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New Year, New Me?

by Robin Rieger

I have never bought into New Year’s resolutions. Trying to make commitments to do something like work out more and eat less seemed useless to me. Dust and clothes always draped whatever exercise machine we had and a Boost slushie (a staple in Burlington County’s river towns) is just too good in my opinion to pass up. So the start of 2014 really is to me, a continuation of a year that began in April of 2013 when my career in local TV news came to an end. I wondered how my first year free after the last 17 working at CBS3 would feel.

I can tell you change is good despite having feared it. I loved my job and it fulfilled me in many ways, but I started thinking more about time and the value I placed on it. Time then was measured by how long my photographer and I had to get interviews, shoot video, write and edit our story before we had to get it on the air. Would I get home after a six o’clock live shot in time to have dinner with our kids? (Most nights, no.)

I’d count down the working days left in the week before I was free to do something with Tom and our kids and calculate how many weeks until vacation. Then on vacation, I’d tick off how many days I had left.

I started to feel like I was waiting to just live. I’m not complaining; I knew the career would be as time consuming as it was rewarding, but as our kids got older and busier, the scales tipped too heavily on work. The lack of balance was weighing me down. Funny that one of my first projects at home was taking what felt like a ton of bricks (almost two full pallets) and using them to cover a long despised weed strewn stretch of dirt alongside our driveway. I sang along to every country song on the radio as I pulled wheel barrow after brick-filled wheel barrow and loved every minute of it.

I am a project-driven person and our house is an HGTV show waiting to happen. (Tom often came home from road games to rearranged furniture.) While the kids were at school, I organized closets, cleaned parts of the basement and attic, and made plans to do more things. Tom and I played golf, enjoyed lunch or a movie. My only deadline was the end of the school day. I could pick up the kids, see them play with their friends, have dinner with them and do homework (algebra ... still not my strong suit). We lived by our own schedule, a hectic one that included travel soccer for both kids and a stint at helping to coach my daughter’s team. (I’m not sure if I was any good at that, but I think my daughter liked having me there.) On top of that ... as mentioned in a previous column ... we got a puppy! Sometimes I feel like I’m on my third maternity leave, this time an endless one with an instant 2 year old. Potty training, no biting and please come when I call so I don’t have to go get you in the cold rain!

Professionally, an agent helps me audition for voice work and commercial work. I’ve landed nothing yet but it’s been fun trying. I was kind of bummed not to get a tiny part as a reporter in a TV series or as a mother in a Campbell’s Soup commercial. For that audition, they asked for the whole family to come. I was supposed to stir stew and, since Tom is the chef in our house, I surely looked liked a stiff. Our son, totally natural looking playing Minecraft on my iPad got the call back, but in the end no part.

I told him the best part of it was that we tried it. It reaffirmed for me the change that started in April and continues. When one door closes, another one opens. I consider this column my stew. I put in the ingredients, stir it up and let it simmer. I test it, make some adjustments and, as every cook does, hope whoever tries it likes it, too.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 10 January, 2014).
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