with Lynne and Leslie
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Work it! Own it!: Having the guts to get paid what I’m worth

by SweetMidlife

I’m Leslie! I’m worth a lot! I am! I mean it! (Photo: Rissa Miller at Balance Photography)

Leslie here!

I have done a lot of things I’m proud of lately – finishing a half marathon, selling a book, continuing to keep my child alive. But my biggest recent personal accomplishment was telling a nice old lady that I couldn’t speak to her nice old lady organization because they couldn’t pay me enough. And I felt OK about it.

More than OK. I feel darn good about it.

I love speaking. Not just in general, as I am super verbose and don’t shut the hell up, but also in formal settings, where I say pithy, moving things about everything from widowhood to local places to eat to whatever the hell’s going on with newspapers these days (That’s a whole other thing.) I’ve been speaking everywhere imaginable, from schools to retirement communities to libraries, for years now, and the more I’ve spoken , my skill, as well as my stature in my community, have increased and improved.

And when that happens, the conventional wisdom is that you’re worth more. Which means that if you charge for your services, which I do, you should get paid more. That’s the way things work, and if you’re serious about being a business person and being paid for the professional thing that you’re good at, you have to do the jobs that correspond to your worth. This means beginning to turn down the ones that aren’t, because you have to look out for yourself. I’ve been having the same conversation about this with my sister and another friend for years now. It’s about how as growing business people, particularly as women that people like, those people sometimes expect you to cut them a break, to give them a discount. I mean, everyone likes a discount, and believe me I get plenty of them, and I’m grateful.

But the truth is that if everyone gets a discount, that discount is now your price. I’m not established enough or rich enough to be giving stuff away for free. I’ve been a reporter for 25 years, a regular speaker for about 15, and I’m about to be a published author. When the paper I work for used to have a speakers bureau, they provided reporters like myself to the community for free and paid us $40 for the time, which seemed like gravy – the job I loved provided me some extra cash and the people I spoke to were nice and sometimes even gave me a bagel.

But that was a long time ago, and I’m worth more, although even saying that sometimes sounds ungrateful due to the conditioning nice girls like me get to feel bad about asking for what we’re worth. My price is now several times than what I used to get. I still want my bagel, tho. Knowing that, of course, is easier than making that happen.

Which came to mind very recently while standing outside of a fancy cocktail bar on a recent girls trip confirming to that very nice older lady that I would not be able to speak to her group. I kind of already knew that- when she’d contacted me a week earlier, already apologetic that her group had a small budget, the number she’d come up with was very, very small. Being a nice grandmother type well practiced in the art of subtle guilt, she’d floated the idea that even though I’m important and busy, perhaps I had some special affinity for her group and would be willing to give them a discount. I do love her group, but again, if you keep giving everybody discounts, the discount is your price. So I saw her grandmother guilt and raised her one case of widowed single mother who needs the money. She appreciated that. But then she said something else.

“Well, obviously. But also you work really hard and you’re worth what you’re asking. We just really wanted you to come. I’ll check with the board and let you know.”

Well, wow. The lady who had asked for a discount was letting me off the hook because she wanted me to know that while she might not be able to afford me, I was worth what I was asking. SHE KNEW THAT. So I had to, too.

The call on my girls trip was to let me know that the board, although really into me coming to speak to them, was unable to come up with the money. I could have sworn that there was the slightest pause to allow me to say “That’s OK! I’ll do it anyway because it’s you!” But if there was, the moment passed, and I told her I was so sorry it didn’t work out but that I’d let her know when I was speaking in the area.

As I hung up and went back to my drink I felt both pleased with myself and pathetic that I thought I needed a cookie to stand up for myself, to ask permission to get paid. It’s stupid. I’m told all day long that I’m awesome. I might as well believe it. It’s not that I’ve never been kicked in the proverbial teeth – see the part about being a widowed single mother – but as things get better, healing continues and my book gets closer to release, I have to embrace not only my awesomeness but my worth. I’m hardworking. I’m good at what I do. And I’m worth it.

Hear that, Leslie? You’re worth it.

Bookroo sends your kid a monthly literary gift

by SweetMidlife
This is gonna be fun!

This is gonna be fun!

Leslie here! As a writer, and a very early lover of books who with Lynne tortured our Granddaddy into reading “Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?” over and over, it’s important to me that the toddler I live with become a tiny bookworm as well. Story time is a big deal here and now we have an ingenious way to make sure that the shelf is never bare: a service called Bookroo, a kid’s book subscription service. (Disclosure: We signed up for the service and are receiving a discounted fee.)

I was excited about it from the beginning because I’m fan of subscription services, including a clothing service that sends new stuff to my house each month. Even though I pay for it, and know that it’s coming, it’s nice to get a wrapped thing in the mail. The Boy doesn’t have a calendar, doesn’t pay for anything and thinks everything is for him, so when the Bookroo box came to the house with his name on it, I pointed out the label even though he can’t read.

He can, however, open wrapping paper, and that was a whole other adventure (we like adventure – note the above tiny hand excitedly reaching for that delicious rippy stuff.


