When Something Is Hard

I had a conversation with a friend the other day about how many people like to complain about how hard things are.

Let me give you some context to help specify this very general statement.

My friend is very, very pregnant. Like, I was ready at any point during our conversation to drive her to the hospital if she started making a pained face. She’s about to pop. So she’s had a lot of conversations (some requested, most unsolicited) about parenting lately. It’s her first kid, so she’s getting all sorts of advice (again, most of it she’s not asking for). One of her closer friends had recently gone on a mini tirade about how hard it is to be parent.

As a woman of child-bearing age who’s been getting pressure for a decade to procreate, this is a refrain I hear a lot. I have dogs (I mention them often). People love to remind me how having dogs is so different and so much easier than having children (again, I don’t ask, they just offer this up as if I made the comparison on my own and asked them their opinion of it).

The most frustrating part about people telling you how hard something is, especially parenting (besides what I’ve made obvious in these parenthetical asides about people offering up opinions that nobody asked for) is the fact that they make it sound like hard is the worst thing you can do. And that you’ve never done anything as hard as this thing you’re about to do.

In a world filled with comforts, hacks, and affordable luxuries around every corner, I get why doing something “hard” gets more and more terrifying. But just because something’s hard, doesn’t automatically make it something you need to be afraid of or complain about or worry about. It’s just something different from most people usual existence (unless you’re David Goggins).

Childbirth, more than almost anything, remains incredibly difficult. Even with the advances in technology and increases in our ability to protect, track, and plan the birthing process, that large baby still has to come out of that woman’s body one way or another. There’s no hack for that (at the moment).

Yet after the childbirth process, you’ve created a freaking human life. You now get to enjoy and raise this kid. And yes, you’re going to have sleepless nights and goo in places you never expected and smell crap you never thought could come out of a human being. And that’s going to be “hard.” But you also get to snuggle with an innocent life form and hold its hand when it learns to walk and get butterfly kisses before it goes out to play in the yard and watch it learn to talk and run and grow.

Are you going to sacrifice all of that because it’s hard?

Okay, I’ve been harping on baby making for a second, mostly inspired by my friend who is probably in labor right now (you guys, she’s was SO PREGGO). But that’s not my point here. If you don’t want to have kids, totally cool. I’m not interested in a discussion about kids. I’m trying to make a point about what people think is hard.

Every morning when I get up in the dark and leave my warm bed and snuggly dogs (and husband) to do some mind clearing and head to workout, that’s hard. I don’t complain. It’s a choice I’m making that makes me an overall better human.

When I go to my hard workout class and my peppy teacher yells “Mountain climbers!” and my body starts instinctively kicking my own ass, that’s hard. I don’t complain about it. It’s a choice I’m making to improve my health and challenge my muscles to be an overall better human.

When I’m slogging through writing something and I don’t know what to say and I’m convinced I’ve already used every word in the English language and there are no more sentences that will come to me ever, but I’m only halfway through the project and I have to keep going because I’m on a deadline, that’s hard. I don’t complain. It’s a privilege to get the opportunity to create and do what I’m good at and add value to the world in a way that makes me feel fulfilled.

All of these small choices in my typical day pale in comparison to some of the much harder jobs other people have and the lives they live, and the choice they make to go to and improve themselves (or sometimes just get through them) daily.

Thank god no firefighter, military service person, police officer, construction worker, single mom, high-risk public school teacher, first responder, ER doctor, or air traffic controller was thwarted by someone warning them their job would be hard.

And those are just the choices we have. Hard things happen to us all the time. They’re inevitable. Complaining about them or worrying about them or wishing they were over doesn’t make them any easier or help them to go any faster.

The only trick to surviving something hard is just to do it. Once you’ve done one hard thing, even if it’s small, you start to get confidence that you can do something bigger and harder. And if you’ve been through something big and hard already, the hard smaller things feel more manageable.

