Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Avid Reader’s Guide to Book Reviews

These days, if you’re an avid reader, or even a casual one, I am certain that at some point during a conversation, a reading, online or within shouting distance at a bookstore, an author has exhorted you to leave a “review” for their book. It might even have been me.

The currency of 21st century publishing is reviews and it is probably due the immense changes the industry has seen. (For a primer on that, see this article. If you’re really interested, this one, too.) There are many choices for an avid reader in 2016; traditional hardcover books, trade paperbacks, electronic devices like Kindles, Nooks, iPads. A reader doesn’t have to yearn too long for a new read. Libraries, bookstores, used bookstores, book fairs and the Internet provide new books at the touch of a button, the click of a mouse, the swipe of a credit card. In addition, the new publishing landscape has allowed thousands, maybe even tens of thousands more writers to become authors every year. For an author, one way to rise above that gargantuan pack is to hope that the people reading your book will help promote it by leaving a review online.

Because, of course reviews help, right? I read reviews when I’m buying nearly everything these days. Coffee filters, energy drinks, winter coats.  For books, reviews keep them in the running, particularly at Amazon. Success on Amazon helps push sales. This is true of most of the books you are reading. There is a magical algorithm that does it, but of course no one knows what that is. But not just Amazon; online reviews at Goodreads and Barnes & Noble - wherever your favorite online book community is, leaving a review for a book you like helps.

Personally, I am just as happy to recommend a reader go into an actual bookstore and speak to the owner or the staff; they will happily help you choose a book and have probably read most of them in order to do it. But just in case you’re hanging around the Internet and are interested in bolstering a few authors, I have some ideas for writing your next review. (My brother once told me I should use the term, “comment” instead of review because leaving a comment is not as intimidating as Writing a Review.)  So, without further ado. . . 

4 Easy Review Tips for Readers

1. Keep it Simple: A short paragraph or two will do; this isn’t high school English Composition and you’re not getting a grade. Take a deep breath--you can do it.

2. A Title by any other name will still sound just fine: Worried about making up a title? Of course you are; it's intimidating. Use this one: “A Great Read”. Or, “I Liked (Loved) This Book.” Or possibly, “I Recommend This Book.” Don’t be intimidated by other clever or snarky titles. A clear title helps other readers. Also, see #1 - Keep it Simple.

3. The Main Thing: What was the main thing you liked about this book? Begin your comment with, “I liked this book because...” and just go from there. Remember? No grades. The readers of your comments are looking for company in enjoying the book they are considering, so just be honest.

4. The Formula: Who, What, Where and Why? Who wrote the book--did you like the author? What did you like about the book? Was it really short? Did it have snappy dialogue? Lots of sex? No sex? Where does the book take place? In New York City? A hundred years ago? Solely in the author’s head? And Why did you like it? Why should anyone else read it? Why would you read another book by this author?

If you’ve gotten this far, I think you’re ready. Try your hand at it. Because, yes, reviews--I mean comments--help. But please know, even if you don’t ever write a word, I speak for hundreds of thousands of authors who are already grateful that you're even reading our work. Thank you.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Delaney Talks to Statues

#TBT- For Throwback Thursday I had to repost this essay, written in 2007. Heather recently posted a couple of pictures of Delaney as she approaches her 12th birthday, but she looks like she's approaching her 16th birthday! She is growing with poise and confidence into a lovely young lady.  She now has two younger sisters who I suspect will give their parents an equal amount of gray hair and worry lines! 

Weeks and weeks of work, stress and exhaustion led me to the Panera in Marlborough, Massachusetts last Friday. I was making a fast getaway to Maine and the island’s cool water and fresh air to break the exhausting cycle I had gotten myself into. I wouldn’t have stopped at all, but my friend Heather lived close to 495, so I figured I could spare a few minutes to find out how she was doing in her new job, new home, new life. I don’t stop for much in my exodus--bathroom breaks, gas tank fill-ups at the cheap gas station at Exit 39, maybe food at the Hannaford’s--but little else. Heather even did me the favor of meeting me on the road so I wouldn’t have to take too long a break from my trip. So Panera it was.

