It’s a Girl!

Little girls are supposed to love baby dolls, and so I did. Well, except for the scary one, Baby First Step, who lurched like Frankenstein’s monster when she “walked” across the room. And then there was one that “ate” if you shoved a plastic spoon into its mouth, and its gears would make a horrible grinding noise while it worked its jaws, managing to convey both the menace and the surreal silliness of a Japanese horror movie monster.

Maggie McReynoldsMy mother actually threw away one of my dolls after she spent a half an hour, desperate for sleep and not wanting me or my baby sister to wake up, crawling around my bedroom in the dark and trying to find its pacifier while it “cried” with all the delicacy of a smoke alarm.

I wasn’t so much into the baby dolls. They were kinda creepy and annoying.

I liked Barbie and her friends, though. I didn’t, however, treat them at all well. I wasn’t really into their clothes, and I kept losing their shoes, so mostly, when I wasn’t making up elaborate plot lines for them which I never bothered to enact since making up the story was all the fun, I would make them fly around naked (a special feat they could only perform with their legs twisted up in an unnatural position behind their heads. Also, I would conduct experiments on their hair.

I totally deserved it when my dog once threw up an intact Skipper head. At my feet.

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Maggie McReynolds

Remember Me? I Finally Did.

You know how it is. You totally intend to write, or call, or at the very least return that balloon whisk you borrowed. But you have a really good reason you can’t do it right just then. Something sad happened. Something bad happened. You are understandably distracted.

Time passes, and you work through your stuff, but while you do, there’s a little nagging voice in the back of your head saying, “I haven’t written. I haven’t called. I don’t even KNOW where that damn balloon whisk is.” The more time that passes without you getting in touch, the harder it seems, because it feels less justifiable in the softening wake of the crisis.

And that is pretty much where I’ve been for the last few weeks (months?).

I write about this not to explain or excuse, because I don’t think either are warranted—except perhaps in my belief that my clients trust me to tell them the truth, and when I’m withholding, I’m not earning that trust.

But the main reason I’m writing about this is because I think we all do this, we humans. We fall down, then we fall out of touch with others. In truth, we fall out of touch with ourselves. And if I can get a teachable moment out of this, I’ll do it, pinky swear.

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Le Freak, C’est Chic


That’s basically what happened at the Super Bowl, where the experienced Denver Broncos got shaken up by the underdog Seattle Seahawks scoring in the first 12 seconds of the game when Seattle swiped the ball in the opening snap before Broncos QB Manning could pass, throw or even catch the thing.

The Broncos never recovered.

This isn’t a game recap—there are others far more knowledgeable than I all over the interwebs publishing just that. I am a sports fan by relationship proxy; my dad covered the Chicago Blackhawks for many years, and my current love is a former linebacker and loyal football fan.

This is about the way a little thing—okay, even a BIG little thing—can throw you off your whole game. If you let it.

There is only one way to escape failure, and that’s to never even try in the first place. American businessman Thomas J. Watson is credited with saying, “If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.” But if you prefer a name-brand quote, here’s the sexy one from Michael Jordan (or, more likely, from Nike’s advertising agency’s copywriting team):

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I Am Having an Emotional Affair

We aren’t, you know, doing anything. Not now, anyway.

But I can’t stop thinking about it.

And sometimes, late at night when I’m the only one awake in the house, I wander back and forth, from living room to kitchen to front window and back again, torturing myself with how easy it would be to just give in.

heart-shaped-chocolate-raspberry-cakes-recipe_09I am having an emotional affair with food.

I have a tawdry past with food, and like many tawdry pasts, it started in childhood. My dad was obese and close to a compulsive eater. But he was a decent dad, and in his mind, that meant not “selfishly” eating in front of his little girl unless she was eating, too. “Aren’t you a little hungry?” he would ask me, hopefully. “Maybe just for a little something?”

