Books Excerpt

What you are about to read is the story of my life–thus far, anyway. But there are at least a few lifetimes in it already, so I don't think you'll wonder why I didn't wait a few more years first. Plus, sometimes I think that life is way too long anyway. Or at least it felt that way for me at times. I guess that's because nothing really ever was easy for me. But it doesn't matter if you see life as too short or too long or just right. What I think you will agree with is that life is like a grindstone: either you get polished up or you get ground down to smithereens.

My story is not so neat and straightforward and organized. Of course while it was happening to me, I didn't realize how messed up it really was. But the older I got, the more I found myself thinking about the past. I wanted to review everything so I could do some much-needed healing and hopefully find myself. And then I realized that I didn't have to find myself at all. Instead, I had to create myself. But I did have to heal. I kept making the same mistakes over and over, expecting a different or better outcome. Isn't that one of the definitions of insanity?

I first attempted to write this book over five years ago. I scribbled a few chapters and then I ran. It was too much. But I realized I couldn't run away from myself, so I forced myself to feel the pain and deal with it, otherwise I couldn't have gone on in my life. I thought it would be good therapy for me to face my past. Instead, it threw me into a state of deep, dark depression that would take a professional therapist years to help me unravel. And then, it was still difficult for me to write. It's amazing what a little–strike that– a lot of therapy and determination will get a person in life. And it isn't a question of what I became. It's a question of who I am becoming in spite of it all. The point is, we all have it in us to be the person we want to be. We just have to want it bad enough.

So I went into therapy and I'm still here, still curious about who I will ultimately become. Who knew that at fifty-four I would still wonder about that?

I am not the kind of person who wants to blame the past for what I am. The past defined me. Yes, I made lots of mistakes. Some I knew were outright wrong and for one reason or another I just didn't care. Other times, I didn't really know until after the fact and somehow I did care. Sure, there are lots of people I let down. And there were a lot of people that let me down. For a long time I let myself down.

My toughest years in life were from the time I was born until fifty. Hell, it's still tough! As a result, I wasn't always the nicest person. In fact, the trouble with me was, I could sometimes be a real bitch. And then other times I was a real doormat. But when you only have yourself to rely on, or to care about, you forget about how your actions and words affect other people. A lot of times, I was frustrated. Sometimes I was misunderstood. Other times, I really didn't care what anyone thought of me because I figured I was simply trying to even the score. I'm not happy about that. It's just a fact. Welcome to my story!

Introduction

If I had planned things better, I would have prepared the kind of acceptance speech that all the people who had just finished their meal expected to hear. But I hadn't. Basically, I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of person but with a driven, type a personality, if that makes sense. On top of that, I tend to talk first and think second. Sometimes I think I've got a brain like a Ferrari and a mouth like a Model t ford, if you get the picture. Or, if you're into dogs more than cars, like maneuvered am, my brain is a greyhound and my mouth is a bulldog. I think I'd better stop with the analogies now.

Besides, I hadn't written a speech because that would have meant assuming I had won and might have jinxed things. I'm pretty superstitious so I do believe in luck but, over the years, I've learned the harder I work, the luckier I get.

I really wanted to win this award. I meandered up to the stage before the event started and took a peek at the Oscar-like statues. I was oh-so-tempted to touch but I didn't dare�that might have jinxed things too. I was now sitting at a formally decorated table of ten people, including me, in a formally decorated room of about a thousand more people, all of whom were strangers except for my husband, Marc. There I was, trying to stay positive about my chance of winning, looking around and smiling like I was as confident as anybody could be, but that was just on the outside. inside, I was still the insecure little kid who was the last one chosen for teams at school or the one who never had anyone show up for her birthday parties. But that was all in the past. Things had been getting better for me since I met Marc and started our company, Consumer Connection, in 1998. Still, I was nervous as hell, and when they announced me as the winner of the 2006 YWCA Entrepreneur/Innovator of the Year award, my first reaction was shock.

I wasn't going to show it, of course. I sat there, grinning just as I had before my name was announced, while all the people in the banquet room began looking around to see who this person was, this winner of such a prestigious award. I might still be sitting there if Marc hadn't called my name, snapping me back to reality. I turned to see him applauding as madly as anyone else, with tears streaming down his cheeks, and that's when I got up and started weaving my way between the tables while the guests applauded more loudly now that they could see who the winner was.

My heart was racing. I kept smiling and now my tears started flowing. I hated the idea of tears in front of strangers, so I started to think of other things to distract myself, as this was a pretty easy thing to do–distracting myself, that is–as I maneuvered among the guests. Like, what the hell was I wearing anyway?

Why do I always put something on and then wish I were wearing something different later? Or you know how you think you look really good and someone takes your picture and then you look at the picture later on and think, "What the hell was I thinking?!" Well, I figured that was going to happen given what I was wearing: a sexy–practically see–through–chiffon blouse that needless to say failed the test for "appropriate business attire." I have never been good at rules. I'm still not.

Oh, no, will I have to smile in the picture? I didn't smile in pictures any more because my teeth had somehow gone from perfect white Chiclets to uneven yellow stone chips. Was my hair all right, thin as it was? Lordy, why did I wear these high heels? They're a bitch to walk in. But at least those are something that I know looks great. And why did I eat all that dessert? ! I feel stuffed! Do I want to get fat again?!