I arrived at the agreed upon time, having synchronized our schedule by cell phone from the Mass Pike. Mother-of-a-three-year-old Heather arrived around 10 minutes late, walking in from the rainy parking lot hand in hand with Delaney, in matching yellow slickers and a stuffed blue back pack. Mothers of three-year-olds don’t travel light. I had already gotten my fruit cup and coffee and found a place to sit--a table with a booth seat for Delaney, knowing as I do, that children can’t sit and be comfortable in a hard chair while their mothers sit, drink coffee and chat with their friends. I envisioned an hour of catching up, relating the latest work news (gossip) and then wrapping up and getting back on the road for the rest of my steering-wheel gripping drive to respite from the latest storm.

Funny how plans change.

Delaney needed to bring her watering can, said Heather plopping down the blue and orange plastic toy.  She also unloaded, from the vast contents of the big blue backpack, paper and markers for Delaney as she sat and eyed me from her seat on the bench. She hadn’t seen me since June, so she was naturally apprehensive, especially when Mommy left to fetch a muffin. I chatted up Delaney about her markers and asked her which color was her favorite. “This one,” she said, indicating the pink one with which she was coloring. And by coloring I mean dragging the pink marker back and forth across the blank sheet of copy paper. “It’s a sled!” she told me and pulled out the next blank canvas. Heather came back with the muffin, water, a scone, a soda, several napkins, a plastic knife and a straw and cut the muffin up in quarters for Delaney. But Delaney wanted the scone and she grabbed half of it in her hand and by turns munched on it and crumbled it into her lap. Heather graciously asked me about me about the program which I had just wound up--the cause of the enormous stress I had been under. I began the narration of the program’s challenges and although it had been difficult, it was also the program that had brought me the most...
“Mommy, color with me!” erupted Delaney, now glued to Heather’s side and eyeing me somewhat suspiciously. Heather barely broke stride and picked up the green marker and began drawing a curved rectangle and colored it in.
“...rewarding experience as the kids who came were awesome,” I finished up, happily remembering what I had been saying.

And so it went. Delaney warmed up to me a little and Heather’s and my conversation was punctuated with “Mommy!” with several bits of information like, “Mom-mom takes her coffee with milk and NO SUGAR!” and “Mommy! I have to go potty”, “Mommy! remember that mean girl who took my wagon?”

And then, “Cindy! I have a rock in my crayons!” and “Look, Cindy, I have new hair!” as she stood and wound Heather’s long brown hair over her own silky blonde and “Mommy! I have a great idea! Cindy can come to my house and you and Daddy can go to work!”  

Soon, I began responding more to Delaney’s comments and conversation and less and less to Heather’s. Delaney’s non-stop observations about her world wove in and out of any complete sentences that Heather and I managed to get out. As we were drawing, because now we all had a white sheet of copy paper in front of us with an assortment of markers and now crayons from a tin lunchbox, I found out that Delaney’s house was mere miles from where we sat at Panera. Because we drew a map. So I drew a picture of the mountains and lake where I was going. And Heather drew a rainbow, because truth be told – Delaney’s favorite color is all of them.

Heather and I did actually get to catch up on new jobs and old jobs, Harry Potter and friends and family. And an hour and forty-five minutes after they arrived, we started repacking the big blue backpack. Yellow slickers went back on, and we walked outside and said our goodbyes while Delaney splashed in a wide puddle next to my car. Tiny pink cargo pants were now soaked to the knees. Heather said, “I guess someone will need to change their clothes when we get home!” and smiled at me. I guiltily realized how much easier it would have been for Heather if she didn’t have to get Delaney dressed and suited up for the rain, anticipate the necessary entertainment for sitting at a coffee shop for an hour and managing it all out the door on time--if I had just driven the extra 3 miles and come to them. And even as I realized this, sitting back in my car and starting the ignition, I thought that if we had been at their house, I might not have had the pleasure of Delaney’s proximity for almost two full hours. Or sat across from the light of her bright blue eyes and her adorable little smile--which was a constant--except when she was deep in thought coloring. Before I backed out of the parking space and headed toward the exit and the rest of my trip, I placed my drawings, one from Heather and one from Delaney, beside me on the seat. My hands were not gripping the steering wheel and I was smiling.

(The title refers to a Jimmy Buffett song of the same name.)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Blue Christmas

The holidays can be difficult...

