Monday, October 29, 2012

Linda Lou's 10 Rules for Life at Any Age

I've been meaning to blog about this for a while--actress Ellen Barkin's 10 Rules for Life After 50, which originally appeared in O Magazine.

First of all, what the hell is she wearing?  I wouldn't be caught dead in that. Nineteen eighty-three called--they want their shoulder pads and big, ugly bows back.

Besides that, I absolutely cannot stand stupid-ass lists of rules like this.  Don't wear your hair longer than your collarbone?  That might be a good rule for men over 50, but does anyone think Susan Sarandon, Goldie Hawn, or Marlo Thomas would look better in short hair?

Surprisingly, I routinely break only four of these (3, 4, 7, and 8) and disagree with, but don't violate,  1, 5, 9, and 10.  That means I'm with her on 2 and 6, and only if the body is truly toned.

Which ones to you agree with?  Which ones do you violate yourself?

Yep, rules like that are stupid.  Unless, of course, they're mine.

Linda Lou's 10 Rules for Life At Any Age
(for women and men)

1.  The most important thing you should wear--and every single day--is a smile.  Like the song says, "You're never fully dressed without a smile."

2.  Stand up straight.  You'll immediately look younger and thinner, and you'll exude confidence and a sense of authority.

3.  Get yourself a sexy walk.  People will enjoy seeing you coming... and going.

4.  Make it a point to talk to strangers. Bonus points for every person you talk to who's over 70 or under 7.

5.  Buy some fun underwear. It's hard to take yourself too seriously when you know you have Sponge Bob on your ass. 

6.  Wear whatever the hell makes you feel good, but if you must wear your pants halfway down your thighs, remember the rule:  "The lower the pants, the lower the income."

7.  Think twice before doing anything that will permanently alter your body, whether it's cosmetic surgery or tattoos.

8.  If you insist on mutilating yourself with those giant holes in your earlobes, I beg of you, DO NOT work in a place that serves food.

9.  Speak proper English. Not because this is America--because you seem uneducated if you don't.

10.  Hmm...  I'll leave this one for you.  What do you have to add?

Friday, October 26, 2012

All at once now: "Awwww..."

Every once in a while, I slip into proud granny mode.  Forgive me, but I just have to share this cute video that my daughter, Courtney, made of Hazel.  The music is homemade, too--that's Courtney singing.  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Identity crisis: Can I believe I'm a comedian?

Last Thursday night I had the opportunity to do a set in the Glimmer Theater at the LVH, formerly--and better known--as the Las Vegas Hilton.  I was the second comedian to take the stage, and until it was time for my set, I sat in the second floor balcony and watched the show below. The only other person up there was the sound guy.  

At one point, I felt a presence in back of me--over my right shoulder, to be specific--and knew it to be my father. Who died in 1999.

Ed Haber was a funny, funny man.  Truly hilarious.  And he would be giddy out of his mind by the fact that one of his kids was performing stand-up comedy in a legendary Las Vegas venue. But would he ever have imagined that kid would be me?

I doubt it. My sister Lori is a riot, a walking party.  I always tell people that if they met Lori, they would look at me and go, "... meh."  Every goddamn thing out of her mouth is hysterical. My brother, Steven, has a super quick wit; he could easily go into comedy. My other sister Lisa and my youngest sister, Stacie, also have a very keen sense of humor.  Yet I'm the comedian. No wonder my father showed up the night I performed at the Hilton--he probably had to see it for himself to believe it.

My weekly sessions with my comedy coach, Michael "Wheels" Parise, are akin to going for therapy.  He's digging into shit and driving me to confess things about myself that are much more comfortable left under the rug.  Although I've made a lot of progress overcoming stage fright on my own, I still have some performance anxiety that is getting in the way of my ability to reach my full potential when it comes to performing, and Wheels is like an exorcist trying to rid me of that crap.

The root of the problem, I'm finding, is my inability to identify myself as--and believe that I am, in fact--a comedian. Even until last night, I referred to myself in the banner of this blog as a "stand-up performer," instead of "comic" because I have trouble believing I'm a comedian. I have no problem identifying myself as a writer, and I know I'm a damn good writer.  My book is well written and it's funny as hell. So yeah, I'm even a damn good humor writer; my material is strong. And I'm a damn good speaker and presenter.  And I have good stage presence.  And a persona that people find likeable.

