Jennifer and I first met when we both worked for HealthyWomen.org, the national nonprofit center for women’s health information. We quickly hit it off, understanding one another’s quirky sense of humor and work ethic. We’ve built a professional friendship that allows for a bit of goofiness. We’re relaxed with one another and still get things accomplished.
After writing health content for HealthyWomen for 13 years, a reorg happened and well, things changed. That’s when I decided to go full steam ahead with thePause, with Jenn enthusiastically along for the ride.
Jennifer: ’Tis very true that it is usually Sheryl who barrels us into the future. Take this week’s newsletter format. Would I suggest this? Nope. Will I be pleasantly surprised by how Sheryl makes it all work? For sure.
5 Things to Know About Us
Jennifer: Detours are always part of life’s journey — and that’s definitely true when Sheryl and I get to talking about what’s next for thePause.
Here, Sheryl borrows from the always-insightful Alan Alda, whose wonderful podcast, Clear and Vivid, often wraps with one last probing question for his guests. (One of Sheryl’s recent favorite episodes is this one, where Alan interviews a rabbi about death. “Believe it or not, it’s comforting, enlightening and at times, entertaining,” she says.)
What do you wish you understood?
Sheryl: I wish I understood why some people are so vengeful, hurtful and mean. Why can’t everyone play nice? The world would be a better — and less stressful — place.
Jennifer: I wish I understood better what to worry about and what to just let go. I know all the sayings, like “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” but sometimes that small stuff is what keeps you up at night.
How do you tell someone that they have their facts wrong?
Sheryl: I don’t. Being a Libra, the sign of the scales, I like peace and balance, not confrontation. That said, I do have my limits. If you push me too far, watch out. Instead of telling the person outright that they’re dead wrong, I usually gently suggest they might want to reconsider their stance.
Jennifer: It matters the situation but if I’m going to rebut someone, then my first line of defense is to ask where they got the fact in the first place. I suspect it stems from my early years as a newspaper reporter in South Carolina, where the libel laws demanded double confirmation on nearly everything — or a tape recording. (We recorded everything!) I’m going to need more than just you saying something is a fact before I believe it.
How do you stop a compulsive talker?
Sheryl: I don’t stop them, I stop listening.
Jennifer: I’ve noticed. 😜
Let’s say you’re at a dinner party and sitting next to someone you don’t know. How do you begin a true, authentic conversation with that person?
Sheryl: I ask them how they know the host. Or ask them something about themselves. Most people love to talk about themselves. Another tactic that usually works is to compliment them on something they’re wearing; that usually sparks a conversation.
Jennifer: I usually go the compliment route as well. I’ll often say something self-referentially unexpected like, “Have you seen the bathrooms here? They’re amazing!” Everyone likes talking about wacky sink fixtures and the like.
What gives you confidence?
Sheryl: Taking charge of a situation.
Jennifer: Knowing my facts. (See above.)
A word or phrase that makes you cringe?
Sheryl: When people say “To be honest…” Does that mean everything else they’re saying is dishonest?
Jennifer: Ha! For me, I think it might either be, “For me…” or “At the end of the day…”
The biggest surprise people might not know about you?
Sheryl: I’ll soon be a grandma of twin boys!! (Me, a grandma?! I can’t be that old!)
Jennifer: I’ve always assumed that Sheryl was a child bride. It’s the only explanation. #hotgrandma 👀
As for me, maybe it’s that when there isn’t a pandemic raging, I sing in a punk band? I don’t hide that fact but it does seem like a secret right now since we haven’t seen each other in person for more than a year.
How you really feel about your childhood?
Sheryl: It pretty much sucked. I was self-conscious, sad, shy and lonely. And yet, I always had lots of friends, who probably had no clue of my inner angst.
Jennifer: I love the stories I got out of my childhood. When an old experience pops into my head, I particularly miss my late brother. We always enjoyed retelling each other those stories over and over again — if only to make Mom laugh!
Sheryl: Jennifer quickly “got” my vision for ThePause, saving me a lot of explaining. I mean, how many times in life does that happen? You’ve gotta grab those magic moments and run with them. Besides, keeping up with her wit, enthusiasm and hard work (not to mention her endless projects, including her awesome podcast, The Breadwinners), makes this “work” a whole lotta of fun!
Jennifer: ThePause is my chance to work with Sheryl every week, even as we focus on other projects as well. (Like her many, many awesome articles for Parade!) It also helps that she answers every health question that pops into my head.
What’s the one thing a Pauser could do to help us grow?
Sheryl: Share us with a friend!
Jennifer: Ditto. Growing our community is our No. 1 goal right now. We want to reach as many women as possible — and grow our business as well. Clicking on this button to share us with a friend is a HUGE help and we both thank you for it!
One More Thing
Until next week, stay well. Stay healthy. Stay safe.
See you next time!
Thank you for being a friend.
Traveled down a road and back again.
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a confidant.
— Thank You for Being a Friend, Andrew Gold