3 out of 5 ain’t bad…


A few minutes ago, someone walked in and said, “My wife and I ENJOY your Facebook!” I immediately felt bad about how much energy I put into resenting those people who make negative comments.

Today I decided to focus on the fans, not the haterz.

Some things that happened recently showed me that there ARE supporters out there–I am just usually too focused on deflecting the haters, saboteurs, critics and others like them.

story: This week someone booked me for a show, saying, “Yeah, I saw your last 3 shows, you were AWESOME! I snorted out my nose, I was almost CRYING! And that last show you booked you had a magician.” That was several years ago. And he still remembered…

Then yesterday I called a business for some information, the guy answering the phone asked where I was from. North of Pittsburgh means Cranberry? I said, “The OTHER Cranberry.” Right away he said, “Oh, Oil City/Franklin?” First, I knew he was brilliant and could read a map. Then his next question was a surprise: “Did you used to do a lot of networking? Because I saw your speech in Hermitage, and you were at another networking event, and then you did comedy at my wine party one year.” Again that was YEARS ago.

I was astounded by these people, because I don’t even remember when I have appointments, even though the secretary calls me, and they write it on a card and I also put it in my phone calendar.

So next time I am engulfed with the negative, protecting myself from haterz, wondering what someone thinks of me, or regaling something bad someone said to or about me–I’m gonna stop and say, “Get your head out of your Hass (German for Hate, like ‘haterz’).”

Maybe it’s like Don Morgan of Positivity Academy says: For every negative you need 3 to 5 positive things to bring yourself back into balance.

Funny, I think that is exactly what I did on Monday’s show.  I was asked to present an employee motivation program not just to celebrate the summer.  It was also set up to voice some repressed anger at events and people in power.

So I performed as one of my comedy characters,  with customized material about their group’s frustrations on the job.  Their laughter was one of release, of feeling understood and heard.  As I commented humorously on their workplace fails and aggravation–they suddenly got one, then two, then three or more positives.  They were on their way to balance.

THOSE are the things I should start remembering too…



Pulling the Curtain on Pain

Just saw an interview and discussion on Yahoo news about Bruce Jenner’s transition.  What was most striking was Jenner’s saying that he just got tired of pulling the curtain.  Of trying to be something he KNEW he wasn’t.


I don’t know why Bruce’s experience is so interesting to me.  Maybe because I met him in person back in the 1980-1990s at a 10K race.  He had been–and still is–an Olympic hero.  I remember seeing him win the decathlon.  I thought:  ‘Wow!  Not only can he run fast, he can do all the other events in track, too.’  For me, this was amazing.  My entire childhood was spent admiring Bruce and the other Olympic athletes I’d watch every four years (I wasn’t into the Winter Olympics at that time).

Then I thought:  This is like my research on work transitions, “Living Between the Extremes”.  How my participants had to live on what I likened to parallel railroad tracks: two separate sets of expectations by societies whose values were not only dissimilar but that would and could never converge in agreement.

I will never forget Bruce’s story he told us.  About his Olympic experience.  He knew he was the favored winner, and he acted accordingly.  In the days and weeks before the Olympic Games, he said, “I didn’t even go down the STAIRS fast.”  He was careful.  Measured.  Afraid of getting hurt.  In light of today’s life of Bruce, it seems that he may have felt that way about his identity as well.

“Learning identity” was the main theme in my research.  The over-arching theme that influenced the way people made choices about their future.  We ‘learn’ from the society that surrounds us:

* who we are

* what roles and jobs and possibilities we are capable of

* what choices will be successful within our society

* what will happen if our choices contradict our society

Some of the women in my study gained strength from this division.  They knew and accepted that there were two lives, and they chose the one that was most true for them. Others caved and dropped their ideals and some of their values and joined the other track. I don’t know how they are today, what their lives are like.  Are they carrying the weight of the ‘curtain’ that Bruce described?

The women who gained strength were the ones who could LAUGH about their situation. Even their regrets were framed and cajoled by humor.  The irony, the craziness of their previous life decisions.  These women laughed in the face of a society that determines what we ‘should’ be.  They laughed.  And then–they acted differently.  Made better and more-informed choices for their future.  The laughter helped the women realize their values structure.

I’m not sure Bruce can laugh yet.  Even though his former society is laughing at him and about him, Bruce doesn’t seem to be bothered by that.  He is moving forward within his value system.  His truth is what is guiding his choices now.

Funny thing is:  whether it is a work transition, a life transition, a gender transition, a values transition, it always brings us back to our ‘self’.  Seems that especially because of the struggle, or maybe even only through the struggle, we find this original primal ‘self’ that is ours alone.

