Friday, March 11, 2011

Fortytude

Tom Brokaw has always been one of my favorite guys. Maybe it's a strange "favorite guy" for a teenager to have. I always found him enormously comforting to watch, especially in the days which followed 9/11. He always showed that he was indeed human, and a very sensitive human at that. When I was in high school, I sent him a copy of my school's literary magazine. I was published in it and wrote about my connection to "The Greatest Generation", an expression he coined for those of my grandparents' age. A few weeks later, my sister got the mail and came inside saying, "I don't even want to KNOW why you're getting a big envelope from NBC."

Inside that big envelope was a signed copy of The Greatest Generation Speaks. Tom had inscribed, "To Diana, because she understands--Tom Brokaw." It immediately became a prized possession of mine. I knew that Tom had received thousands of letters in response to those books, and this was proof that he took the time to read and respond to every one of them. I always knew he was a great man and now I had proof.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, as they say.

Tom's daughter, Sarah Brokaw, has released her own wonderful book called Fortytude.

My mom told me to turn-on an interview with Sarah on The Today Show last week. I thought she was just telling me that because she knows what a big fan I am of Tom's...but it was because she really liked the things Sarah was saying and knew that I would appreciate them and relate as well.

The tagline is "Making the Next Decades the Best Years of Your Life--through the 40's, 50's, and Beyond."

Okay, since I'm not yet 30, it seems strange I should want to read this book, but as Sarah said, it is a book she wishes was around when she was in her twenties. After reading it, I couldn't agree more.

I finished it yesterday and had a good cry over it. Sarah absolutely, completely, in no doubt "gets it."

The general gist? No, I am 100% what I am doing with my life...I have overwhelming fears and insecurities...but I am going to move through each day and do my best, be happy and enjoy myself.

She talks about panicking and feeling like you are running-out of time to do it all...marriage...children. If you asked me ten years ago, I would have said I'd be married with four kids by now...and I'm not...and I'm glad I'm not, but, at the same time, worried it will never happen. Like she says several times in the book, I definitely don't feel my age and with people often assuming I'm in high school, it makes me feel a bit immature and "too young" for things. I don't feel anywhere near "grown-up" enough to be married or have a child, so I worry if I ever will! (And, really, how am I supposed to look older? Dye my hair gray?)

This past August, I made my off-Broadway debut and I think back to the night we premiered and it was the happiest night of my life. I felt so successful and so many people from all different stages of my life were together at the after party. I want to always feel that happy and successful and loved and am terrified that I'm running-out of time to make it all happen for myself. I was laid-off from my job in November. I was there for three years and it meant so much to me. Since then, I have sunk into a bit of a rough patch. I think back to how happy I was just six months ago and wonder how I managed to make such a 180 since then. I have to remember how happy and successful I felt then and now that it is possible to feel that way again.

Sarah didn't go to her twenty year reunion because she wasn't married with children like all of her old classmates were. I have my own high school reunion story as well...my ten year was this past summer, and I was debating whether or not I was going to go. Thanks to Facebook, I knew that, all of a sudden, so many of my old classmates were married with children and I had a feeling that if I went, I'd come home feeling really down that I wasn't (even though I'm not ready to be and don't really want to be right now) and even asking myself, "Oh, come on. How did THEY manage to get married and I'm not???" I went back-and-forth on the subject, and then I got the dates for my show and it was that very same weekend. I admit, it DID feel good to tell myself, "See? you're one of those people who are too important to go to your high school reunion! You don't need a wedding or a baby to validate yourself!" But, like Sarah says, I later realized that nobody else would care otherwise and I shouldn't let that effect me.

Sarah also discusses how she feels a bit of a misfit in her family, as if she was the only one who didn't know what she was doing. I know exactly what she's saying there as I am the "flaky creative one" in the bunch.

Anyway, I really loved the book and will be recommending it to all of my friends...ages twenty-five and up! I feel like all of us are looking around at the others and thinking that everybody else has it completely figured-out and wondering what exactly we did to fall so far behind...but then I realize that almost all of us feel that way and just aren't vocal about it.

I am vocal about it...and so is Sarah...and I am so grateful for that.

Those Brokaws are good stock.

I am not scared about turning 30...I am approaching it with fortytude. I am approaching it with grace.

Diana Rissetto

Grace

When we make peace with life events, even when things don't go the way we want, we exhibit grace. When we manage stressful situations with humor, we exhibit grace. When we are accepting of others, we exhibit grace. Grace is not about physical beauty or having a ballerina's poise. It is composed of generosity, forgiveness, and equanimity in the face of trying times.
-Sarah Brokaw, FORTYTUDE

I really wish I have exhibited more grace over the past few months.

Things didn't go my way, I was faced with a stressful situation and I blamed other people. I let myself become somewhat of a raving lunatic. I probably, at least temporarily, scared away a bunch of people that I care about a lot.

I am going to look at everything as a growing experience and be grateful that it all happened. There's really no other choice! I have said a few times that I'm glad I was made-fun of as a kid on the schoolbus...it made me very sensitive to cruelty of any kind. And I'm determined to become grateful for what happened to me a few months ago and sure that nothing but good (great) things will come of it from now on.

Recently, a friend of mine told me that I deserve some peace. She was right. I did all I could to mend things with others. I said apologies and told myself that I couldn't do anything else, but hope others could understand how much I went through and how hard it was on me. If they couldn't understand it, or try to, then I've done my best. (Actually, nobody else could understand what I went through, except for me.)

I'll put it under my "pay it forward" list and know that if I ever encounter somebody in the position I am in right now, I'll be their friend, even if I wasn't friends with them to begin with...because you really need a friend when you feel like that.

I really hope that the people that love me will forgive and overlook all of this temporary insanity I have displayed over the past few months and know that I am genuinely trying to grow from this and be stronger (and act like a real grown-up for once.) I will return the favor and always be there for them in their craziness in the future.

My cousin told me about how when she's struggling with something, she writes it down and puts it in a box and leaves it up to God to work it out and tells herself she is now free from the issue. She keeps the notes in that box so she can reread them weeks, months, years later...some of the stuff that seemed so life-or-death back then isn't so important anymore and really DID end-up working-out. I like that practice and am going to try it.

Hind's sight is 20/20. I know now to be a bit calmer, act like a grown-up and not to put things in writing (as my mother always, always told me...but as a writer, that is difficult.)

I am ready to start exhibiting grace. A lot of it.

Diana Rissetto

I somehow feel the tides are turning...

How can we know
The fate of the earth
Must everything go
From bad to worse

How can we be
Just along for the ride
We'd rather believe
That we decide

That we can stand here
And say loud and clear
Here comes the turn of the tide

Here comes the turn
Here comes the turn
Here comes the turn of the tide

We cannot go on
Sounding alarms
And rattling swords
And building bombs
And fouling the air
And the streams underground
We've got to begin to turn it around

It's our right to be heard
Our right to decide
Here comes the turn of the tide

Here comes the turn
Here comes the turn
Here comes the turn of the tide

As low as we've gone
Now the ocean is calm
Now here comes the turn of the tide

It's time to be heard
It's time to decide
Here comes the turn of the tide

Here comes the turn
Here comes the turn
Here comes the turn of the tide-Carly Simon

I am meeting an old friend for lunch today...

She texted me to tell me that she had a "message at 10" so she would let me know when she was ready to meet-up.

A few minutes later, she texted me again with, "I meant to write, 'I have a massage at 10."

Honestly, I was picturing her waiting by her door for a telegram and didn't think twice about it...

(We were also wearing old-fashioned hats in this scenario.)

Diana Rissetto