Thursday, May 31, 2012

Not Practicing What I Preach

I hate when I don't listen to me!

There I was. Tuesday afternoon. I set my trusty egg timer. Ready to get to some serious work. The space was set, or so I thought.

It was as though I'd forgotten the basic rules and I was the one who wrote them!

I didn't shut down my email program. Worse I didn't turn the sound off my mobile so I wouldn't hear  the lovely little chime it makes every time someone texts me. That day it was as though I was the most popular person on the Upper West Side. The texts kept coming. And as though channeling my demons, I chose not to shut it off. I could have. But I didn't.  An hour later I wondered why the project I was trying to complete still sat unfinished.

Duh? Did I not just write a whole book about this? Have I not been tweeting and Facebooking its arrival all over cyberspace? Isn't the reason I suggest good old-fashioned analog egg timers instead of digital devices to eliminate those intrusive distractions? To form a safe and quiet space to focus on creating?

Yes, I know better. But I slipped. And like all modern day tech addicts, it can be hard to restrain oneself once those nasty intrusions have infiltrated one's space. They are, after all like crack. It's as if you are rendered helpless to their power. As though they are the ones who have strapped your hands behind the chair in some new variation of Fifty Shades of Grey keeping you out of  reach of all those buttons that say OFF.

It happens. Even to the best of us.

You let the distractions mire your thought process. You are unable to focus on anything but what you might be missing. And not only do you get nothing accomplished, but the hangover that ensues in the aftermath, that mixture of guilt and lack of productivity. It will make you swear on whatever tickles your fancy, never, ever to stray again.

But you will. It happens. Even to those of us who literally wrote the book. Sometimes that's okay. Sometimes it all works out. Point in case, this blog is a direct result of my going off the wagon. So I was, after all that, actually accomplishing something.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Many Faces Of The Egg Timer

Egg Timers come in all shapes and sizes, from the very serious, get down to business variety as in your basic stainless steel and actually egg shaped model to my newest favorite, the pink flamingo. It all depends on how much fun you want to allow in your work space.

I've been collecting them and even went so far as to create this board on Pinterest. Here is a sampling of what I've far.  Anything new to add? Let me know.

Not sure how to use an egg timer to manage your time? Then make sure to pop on over to Amazon and order your copy now of:  It Takes An Egg Timer, a Guide to Creating the Time for Your Life.
Paperback or Kindle.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Basic Principles Of Using An Egg Timer

The egg timer as a time management tool works on a basic principle. In order to create anything in your life, whether it is writing a book or winning new clients for your business, you need to create a container for that. This requires time and a space within which you can take the steps to effect your change.

The job of the egg timer is to create that space, uninterrupted and without distractions.

The rules are simple:

  1. Turn off your email
  2. Do not answer the phone
  3. Set the timer
  4. Do not get up until it rings

Now go to it!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It Takes An Egg Timer

What if the secret to creating and managing your time was not some elaborate system of charts or fancy new app for your iPhone?
What if it was as simple as an ordinary egg timer?

That is the premise of my new book, It Takes An Egg Timer, A Guide to Creating the Time for Your Life which is officially released today! This part guide and part manifesto offers uncomplicated solutions to creating and managing your time that start with the basic egg timer.

It is  written not just for the self-employed and entrepreneurs struggling to keep themselves on task, productive and happy but also for those who simply dream about making a change in their life, big or small, and are convinced that what is stopping them is not enough time.

My intention is that this little book will inform, inspire, motivate, entertain and prove that you have more time than you think. You just need to organize for it!

Available today on Kindle! 

so hurry on over and get your copy!
The paperback edition  will be available later this week
on Amazon and other select on-line booksellers

Also by the author: The Secrets They Kepta story of secrets unraveling amidst the complex relationships of a Greek-American family living in New York City.

For information: on hiring Joanne as your coach or to speak to your organization please visit or email

Saturday, May 12, 2012

That Thing You Have To Do

I'm the first to admit it. I didn't buy the tickets because of her music. I bought them because I have had a desire since I first published, The Secrets They Kept for Rita Wilson to read and love my story of a Greek-American family and make it into a movie. My expectation was not that my $12 bar stool seats at Joe's Pub would afford me a face to face moment in which to pitch away. Rather that I was getting closer. I knew a copy of my book had made it to her office. And then there was that twist of fate in which my cousin who produces the Mark and Brian show in LA met her the day she was on their show. So it seemed like the energetically right thing to do.

What I didn't expect was how good she would be. Really good. This is not a vanity act, although I am sure many reviews will want to tell you that. She really does have a great singing voice, not to mention a great stage presence. And the songs that she sang from her new release,  AM/FM took me on a trip down memory lane that at times brought tears to my eyes.

You see, not only are Rita and I both of Greek heritage, we are almost the same age. Which made the music she grew up with, the music I grew up with.  Granted in those days there were geographic differences. New music did not necessarily break nationally. Disc jockeys on the radio stations had the ability to play what they liked and occasionally "break" new songs. They were not beholden to the computer generated list provided by their program director. Unlike today.

Nevertheless, she was spot on with some of my all time favorites. It was hard not to sing along with her. So I mouthed the words I knew by heart from years of practice. Better anyway as singing is not one of my talents.

I was moved. The music and her performance transported me in that way the music of one's younger days has the ability to. To another time and place. I listened as my own personal series of film clips of first loves, broken hearts, dreams, possibility, laughter, right turns and wrong turns flashed by. Of a time when  doing nothing but getting lost in the lyrics of a song was an activity that did not include a mobile device and headset.