For some reason, December has knocked me a little off center this year. Although I can usually be counted on to be pretty positive about winter, the holidays, trees in the house, this year I am definitely feeling more Scrooge-ish than George Bailey-ish. (At the end of the movie, not the middle.) It certainly has to do with some of the family issues that have occurred this year: my Dad’s coma and rehabilitation and my sister’s cancer surgery to name just the medical ones.  My dad and sister have the burden of fighting for their health, but the residual effects on me manifest as stress. It’s possible I am approaching burn-out in my day job; the parents with whom I work seem more desperate and vindictive, the children more traumatized and distressed. December rounded the corner like a ton of bricks and we’re only a few days in.

I’ve had a house-full, too. Annie and her little family have been with us for over a year and just this weekend, they are moving into their own home. Which is good . . . and bad. It is good because they need to be in their own place and it will give Angelo and me the chance to do all the things we used to do when there wasn’t an audience. Nothing really sexy or adventurous; the most risqué behavior we engaged in was to walk to the bathroom naked and the most daring we got was to leave dishes in the sink overnight.  The bad part is that Angelo and I got really used to having Luca around on a daily basis. To say that we will miss him is to understate the loss we will undoubtedly feel when he’s gone.  They’re not going far, just down the road to the next town, but it won’t be the same. And that’s a little, you know, horrible. But we’ll help them pack and smile as we wave good-bye.

Dreading December and not looking forward to Christmas is such a foreign feeling for me that it makes me feel bad. Usually, I am not worried about feeling bad, because I can usually rouse myself out of it. It's the timing that is a little worrying. It's Christmas, for Pete's sake. Am I getting depressed? What’s next? Am I going to don a black veil and throw roasted chestnuts at small children on my street? Shutter my windows instead of putting the obligatory single lit candle in each one? Buy a bucket of coal? Cry?

I could just settle down for a minute. Stress is stress . . . even the good kind. With every ten emails shouting out the latest deals for last minute presents is one that suggests taking care of “YOU” during the holidays. Which doesn’t make any sense at all, because when you’re stressed and overwhelmed and likely to smash one of the Lenox china dishes that your husband salvaged from his first marriage rather than read one more Groupon for a time-limited offer, the suggestion to “just relax!” will simply invoke rage.  The holidays are tough, if not for you personally, probably for someone you know. Yes, yes, right now it’s me, but you get the drift.  It’s probably good for me to go through this feeling: the dread of holiday expectations and barely mustered cheerful behavior. My typical Christmas demeanor is usually about halfway between Will Farrel’s Elf and The Grinch, but I could go up or down the scale a few notches when necessary.

When the holidays make life difficult for people, I think two things happen: the sufferers wish they didn't have to slap a happy grin on their face and others fret about how to handle including them in holiday activities. There is no easy middle ground for this and I suspect some find it easier to avoid dealing with it.  Does your friend or relative who grapples with holiday malaise really want to be invited or don't they? Should you call? Will they answer? Will my gifts arrive on time? Do I have to eat fruitcake?

Dealing with this bout of gloominess isn’t much fun. I feel like I’m looking through department store windows all decked out with sparkly lights and cotton snow . . .  I know I should feel excited and happy, but right now, I don’t. This will eventually evolve into other, more manageable feelings. For example, in more positive news, my book is still bumping along, albeit lethargically. Everything having to do with it is wonderful; meeting people, visiting new bookstores, making a few bucks.  I appeared in a play that nearly sold out last weekend and that was a surprisingly fantastic experience.  Especially because the cast and crew consisted of 19 women and there was no bitchiness or diva behavior.  There's a lot going on and apparently I can’t help but overload my plate, both figuratively and literally. (And that’s a Thanksgiving weight-gain reference.) 

Who knows? I might even get those candles in the windows and get some Christmas shopping done before the 24th. If I run into someone who doesn’t look like tinsel personified, I won’t  throw eggnog at them to “cheer” them up. Hmm...maybe I’m on to something here.  I actually feel kind of good about it.

Oh, damn. A Christmas miracle.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Love, Loss and What I Remember

Circa 1994 - Clearly giving Meryl Streep a run for her money.
Way back in the olden days, when I was a single parent and had memory cells in my brain . . . (Hmmm...startling revelation: The disappearance of memory cells began when I was a single parent . . . interesting.)