Hard is what it is. It’s unforgiving, challenging, and unresponsive to your complains. So just do it. Learn from it. Survive it. Get through it. And your spirit will get stronger for it every time.

(And also maybe don’t offer a pregnant woman – or any woman – your opinion unless asked, k? Thanks!)

 

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Choosing Calm

I’ve been called feisty more than once in my life. My temper used to be a strange point of pride. I’d think, “Oh, man, you’d better not cross me or you’ll see the wrath of a version of myself that I can’t even handle.”

Even though I didn’t always love that my emotions would take over (and quickly), I was scared to do too much to curb it because my crazy was also a large part of my identity. I liked that I was considered somewhat unpredictable and that I wore my emotions on my sleeve and felt those emotions really strongly (and often quickly).

But as I’ve grown up, I realized that those same emotions are utterly exhausting. And, like any bad habit, they slowly fester into something uncontrollable. They’re not a big deal when you’re younger and you have more energy to fight them back and recover from the temper tantrum. But as you get older, they really do wear on you. It becomes harder and harder to fight them off. And, because you’ve let them run rampant for years, they’ve grown in their strength.

In case I’ve lost you here, the “they” I’m talking about is negative emotions. Okay, we’re back on track. Good.

Anyway, it took a leap of faith for me to accept that maybe I could more consistently be calmer. I worried what that would mean for the empathetic feelings I wanted to feel and the ability to feel emotions strongly. It turns out, when I’m able to more regularly listen to my emotions from a calmer and happier state of mind, I continue to feel things just as strongly. I actually feel them even more strongly because I feel them with more clarity.

When a negative emotion starts to take over, I’ve done the work to see it coming and notice it start to take over my mind (and tense up my body). That doesn’t mean I’m always able to control it and keep it at bay. But I can at least see that it’s happening and a part of me remains aware of the situation. Plus, as a bonus, that part of me that is aware of the situation is able to start assessing what’s really going on, while the rest of me continues to temper tantrum away. By the time my calm(er) self has returned, it’s able to have a short conversation with the emotion and identify where it’s coming from.

For example, the other day I was worried about something that y dog may have ingested. It was unclear whether or not he actually ate this thing. And, if he did, the repercussions were likely not dire, just sort of uncomfortable and unknown. The moment I caught the (possible) act, I got really upset and frustrated immediately. In the past, I may have let those emotions take over and inform the rest of the day. Instead, I talked it out for a moment. I was able to stay calm(er) and start evaluating all the opportunities here. My husband (god love him) tried to tell me everything was fine and that I didn’t need to worry. That only made me angrier and I couldn’t figure out why. Again, in the past, I easily could and would have lashed out.

Instead, this time, he took the dogs on a walk (a smart move for him) and I evaluated what was going on. Once I figured out that my pup was in no major danger even if he did the thing I wasn’t sure he’d do, I asked myself what was going on. I realized it was a flare up of an old feeling of unworthiness that was festering again. I didn’t feel like I deserved the happiness that my dogs brought me. I didn’t “deserve nice things” basically. It took me a long time to find that hidden little brain thought years ago. But once I did, I’ve made sure she knows she’s unwelcome. I have to remind her of that when she pops up at various times (like in this incident). And the frustration that was directed towards my husband was because I felt like my feelings were being mitigated, which is a trigger for me. When he came back, I was calmer, clearer, and able to talk it out. All without having too much of a fit.

In a less complicated example, it took me a while to get a necklace on this morning. I kept starting to get frustrated and  starting to feel my temper flare up. Instead, I was able to keep the tantrum at bay by simply remembering, “Whatever. It’s just a necklace. Either it goes on or it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s easier than other times. Getting angry won’t help anything and it will only make me more tense and make this harder.” So I stayed chill and, several tries later, I eventually got it.

Calm doesn’t always come naturally to me. But the more I choose it, the more it knows its welcome. And the more I feel it, the more I want it around. It’s a pleasant cycle.

Maybe that can help you consider the same.