Once we got all the paper off, we settled into our books for the month, “Hush Little Polar Bear,” by Jeff Mack, “Duck and Goose, 1-2-3” by Tad Hills and “The Pout-Pout Fish” by Deborah Diesen.” Toddler is at the point where he likes the concept of turning the pages, but lacks the patience to sit there and hit every page, so these board books are perfect for him – colorful, tactile and easy to hold.
So far, Toddler kind of read through “Hush Hush Little Polar Bear” once and then moved onto “Duck and Goose” which I thought was adorable. He’s really big on counting right now – sometimes the numbers are even in order! – so being able to point to them on the page was huge. He also knows what a duck looks like, so that was exciting.
But our favorite was “The Pout-Pout Fish,” not only because it’s gorgeous and introduces a lot of colorful sea creatures, all of which Toddler wanted to touch and “Ooh” over, but because the story is so darned charming. The aforementioned fish believes that he’s destined to be pouty and sad, even though the other creatures try to get him to smile. Eventually, Pouty meets someone who turns his frown upside down. It’s a nice reminder that we can always find something to smile about.
I plan to keep the service, which starts at $17.95 a month but you can get a discount of $4 off your order by following this link!

Interview with the Mommy: Our Mom Wrote A Book, And We are Giving Away a Copy

by SweetMidlife

Hi there! Lynne AND Leslie here, on a momentous occasion: our mother, Tina Streeter, has just released her first book, “Gillespie Dancing: How Gillespie Got His Name”! We repeat: our mommy wrote a book. And it is a sweet one, aimed at kids 5-10, with beautiful pictures by Daphney Williams. It’s about about a family naming their soon-to-be-born baby, and all of the family who make suggestions. You can buy it here on Amazon (in hard copy or on your Kindle), and we will be giving away a free copy at the end of this post! 

What follows is an interview between Lynne, Leslie and their Mommy last week, done on the phone, complete with Mommy’s inspiration for this book, and breaks because some toddler (Leslie and I each live with one) did something that needed our attention. That happens. Here you go.

Our fab Mommy.

Our fab Mommy.

Us:  So, Mommy, why did you want to write a book?

Tina: Well, I was walking in Charleston (where she and our Daddy used to live), and the name came to me. The story and everything else came to me after that. And writing a book seemed like a good idea at the time.

Us: After writing it, do you still think it was a good idea?

Tina: (laughs) Yes. Especially now!

Us: Tell us about the back story, as we try to act like we haven’t heard it. But tell us anyway.

Tina: Well, it’s based on the birth of your cousin Avery. When Avery came, we hadn’t had a baby born into the family in 23 years, and the fact that he was a boy (because the last four babies in our families were girls) was also a big deal.

Us: And what made you want to write about it?

Tina: Well, A LOT of people made recommendations for names, and being that he was the first boy, it got a little heated.

Us: And the name that won, Avery, is a family name.

Tina: Yes, it was the name of my great grandfather, who was supposedly the meanest man in the county where he lived in South Carolina. But it was a strong name.

Picture from Booktopia.com

Us: That it is. So in the book, the name that is chosen, Gillespie, is a mixture of family names, right?

Tina: Yep. There was an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show where the Petrie baby was born (The Petries were Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore and if you have never seen that show FIND IT), and everyone did to them what the Dancings did in the book: everyone wanted the baby named after themselves. It got crazy, so they took initials from everyone’s names and got the name “Richie”.

Us: So, is Dick Van Dyke going to come after you now because you used that idea?

Tina: I hope not, but I would love to meet him.

(At this point, Lynne’s kid started playing a drum solo extra loud to the theme of “Curious George” and no one could hear, so we took a break. Then it was over.)

Us: And, we are back. So after you wrote the book, you decided to self-publish it?

Tina: Yep, through a company called Xulon. And Leslie checked it out to make sure it was on the up and up, and it was!

(Leslie’s little one starts pressing buttons on the phone)

Us: Of course Leslie did. And what are your hopes for the book?

Tina: Well Lynne hopes that it will be wildly profitable, and that works. But mostly, I want it to be an inspiration to all families, big, small, and crazy. I want children to enjoy it.

Us: And why is a person’s name so important?

Tina: Names can speak of how your family felt about your coming. They can be based on traditions. Sometimes babies get named after trends, but are usually about what we want to represent. Some children are named carelessly, or out of spite, but thankfully that doesn’t happen often. I wanted it to be an encouragement to think about what you name your kid, and what that means down the line. Even back to the Bible, names were important and were predictors of what the child would be.

Us: And what do you want kids who read this to get out of it?

Tina: I want them to know that families matter, that they are important, and that they matter to somebody. All families need to treat their kids as important.

Us: And what does dancing mean to you, since that is the name of the family in the book?

Tina: Well, the four of us (She and our Daddy and the two of us) were always dancing at home, and your Daddy and I grew up dancing in DC, and loved to dance together. It’s a way of expressing yourself. And you, Lynne and Leslie, came here dancing. It’s joy. And that was the name that came to me.

