My Favorite People

are flawed.

But own it.

It’s a rare attribute– most are so concerned about their image, they feign perfection.

That extends to their happiness, their health, their job satisfaction, socio-economic status.

I like people don’t pretend. Who just wear their feelings openly.

Be that with their facial expression, body language, and what they do (or don’t) say.

Who SHARE their struggles.

You know you can trust those people.

I’m not one to hide my feelings. I did when I was younger.

But since I stopped, my life improved exponentially.

I like myself better, I’m more tolerant of other people. More humble.

People treat me with *more* respect, actually.

You may lose people along the way– but at least you’re being your true self. Over time, the right people will be attracted to and stick by you. I’m not saying to be cruel and irresponsible just because you *feel* like it. Be prepared to accept the consequences of your actions and words.

What I’m saying is, the hardest person to forgive is yourself. Don’t compromise your values and feelings just to perpetuate a facade for everyone else.

I’d rather be rejected for being myself than accepted for putting on an act.

It’s the HIDING that gets us all in trouble. Why be so afraid? It’s not weakness.

We’re all human– we’ve got that in common. We have bad days, aches and pains.

Physical limitations. Disappointments. Abject failures.

Don’t feel you’ve gotta impress everyone.

Be yourself. And I promise, the right people will adore you for it.

Give it a try.

Tiny Dancer, Driving Faster: My Fourth Time Doing Stand-Up

Just got home after doing stand-up for the first time since 2012, when I bombed: I wrote it about it

I’m back on the comedy horse!

I went to see a friend, and decided to sign up on a whim. And that’s exactly how it was the first time.

I loved the synchronicity. And my friend Andi, who passed this year, she would have loved it. She was the friend who inspired me to do it the first time. And also, the same friend who was bartending that night was also bartending this time– at a different bar. She’s changed jobs, we’ve lost touch.

It was good to see her.

I didn’t plan on getting on stage tonight so I just wore whatever: a thermal shirt, a flannel, jeans with a hole in them. Boots. A little eyeshadow, but no other make-up. I felt comfortable and yes, I loved the attention.

I had a list but decided to forego it. Beforehand, I nervously texted a few friends for moral support. I brought my water and just talked like I would to my friends. I was #16 tonight– about half the audience had left by then, so it was a smaller crowd.

And it was the best time I’ve had in months. The intimacy, the solidarity, the awkwardness… I love it.

Comedy is just so delightfully HUMAN.

Other comics told me about other open mics I should hit up. I just might. Life is to be LIVED.

Life is for laughing.

On the way home, “Tiny Dancer,” was playing. I sang along and just reveled in how lucky I felt. Tonight I ranted about being short and how it’s hilarious and also awful. About my hearing-loss, which got some of the best laughs. I can make fun of the things that make me angry, and it’s a wonderful stress relief. You say it, you feel better! It’s like the world is your confessional.

I know some people who consider stand-up comedy their religion and I gotta say, I’m starting to get it.

I made jokes about my self-defense class and my Dad’s dancing and whatever came to my head. I made eye contact with no one but just rambled on, and it WORKED. I got some laughs.

I noticed that my voice is WAY higher than I thought. I sounded like a chipmunk! Afterward a friend confirmed this. Aight, I’ll own it. But it’s not gonna shut me up.

Several comics after me gave me a shout-out, and a few came up afterward to high-five me. Not every open mic is this friendly, but it was just what I needed tonight.

With a Little Help from Mary and Her Son

I lose my car keys. All the time.

So often that I separate them from my house keys, so at least I won’t be locked out of my apartment. In theory, I will always at least have ONE set.

On both key chains, I’ve got something a little bit holy attached. Not blessed, but it carries the image and sentiment.

On my car keys, I’ve got a silver key chain I bought around Christmas time at a stand in the mall. The guy makes things from Jerusalem and visits every year to sell them. It was $5, so I bought it for myself. At first glance, it appears to be the Blessed Mother in her robes, looking demurely down. But when you examine it, you find it’s two separate pieces. The front is her image, but the back is actually Jesus. Inside, they both have an image of the other inside. Each piece is connected at the top by a small triangle fixture, which then connects to the key ring itself. The pieces swing opposite ways to reveal inside a picture of the other, in color. You have to handle it to notice the detail.

I love that. Such a simple and beautiful way to show that mother and son are always connected. And really, they both derive their powers from the other– both mother and son are divine, and yet were human. They devoted their lives to each other.

I’ve “lost” my keys twice in the last week! I’m a bit absent minded and set things down while looking around in stores. But to my relief, my keys are never missing for long– not usually more than 10-15 minutes. They always seem to miraculously turn up.

No one steals them. Some good-hearted person alerts me, or if I ask, someone helps me look– and they turn up.