The Magic in Failure

I went to a magic show last night at The Magic Castle in Los Angeles.

It was…yes, magical.

We got to see lots of shows and I even got to go onstage and help out the main magician for a trick. He was more of a Vegas style big trick magician and less, like, quick slight-of-hand-centric. This meant, in part, that there was some time to kill between his set ups of new tricks. So he had another act come and do some impressive juggling and ball throwing.

After his first opening bit, the magician said that it had been 19 years since he had performed at The Magic Castle (basically the Olympics for magicians). And he brought back the same friend he had with him 19 years before to help him out and entertain between his tricks. This was the juggling dude.

Juggle dude came out hot and fast. He was good, moved around, and did a bunch of impressive feats. But then at one point, he dropped one of the items he was juggling. Impressively, he was able to keep juggling the other two and quickly pick back up the third and resume as if nothing had happened. He changed the items and amounts he was juggling several times throughout the act.

He was extremely impressive, but not flawless.

In fact, at one point he was trying to blow a ping pong ball on his face and catch it with the bridge of his nose and eyebrows. He did it a few times and even sort of paused and mouthed “come on” before he finally nailed it. Because everything magic-oriented is so showy, it’s hard to know if his failures were part of the show. But what I realized was, I didn’t even care. Nor did anyone else there, really.

The man sat before a paying audience with a lot of pressure to be perfect. And nobody seemed to care when he screwed up a little. Part of me did wonder if he had been actively practicing in the past 19 years. But that was mostly because I expected perfection because I think we all do just out of habit.

What happened when I didn’t get it, though, was that I didn’t care. I didn’t feel slighted. In fact, I enjoyed sort of seeing him fail and try again. I enjoyed seeing him keep his spirits up and keep doing it until he got it. There was so much he already nailed that it didn’t matter to me that there were a few moments of imperfection. It made him human and almost more impressive that he was willing to fail in front of everyone onstage and keep going.

And, perhaps most interestingly, he was still interesting and entertaining even with the flubs.

That was the main takeaway for me from the event. I pressure myself regularly to be perfect, especially when onstage. I think that if I’m not absolutely polished, people will discover me for being some sort of fraud. The funny part is, I’ve screwed up before plenty of times on stage and in front of audiences. And I’m sure I will continue to. But seeing someone else do it reminded me how little I, as an audience member, actually care. I like seeing hints of behind-the-scenes as long as I still trust this person can get us all through it and remain entertaining.

If he had flubbed big time, it might have felt awkward. That’s when the audience starts to wonder if they can trust you to continue to entertain them. But they were just small things that happened occasionally. They were fixed instantly but not without self-awareness and a hint of happy humility.

The flaws were beautiful.

And, dare I say it… magical.

How A Robot Taught Me To Be Human

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on an airplane having just watched Wall-E for the first time. I love to work on airplanes, but I love even more to take the time to relax. I rarely relax and, when there is entertainment, I like to get caught up on all the things I’ve been meaning to see for a while.

In this case, I was very behind on Wall-E. But for some reason, it was calling to me this morning.

Let me start by answering the question I know you’re going to ask: Yes, of course I cried. I cry a lot during movies. Not just during sad parts. I sob my face off the most when people show love or work together. In this case, I was quietly wiping away tears while the derelict robots helped Wall-E and EVE (EVA?) escape the police robots. Why? Because they were all working together for something bigger than themselves and damn it, that’s beautiful.

And yes, it’s embarrassing because I’m almost always sitting next to strangers on planes and so I’ve cried in front of a lot of strangers. As Wall-E would say, “Wall-Eva.” (Say like whateva in order for the joke to land. I’m not saying it will, but I do appreciate you trying.)