This ‘self’ that is the origin of our laughter.  The ‘self’ that my Laughter Meditation coach Pragito Dove describes as our true nature.  The ‘self’ that remembers what fun is, and what celebration is, and what life is.  I will watch Bruce and learn from him.

And I hope that one day he will laugh.

Vines Be Like, “Happy Earth Day!”

Vines in Costa RicaHappy Earth Day 2015!
 I spotted this vine on one of our night walks through the cloudforest in Costa Rica this month.  My flashlight just happened to catch it while we were walking on the twisting path.  I thought:  Wow!  That looks almost exactly like a musical staff!

Nature has always amazed me, but after that Costa Rica trip, I am more aware of nature.  It never stops being astonishing to me, and this picture is a way I remind myself:  every day is Earth Day!

What reminds YOU of Earth Day?  Share your pics on my Fan Page on Facebook!

This is Your Lucky Day

Costa Rica

Visited Costa Rica last week.  There wasn’t one day that I didn’t say, “This is AMAZING!” and “Let’s stay here FOREVER!”  Around every of the many bends in the road was a new vista.  Outstanding scenery.  Interesting animals.  And the plants–they were something out of Jurassic Park.  Like this leaf I saw on the way to Poas Volcano.
When my tour group got to the volcano, we saw it.  All the geography lessons I didn’t care about were right there in front of me.  The boiling lake on the inside of the pit.  It’s steam and smell.  The ridges that had been cut out from the rolling boiling lava flow.  Centuries of civilizations that had been part and party to this great entity.
Our guide kept telling us, “You are lucky!”  Because usually there is too much fog, too many clouds, and the volcano isn’t visible.
I wondered how many other times I have been “lucky” without realizing it.
Someone said of Costa Rica, “It’s the trip of a lifetime!”
But then again EVERYthing is.  That trip to the store to get groceries.  Will only happen once.  With those particular people, and those products and prices and your reasons for buying.  The walk around the woods.  Once in a lifetime view, because the ants will move, the leaves will fall.  Everything will change.  All the time.
At the cloud forest hike, someone told me, “Wow:  there’s a lotta LIFE here!”
That’s what I loved most about the rain forest, the cloud forest, the nature of Costa Rica.  It was teeming with life.  It was a once in a lifetime experience that happens every day there.
And I felt really really lucky.

See all the pics and even some videos of the animals, the eco, the adventure travel sports, and the people of Costa Rica–when you ‘Like’ my Facebook fan page.


Patches: Present

Last night I couldn’t get to sleep because I felt sad, but I didn’t know why.  Then I started thinking about Patches, Grandma’s cat.  She must be nearly 20 years old by now.  She’s the kind of cat who now meows in one long hyperthyroid-induced C# until the food hits the bowl.  She’s still active, goes for long walks to the barn and probably even hunts.  I felt sad thinking about the day when she’ll be gone, too.  She is the last connection with Grandma, or at least with her house, that world.

I felt sad, because it’s not just a cat, it’s a SOUL. Soul that sat at the top of Grandma’s couch and watched every stitch, saw every quilt, read every book, listened to every phone conversation. Watched every Lifetime movie.  Liked fish instead of chicken or other kinds of ‘meat’ (canned food).  Soul who scratched at the basement door in the mornings when she was ready to start her day with Grandma.  They shared days together, a life.

But I decided that I’m not bracing myself.  I’m not dreading it.  Instead I’ll take Patches as a nice reminder to wring out every enjoyment of every moment being around her and feeding her, while she IS here.

Maybe that’s what old pets—and old people—are here to remind us of—to appreciate every moment.  With them, while they are here.  And then with the next people, while they are here.

I guess that’s all there is to do.

The Most Important Thing You Can Do Today

Think you need to speed up, just to stay ahead?  Think again.  According to Laughter Meditation expert Pragito Dove, we need to think differently. To get ahead, we need to slow down.

Listen for the silence and center.  This will make us feel more grounded. And from there, we become more relaxed and open to solutions.

It’s the EFFORT that constricts us.
It’s the STRUGGLE that confines us.

It’s the release that FREES us.
It’s the ACCEPTANCE that allows us.
To be us.
To get to the answers we need.
To attain the identity that will float us toward our goals.

Give your calmness muscles a work-out.  Build the body memory. Pragito says, “Don’t wait until you’re in a chaotic situation.  You’re not going to remember,” what to do.

Start today, by listening to the entire interview, where Pragito reminds us, “You can lead your whole life like that.  From a relaxed, calm place. And when chaotic things happen, you won’t be knocked down.  You’ll be so deeply rooted in the earth, in your self.”

Life: Mush For Best Results


When people told me, “At least you have your memories of her…” after losing my Grandma two years ago, I was mad.  Those words didn’t help at all.  In fact, remembering the memories is what made me even more sad.

But today was different.  Nothing spiritual, angelic, or even logical.