So putting it all together, you'd think I'd be able to admit that I'm a damn good comedian, since evidently I'm damn good when it comes to all the ingredients that make a damn good comedian.  What the hell else do I need?

According to Wheels, I need to believe that I'm a funny person. 

What I'm doing now is writing funny shit, and then rehearsing it and performing it like an actor.  This is causing anxiety because if I mess up a line or the sequence of my prepared material, I'm fucked because I've rehearsed it a certain way.  Wheels is telling me that I over-prepare; that I should be able to pull material out of my bag of tricks in the spur of the moment and relate it to the audience in front of me.  I just need to go out there and be myself, he says, because I'm a funny person with funny shit to say.

Sure, I say funny stuff, but... I'm a funny person?

You see, I was always "the smart one." (Though all of my siblings are smart, too.)  I was so freaked out anticipating the fundraiser show I did in Albany in August because I knew I'd be performing in front of people who'd known me a long time and who'd never have thought of me as the class clown.  I can't tell you how many people from my "early years" have expressed surprise upon hearing I do stand-up comedy.  "I always thought you were nice, but I don't remember you as being funny," is what I usually hear.  But the show in Albany was fantastic, and no one left that venue doubting my comedic abilities.

Wheels is so goddamn perceptive; during our session yesterday he asked, "Every time you leave the stage, you feel like you've just pulled something off, don't you?" And that's exactly how I feel.  Instead of being a comedian having fun with the audience, I'm more like a reluctant actor, playing a comedian, and I'm relieved that people actually buy it.  Wheels gave me tips on how to break through that barrier, and I'm going to put them into practice on Friday night. I'll be doing a set at Choice's Pub on Cheyenne and Rainbow; showtime is 9:00.

I told Wheels yesterday that no one who's seen me perform would ever suspect my identity crisis; I pull it off so well it's like my dirty little secret.  I'm sharing this here because maybe you need to change the way you see yourself in order to achieve your own goals. I would never be able to identify what exactly is holding me back, much less know how to work through it, without his help.  I can't stress enough how important it is to enlist the services of a talented coach to help you get to the next level.

Hopefully Dad will show up Friday night so I can show him... I am a comedian.

Monday, October 22, 2012

New posting schedule, and has your income taken a ding over the years?

First, to update you on one of the job opportunities I talked about last week--the one that never returned my phone calls or emails like one of those boyfriends who's "just not that into you." Well, after a phone interview, a Skype interview, and spending hours on an editing assignment they gave me, I finally received a rather vague "We are currently reviewing our project and staffing needs and will have a better idea of what specific project needs require what skill sets in the next month..." reply. Whatever.

Man, I am sour.  I can still put on a happy face during an interview--I'm still an eternal optimist--but I can tell you right now, any further "assessments" prospective employers want to give me had better be limited to a half hour of required labor. I'm not putting hours worth of work on something that may or may not ever be returned with common courtesy. 

Mike is convinced that employers are farming out real work to job applicants to see how much they can get done for free.  I'm not that cynical, but I'm starting to wonder if he has a point.  How many candidates did free instructional design work for CenturyLink? If they had five people create a 45-minute session on how to sell an iPad, chances are they can walk away with a curriculum developed pretty much for free.

But wait!  There's more... 

Is it me, or are wages these days not what they used to be?  I have yet to come across an opportunity that pays anywhere near what I made back in 2000.  And lately the figure that's being thrown around is the same I was making when I got out of grad school in 1991.

I was bitching about this to my mother, and she reminded me that every one of my siblings has had to take some kind of mandatory furlough. So is anyone making more than they did in the past, or are employers leveraging their upper hand by squeezing a little more work out of their workers for a little less pay?

What's been your experience?

Changing subjects...  For the first time since I started this blog in July 2008, I've decided to change my posting schedule--I'll now be posting on Mondays and Thursdays.  I hate to cut the schedule from three posts a week to two, but I've begun to write my next book and really need to devote as much time to that as I can.  Plus, I'm working more seriously on my comedy.   

It's important to me that I maintain a regular schedule that people can count on, and for more than four years, I've been pretty damn reliable.  Posting two days a week will help me maintain that reliability. And I'll throw up bonus posts now and then--I just feel better committing to two days rather than three. 