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✨WALL-E✨ (25×26 mm) . "WALL-E" is one of the great silent movies. Andrew Stanton (writer/director) and his team have created a classic screen character from a metal trash compactor who rides to the rescue of a planet buried in the debris. 🌎 When hope arrives in the form of a seedling, the film blossoms into one of the great screen romances as two robots remind audiences of the beating heart in all of us that yearns for humanity – and love – in the darkest of landscapes. 🌱 . This original painting + limited edition prints will be availble on "Robots Among Us" art show at @29th_street_gallery (April 20, 2019 – May 4, 2019). I will create 9 robot miniature paintings for this show. Do you have any requests? Who is your favorite robot? 😊🤖 . . . #RobotsAmongUs #Chicago #artshow #show #robot #robots #robotart #art #watercolor #watercolour #miniature #painting #tiny #tinypainting #tinyart #miniatureart #mini #miniaturepainting #closeup #walle #disney #pixar

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The crazy message that I love love loved from Wall-E was the fact that this robot was reminding humans how to be human. And the fact that part of the reason Wall-E seemed to outlast so many of his robot counterparts on Earth was because he had a mission beyond simply his directive. He had his own personality. He had a genuine curiosity for the world. And he actively studied the world around him in order to attempt to live it even more fully. He found joy in things and showed empathy for the only other living creature he could find (a creepy little cockroach they made seem like his dog and it was both cute and unnerving).

Recently, a creative peer talked about how he believed strongly in quality over quantity of life. He came to that philosophy thanks to past experiences with people who were living with debilitating diseases and his understanding of how they coped with and learned from them.

Between his comments and watching Wall-E, I’m starting to better understand how to be human. Which is strange because I do feel like I’ve been only a human for the past, well, all of my life. But in many was I’ve just been reactive and going through the motions. I think that there are times when you can be more proactive, more curious, and more genuinely committed to whatever it is you’re focusing on at the moment.

Lesson here: Be more human and less robot, even if you are actually a robot.

I hope we all learned something today. You’re welcome.

Powering off.

Femoir the Podcast – Season 3, Episode 102: Sh*t Happens

Back again, friends.

In this episode, we talk about Mercury Retrograding. (Yeah, it happens, sorry).

I mention finding perspective.

I give a quick shout out to my hubs.

I talk traveling.

I hint about an upcoming blog post you should check out (hey, get caught up here!).

And I generally discuss chilling out.

Mostly, I’m trying to make everyone a teacher and trying to make my acting teacher proud.

Or, maybe, just make my best self proud. Who knows.

Subscribing and rating helps out, friends. But you know what helps more than anything? You being you. So keep doing that.

xo

Sweet Sweet Silence

When I was younger and I traveled, I used to have conversations with all sorts of my seat mates. Part of it was because I didn’t know how to set boundaries with people. Part of it I’m sure was thanks to my doe-eyed friendly midwestern smile that was beckoning for people to chat with me. And part of it was simply because it seemed like the polite thing to do if you’re going to be sitting next to someone for a while.

Well, things change.

I travel quite a bit at the moment. I like it. It satiates my general curiosity about humanity and what the world has to offer. It’s nothing compared to what my buddy is doing right now, but it’s still cool. Plus, I when I’m doing it, it’s usually because I’m performing at that location, and I like to perform.

All in all, it’s a win.

When I was younger and I traveled, I used to have conversations with all sorts of my seat mates. Part of it was because I didn’t know how to set boundaries with people. Part of it I’m sure was thanks to my doe-eyed friendly midwestern smile that was beckoning for people to chat with me. And part of it was simply because it seemed like the polite thing to do if you’re going to be sitting next to someone for a while.

True story: I met a guy supposedly part of Ghana royalty on my way back to Ohio once. I have no idea if he was telling the truth. I also have no idea why I took him up on his offer to sit by him on the plane rather than staying in my own seat. Again, no boundaries and overly polite.

Well, things change. Though I’m sure Ghana royalty continues to rule…right? I never fact checked this dude at all. Sometimes I think I made it up but I’m certain I didn’t. As sure as anyone can be when reality is fluid, of course.

