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Worrywarts and All

When you’re used to worrying, worrying feels comfortable.

I spent the first half of my life worrying too much.

And the second half not worrying enough.

What started me thinking was an article I saw in the newspaper this week. It was a new study on health and longevity, and the gist was that you’ll live longer if you exercise regularly, regardless of what weight you are.

Honestly, this is the best news I’ve ever heard.

Carbohydrates forever and ever.

You can eat all you want, but you have to keep moving if you wanna live longer. And right now, all I worry about is dying.

The first half of my life I spent worrying about I look how I looked.

I worried about my hair.

I worried about my weight.

I worried about my skin.

I worried about my cellulite.

My worry about appearance was part of a generalized worry about everything in life.

I worried if I could get a job, then I worried if I could keep it.

I worried if I would get married.

When I got married, I worried if I could get a divorce. Twice.

When I got divorced, I worried if I’d go broke. Twice.

Then when I changed careers, I worried if I could make a go of it.

As soon as I became a mother, I worried constantly about Francesca. I worried through ear infections, whooping cough and chicken pox, elementary school, field trips, school plays, and SATs.

Mother Mary worried with me, because that’s what mothers are for.

My father never worried. He always said, don’t worry.

But “don’t worry” never stopped me from worrying, or anybody else for that matter.

Until recently.

Because as soon as I saw that article about health and longevity, I realized that I hadn’t worried about my appearance or my weight in a long time.

Maybe I front-end loaded my worry.

Like, I ran out of worry.

Or I worried so much earlier that I used up my quota.

In any event, I have been exercising regularly, like walking the dogs two miles a day. And I ride bikes, and horses, and I do yoga twice a week.

What a good girl!

So I’m going to live forever.

But now, here’s what’s new: I’m about to start a new historical novel set in Italy, and I have to go to there to do research.

Listen, I’m not complaining. This is a great part of my job, and I’d be excited about the trip — except for COVID.

To me, a global pandemic isn’t the time to go globe-trotting.

But this is the only time I can go, workwise.

You can’t research a novel after it’s written.

And 10 years ago, on the same set of facts, I would have been too worried to go.

But I’m vaccinated and I have a supply of N95 masks. And Italy has the Green Pass, so I’m not worried enough to stay home.

This is a new thing.

In fact, I’m worrying if I should be worried more.

When you’re used to worrying, worrying feels comfortable.

You get comfortable with discomfort.

Now that I think about it, I’m starting to worry, writing this.

If I don’t come back, you’ll know the answer.

But in the meantime, I’ll try not to worry, and go.

It’s freeing, and I’m free.

“Don’t worry, be happy” is real.

If you’re worrying, you can’t really be happy.

Maybe my father had the right idea. Everything is going to turn out all right.

And if it hasn’t, it’s not the end.

All I have to do is stick around, for as long as possible.


Look for Lisa’s best-selling historical novel, “Eternal,” in stores now. Also look for Francesca’s critically acclaimed debut novel, “Ghosts of Harvard,” now in paperback.