Adorable Carmel
Don't think this is the beginning of the end; I'm not going to slowly fade from the blogosphere like so many others.  I love blogging too much, and I love my readers even more.  I'm still feeling the cozy hug I got when I met fellow blogger Carmel after a set I did at the Hilton last Thursday night.  OMG, she is ADORABLE!!!  Actually, we hugged about five times.  I wish I could bottle her hugs and envelop myself in her warmth whenever I wantedSo see, there's no friggin' way I would stop blogging.

Wow.  I forgot to tell you I did a set at the Hilton last week.  Great stage, and they said they'll have me back for sure.  Yay!

Sending Carmel's hug your way... 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

I've been away (again!)

Had a great weekend in Sedona with one of my girlfriends. Exhausted now, but will post in the morning!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What companies forget: job candidates are potential customers, so treat them right!

Having been conducting a job search for over five months now, I've come to the conclusion that most companies are missing a very important point:  the way they treat their candidates who apply for their jobs reflects on the organization as a whole.

Remember back in August when I complaining about how one company had asked me to do a 45-minute mock training session on "How to sell an iPad."  And in addition to presenting the content, I had to design the curriculum?  And the job was not even an instructional designer job--it was strictly training presentation.  So I did it, and believe me, my presentation was much more involved than simply demo-ing an iPad.

And guess what?

After spending friggin' hours writing up an agenda, identifying training objectives, preparing a competitive analysis and a features/benefits matrix... in addition to creating a couple of exercises to measure training effectiveness...

Over two months later...

I've heard NOTHING.

Nothing.  After putting in all that work, not to mention all work it takes for me to get dolled up for an interview, I didn't even get the courtesy of a "Sorry, Linda, you suck" rejection letter.  


The job was at CenturyLink, "reliable local provider of high speed internet, phone and TV services." And I can tell you, the next time someone shows up at my door asking me to change my current provider to CenturyLink, I'm gonna tell them they can kiss my big black ass. ("Big" and "black" in there for emphasis only.)

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with companies?  Are they so fucking stupid they don't realize that job candidates are also potential customers?  That their HR departments also include an aspect of PR?  I realize companies can't possibly acknowledge every single resume that comes their way, but if you're going to make candidates jump through hoops and spend hours on their friggin' "exercises," then at least have the common courtesy to throw them a bone of communication now and then.

Last week I told you I had two good employment possibilities on the radar.  I had a couple of phone interviews with a company out of Canada for a local contract position.  Those people were fantastic about keeping in touch; I'd get a phone call or email every few days with a report on their client's progress.  Unfortunately, today I got a very nice email saying that regrettably, their client has decided the project will not come to fruition, but said they "highly value your skill set and are honored to consider you for other roles with our clients.Nice.  Figures they're Canadians. There's a reason I love Canadians so much.

The other opportunity is with another one of those companies that gave out homework as part of the selection process.  We had a phone interview and then I spent a few hours doing an editing project before we had another interview, this time via Skype, and with another manager brought in.  I thought it went really well--there was lots of laughter and they said they'd get back to me at the end of the week or early the following week.  

That was on October 2.  I've called to follow up several times and sent a couple of "just checking in" emails.


There are a few humorous parallels between the job search and dating. But I'm telling you, my mother wouldn't let me go out with a boy who said he'd call and never did.

There's a maybe happy ending, though.  Earlier this week a company contacted me about a WORK AT HOME (!!!) instructional designer job and we had a nice interview the next day.  Fingers crossed. And so far, no friggin' exercises to do.    

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A set that will go down in comedy history

By now you've probably heard about Tig Notaro's famous set last August at the Largo comedy club in Los Angeles. After taking the stage she announced she has breast cancer and continued to detail some of the other crap she went through--like a breakup, a life-threatening bacterial infection and her mother's sudden death at age 65--all in the span of six months.

Doesn't sound too funny, does it?

On his website, my man Louis CK says, "The show was an amazing example of what comedy can be. A way to visit your worst fears and laugh at them. Tig took us to a scary place and made us laugh there. Not by distracting us from the terror but by looking right at it and just turning to us and saying "Wow. Right?" She proved that everything is funny. And has to be. And she could only do this by giving us her own death as an example. So generous."