Now that we have distractible devices in the palm of our hands, it’s easy to have an excuse not to talk to the person next to you. But more importantly, I often don’t want to. And I’m usually able to show that in my short responses or body language, if it ever even comes up at all.

I struggle with this because on the one hand, I really like talking to people. I love connecting with strangers and finding out more about their life and going on a sort of treasure hunt to find out what we might have in common. But on the other, I’ve discovered over the years that setting healthy boundaries for people is absolutely necessary to my own well-being. And, perhaps most importantly, I like to do my own thing on an airplane. Often, that thing means working. And if you get between me and my work…boy oh boy…you’d better watch out.

I’ve found myself perpetually grateful that I’ve sat next to people who don’t really want or need to chat. Maybe there’s a lost art form of conversation that we’re losing in the process of becoming more disconnected from each other with our technology. Or maybe people were always this way but my big eyes and friendly smile likely invited even the shyer types to start a conversation.

I like to think I still have plenty of that friendliness. And I have been known to chat with the people next to me, though it’s usually just in short spurts. I had a whole physical conversation with a guy next to me on a recent flight after I saw an intense bolt of lightning hit the side of our airplane and felt the plane shake (and the electricity pop out for a second). I needed to confirm with someone else that what I saw and felt actually happened. And I talked for a while with a woman next to me on a recent flight because she had her dog with her. Honestly? I just wanted her to pull out the dog and let me pet it. But she slept most of the time and so did the dog, so it was all in all pretty disappointing.

Point is, I think there’s balance to be had. You can retain your friendly nature while still keeping healthy boundaries up. And if the person next to you on an airplane doesn’t want to chat, it’s not your job to make small talk. It’s okay to do your own thing. Enjoy the sweet, sweet silence.

We Open Bananas Wrong

…and other thoughts on changing your perspective.

Who, on average, eats more bananas – human beings or monkeys? If cartoons have taught me anything, it’s that monkeys are way more in love with bananas. Sure, we humans eat them for potassium and because they’re a cheap, readily available snack when you’re in a hurry. But monkeys eat a lot of bananas. And they do so more regularly than we do.

So since they’re much more the connoisseur of the c-shaped fruit – more so even than the Chiquita banana lady herself – it’s fair to say we might be able to learn a thing or two from them.

Most humans growing up in western society have learned to eat bananas by pulling down from their longer stem. Even if you end up mushing part of the banana because the stem is stubborn and won’t pull down correctly, it doesn’t matter because that’s the way you open a banana.

And yet, monkeys do it differently. They gently pinch the black end of the banana open, which allows you to peel it clean and easy. 

Every morning, I have a banana in my morning shake. I usually do the “normal” pull away. Even knowing the monkey way is so much easier and often more effective. But while I was confronting a particularly stubborn banana, it occurred to me that if I just tried the monkey way, I could open this fruit the way it wanted to be opened. I could stop trying to force it my way just because that’s what I expected and was used to doing.

That’s when the lightbulb went off.

How often do we go through the motions just because it’s the thing we’ve always done? Even more so, how choose to do something – even if we know there’s a better way – simply because it’s what we’re used to doing? How much of the time are we on autopilot even if we know and see that there are ways to be more in control?

How many things in our life do we do that we could improve with small tweaks? How many “life hacks” exist that we could implement that would genuinely improve our life? Or even just help us to feel the easy of going with the flow rather than fighting the current? If the way we’ve been taught to open bananas isn’t the easiest way to do it, yet we still teach others that’s the way to do it, what other basic foundations of our life are we taught are normal that may make our world slightly more difficult than necessary?

We understand reality only through the very small sliver with which we see it. That sliver is based slightly on our own impressions and largely on the impressions of the world others have had that have been passed down directly to us. Sometimes we think that’s the way it is simply because that’s what someone said it was. If we just open our eyes and learn from the world around us based on our own experience (combined with the intuitive knowledge many of our animal friends instinctively have), maybe there’s so much more we can learn about the true nature of reality.

