Essentially all stories begin and end here

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Every day, I pass this bench when I walk my dog. The words of Mary Oliver have captivated me. If a bench could speak, what would it say? What are some of the stories it could share about the people who sat here?

This is what I imagine.

A grandmother sits with her granddaughter. Her granddaughter is confused. She is in love. She is headed off to discover her world and master a trade. She will not be traveling with her soulmate. She sobs while her grandmother gives her a hug. …

Climbing Mount Everest on my laptop

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A parable is told about a man who travels cross-country by foot. When he reaches California, a group is waiting to greet him, and the first question they ask is, “What was the hardest part of your journey? Was it the desert’s scorching heat? The steep mountains? The bitter snow? What was it?” The traveler responds, “It was the pebbles in my shoes.”

That describes how I feel as I begin the “great rewrite” of my first novel. There are so many damn pebbles in my shoes. I have sojourned across a large blank canvas with a storyline that has…


My daughter challenged me to write about random acts of kindness

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about ways we could be generous, and yes, I did try to exercise my humor muscle. Otherwise, why would God have granted me a small one? This was the piece:

After reading this, my daughter said, quite seriously, “Mom, you didn’t address the need for random acts… you know … the person who is not expecting anything, and then you make their day.”

“Write that,” she commanded.

Well, I definitely agree that while “random” in general gets a bad rap — synonymous with “unpredictable” in a world that values systematic and AI…

How writing fiction made me better at business consulting

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For twenty-one years now, I’ve had mostly one thing on my business mind — how can I sustain growth and keep the engine humming? As a solo consultant, what seeds do I need to plant, and will they take? Yes, I have a good network of colleagues who often solicit my help. Yes, I have solid skills so I can deliver the goods. But is that enough on this roller coaster ride, especially when turbulence hits?

There have been oceans of ink spilled on how to stay viable, and I have often benefited from many of those pieces. Recently though…


Beware of unforeseen consequences

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Years ago, there was a popular game show called “Truth or Consequences.” The show required contestants to correctly answer questions or otherwise face a consequence — usually, a silly stunt though sometimes producers surprised viewers with a tearful personal reunion like a soldier’s return home. Bob Barker, one of the show’s hosts, had a memorable sign-off:

“Hoping all your consequences are happy ones.”

Given how much we doubt the presentation of “truth” in our current era, Barker’s sign-off got me thinking. For one thing, is truth still important to us, or is it a relic of the past? And for…


Never have we needed it more

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Since I’ve been writing about the increase of meanness in our culture, I thought it was a good time to turn the topic on its head and write about generosity.

It is hard to be generous when we are feeling either threatened or particularly anxious. Anyone know of someone who fits the bill these days?

In my attempt to meet every problem with a solution, I have found my three preferred ways to show generosity. They go like this.

Number 1: Lead with humor

I’ve been working on a young adult series that has taken me to knock-knock, why did the chicken cross the road…


But I’ve stuck with you nonetheless

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I went on a walk with a writer friend who I hadn’t seen since before Covid. Of the many things we discussed, Medium became a topic. She hadn’t figured out how to get curated, or build a following, or feel like any of the time she had spent writing on this platform benefited her in some obvious way.

I know that feeling. I’ve been on Medium for two years this August. In my first year, I felt like I was reliving my ancestry — a wandering Jew in a strange land. Curation was a foreign word. …


During the time of Covid

Author’s photo of LLBean shorts

I’ve been telling my universe of friends and family, all Covid-year long, “Less is more.” In the early days, that meant less flour and cleaning supplies. It also meant less in-person time, to be replaced with Zoom and FaceTime. Meals were simpler. Entertainment was one gargantuan feasting on Netflix hits.

In short, I was getting the hang of it. But wait, did I just used the word “Short?”

That was the problem. For various reasons, I am short on shorts. To be precise, I have exactly one pair which I am reluctant to give up to the wash. …


Alfred struggles after the big reveal

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Ever since I talked to my mom and found out who my dad was and why he is no longer alive, I can’t shake my sadness. I would have liked him somewhere in my life. Instead, he is a memory that I will never get to really know.

I stayed away from the topic of “Who’s my dad” for the longest time because something inside me told me not to go there. Coach told me that I was using “my instincts,” but that kind of surprised me because I run on numbers, not instincts. On occasion, I try to pay…

And why it matters

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For years, I’ve said the following to my family when they’ve complained about a rough day at work:

“Work is a 4-letter word, just to remind you.”

That always elicited a chuckle because they knew that the 4-letter word was not “play” but rather some expletive deleted. I wanted to set proper expectations about what their daily experience would likely be.

The irony is that over the years, I’ve been able to transform this 4-letter word into a 5-letter word. First, though, some background.

I’ve had the typical trajectory of many business automatons: MBA, management consulting, Fortune 100 marketeer, irascible…

Jill Ebstein

Loves a wide lane — business, humor, fiction, dogs, modern-day peculiarities, opinion pieces. Created the AtMyPace series. Baking my way to happiness.

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