I was making egg salad.

And I remembered one of the stories Grandma told me during our interviews for the book we wrote about her tips for living to 100 years old.  (She passed away 4 months short of being 102).  An important credo for her was:

Respect others and their ideas.  
Here’s how she explained it:

‘You always have to think of helping somebody instead of running them down. Never condemn them– even if they’re doing wrong.  Don’t condemn them; give them credit for it. You can think about their ideas and tell them how to improve it. If you know that you can improve them, but it wouldn’t upset them, you could tell them.  But you have to make it in a way that they wouldn’t be upset about it.

‘If somebody’s doing something you never done before, created something or something that you never done before:  You had that idea, then you could try that yourself, and that would be just like in cooking or baking. They’d show you how they were doing it.  You learn by watching others, too.

‘The doctor’s wife used to live up here on top of the hill.  We used to go up there to her house and she would do cookin’ or make things you know, for the Salvation Army or for the Auxiliary or something.  And we would always help her, whatever she was making, we’d help her do.  And some of her ideas that she had, [laughs] I thought were queer, but.  Like one day we was gonna make egg salad.  Well instead of–my idea was, that you cut the eggs up you know, with a knife and you’d put your celery in.

‘She said, “Oh!  You don’t do that!”  She gets both hands in, she takes these hard boiled eggs, and she says, “You gotta mush ‘em up like this, and then you reach your hand in to a tablespoon of mayonnaise and you mush it into there, and then you get some more mayonnaise and then you mush it in and then you put your salt and pepper in.”

‘And I thought, “Oh…”  But you know the egg salad was pretty darn good!  [Laughs.]  But other people’s ideas–when you would think about it, when she was doing that–you’d think, “Oh that’s terrible!” [Laughs.]  She would do it with her fingers, and I would have done it with a spoon or that.  Or with a knife, you know, cut the eggs up with a knife.

‘It was odd to me.  But then it turned around and—it turned out right!  But at the time you just think about, “Oh, my land!  That–that will never be right!”  [Laughs.]’

This time I didn’t cry. I only laughed.  And I kept smiling as I made the egg salad.  With MY hands, squishing it together, and adding something new.  Bringing the recipe forward into the future, with a twist of turmeric.  Because that is good for everything, Dr. Oz or someone said.  So, it couldn’t hurt, and I wasn’t going to criticize.  Not even myself.

Now I see, those people with their advice were right.  Maybe misdirected, maybe off-time, maybe misinformed, maybe well-meaning.  But eventually they were right.  It just took two years, but that doesn’t seem to bother me.  Because now the memories ARE a good thing. 







What’s So Funny About Mindfulness?

When I took the Google-inspired SIY Leadership class presented by Joseph Croskey, I learned there are many ways to achieve mindfulness.  Google describes their process in three ways:  “train your attention, develop self-knowledge and self-mastery, and create useful mental habits.”

Joseph described a few examples of mindfulness-mastery, like writing and journaling, yoga, and unicycling.  Things that I already do.  Then I thought about Laughter Meditation as ANOTHER way that is even easier than learning to ride a unicycle, and more fun for most people than journaling is.

Next weekend you can see for yourself how do-able Laughter Meditation is as a regular practice toward mindfulness, focus, and even goal-setting.  I didn’t believe it at first, but as I progressed through the Laughter Meditation training program, I could see the results. The method was especially effective during times when I was angry, frustrated, grieving, unfocused.  Those are the times I usually feel LEAST like laughing, but at those times laughter is exactly what’s needed.

Join me next week & discover a healthy, fun and easy way to recharge for Spring.  Register today for next week’s Retreat to Wellness Weekend at Gateway Lodge in Cook Forest, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Tru’-Bran’ Does It Again

Dr. Tru'-Bran'

‘This is getting too refined’– Truman complained after last night’s HT Variety Show rehearsal. He’s just annoyed each time I get out the comedy scalpel and cut away the fatty, unfunny later of our act.

This spontaneous comedy creation (what they called, ‘Dr. Tru’-Bran’) is an interesting process: Old skool meets the new age and now I realize this is a GOOD thing. It’s ’emoji’ meets Imogene Coca.  

Last month, Tru’-Bran’ invented a new comedy writing method. They have already done things with comedy that I haven’t seen in my 15 years of doing comedy. Maybe I have a lot to learn from them!  Last night we had a record FIVE new styles of comedy performance.  Moving away from the standard stand-up comedy one week at a time….  

See Tru’-Bran’ every Wednesday at Mosaic Cafe’s OpenMind Comedy Night.  And watch our comedy trio perform in “Route 66″ on March 6 and 7 at Community Playhouse, Inc.’s annual Honky Tonk Variety Show.  Call 814-677-SHOW for ticket reservations.  

See you there!