Whether or not you agree, I at least hope you found most of this banana revelation a-PEEL-ling.

I’m sorry and you’re welcome.

Femoir the Podcast – Season 3, Episode 99: Finding the Pause

Hello again friends!

We’re back for an exciting 99th episode. Since I’ve found the application of finding little bits of pause in my daily routine has helped me generally maintain a bit more balance, I figured I’d chat about it in this latest podcast episode.

I talk about Buddhism.

The book I’m reading is Radical Acceptance.

I mention LA traffic and how traffic can affect your mood.

I also mention meditation and breathing exercises.

And just generally talk mindfulness.

I don’t mention it, but this is my favorite meditation app (though there are lots of great ones out there, this is just personal preference).

Oh and of course I mention my dogs.

Enjoy! (And subscribe and leave a review if you’d be so kind xoxo)

I’ve Flip Flopped on Tom Brady. Forgive me?

Be gentle with me. It’s hard on me, too. Just…you know… hear me out.

I was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. My most formative adolescent years were spent growing up in the Peyton Manning Colts Era. In fact, the owner of the Colts had a daughter my age. The year he signed Peyton Manning, everyone on the team got rookie Peyton Manning jerseys.

I gave it to my brother. I think. He cared about football. I didn’t. I was an average pre-teen girl in a state that worshipped basketball who grew up idolizing in-his-prime Reggie Miller. The Colts had never really been all that good and I didn’t play football. So the jerseys were cool and having the owner be our first base coach most games was cool but, again, I was an average pre-teen girl. I pretty much didn’t care.

 Hindsight being 20/20, of course I wish I had kept that sucker. 

Under his leadership (and massive paycheck), Peyton Manning would transform Indianapolis sports. He made the Colts worth watching. He was good. We were starting to be good. I learned the rules of football so I could enjoy the games more. We watched them together. Eventually, Reggie retired and Ron Artest (it was his name at the time) punched some dude in the face during a game and the Pacers became the embarrassment while the Colts were the city’s pride and joy.

Anyway, on the east coast a young quarterback was also coming up the ranks. The (evil) Tom Brady had his own team that he started making really good. The (evil) Patriots under the leadership of the (evil) Bill Belichick. Since both teams were in the AFC South, it started to become a little rivalry. Then it was a big rivalry. I knew that even when I didn’t care who was playing, I always wanted the Patriots to lose. It was in my genes.

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New to instagram.

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Seriously, when you form thoughts and habits in your formative years, they stick with you for life.

I remember watching intense games with now-passed family members in their homes. It was often heartbreaking but we always had hope. And sometimes that hope paid off because, as you recall, we did eventually get that Super Bowl win.

Anyway, it’s been years – maybe decades at this point – that I have despised Tom Brady and the Patriots franchise. The cheating. The scandals. Deflategate.* And he has a perfect wife? Psssht. What a dick.

I root against the Patriots no matter who they’re playing – especially in the Super Bowl. And this year it was especially easy when it was against my (now) hometown team, the Rams.

So it was heartbreaking yet again to see a team with some shady dealings in the past take yet another W on the world’s stage at the biggest game. Knowing Brady’s model smile will have another reason to be smug makes my skin crawl.

But something strange happened to me this year. And I’m still not sure how to deal with it.

I don’t think I hate Tom Brady anymore. In fact, I think I actually might respect him.

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Happy Saturday! 🎈😍🦄❤️

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Don’t get me wrong. I won’t be greeting him excitedly like my dog Clyde does to every dog. I’ll be much more like my dog Bonnie. When she respects a dog, she ignores them. When she doesn’t like them, she goes after them. I’ll no longer be going after him, but he may get a small, subtle tip of my hat.

Here’s the thing: I know and remember all the B.S. the Patriots have done in the past to secure their wins. According to a Patriots fan of mine, everybody does it…they just get in trouble for it. My argument, of course, is: If you’re so good that you always win, perhaps consider not cheating in order to get the win.