Us: Awesome. Well, anything else you want to say?

Tina: Well, I am grateful to God for the inspiration to write this, and to our family, and family in general. Even when families make each other crazy, they can work stuff out, and still like each other in the end.

Us: And we sure like you.


SO, in honor of our Mommy’s book, we are giving away a copy of it! To enter, in our comment section below, tell us the story of YOUR name, even if it’s just “my mom liked it.” We will announce the winner on Friday! It is also available here on Amazon. And below is a picture of our very own “Gillespie”, our very much hoped-for cousin Avery, who is now 20. 


(Almost) Storytime Dropout

by SweetMidlife


Lynne here.

So there is a really neat independent children’s bookstore near me, and they run weekly story times where you can go with your kid for 30 minutes and hear a book, and your kids can run around or listen, and it’s warm, and it’s free, and you get to support a local business. And twice a month, I am one of the people reading the stories, and I LOVE it. I thought this would be a perfect way to make a little money AND get to spend time with my toddler, because he could come with me! No need for a sitter! And he would serenely sit on my lap and love the sound of my voice, and be excited that we were engaging with other kids, and look up at me with eyes of wonderment and gingerbread and it would be heartwarming and scrapbook-worthy. And it has been. Although sometimes it has been a scrapbook assembled by the WWE. Or the Three Stooges. Or Ashton Kutcher in his Punk’d days.  Because the first time I brought him, it was amazing, but mostly because a mom I know from the mom group I go to happened to be there, and my son was in his stroller, sitting next to her and her kid, and it was really sweet. Then other times I’ve taken him, and he melted. Down. And the guy who owns the shop let him hang out with him for a bit, and would then send him back to me for the last story/song.

Then a few weeks ago we had a small-ish crowd. All the better for my son’s epic fit. He whined. He wanted to run. He went to hang out with the store owner. He started to cry because the store owner wouldn’t let him eat wires or something. And then, in his final act, during my last song, “Snuggle Puppy”, a song about the sweet bond between child and parent, my child walked in the middle of the other kids, found a clearing, and threw himself down on the floor in a sobbing mess. Doesn’t that make you feel warm?

As we were leaving, I went to the owner and said that I wasn’t sure that we could continue this, as I need to take care of my kid, as well as not repel people from coming to his shop. And he said that he was sure that Alexander was just having a bad day. Or, a terrible horrible. no good, very bad day, says me. So I said we would regroup after Christmas.

And I kept thinking I was going to quit. It made sense, to not torment my child or the other parents, and then maybe we would try again when he turned two. But I started thinking that this would be 3 weeks after the last time. And 3 weeks in toddler time makes a huge difference. So we went back yesterday.

And it was GREAT. I strapped him into his stroller as we were starting and sat him next to me. And he clapped. And he sang. And he started passing toys that didn’t belong to him to other people. But it kept his interest and theirs. And he did get a bit antsy and wanted to be the only one who saw the book I was holding. But he got over that. And he had a great time. It was an answer to many prayers. So we will keep doing it. And I am hoping that he and I both continue to grow and learn how to deal with other people and with each other. Because we’re kind of stuck with each other. Happily.


Do Yourself a Favor and Read This Book.

by SweetMidlife

It’s Lynne!!

I got a Kindle for my birthday, and like I do when I am in the library, I can never remember the names of the books I was supposed to get. I had a hard time figuring out what my first E-book should be. Then I remembered that there was this new book by Rachel Dratch (you know her from “Saturday Night Live” as Debbie Downer. Ooh, or from that funny skit she and Will Farrell used to do where they always called each other “Lovah”) about her life post-SNL, both career-wise and personally, including her surprise entry, at 44, into first-time motherhood.  The book is called, ” Girl Walks Into a Bar”, and it is funny and real and honest and I loved it.  If you are a fan of Miss Dratch’s (I am), you should read it, but even if you weren’t an SNL fan, you should read it anyway.  It’s a wonderful true-life story of someone who always considered herself a little awkward (been there?) and who had counted herself  out for ever having a family because of her age, and who thought she knew the way her story would end. And she was pleasantly surprised by who she is becoming, even at an age where we resign ourselves to wherever we are. But you know that’s not true, right, Sweet Mid-lifers? Well, it’s not. There can always be another chapter to your life, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  Read the book. You will guffaw out loud. You will see yourself in some of it.  And you will want to step out and do something you thought you couldn’t, no matter how little.  So go get it already.

Smart Girls Are Good Catches

by SweetMidlife

So Good Friend Elicia sent this to us last month, and it was so good we had to post it.  It’s from a blog called Nona Merah, and this post is called “A Girl You Should Date”.  It goes on to say that girls that read are a catch because, among other things,  they have imaginations and know how to use words beautifully.  They understand things.  And we agree.  So, to you girls out there addicted to the written word, and to the women you will grow to be, keep it up.  And to all those looking for Ms. Right, don’t ignore the woman with her nose buried in a book.  She can take you places.

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