I can't imagine what the scene must have been like. I heard Tig on NRP saying there was a woman in the audience that night who just sat there crying.  Read Louie's full account of the show here

For five bucks, you can download an audio file of Tig's amazing set on Louis CK's website.  Tig gets $4 from every sale, of which a portion will be donated to charities associated with fighting breast cancer, and Louie keeps the rest to pay the costs of delivery etc.

I just hear the set last night. She does a bit on "God never gives you more than you can handle," a sentiment I sarcastically addressed here on Saturday in regards to my friend Donna's um, "life challenges." Hey, thank you all for the encouraging words for my dear cellulite-free friend. I love how she commented that when life gives her lemons, she makes a cocktail.  She's the best.

There is a happy ending to Tig's story. She underwent a double mastectomy (wait, what's so happy about that?) and is now cancer-free. She also got a nice book deal.  “It was really amazing timing,” she said on her podcast, Professor Blastoff, “because there was a bit of a bidding war for my book, and the day that was going down I was in surgery. I was completely unconscious and under the knife and publishing companies are submitting bids for my story.”

And I was a mental patient because I couldn't blink for three weeks.

Have you heard Tig's famous set? What did you think?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Please send good thoughts to my friends

I have never been able to stand the expression, "God never gives you more than you can handle." Seriously, what kind of demented god would keep piling shit on you just because you've proven you can deal with it?  As if there's an old white man in heaven stroking his beard reasoning, "Hmmm, she handled that quite well.  Let's see what she does with this."

So when I hear the old "God never gives you..." line, I want to projectile vomit.  Especially when I think of my friend Donna.  We met in the summer of 1963, when her family rented the upstairs flat next to the upstairs flat my family lived in. I was not yet 6 years old; Donna was 5.  She and her younger sister, Gina, were "Vatican twins" less than a year apart and her older brother, Frank, had just turned 7.  My sister Lori, the baby of our gang, would be 4 that December.  We played together every day. 

In 1968 my parents bought a house on Lincoln Avenue, about eight blocks away. One of the happiest days of my childhood was when I got the news that the Saccas had bought a house around the block on Kent Street, meaning we'd be neighbors again.

Donna, me, Gina, Lori -- BFFs since 1963

The friendship between the Haber girls and the Sacca girls has been going strong for almost 50 years now.  Frank died in January 2001 at the age of 44, leaving a grown daughter from his first marriage and a young son, Nicholas, from his second. I think Nick was about eight when his father passed away.  Sadly, Nick's mother suffered from Huntington's Disease, and when she got to the point where she could no longer care for him, he went to live with his Aunt Donna and her husband, Kevin. Donna would take Nick to visit his mother in her apartment, and later in the nursing home, all the while providing love and emotional support to a boy who'd lost one parent and had to endure the pain of watching the other slowly succumb to the grips of a truly horrible condition. Nick's mother lost her battle in 2010.

Donna is the rock of her entire family; she's the one who was there for her mother during her ordeal with breast cancer and for Gina when she faced some difficult life transitions.  Nick is now in college and is quite the musician, Donna's youngest child just started high school and you'd think that maybe now she and Kevin might be able to take a deep breath and relax a bit.  They have a wonderful relationship--now should be their time to enjoy each other, right?

Well, several months ago Kevin was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I don't have to tell you how serious that is. Oh, and if that's not enough, he also has MS. 

As you know, I'm big on the whole "The universe unfolds in divine order" crap, but I've never been able to understand why my sainted Beautiful Aunt Joyce had to die so young of breast cancer--and go through all the crap that she did--and why my dear friend Donna, who's tied with Joyce in the Nicest Person on Earth contest, has yet another challenge to face.

I don't want answers because they're going to be stupid, like the "God must have a plan" bullshit. And besides, there are no answers. I just want to vent, and ask you to send positive thoughts to Donna and her family.  

Donna will be participating in a walk to benefit the ALS Regional Center in Albany through St. Peter's Hospital Foundation, and if you're so inclined to give, go to this website and select "St. Peter's ALS Regional Center" in honor of Kevin Koch. That would be awesome, but money is just money, you know?  Donna reads every post on this blog, and if you could leave a comment with a few words of encouragement, that would be really, really nice.  I know she would appreciate it.