But I’m not behind the scenes in these locker rooms. I don’t know the truth of what’s happening in every NFL franchise. So, you know, who knows?

All that aside, here’s why I find myself cultivating the slightest amount of respect for the man. He seems pretty genuine and pretty simple.

Excuse me while I puke from muscle memory. Thanks to years of hating him, it’s hard to give Brady a compliment without the very foundation of my body rebelling against me.

He could have retired a long time ago. He could never work again and be a millionaire forever. He could never take another paycheck from anything and be a millionaire (his wife is worth an estimated $360 million…twice his measly $180 million net worth).

But he keeps playing. He keeps his body in tip top shape. He uses the resources he has available to do the work.

That’s the crux of it. He does the damn work.

He’s been doing it for decades. He delivers in the clutch. He gets the stupid job done and follows through with what he sets out to do. He seems to genuinely be in love and even does sappy posts supporting his (reminder: worth more than him) wife.

There’s plenty to dislike about him. It’s easy to find reasons to hate him. Believe me. I’ve spent years wallowing in them. But as someone who has been finding more and more value in showing up for myself and my own craft, I’ve started to see him in a new light. He seems to really love football. He’s very good at football. He continues to work hard to keep playing football, even when he’s arguably one of the best football players of all time. It’s sort of that simple.

I used to hate that he had this supermodel wife. He must be so out-of-touch, you know? But I’ll be damned if he doesn’t go out of his way to gush about her and to make her (and his kids) feel super special after his accomplishments. This stupid group hug got me freakin’ choked up.

In Indiana, we used to pride ourselves on having a QB that married his college sweetheart and is a one-woman man. She’s a normal, down-to-earth girl who supports him and stays out of the spotlight. But I’ve lived a little. I’ve gained some perspective on what I admire in people. But I heard stories that reminded me that people aren’t always what they seem. And stupid stunning Gisele (who, again, I just love saying it, is worth twice what he is) having a happy relationship with all the pressures of fame and her own incredible career is something I stupidly admire. It’s so stupid.

Sure, maybe they know to put on a good show. They’re media savvy and worth almost a half-billion dollars combined (she’s worth more, subtle reminder). But they also seem to really enjoy each other. And he held his stupid adorable daughter while receiving the stupid awards he got at the stupid Super Bowl while she smiled her cute face off and it was all so damn touching.

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Family and Football! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

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And they got that moment because he did the damn work.

Plenty of haters on the sidelines and millions of people judging, yelling at the screen have never known the pressure his stupid handsome face has known. And he’s mentally and physically maintained his ability to follow through and be a champion. Even if you want to go down the (small minded) path of him cheating (which he and his “Dynasty” have been caught for multiple times), he still throws incredible throws. He makes plays. He keeps his aging body in tip top shape. He works on his mental game. And he seems to find time for some balance in his life.

So freaking stupid.

As someone whose team you’ve run over multiple times to get your championships, Mr. Brady, I have to say you actually have my respect. (STOP CHEATING, THO K?.)

But as an athlete and a champion, you have my respect.

I respect the man in the ring more than the critics on the sidelines. Always. And when the man continuously steps in the ring with millions of critics on the sidelines trying to tear him down for over a decade, you can’t help but admire the gumption of continuing to get up and keep going.

But if you tell anyone – I mean anyone – about this, I will deny it vehemently.

Oh, and for the record, Petyon Manning still has the best SNL sketch any football player will ever have of all time. So take THAT stupid Tom Brady, whom I mildly respect.

*for the purposes of this post, I’m not going to touch the MAGA hat. It’s a whole different beast I have super strong opinions about but doesn’t really serve the lesson learned here. But just be aware, I’m aware of it. It’s very easy to dislike him, is my point. Especially when he’s egregious. 

