annie begins

Michelle Toth's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

Forget the Summer of Love, this is the summer of great books!  We are struggling to keep up with all the awesome titles out there and are secretly wishing that we could just head out to the beach and curl up with one.  A girl can dream, right? Today we have the lovely Michelle Toth sharing her 5 Do's and a Do-Over.  Her latest, Annie Begins is a fun read that will have you tuning out all that freakin' noise at the pool this summer-and that's a tough thing to do! (PS it's probably one of our kids screaming, sorry about that!)

At almost 29, Annie Thompson is as brilliant in business as she is disastrous in relationships. It's the dawn of the dot-com boom, and Annie is determined to make it big. But her single-minded focus on work is put to the test when the man of her dreams announces that his wife is divorcing him, and designates Annie "the best listener he knows." Suddenly she's juggling his mixed signals and her entrepreneurial ambitions--not to mention a complicated friendship with her new supervixen of a roommate.

Annie's pursuit of Mr. Tall, Dark and Barely Available takes a turn for the unexpected when her young, terminally ill cousin, April, makes it her mission to find Annie a husband. But the fiancé April picks is definitely not the kind of man Annie would have chosen. Now, Annie has to ask herself what exactly she wants and values most deeply in a man--and in herself.

Sound good?  Great-we have FIVE copies for giveaway.  Just leave a comment and we'll choose the winners on Tuesday July 5th after 6pm PST.


5 DO'S

1. Do find your community. When I think about the happiest phases of my life, they almost always involved a vibrant network of friends, with overlaps and interconnections, and a sense of belonging.  My best example is when, almost a decade ago, a writer friend introduced me to Grub Street, a nonprofit writing center in Boston.  I ended up joining the board of directors, which I’ve served on for the past eight years, and in addition to working together for a good cause, I found the most wonderful community of friends and like-minded and creative people I ever could have imagined.  It’s an experience that has added to my life so significantly that I wish it for everyone.

2. Do expand your worldview, whatever it takes. Whether through traveling, reading, education, a varied career, diverse personal relationships, or actually trying to understand your brother whose political views are the precise opposite of yours (such fun at Thanksgiving!), keeping an open mind and heart is such a key to always learning and becoming a wiser, more thoughtful person.

3. Do take care of yourself financially. I grew up without much money, and spent most of my twenties living on next to nothing while in grad school, or while working at a low-paying job, or when I started a company on my credit cards.  I don’t have regrets about the risks I took then, and there was something exhilarating about living on the financial edge, but in my early thirties I got myself a financial advisor who explained that it didn’t matter how much or how little money his clients had, most overextended themselves and caused great stress in their lives. So, as unsexy as it sounds, I sat down to make a budget, plan for the future, and get some financial stability.  For anyone not already there, I highly recommend it!

4. Do embrace adversity. Although none of us consciously seeks out problems or crises, in life some are simply unavoidable.  Yet on the positive side, when faced head on, adversity tends to bring about clarity and a resetting of priorities.  To state the obvious, people who learn and change as a result of adversity have much better lives than people who are crippled by crises or go to unnatural lengths to avoid dealing with them.  This is a theme I touch on with Annie Begins and is the center of my next novel, about a crisis in a marriage. In my own life and those of my friends, we’ve all noticed that the worst things that have happened to us (cancer, divorce, losing a job) actually brought about deep reflection and self awareness and ushered in periods of major personal growth.

5. Do learn from other people’s mistakes. We know experience is the best teacher, but it isn’t necessary to directly experience everything to learn from it.  I’ve always tried to listen to people who’ve lived longer and objectively know more than I do, to absorb their stories about successes and failures, and adopt their life lessons as my own.


Of course I have my share of embarrassing moments and failures, but not too many actual regrets.  But there is a pattern I wish I’d broken long ago. I have historically been the queen of volume and aspirational shopping, especially if things are on sale (I’ll take it in purple, too!) and/or they almost fit (I just have to lose a few pounds and this will be perfect). I almost always regret it, and have come to realize that my favorite clothes are things bought at the last minute for some special event, where I had no choice but to pay what it cost and make sure it fit.  So, I have slowly been transforming myself into one of those principled, decisive shoppers who behaves this way all the time -- buying just a few high-quality pieces per season, sometimes even at full price. But if I’m honest, I still have far too many “bargains” and items that are one size too small that have never or rarely been worn!

Thanks Michelle!  xoxo, L&L

To read more about Michelle, head on over to her website and her blog.