Trust me, if you knew Donna you would love her.  She's positive and fun loving and has a great sense of humor. Always, always smiling.  I've never seen anyone smile so much.  I'm jealous that she doesn't have a bit of cellulite, but no wonder--God doesn't give you more than you can handle. Isn't that right?

Kevin and Donna

Thank you again and again, and don't forget to love every minute.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

There's nothing like a minor malady to whip your ass into shape.

Even during my non-blinking days, I knew there would be a gift somewhere in the Bell's Palsy experience. Having three weeks of downtime made me more itchy than ever to get up and running again, and with more of a consciousness to be true to myself.  As a result I took three major steps to help me get closer to my goals: 1) I started seeing a fabulous chiropractor, who's teaching me about the body's connection to emotions, 2) I enlisted the help of a comedy coach, who's teaching me SO much about performing, and 3) I participated in an Amazon promotion and spent a whopping $35 on marketing my book, which has resulted in more Kindle sales (and borrows, which I also get paid for) in the past three weeks than in the past year and a half. 

Yep, two and a half weeks after the promotion ended, Bastard Husband: A Love Story is still on fire--yay!  I picked up a few new reviews, and last week I got an email from a sweet woman in Connecticut expressing her thanks for being such an inspiration.  Awesome.

I've said this before, but I think it's something you can't hear enough: You have to shake up your energy. And a great way to shake up your energy is to seek out new people to be in your life, as I did with my chiropractor and coach. And you know who these "new people" are, at least in the beginning? Strangers.

I can't stress this enough: Reach out to strangers. Make it a point to talk to people you don't know.  Find out what they're all about. Pursue relationships with people you meet through casual encounters. 

My chiropractor suggested to start each day asking the universe to send the right people to cross your path, people who can help you get closer to your goals.  At the end of the day, reflect on every person you made contact with, and believe that somehow they are helping you along--and that somehow you're helping them along the path to success, too.

I want to share one of my first blog posts, from July 2008.  It's kind of relevant to what I'm talking about right now.  And who doesn't want to attract good luck?

How to attract good luck

Last Sunday morning I was floating in the pool reading How to Attract Good Luck, a book written by A.H.Z. Carr and published in 1952. God knows where I picked up this little gem, but I know I bought it second hand; it still has the $2.00 sticker on the cover. I want to share some simple principles from Chapter 2, “How Zest Exposes Us to Luck.”

According to the author, in order to attract good luck, we must first be exposed to it. Carr states that most of the time a lucky episode occurs when somebody says something important to us, and that a high proportion of luck comes to us through strangers. “Between ourselves and those who cross our path,” Carr says, “chance throws out an invisible thread of awareness, a ‘luck-line.’ It is not too much to say that any new acquaintance to whom we throw out a luck-line represents a possible gain in our future luck and happiness.”

Carr goes on: “To say that to expose ourselves to luck, then, means in essence to come into healthy human relationships with more people.” This means the more luck-lines you throw out, the more luck you’re likely to find.

The author contends that “unexpected friendliness” is the secret of much of the luck of life and offers this verse from Edwin Arlington Robinson:
“There came along a man who looked at him
With such an unexpected friendliness
And talked with him in such a common way
That life grew marvelously different.”
Unexpected friendliness. Are you leaving yourself open to it?

I often say that writing is a lonely endeavor; the overwhelming majority of us are soloists. But think of the luck that could happen if instead of writing at home, we move to a café or other public place.

Unexpected friendliness. Are you offering it to others? That's the key, if you ask me. You're really, really lucky when you've been able to make someone else's life "marvelously different."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Back from Idaho -- great trip!

Got back to Vegas tonight after a fun few days in Boise.  Every time I go there I think, man, this would be a great place to live.  Fantastic restaurants, not one but two comedy clubs, an educated population, a low crime rate, Ross Dress-for-Less stores all over the place, an independent movie theater that sells wine and microbrew beers, a funky downtown with lots of bars and outdoor seating, a thriving music scene, moderate weather, and new construction everywhere!