 

 

For Brittany

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I used to be a pretty petty, jealous person. Hopefully by being self aware enough to see how much of this type of person I was in the past, I can truthfully say that I’ve grown. I’m usually able to see when these old patterns and thoughts creep back up and keep them at bay. But that skill has taken years of work and practice. It used to be second nature for me to judge and dislike people, especially those who were really similar to me.

I don’t know why. Then again, we never really know why we make the choices we do, do we? Especially when they end up making us unbalanced, unsatisfied, and unhappy. Those are always the most confusing of the choices. I heard once in a movie it’s because humans are self destructive by nature. But that movie was fiction so I refuse to believe it (even though there might have been enough truth in the statement to make me at least remember it years later).

I got thinking about how silly this pettiness is recently when I heard a girl I knew (who I used to be jealous of) took her own life.

I’ve always known life is short and precious. And I’ve usually at least attempted to keep a positive perspective and to recognize that we are all on our own paths. But when I met Brittany, I was in a much more insecure internal place and it was in an insecure external environment. I genuinely liked her. And I admired her work. I thought she was funny and talented and really nice. But I was jealous because she was younger than me and I saw her as a threat. I thought there can only be one adorable, young, funny, talented midwesterner in the room. How dare she take that throne from me. How dare she be better at some of the creative exercises we were doing. How dare she smile so much and be so friendly with everyone.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BiGNXbOgCc1/
brittanybelland/Instagram

How gross this all feels to admit it later.

I got to know her throughout the course of our class and became aware that she was actually as nice as she seemed. That let some of my jealousy dissipate. Of course, it didn’t help that the class was set up as a cut-throat pass or fail style course that made you feel like everyone in the class was your competition (even though that’s not how either comedy or life actually works).

Anyway, we were Facebook friends for a while and pleasant acquaintances. As I distanced myself from the theater that had made me so competitive and worked a bit on my own perspective, I became more supportive and excited for her when I saw she was working. I’d see her in commercials or stuff would pop up on social media. I realized that I had a lot more in common with her than I ever had to criticize, and began quietly cheering on her successes.

Several years later, a group she was in hosted a comedy night and invited me to perform. It was actually a friend of hers in the group who asked me to come, but I was pleasantly surprised when Brittany was at the show. They called it a “House Party” and spent the first hour of the show pretending their parents were out of town and they needed to drink like high schoolers. I walked in on Brittany chugging beer in flip cup and laughing while cheering the rest of her team on. She gave me a hug and was as happy to see me as I was to see her.

After the show, which was a lot of fun, she gave me a ton of compliments on how my style has grown and changed and strengthened since we last saw each other.

She was a genuinely nice human being. And this past fall, she took her own life, losing an ongoing and open battle she had to depression.

Just a couple months before, she had staged a one-woman show that gave all its proceeds to suicide prevention charities.

The news hit me hard not because we were close, but because I realized that a bright light had been extinguished from the world at a time when we need all the light we can get. And I kicked myself for ever having wasted any time or energy being “jealous” of this incredible human. Every moment I spent quietly stewing could have been spent being grateful to be around someone so inspiring.

But above all the personal stuff, the news hit me hard as a reminder that you simply don’t know what’s happening in someone’s personal life. Though Brittany was open about her struggles with depression, even championing causes to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She was smiling and seemingly happy. Yet she fought hard against her mental illness, eventually losing the battle.

For those of us who are lucky enough to have brains that don’t rebel on such a massive level on a daily basis, we can’t fathom what it must feel like to feel so low that you just want it to be over. And yet, as humans, we all need to have empathy and recognize each one of us is on our own journey, fighting our own battles, and here on this earth for a blink of an eye.

So there’s no need to waste any of that time looking at your fellow soul-travelers with envy. See them for the bright shining lights they are and know that every little bit of light can help illuminate someone else so they can see more clearly. And they, in turn, can help illuminate your path when you’re fighting your own darkness.

Brittany will be missed intensely by those who knew her well. And as for people like me who only got to know her in passing, she will continue to be a beautiful inspiration and a reminder to be kind to everyone because, seriously, you just never know.