I loved my dad, and I wasn’t hungry. But I knew he wanted me to say yes, so I would. And then I would sit with him and we would eat crackers and cheese I didn’t want, or ice cream, or pizza. Eventually, over the years, I didn’t know whether I was hungry or not, I just ate with him, and with everybody else, too, because eating had become all balled up with companionship and loyalty. Eating is what you did with the people you cared about. Food, and the sharing of it, was love.

When I first moved in with my boyfriend back in college, I started, at some point, cooking dinners. I didn’t usually ask him what he wanted, I just served it up and he ate it. But one night, when I announced dinner was ready, he said, barely looking up from his book, “I’m not hungry. You go ahead.”

It sounds ridiculous, but I was as shocked as if he’d slapped me or announced he was leaving me for a marsupial. I refused to eat any of it myself, slamming pots and pans around the kitchen and putting it all into Tupperware, all the while feeling aggrieved and sorry for myself. My boyfriend knew he’d done something to upset me, but the poor thing couldn’t for the life of him figure out what. “It smells great, I’ll eat some of it later,” he offered tentatively from the doorway, but I just shot him a wounded look. I didn’t care if he ate it or not. What I cared about was the act of eating it with me.

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saying yes, maggie mcreynolds

Trusting Yourself to Say YES

I’ve been talking to more women than I ever expected about my Ready to Ripen program. I’ve touched a chord, it’s clear, and that thrills me.

But the program isn’t what this is about, except to say that in the course of talking to these women, it’s striking to me that almost all of them are reaching out because they want to say yes.

But most of them are saying no.

This isn’t self-aggrandizing delusion (perhaps I’ll make that next week’s newsletter). I’ve been self-employed and as such offering my writing and coaching services for most of my adult life. I really do know the difference between a disinterested no and yearning regret.

“I would so love to do this,” one woman tells me. “I think this program would be perfect for me,” says another. “OMG this is SO what I need!” writes a third.

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Women in Purple

The Power of Purple—and Spitting

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
~ Jenny Joseph

The above bit of loveliness is oft-quoted, especially the first two lines, and held up as an example of the blessings of aging: we can do whatever the heck we want.

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sign spinning, maggie mcreynolds

Hey, Baby, What’s Your Sign?

When I was a kid, the sidewalk marketing trend was hiring guys to walk around wearing sandwich boards.

sign spinning, maggie mcreynoldsThese days, it’s “sign spinning.” You’ve seen ’em. Someone—usually young—dancing and jumping and bopping, all while twirling, flipping, tossing a sign for a tax prep service, a mattress store, a car dealership. Some of them actually manage to look like they’re having a good time. Maybe some of them even are.

Today, as I sat at an intersection and watched a girl with a cobalt blue skunk stripe in her hair throw a sign for a cell phone company ten feet in the air and catch it, all while jiving to music on her iPod, I wondered what my sign—the invisible sign we all hold and toss around for other to see—might say. Because like it or not, I am, in a way, a walking advertisement of sorts for me. Not just in a business sense, but in the way I project myself to others just as a human being on the planet.

Would my sign say that I’m confident and centered? That I’m available to talk and a good listener?  That I think I’m pretty cool? That I am joyful, authentic, transparent, open?

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woman on fire

Why Fantasizing Is Even Hotter than You Think

antasies Fthat seem like they should have a “boom chicka wow wow” soundtrack can be fun, and the ones that are inspired by books about cute, rich, tortured bachelor doms can raise the pulse or bring a blush to our cheeks.

But what about the fantasies we’re really embarrassed about? You know the ones I mean. The ones we don’t even allow ourselves to think about anymore.

What did you want to be when you grew up? Yeah, it might have sounded untenable and ridiculous, like my son’s onetime fantasy of being a “teacher policeman paleontologist firefighter,” but somewhere in there were the kernels of the man I see him becoming: a mentor, a defender of what he feels is right, a fierce curiosity about social and cultural forensics, and a talent and willingness to sniff out and—mostly—help extinguish emotional flame-outs.

I wanted to be a waitress.

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