It happened today. I feel so blessed.

It may sound absurdly superstitious and extremely Catholic to a cliche degree. But I believe these small tokens keep me safe, and able to find my keys despite my scatterbrained personality. Whatever help I can get, I’ll take!

On my house keys, I have a small silver “guardian angel” key ring, designed to fit into your purse over the ledge. You can hang it inside your bag, whether it’s a small purse or a larger one. I often have a lot of junk inside my bigger bag. I may need a to root around in there, but I always find it. I bought it in a hospital gift shop.

St. Anthony must be working over time with me! He answers whenever I call him.

Yes, People Change: On Humility and Forgiveness

I think the most important thing I’ve learned in my life is that people change– and there’s no pride is clinging to being “right.”

I used to be a very self-righteous person. I used to feel that I was better than some other people because I didn’t have certain habits, because I believed in God and they didn’t, because I was more “together.”

I was so sure of my own “instincts”– and that I would never change my mind.

I used to be one of those “all or nothing,” people, with rigid opinions that never wavered.

I was wrong. And since then, I’ve changed.

Some people may never believe that, but I know it’s true.

I believe God gave me a lesson in humility– to remind me that I am no better than anyone else just because I have a different struggle. And to remind me that I’ve been given advantages as well, which I sometimes forget to acknowledge. To show me how it feels to be judged. And it’s hard, because we still need to draw boundaries and assert ourselves if we are uncomfortable, hurt, or angry. But we can do that without being cruel or condescending.

And that’s what I’ve been working on this year– being honest while also being more rational and less impulsive. To explain to people that sometimes I need time before I can respond– out of respect for both of us.

And I’m doing much better.

It reminds me of “Beaches”– with Hilary and Cece.

Most of the time my personality is more like Cece– I’m loud, I wear ridiculous outfits, I’m a free-spirited creative person with a dream that I can’t surrender to write. Sometimes I can be selfish and at times my temper can be sharp.

But when I’m truly hurting, I’m more like Hilary. I shut down. I don’t say anything. I try to work through the pain on my own. But I’ve learned, that hurts people more than anything I might have said in anger. Silence is often the one thing people can’t forgive.

There are times when cutting off contact is merited– when they won’t accept respect your feelings or accept your boundaries, and there is no other way. When you know that no amount of talking will change things, because you’ve already tried exhaustively and you are fundamentally incompatible.

But those times are rare.  But if someone loves you, that silence on your end is excruciating.

I’m learning to say what I feel when I feel it– and to apologize when it’s merited. Everyone has a limit– some relationships need to end and can’t be reconciled. But it’s always healthier to get your feelings out than to hold them in and let them fester.

I’ve learned to never take it for granted when someone apologizes to you. Because even if you you’re hurt beyond words and not ready to forgive, there are many people who never bother to apologize.

It takes a lot of character to apologize.

Even if the relationship can’t be reconciled, you can still accept their apology and honor their effort.

And I’ve learned that it also hurts us tremendously to withhold forgiveness out of spite. If we don’t release that energy, it becomes corrosive to our own souls at some point. It eats away at us. It makes much more energy to remain angry than to let it go.

I would rather apologize and never be forgiven than remain in perfect righteousness and never be vulnerable.

If I apologize, it’s out of my hands then. If they don’t choose to forgive me or acknowledge it, that is their choice– and it may hurt.

But it will never hurt as much as not taking a chance.

We all fight to overcome a struggle– and for every person, that struggle is different. We don’t know why we have the challenges that were given to us, but we do the best we can with them.

Here’s the thing– people are human. We all struggle with something. For some, it’s addiction. For some, it’s believing in God. For some, it’s intimacy. For some, impulsivity. For some, it’s depression or anxiety. For some, it’s money.  For some, it’s loneliness due to physical illness that makes them feel isolated. For some, it’s being TOO logical.  For some, it’s not knowing what to say even if you want to be supportive.

We all have faults. But I believe that fundamentally, we’re all good. And that we respond to how others treat us. We may go through seasons of bad judgement, but I think we all have the strength to learn and emerge thriving if we are committed to change.

If you live your life by cutting out everyone who challenges you or upsets you, you realize soon that you’re not left with many people. People are in our lives for a reason– to love us, to challenge us, to inspire us to growth by their own achievements.

I no longer believe that there is such a thing as a “bad” person. When people are in pain, they act out– it’s human.

The only answer for pain is love. I pray for them, and myself. And eventually, my heart changes. If I’m lucky, theirs does too.

Because if someone hurts you, it hurts them as well.

And if you can forgive them, you’re giving yourself a gift as well as them.

The gift of peace. The gift of not harboring resentment.

The gift of unconditional love for yourself and others.

These days, I’d rather be humble than “right.”