There was something else that also moved me.  Rita Wilson demonstrated on stage what happens when you figure out a way to do that thing you always wanted to. That passion that you kept locked away for whatever your reasons until you couldn't anymore. Until you had to figure out a way to make that happen. She exuded happiness. The kind that makes you look younger than your years. The kind that grounds you.

I know that feeling. For me it has been writing.

Singing apparently was the one thing she always wanted to do, but never thought she was good enough to do. Until now.

Lucky for us.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Test Driving My Time Theory

I’ve been in absentia. Tucked away writing my next book, a part guide and part manifesto on how to create the time for your life. If I said that left little space for me to write much of anything else, that might seem a bit hypocritical to the premise of my book. But it’s not. It’s called triage, a tool I use in assessing what needs to be at the top of my to-do list. My newsletter has not been there, nor this blog, until now.

In a case of what can only be life imitating art, or is it art imitating life, I have been thrown curve balls in the last week or so that challenge the very core of what the book is all about. And so I found myself in the last days before this book hits Amazon, forced to test drive to the extreme what happens when the really big curve balls hit. I had to listen to my own advice on managing, organizing and creating the time for everything I both wanted and had to do.

This is where I was last week.

It Takes An Egg Timer: A Guide To Creating The Time For Your Life has been written and edited and is with my very brilliant interior book designer, Jamie Kerry. The cover is under construction with the extraordinarily talented cover designer, Wendy Bass. My official release date of May 15, auspicious in that it happens to be my brother’s birthday is two full weeks away. More than enough time to read through, yet again and again this short, inspirational, motivational, informative, and at times entertaining guide/manifesto in that way authors do as they strive for perfection.

I am walking rather proud. This is after all my second self-published work. And I am feeling pretty good how ahead of schedule I am this time and consequently much less nervous. Well maybe. I don’t think I will ever not be on the edge before a new book is birthed into the world. But confident enough that I was able to relax and enjoy a four-day weekend spent in a Robert McKee Story Seminar from 9A-7P every day.

And then the calls started. From my mother. My 89 year-old, fiercely independent mother who still lives alone, an hour and forty-five minutes south on the New Jersey Turnpike, and yes, on occasion still drives to the grocery store. Her leg is bothering her, but this time it is not just the osteoarthritis and absence of all cartilage. This time she says she can barely walk and the pain is excruciating until I suggest she call 911. Then the pain subsides.

My brother goes to her apartment. Things settle for a bit. He leaves. In between I am trying to concentrate long enough to read as well as prepare for all that marketing and outreach that goes into a book release. Yes, I use my trusty egg timer in sixty-minute windows just as I suggest in my book. It is the only hope I have of getting anything done. The ticking sound really does calm me. 

I clear my schedule and on Wednesday take Exit 6 to the Pennsylvania Turnpike to find my mother crawled in a ball in her bed. She is in too much pain to walk. She has not been drinking enough water because she is too afraid she will not be able to get herself to the bathroom. She wears her medical alert necklace, the one she has never been afraid to push to get help. Until now.

I don’t ask, I tell her I am taking her to the ER. Except I can’t get her out of bed to get dressed. We’re going to need the rescue squad but not, she informs me before I help her dress and she puts on some lipstick. To some this might seem like a good sign. To me, it is just my mother’s vanity, her elixir to staying young.

I mask my worry in crisis management.  I’m good at that.  All those years of working in a corporate office and having to draw on my testosterone reserve while squashing my feminine energy to survive come in handy at moments like this. I compartmentalize the excitement for my book. My attention and my time are nowhere else but with her.

At Abington Memorial Hospital they start running tests, drawing blood and ordering x-rays. A team of doctors and nurses in what might be the nicest ER I have ever been to, attend to her. There is some sort of infection in her blood that they need to get to the source of. It was good, we are told, that she got here when she did.

I sit in the chair next to her, and she looks frail. Once standing at five–five and three quarters she has shrunk to five-two. I want to burst into tears but I save them for later.  Seeing me cry will only make her more afraid.  At this moment she needs my strength.

I worry that maybe this is it. That maybe this infection has taken hold of her and we are at the end.  Her time. But could it be? Just two weeks from my brother’s and the book’s birthday? A book on how we have more time than we think we do? Why do beginnings always have to be so inextricably connected to endings?  It’s all too much to think about. So I force myself not to. Not until the results are all back and we know what we are dealing with. I close my eyes and concentrate on the movement of my breath. I am so grateful that breathing and meditation are no longer foreign concepts to me.

I watch her fall asleep. She is tired. A combination of meds and all this attention and excitement. I see a tiny opening here. A few moments for me to be there for me. And I seize it.

I find the PDF in my iPad and I open my new book. It is dedicated to her, my mother and her ever-faithful egg timer, the one she showed me how to use. I read and I can’t help but smile.  I ground in my own words, transported to the original egg timer in the kitchen I grew up in. My worry shifts to profound gratitude for this woman I have been lucky enough to call my mother for all these years. She will like this book. Like that she and the egg timer were the original sources of inspiration. I know she will stay at least long enough to celebrate its grand entrance to the world.

I am right. I love it when I am right. By the next day the infection is under control. The swelling has subsided. A therapist is helping her walk.  A few days in the hospital and she is home, this time with a walker as her personal assistant as well as the help of visiting nurses. And of course,  an advance PDF copy of my new book.

I know her strength and her will. I have after all inherited that.

She is not ready to go. Not just yet. Not before a party. For her son and this book. Neither of which would have been possible without her.

It Takes An Egg Timer, A Guide to Creating the Time for Your Life will be available on Amazon, in print and Kindle on May 15. If you wish to be added to my mailing list for updates, please click here.