Apartment 3C–The Newlyweds’ Dream 

Apartment 3C–The Newlyweds’ Dream 

In this month’s blog I go back to 1949, when my parents, a couple of young, struggling actors, made their dreams come true, much like Desi and Lucy, in Being the Ricardos. The beginning of television was a time of golden opportunity, when anything could happen.

 

Recently, I had the pleasure of watching Being the Ricardos, the movie about Lucy and Desi Arnaz’s almost two-decade marriage, set against their show, I Love Lucy. And I marveled that just two years before this show debuted in 1951, my own father and mother had created a similar sitcom.

As Dad put it in his memoir, Any Way I Can; 50 Years in Show Business, “Television was in its infancy.  Mostly seven to twelve-inch black and white images, with no one knowing quite what to do with this new medium.  Maybe I could create a light comedic show for us.  Just the two of us.  Newlyweds, as we soon would be.  I wrote a ten-minute audition sketch and we performed it for advertising agencies, showing how we could include a commercial plug for one of their sponsors.  One producer, Harvey Marlowe, showed some interest.  He said that a new network, WOR-TV, would be going on the air in the fall and he’d try to get them to think about using us.” 

In the meantime, Mom and Dad were married and went on their honeymoon. As soon as they returned, they were contacted.

“Harvey Marlowe, the man who saw our audition in New York, called to say WOR, Channel 9, had signed us to do a domestic comedy in the fall.   They wanted a fifteen-minute show, five nights a week.  ‘Who will write them?’ I asked.

‘You will.’

“Fifteen minutes?  Five nights a week?  All we had was the ten-minute audition sketch.  Impossible.  And I’m not really a writer.  I called Harvey Marlowe immediately.

‘We’re thrilled with the offer.’

“WOR-TV was using the facilities of the shuttered New Amsterdam Theater on 42nd Street, the old home of the Ziegfeld Follies, as a television studio.  Apartment 3C would be the second show for the fledgling studio, airing October 11, 1949, with Harvey Marlowe as producer and director.  With fingers crossed, we went on the air Monday night and, although we felt pretty good about it, the next morning brought only one review, The New York Times.  Negative. 

“Time to bow out?  WOR still wanted us and why not?  It hadn’t cost them anything but three dollars to make our contract legal. 

“With our savings disappearing, however, it became obvious that we couldn’t go on for lack of life support.  Informed of this, WOR magnanimously came through with an amount that allowed for three meals a day at the venerable nickel and dime emporium, Horn & Hardart.

  “The nightly broadcast meant writing the script the night before, memorizing it the next morning, taking the subway to the theater and, with time and space limited, two run-throughs, a dress rehearsal and…  Showtime!  Five times a week with weekends off to rack the brain for new ideas and scripts. 

“We were given a feature article, “Tea TV for Two” in a new magazine called Telecast.  ‘Light, breezy and sometimes naively ribald, Barbara and John really don’t have to reach too far into the recesses of their minds to come up with authentic, straight from the feedbag material…it sure is a nice happy feeling to know that two youngsters can start on nothing and zoom to the top just by being themselves.’ 

“The fact is, however, that our fifteen-minute script, five times a week, became a formidable task.  The domestic problems of a newly married couple with only two in the cast every night were getting repetitious.  What to do about the heavy daily schedule?  The old saying that dying is easy, comedy is tough proved all too true.  What if we changed the format to mystery?  What if we added three or four to the cast and made it a half-hour format?  To our surprise, WOR was agreeable but only with three or four more.  The schedule would be Friday nights fifty-two weeks a year.  Life would take on a slightly more normal existence.”

And life did take on a more normal existence for my parents the next couple of years. Apartment 3C was no I Love Lucy, but it opened the door to Mr. and Mrs. Mystery, with my father still writing the scripts. And this show would lead him into a long career in television and movies. The early days of television were a time of golden opportunity, not just for Lucy and Desi, but for two unknown newlyweds whose dreams suddenly came true.

 

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Routine for Success

Routine for Success

As Father’s Day approaches, I think of my father and how much he inspired me. An artist captured this picture of him many years ago, living the Hollywood dream. What people didn’t know was his key to success wasn’t just talent or luck, it was adhering to a strict routine. Here’s a link to my blog this month if you feel like some motivation:

read more
When ADHD and Sports Don’t Mix

When ADHD and Sports Don’t Mix

This month’s blog is for those of you parents who are having trouble finding the right sport for your child with ADHD. Does your child get easily distracted right in the middle of a game? Does she have problems following the coach’s rules? Do you find yourself pleading with her to give the sport just one more chance? Follow me as I set out to find answers, only to miss the one staring me right in the face.

read more
Less Than Perfect

Less Than Perfect

This month’s blog is for all the moms who’ve ever felt like the world’s worst mother at one time or another. And, it’s especially for those of you struggling to parent a young child with ADHD or any other difficult challenges. Balancing your needs with those of your...

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