Where was I? Oh, yes . . . the olden days . . . when we had more remotes than chargers. In an effort to provide more enriching stimulation than the afterschool snack-time fare of Fresh Prince of Bel Air and what I later found out to be the traumatizing family fun time Saturday night viewing of Profiler, I began to audition and be cast in plays with the new community theater group in our small town. The motivation for deciding to involve myself in an activity that would force me out of the house was to provide a strong and culturally competent role model for my children. Because, honestly, if I didn’t feel so pressured to be Super Mom, I would have sat with my kids as much as possible in front of the TV.  Back then it was a time when we were all engaged in the same thing; talking, laughing or evidently cowering, as I found out when I read Christopher’s third-grade year-end “About Me” book. His greatest joy? His greatest fear? The character Jack-of-all-trades from the show I made him sit through every Saturday night at 9pm. I thought staying up with me and Annie was a special treat; turns out I was terrifying him every week. Single parenting decisions: sometimes you nail them, sometimes they go tragically off-the-mark.

Once I had been in a couple of productions, Annie started doing some of the kid’s shows. This meant Christopher had to come along to either hang out backstage or venture onstage as the “Boy” or some other animal or fairy.  (God. This poor kid...what did I do to him??)  Mostly, it was a fun family activity and the only terrifying part was whether or not I’d remember my lines when the curtain went up. The great thing was--I usually did. I might have flubbed a line or two here and there, but as I was told by a friend one night and never forgot--the audience doesn’t have the script. They don’t know when I’ve dropped a line.  And it was community theater, so many of the residents of the community in which I lived were present at our shows. They were too nice to be too critical of my performances . . . you never know when a single mother will burst into tears.

As time went by, the kids got older and soccer and other divergent activities took precedence and I stopped auditioning. It was fine; although I was a drama major in college, I hadn’t really set my sights on a career as a thespian. The dose of acting I got during those wonderful days of rehearsals and productions, Coward and Shakespeare, donated props and expertly created costumes was enough to tide me over. Forever, if you’d asked me then. But apparently, only until now.

Despite the fact that I can barely remember why I open the refrigerator door, each Tuesday and Thursday night until the middle of December, I am going to leave my home and travel to the next town over to rehearse lines for an hour or two. The show is Love, Loss and What I Wore, written by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron, and based on the book by Ilene Beckerman. If you look closely, you can see why I made the insane decision to put myself in what will undoubtedly be at best, a hoot and at worst, a spectacle along the lines of Sally Field’s Oscar acceptance speech. First of all, I don’t have to remember the lines! It’s a staged reading . . . no memorization! Next, it’s by Nora Ephron. She has been an inspiration for my own work for many, many years. When I auditioned, I read the essay, “I Hate My Purse” which I guess was included in the script because Nora wrote it and she could put anything in it she wanted. I wished very hard to get that role; but I didn’t.  Acting in a play by Nora Ephron would be like living a little bit inside her brain and I wanted that experience. And then, if those two little omens weren’t enough, it was being produced in Woodbury, the former small town where I began my illustrious acting career over 20 years ago. How could I say no? Or rather, I hoped I could say yes, providing they offered me a part.

They did. I have a short monologue all my own and I am part of several ensemble pieces; all about women, clothing, humor, love and loss. Being in a play is a little like riding a bike in that once you try it after a long period of time, it feels very familiar. You just have to work out the rusty spots. I am a little nervous, too. I’ve been doing readings and talks since my book has been out, so one might imagine I have some confidence about getting up in front of hundreds of people and hope words come out of my mouth and not, say, spit. I’ll have the script--magnified--in front of me, but I’ll still need my glasses to read it. But I get to read it. It is feeling like an opportunity to try something out, or maybe revisit something I once loved, but had to push aside for other obligations and responsibilities. It is truly both an exciting and terrifying ambition and I can’t wait for opening night.

I hope I remember to show up.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Scents and Sensibility

You know how when things get old, they begin to smell a little? I think that’s starting to happen to me. Don’t worry, I still bathe and buy deodorant, but if I go just one extra day without washing my hair, at some point during the day while getting into my car or throwing my purse over my shoulder at the grocery, I will catch a whiff of that subtle scent; the one that tells you, “you-should-have-definitely-taken-the-time-to-shampoo-this-morning.” I duck and head toward the closest door and hope there is not a cloud swirling about my head a là  Pig Pen in the Peanuts comic strip. The one that makes everyone take a few steps away from you.

