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Life Lessons: Patty Chang Anker

Patty Chang Anker is reading in New York City’s Listen to Your Mother show on May 6th which Rene will host and emcee. Listen to Your Mother (LTYM) is a national series of live readings by local writers in celebration of Mother’s Day. Born of the creative work of mothers who publish online, each production is directed, produced, and performed by local communities, for local communities.  This year LTYM will appear in 10 places around the USA. Visit the LTYM National site – – to see if there is a performance near you!

Are you happy at the moment?

At the moment, I am watching my 11-year-old hand write her homework with ease, the result of years of occupational therapy and her own hard work.  Yes, I am very, very happy 🙂

If you could go back and say anything to your 16-year-old self now – what would it be?

Stop stressing out!  You will get into college. You will not get AIDS (or Ebola virus, or Mad Cow). You will not die from public humiliation (though you should pick a different prom dress). That boyfriend of yours who can’t seem to commit?  He will become your husband.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned this year?

One great thing I’ve learned is to enjoy striking up conversations with strangers.  It’s counter to every instinct I have as a New Yorker, but in interviewing people for my book on facing fears, SOME NERVE: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave, Riverhead 2013, it’s been the unexpected encounters – at coffee shops, nail salons, parties, on trains – that have yielded some of the most surprising stories and new friendships.

What do you most want to achieve in the next 12 months?

I want to tell these stories, of brave souls facing their deepest fears, with honesty, insight and a sense of fun. I want to use my book, my blog, Facing Forty Upside Down, and my testimony, to inspire my kids, my friends, and the world-at-large learn to live a more joyful life!

What’s your secret to happiness?

Fresh air, sunshine, telling friends I love them, learning new things, tickling my kids, laughing a LOT, especially at myself.  If it sounds fun, say yes and worry about logistics later. Pillow fights!

What one ritual or practice keeps you grounded?

I meditate, breathing deeply and feeling gratitude for the day.

What’s your biggest regret?

I regret every hour of sleep I have lost by worrying.  I recently heard the saying: “Worrying is a misuse of imagination.” I wish it didn’t take me 41 years to get that message.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve taught your kid(s)?

I hope I’m teaching my kids to be open to trying new things, to not let their fears get in the way. But really, if I’ve taught them to NOT eat the ice cream they just dropped in the street, that would be pretty good, right?

What bad habit would you most like to change about yourself?

I asked my 11-year-old daughter what bad habit of mine she would like me to change. Her answer: “always being in a rush.”  That stopped me in my tracks. She is totally right.

Aside from motherhood and marriage what are you most proud of in your life?

I am proud that, after a long career representing great writers, I’m finally writing in my own voice. I’m proud of the times I’ve felt scared putting myself out there but did it anyway, and ended up connecting with readers in a real way as a result.

When were you happiest?

Every time I share a big, squeezy hug with one of my girls, I think it’s the happiest I’ve ever been.

What ten words best describe you?

Friends say: Inquisitive. Intrepid. Open. Caring.

Kids say: Fun. Loving.

Husband: Vavoom!

I say: Spaz. And, Blessed.  In fact, I’ll say that twice.  Blessed.


Patty Chang Anker is a writer and the blogger behind “Facing Forty Upside Down“. She is a Good Housekeeping Magazine “Blogger We Love” and a Circle of Moms “Top 25 Funny Mom.” Her first book, SOME NERVE: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave, will be published by Riverhead Books in 2013. Her daughters just turned 11 and 6, and want their own blogs. Yikes!


  1. Holly

    April 30, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    As soon as I met Patty, I knew I was meeting someone very special. She projects an aura that makes you just want to know her. Plus, her writing gets under your skin, it is meaningful and infectious. I have loved working with her on LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER and I know that I have made a life-long friend in the process.

  2. Kir

    April 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I love that YOU say Blessed…but I am sticking to Funny, Open and ALIVE.

    When I’m around you, I find my smile brighter and my laugh bigger, you have such a beautiful VOICE and I Feel “Blessed” (sorry I stole your word) that our paths crossed!

  3. Ann

    April 30, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    I can’t wait to meet Patty, Rene, and the whole cast and hear their stories on Sunday.

    “Spaz. And, Blessed. In fact, I’ll say that twice. Blessed.” I love and completely relate.

  4. kathykate

    April 30, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Honored to have met Patty and bear witness to her generous words! LTYM and Good Enough Mother is lucky to have her! Thanks Rene, for sharing these insights!

  5. Estelle Sobel Erasmus

    April 30, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Patty is a true GEM. I feel so lucky to have met her through the cultural phenomenon of LTYM. She is someone who is caring, sharing and inspiring. She provides hope through her writing to people by showing that you’re never too old to take a chance; and that whatever your circumstance it’s a choice to never stop growing. Patty gently and with great poetry takes you along on a journey and we watch with bated breath to see what comes next!

  6. shana

    April 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    I really loved the questions you asked and was blown away by the responses. I love that she asked her daughter what she’d change about her mother. I think more of us should be so open in our relationships. We may learn some things. Great write up. I’m going to follow Patty’s blog…

  7. Patty Chang Anker

    April 30, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Oh my goodness, ladies. Add “Red-cheeked,” “Crying” and “Bursting with love” to my list. I want to give each of you a big squeezy hug! xoP

  8. Howard

    April 30, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Patty, El and I loved chatting with you Sunday. See you next!

  9. Anne Flournoy

    May 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    From simply sitting in the audience and watching you read I have very strong opinions: I love how smart and funny and willing to be honest you are (even about the hard stuff) and I love how you radiate that you’re hiding nothing. Wonderful interview too. Vavoom!! So precious.

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