The only downside to Boise that I can see is it's a bit isolated; there's not much else up there. And it's not easy to get to Albany, which is major for me.  Oh, and it's not very diverse.  Saturday afternoon I was buried in my cellphone at the gate waiting to board my plane to Boise, when I happened to look up and saw two black guys sitting across from me.  I swear to God, I looked around to make sure I was at the right gate.

Saturday night I did a short set before my comedy coach, Michael Wheels Parise, took the stage at the Varsity Pub in Meridian.  He had never seen me perform before--just saw some videos--so I wanted to do well, and I did.  Whew!  I meet with him for a coaching session tomorrow afternoon--I'm so pumped to be working with him. A bunch of Mom's friends came, too, which was nice.

Mom and Stepdaddy are doing great, as you can tell by this photo.

Dining at Applebee's after the show

I wish I'd made a video of Mom's Jesus-Christ! rant Sunday morning about Dr. Phil's poor English, ending with "He's an asshole!" but I did take a picture of this word she was trying to pull off during our Sunday night Scrabble game.

Really, Mom? I bet even Dr. Phil would remember the "e."

Anyway, it's good to be home and holy crap, the husb really went to town cleaning the kitchen while I was gone.

And we're not even having a party!  Maybe we should...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Will this birthday ever end?

I'm flying up to Idaho today and I'm gonna freeze my ass off! We're enjoying Vegas' weather "sweet spot" right now--highs in the 80s, overnight lows in the 60s--and oh, it is glorious! I forget that it's starting to get cold in much of the country, since after all it is fall. Here are a couple of photos I took the other day on my what should be, but isn't really daily walk.

Man, I love living here!

Boise is going to be in the 60s during the day and 30s at night. Brrrr! But I don't care--I'll be there to celebrate my birthday with Mom and Stepdaddy. (I know what you're thinking--will this friggin' birthday ever end?) Also, as I mentioned the other day, quite coincidentally my comedy coach Michael Wheels Parise has a gig up there this weekend and I'm going to do a short set as well, so that will be fun.

Um, let me just bring up my birthday again. Mike took me to the buffet at the Wynn--delicious!  It's on the pricey side, but it's definitely worth it.  Here I am on our way out, about 10 pounds heavier than when we came in.

Of course, I had no willpower when it came to the desserts.

I absolutely love the colors in the Wynn. I'm really affected by bright colors, and just walking around that place makes me happy.

After we ate, we walked over to the Encore, another Wynn property.  I'd never been in there before.  My verdict: Meh.

One of my Facebook friends told me those gaudy chandeliers cost $10,000 each. I could clothe my entire family at Ross for that for the next three decades. How can the Wynn can be so beautiful and the Encore be so... whatever?

Later on, Mike took me shopping. What a guy!

Yeah, I really need to lay off the carbs. Not this week, though.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Inappropriate? Me?

Hey, somebody landed on my blog yesterday by Googling "inappropriate grandmother" and this is what resulted:

Ha!  Can't argue with that.

I'm screwed up this week and didn't post yesterday.  I'll be back to my regular posting schedule tomorrow.  Happy Friday, everyone!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

As promised, and a repost of my birthday wish for you

This is what 55 looks like, bitches!

Last month I promised to post a picture of myself in a bathing suit on my 55th birthday... damn you, Carmel, for remembering!

 I was hoping to drop a few pounds before today, but that damn Bell's Palsy got me off track. (Excuses, excuses...)  I guess it could be worse!

Hey, here's a repost from October 3, 2009.  Still holds.

My birthday wish -- for you

Today is my 52nd birthday. I know--holy shit, right? So here I am in Boise with Mom and Stepdaddy and let me tell you how happy I am to be 52 years old and still have my mother, and in good health. Well, physical health.

I woke up today to the hum of the mixer and there was Mom in the kitchen making my birthday cake. On the kitchen table was a big-ass plate of brownies.

Me: "You made brownies, too?" Yikes, is Mom going a bit overboard on the sweets or what?
Mom: "Oh, they were supposed to be your birthday cake. I knew something wasn't right when I was mixing it up. The boxes look alike, you know. Not that I'm gonna make anything from scratch--ha!"
At least the physical health is still intact. Poor Mom, though--imagine what it must be like to have a kid who's 52? I'm freaked out that my kids are 30 and 31.