Many years ago, one of my girlfriends fixed me up on a date with a man who was about ten years older than me. Going out with an older man didn’t bother me . . . until we sat next to each other all night at a bar. It wasn’t the smoke, or the spilled beer or all the forlorn ladies doused with cheap perfume that got to me. It was this man’s smell. Not bad, not good, just . . . present. A pervasive scent of what I decided was bachelorhood; flannel shirts that needed to be washed more frequently than say, once a month.

It makes sense doesn’t it? At some point it’s not worth washing those bath towels anymore because they’re old and they smell. Off you go to Target for a couple of brand new sets to hang in the bathroom. (We’ll talk about how you don’t walk out of Target with only bath towels another time.) This happens to everything that gets old; clothing, food, furniture, shoes, buildings. Everything that gets old smells. Why not people?

You think I’m trying to be funny, but there is Science to prove it. It seems that the scent of older folks is as tied to our biological origins as the sex drive and the fight or flight reflex. From a study by Johan Lundström of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, humans may be able to recognize age by odor as a way "to distinguish the sick from the healthy—not overt sickness, but underlying cell decay," he says. "The older we get, the more natural decay we have."

See that? He actually said “decay.” Like when you’re walking through the park in October, taking a deep breath and thinking, “Ah, the smell of Fall!” but what you’re really smelling is decay. Those beautiful orange, yellow and red leaves are dying and we can smell it.

We humans don’t have nearly the highly developed nostrils that dogs, horses and other animals have, but we do pick up important information from our noses. Am I right, mothers? Do we know practically to the teaspoon how much beer our kids drank as they propel themselves through the door late on a Friday night? We ground with confidence. But not only mothers; women all over the world use their noses to divine the who, what, how and where of any given excuse. Men do not have this faculty; as soon as you ask, “Can you smell that?”, the male of the species shrugs his shoulders and says, “What rotting bananas?”

It is slightly discouraging to realize that my body, it’s cells and pores could be in a state of decay. But, as I said it makes sense. (Scents?) These days, those of us 50ish and over have the opportunity to be in the best shape of our lives. I had lunch with a sixty-something woman recently who said she felt the best she’s ever felt after using a nutritionist to lose 42 pounds and learn how to drink more water. Another sixty-ish friend sat at my kitchen table and practically glowed from her recent two-week hiking vacation, even though we were Googling our recently prescribed prescriptions. We may be decaying . . . and smelling . . . but we can be healthy and look good doing it. And if I forget to wash my hair one day, I can always go hang out with a bunch of old guys.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Good Shoes

As summer fades slowly into a distant memory, I welcome the days of cooler temperatures and a reason to hibernate with the earlier curfew of shorter days. Some women (not me) get excited about changing their wardrobes over to their Fall/Winter collection and going shopping to add or update accessories. Me? I just pull my black sweater out of the back of the closet and situate it closer to the middle so it’s there if I need it. (Which I never do, because, let’s be honest: what woman over 50 needs a sweater anymore?) No, it’s all pumpkin spice and a reason to stay home that excites me about Fall. Some fear lurks in the coming days, I will admit, and it’s not just the very real danger of buying--and eating--14 bags of Halloween candy before October 31st.  The dread creeping toward me is having to put on real shoes. I am a flip-flop gal. You’d think I might choose to live in Florida or California to accommodate my footwear choices. Since I don’t, there are many reasons I need to acquire regular shoes for certain occasions--like snow. For winter, I have chosen to wear UGG boots--the real thing, not the knock off Faux Uggs (or Fuggs as I used to call them). So, summer footwear-flip-flops. Winter footwear-UGGs. Fall footwear-ugh.

Because I am so clever and know myself so well, I played a trick on myself in order to get out and go to the store for new shoes. I needed a comfortable pair to wear to work or just out; flats (of course), not too dressy, not too casual. The two pairs I have had for about, well, many years, made a whooshing sound as I walked. The sound came from the various splits and worn edges on the bottom--of both pairs! I tricked myself into getting new shoes by throwing both pairs into the garbage on garbage day. This way I couldn’t have second thoughts and dig them out in a panic and I would be forced to go to Marshall’s and buy a pair of good shoes.

