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Meredith Vieira: 'Keep your sense of humor'

Meredith Vieira answers your e-mail questions sharing her thoughts on work, life, love, family and how she keeps it all together.

Meredith Vieira will be joining the "Today" show family Wednesday, September 13, but before appearing on the show, she took some time to answer your e-mail questions about the various facets of her life. Here she shares her thoughts:

Summer vacation
Instead of asking the obvious questions about your former co-hosts from “The View,” I’d like to know what you did this summer?-- Judi from Alexandria, Virginia

Dear Judi: I spent part of my summer preparing for The “Today” show.  At first, I practiced getting up every day at 4 a.m. Then one morning, a little voice in my head said, “What are you, nuts?!  Go back to sleep while you still can.”  So I switched to waking up at 4 a.m.… and then rolling over. 

I have also been receiving the same work packets the other anchors get every night. I study them and prepare as if I’m the one who will be doing the interview. If you snuck into my home at 6 a.m., you might find me in front of the bathroom mirror interviewing Senator McCain!

The rest of my time has been spent enjoying my family. My oldest son Ben is entering his senior year of high school, so we’ve been visiting colleges. He has a good head on his shoulders and feels he would be happy at many places. Because he doesn’t have his heart set on just one college, I’m not feeling the terrible anxiety many parents go through. I just hope in the weeks ahead, we don’t fall victim to admissions angst. Stay tuned.

Our middle son, Gabe, got a job this summer in sportscasting. I’ve enjoyed watching him find a passion. He’s a 15-year-old, so focus doesn’t always come naturally. But deciding on a goal has made him much more excited about school. Of course, school hasn’t started yet. Once again, stay tuned.

As for our 13-year-old daughter, Lily, I’ve spent the past few months watching her grow from a child into a young woman. It’s scary how the change seems to happen overnight. I’m proud of the person she’s becoming… someone who thinks for herself and still likes to hangout with Mom.  I hope her teenage years continue to include me. As I said before, stay tuned.

My husband, Richard, has spent the summer finishing his second book. You may know he has multiple sclerosis. This book takes a look at other people living with chronic illness. Richard is a wonderful writer and he’s given a voice to people who feel they’ve never had one.

That pretty much wraps up my summer… time with family. And of course, with old friends. My favorite thing to do is have friends over for dinner. I’m not much of a social butterfly, but I love to be surrounded by people I love.

Diet and exercise
Congratulations on being the best part of the “Today” team! I’m a very cherished fan of yours from “The View.” With a family and busy work schedule, you always look great! What is your eating and exercise secret for always looking so good? My very best to you…Cheers! -- Kristy Lombardi

Dear Kristy: Thank you for your kind e-mail. One of the reasons you think I look great is because I have a fabulous makeup artist, Eve, and hair stylist, Deirdre, and wardrobe stylist, Fran, who make me look pulled together. Trust me, they have their work cut out for them! I try to eat healthy, but if you dangle a pint of Ben and Jerry’s pistachio ice cream in front of me, I pity the fool who gets in my way. As for exercise, I like to run (more like jog) in order to stay in shape physically and mentally. But it’s a constant battle. I definitely don’t have Matt’s metabolism!

Life changes
You seem like such a confident, well-rounded person, yet everyone has fears. What is your biggest fear in joining the “Today” show and how are you coping with it?-- Tammy from Eliot, Maine

Dear Tammy: My biggest fear is now, and always has been, a fear of failure. I think people are going to find out I’m actually an idiot.  But, you know what? I think it’s a good fear to have because it makes you work extra hard. And you never get too cocky!

I’m also afraid that on the first day I’ll tell everyone to “Enjoy the View!” and Matt, Ann and Al will have to remind me I’m on a new show!

Balancing work and family
How do you manage your time as a busy professional, mother and wife? What kind of things do you do in your downtime yourself?-- Heidi Bolebruch from Gloversville, New York

Dear Heidi: I wish I could say I manage my life well, but I’m not a professional juggler. I do the best I can and hope I don’t drop too many stitches. I also have a very hands on husband and a wonderful assistant Amanda who keeps my professional life running like clockwork so I can concentrate on my family. When I have time for myself I like to take long walks or runs. Maybe because I’m around so many people when I’m working, I crave solitude in my down time. But don’t get me wrong… I also love a good massage and a facial.

What is the best advice you could give on how to have a happy 20-plus year marriage with balancing happy children?-- Brigette Krueger from Maquoketa, Iowa

Dear Brigette: My best advice for a happy marriage and happy kids would be to always keep your sense of humor. It has carried us all through the rough patches, especially when Richard was sick with colon cancer.

Career advice
Hi Meredith. I’m planning on becoming a future anchor. What kinds of (good) tips do you have for me?-- Samuel from Mukileto, Washington

Dear Samuel: If you want to be a great anchor, you must first become a great reporter. The key is learning how to listen to people. Great reporters may come to an interview with a list of questions, but they are willing to throw them out if the interview leads them down a different path. I find it’s helpful to start out in a small market where you can get experience doing as many jobs as possible… from reporting, to producing, editing and even shooting pieces if that’s possible. The more you understand the mechanics of the business the better you’ll be at it.

Home life
I saw your beautiful home in Traditional Home magazine. Do you always keep it so clean and organized with fresh flowers all around?-- Jeff Wolcott from Seattle, Washington

Dear Jeff: I would love to say I always keep my home clean and organized with fresh flowers… but that would be a lie. If you saw it today, the flowers in the foyer are wilted… the cats dragged in a dead bird and mouse and left them in the mudroom and the dog ran through one of our screen doors. Not to mention we now have one of those huge cat scratching posts. It’s actually the last piece of “furniture” I bought because the cats have been wrecking the leather chairs you saw in one of the pictures. In other words, it’s back to normal!

“Today” crew
What is your Rhode Island connection with Matt Lauer?-- Paul Comey from Milpitas, California

Dear Paul: Sometimes I fell Matt and I were separated at birth since we were born on the same day, December 30. There’s just one problem: He’s younger! We both worked at WJAR TV in Providence (the NBC affiliate), but at different times!

What’s in a name
Hi Meredith! I have a daughter named Meredith and she was so excited to hear you coming to the “Today” show. My question to you is… How did you get your name? Does it have any special meaning to your family? I am a teacher and it was one of the few names that I never had in my classes. -- Linda Moeller from Maria Stein, Ohio

Dear Linda: My mom named me Meredith because she liked it. She was also a bit of an anglophile. It had no special meaning to my family, but I always loved it because it was different. I never knew any other Meredith’s growing up, which is one of the reasons I hated it when people shortened the name and called me Merry.

Dream interview
Meredith: First of all, congratulations for joining such a wonderful team. You did more celebrity-type interviews on “The View.” Who would you like to interview and why? Also, will you be doing any primetime specials for NBC?-- Dee from Sugar Land, Texas

Dear Dee: There’s no one person in particular that I would like to interview. I’m most fascinated by so-called “ordinary” people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances or behave in extraordinary ways. For example, I have a neighbor who recently lost her 14 year-old son in a terrible drowning accident. It turns out he died from something called shallow water blackout. Instead of letting their grief consume them, this courageous woman and her husband have decided they must get out the word about shallow water blackout in order to honor their son and also prevent other families from going through what they have. I would be proud to interview them and tell their story.