Birthdays are traditionally a good time to assess where you are in life and how close you are to where you want to be. But I'm gonna say F that. Why? Because when you frame your birthday in that way, it's nothing but a perfect opportunity to make yourself feel inadequate. Like surely you should have accomplished more by this age.

So let's shake the Etch-a-Sketch and erase any notions of how your life "should" look at this point. Instead, think about how it still can be.

Over the past several months, I've been doing some editing for Rudy Ruettiger, the man behind the hit movie, Rudy. He lives here in Las Vegas. One of Rudy's favorite lines is,
"What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"
Most people don't dig deeply enough within themselves to truly consider and come up with an answer to this question. But if you really think about it, you're sure to uncover a true desire. And under that, I'll bet you anything, lies a true God-given talent.

Talent. I believe we've all been blessed with it. But for any number of reasons, this talent often gets suppressed. A while back, I heard from a reader who said she always wanted to write, but gave up that aspiration long ago when a teacher told her she was no good at it. And I'm telling you, the email she sent to me was beautifully written. Forgive that stupid teacher and shake the Etch-a-Sketch, sister. And start writing.

Finally, finally, I've come to realize that my God-given talent is my writing (though Mom could have told you that years ago). I'm 52 and finally have a book for sale, an outlet for my writing, my humor, and a way to motivate others to make the most of their own lives by looking at mine. I've said a million times, "Everything in its right time" and I do believe that--the universe unfolds in divine order. But we also have free will, so why not make "the right time" sooner rather than later?

So my birthday wish is for you to take some time today to consider
What is your God-given talent? What do you do better than almost every person on earth? How can you share your talent with the rest of the world?
These are not rhetorical questions. I'm really asking you; I expect answers (even if you answer in your own head). I want you to tell me what your talent is because by telling me, you're also proclaiming it to yourself.

Think about what makes you wonderful and have yourself an incredible day, knowing that in your own unique way, you kick ass. That, beloved readers, is my birthday wish for you.

Have a great day!  XOXO

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear

My first meeting yesterday with my comedy coach, Michael Wheels Parise, was awesome! He was very encouraging--and seemed genuinely impressed about where I am right now--and has some definite strategies to help me get to where I want to be.

I've known of "Wheels" for a while and had considered his coaching sessions months ago, but after I researched him a bit, I didn't think he'd be for me.  Wheels is tight with Andrew Dice Clay and opened for him for years... not exactly my style, right? Then I saw him speak at the World Series of Comedy a couple of weeks ago and thought, okay, he's been in the business for 26 years and can talk intelligently about it.  Then last week I heard him speak again at an informal workshop one of my comic friends put together. I talked to him afterward and figured I should give this guy a try.

Oh, man. That was a good decision.

Funny--last week when we were setting up a time for our meeting, he mentioned he'd be in LA last weekend and was going to Idaho this coming weekend.

"Where in Idaho?" I asked.  He said he'd be flying into Boise, but the club is in Meridian. "Holy shit!" I said. "I just booked a flight to Boise for Saturday.  My mother lives in Meridian!"

Meant to be, we concluded.  So of course, I'll be checking out his show Saturday night. In freakin' Idaho. Cool coincidence.

So then as we got back to the time/place specifics for our first meeting, he asked what section of town I live in.  Turns out we're in the same neighborhood!  Couldn't be more convenient.

We spent almost an hour and a half together yesterday at the Starbucks down the street.  He takes a holistic approach to his coaching, saying it's important for him to really get to know the person. Makes sense--a good comedian is authentic, and has a good sense of self.  You have to in order to build your on-stage character.

Whatever his stage persona, in real life Wheels is a sweet family man, with Facebook albums full of photos of him with his wife and 7-year-old daughter. He has an appreciation for the metaphysical and practices TM (transcendental meditation).  A perfect match for me.

You know the Buddhist proverb, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear"?  That couldn't be more true.   My chiropractor is another teacher who recently came into my life, and I'm learning all kinds of stuff about the human body.

Some people are adverse to looking for help; they think it's a sign of weakness or that they can learn whatever they want from the Internet. That's just crazy. There's nothing like personal attention. If you want to develop your God-given talents, learn something new or simply get in better shape, I urge you to seek out a teacher.

Why wait? I'm gonna be 55 tomorrow, people. Time passes quickly.