Best laid plans, right? What I didn’t factor in to this brilliant plan was that two days later, I had to appear in court. And even though there are a number of simply astonishing clothing and footwear choices people make to appear before a judge, I didn’t think wearing flip-flops to court would be acceptable. I was appearing as a witness, a professional. (Yes, I am a professional who gets away with wearing flip-flops most of the time. Yes, I am lucky.) Fortunately,  I hang on to most every article of clothing that isn't torn in half,  so a pair of those black Eddie Bauer loafers everyone was wearing about 15 years ago is tucked away in my closet. I pulled on black tights, squeezed into the loafers and was presentable for the 10 minutes I needed to be on the witness stand.

I still have a problem, though, don’t I? I have yet to go out and get those shoes for myself. When the immediate crisis was averted, there was no pressure for me to leave my house for the shopping plaza. My daughter went, though. And while there, she sent me this in a text: 

She even offered to bring them home for me to try on. I said no. She said, “Really?” (I could hear the exasperation--even in her text.) She tried, but she knows it will take more than a change in seasons to get me out of my flip-flops. Because it’s not just my preference for showing off my I'm-Not-Really-a-Waitress red painted toes that keeps me from going out and trying on tight, blistering shoes. At some point in my aging, my feet grew. That seems like one of nature’s cruel jokes to me...having your feet get bigger. Like when men get more hair in their ears and on their backs, but lose it on top of their heads. Not funny, nature. So now that I have gargantuan feet, flip-flops suit me. I feel like Cinderella’s evil sister when I try to squeeze my feet into my once comfortable size 8s. “No! Let me try again! I know it will fit!” It's not a pretty sight.

One thing I’ve learned as I age into my 50s and 60s is that comfort is essential. Not just feeling comfortable, but making decisions based on my comfort is a reasonable thing to do. It may mean I have to move to California or Florida. Or southern Italy, but those are decisions I can live with. Meanwhile, I know I will have to go out of my house, go into a store and buy shoes. Size 9 probably. But I’m comfortable with that.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Rules to live by

I am done for. There I was, minding my own business, walking through the kitchen, when I happened to glance at the newly arrived magazine on the counter. The headline jumped up with its tongue sticking out at me: 8 simple rules to pull together any outfit! There are EIGHT rules to pull an outfit together? EIGHT? How do “8 rules” and “simple” go together in a sentence? I backed slowly away from the kitchen and retreated to my office upstairs where I engaged in the soothing activity I usually pursue when I have been traumatized: Pocket Frogs.

Real Simple is not delivered to me at my house; it’s my daughter’s subscription. (Courtesy of me, however.) The brand should appeal to me--it has the right name, but I’m sorry. If it takes 8 rules just to get dressed in the morning, what can I expect from their recipes? Their decorating tips? Or (shudder) cleaning advice? 10? 15 100?? No thank you. When I see the word simple, I expect simple. Not convoluted in disguise. You want simple rules? Here are some:

Rules for pulling together any outfit: (Notice it is only half as many...)
1.    Never dig anything out of the clothes hamper.
2.    Always give a quick look for wear and tear, specifically, previously missed holes or tears.
3.    Stick with black and white. Sometimes navy blue. Possibly red. Pink is for babies.
4.    Up to the collarbone, below the knees.

Rules for cooking at home:
1.    One pan, one plate (or bowl)
2.    One cooks, the other cleans
3.    Only use foods that are colors and flavors found in the natural world. (And beware of the sneaky, “Natural flavoring” don’t want to know.)
4.    Five ingredients, five steps (including cooking time). Anything else is too risky.

Rules for maintaining a presentable home:
(Notice I didn’t actually use the word “clean”--it’s subjective anyway)
1.    Don’t buy anything “decorative” after the age of 50.
2.    Toss anything decorative that doesn’t clean itself.
3.    Most everything can be cleaned with a bottle of windex and a roll of paper towels.
4.    Entertain in the evening when the sun doesn’t highlight dust. Better yet, entertain in the summer--outside.

Rules for enjoying life after 50:
1.    Spend as much time as possible with your grandchildren. If you don’t have them, find some.
2.    Embrace forgetfulness; you can’t fret about what you can’t remember.
3.    Take a walk every day (or as often as you remember to.) “Walk” can be interchanged with “nap.”
4.    Let go of yesterday, enjoy today and look forward to tomorrow. 

Feel free to adopt or adapt as you see fit. I have a rule about telling other people what to do and that is: I don't.  :)