Stoop Sittin’

If you do a quick perusal of anything I write about or share, it won’t take you long to figure out that I’m a big fan of dogs in general. And I’ve got what some have called an “unhealthy obsession” with my own dogs. Or, as my neighbor once put it, “I’ve never seen a human love her pets as much as you love those dogs.”

And it’s true. They’re perfect light creatures meant to bring nothing but happiness and companionship into this world. So, yeah, I’m pretty obsessed with them.

But it’s not just their doe eyes and floppy ears that I love. I’m constantly learning from them.

Okay, listen. I realize that people saying they learn from their dogs is as innovative and refreshing as people saying “boy, men and women are really different, aren’t they?” So let me be clear that I understand that I’m not breaking new ground here. I’m not trying to. I’m just trying to further fertilize ground that has been broken for years so I can plant a new seed for this current season.

I’m not totally sure but I think I really like that metaphor.

clyde 3

Anyway, I want to tell you a little about one of my absolute favorite activities my dog does that is the best lesson in the world for me.

Clyde (my younger pup aka my Tasmanian Devil with a heart of gold) has a lot of quirky personality traits. But I’ll be damned if there has ever existed a dog more happy to be alive than that little hooligan. His favorite thing in the morning is just to go outside and sit and smell the fresh air.

Though right now we only have access to a balcony for them to enjoy the breeze without going on a full walk, he and my girl Bonnie don’t care. She likes to sit outside and watch over her kingdom (aka the apartment complex) and yell at intruders. And my Clyde likes to just look and smile. He just sits outside, takes in the smells, and is more present in the moment than any zen monk who ever meditated for hours.

My in-laws joke that first thing in the morning, Clyde likes to get up and just sit outside by himself. He smells the early morning air and listens to the birds as the world awakens. It drives them crazy because he wants to be outside at least an hour before sunrise to really take it all in. But he’s more than happy just enjoying it on his own without any distractions.

At home, he sleeps in and enjoys morning cuddles. But you’d better believe after his day has started, all he wants to do is enjoy the fresh air on the porch and feel the cool breeze on his perfect golden mane.

My absolute favorite thing he does, which is what I titled this piece after, is when we walk back in from a walk and he just wants to sit on the stairs of the apartment complex by our entrance. The first time he did it, he just sat down and looked at me, basically beckoning me to sit by him. At first, I thought we didn’t have time for this. But I quickly realized that he just wants a couple minutes to soak in the beauty around him with someone by his side. So for such a worthy cause, there’s always time to be made.

clyde 1

Now, when we walk in  and he’s in the mood for “Stoop Sittin’” he just walks right up to the step and sits down with his little cute face turning around to me asking to join. When I sit next to him, he often puts his paw on my knee and smiles his big dopey smile. And I get to scratch him while we simply smell the air and listen to the leaves and watch the hummingbirds fight each other over the apartment feeders.

It’s bliss.

I have a tendency to move fast. I like to be productive and get going. I like to be active and get my energy out. Funny enough, both my dogs have similar tendencies – especially my sweet little psychopath boy. But if he can insist on finding time to simply be in the present moment and enjoy the world around him, I certainly can, too.

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As I Quietly Keep Working

Every day on social media, I see friends of mine talking about big auditions and meetings they have.

I often have these too, but I choose to quietly keep working.

I see pictures of people who have small parts in productions I played a major role in broadcasting to the world how much they’re doing and getting hundreds of “likes” for it.

I think about doing the same, but instead choose to quietly keep working.

I see peers of mine snagging major film and TV roles. The world knows their names and I struggle to pay my bills. I could feel jealous or I could be over-zealous about my close connections to these superstars.

Instead I smile and am glad for their success because it means there’s still paid work  and new opportunities to be had in comedy. So I know I should quietly keep working.

I could advertise my social media and spend precious time and money gaining “likes” and “followers” so I look like I have a huge following.

But I’d rather spend my time creating and my money on producing content I love. So instead I choose to quietly keep working.

People talk to me about their intense training regimen or post pictures of how hard they work on their diets and exercise.

But I don’t mention my own commitment to fitness. I don’t post gym selfies. Instead I smile, give them encouragement, then quietly keep working.

Many friends of mine have active social lives brimming with fulfilling hobbies. They get the opportunity to travel and have adventures and pursue lives outside of their careers.

While I sometimes do too, I recognize that it’s not usually my life at this moment. I want a successful career. So I quietly keep working.

I see people at Happy Hours and being social. I see their smiling faces and know that my own window for being “young and free” is ticking.

But I don’t mind. I prefer to focus on what I want most. I prefer to work on me, which often means sacrificing some elements of the present to create the future I want. So I quietly keep working.

I could share more details about my own life and my own successes. I could share every meeting I have and every agreement I sign. I could hint at every development deal I have and every time someone bites on one of my many projects.

But I know I’d only be doing it to seek outside validation. So I’ll wait until I’m ready and have something really exciting and important to share. And I’ll wait until I know I’m sharing it for the right reasons. I’ll be sharing out of excitement and enthusiasm, not insecurity or validation. And until then, I quietly keep working.

Things are happening. I’m making deals and I’m gaining traction. But I know that I’m doing these things for me, not to show off to the rest of the world how great I’m doing. I’m doing them because I need to. I’m hardwired to create, perform, imagine and entertain. I know some of the deals are going to fall through and I know some of them are going to help me catapult my career.

But most importantly, I know that no matter what continues to happen, I’m going to continue to do what I do best: quietly keep working.

Maybe I should be more of a showman. Maybe I should be more of a bragger. Maybe I should over-exaggerate my involvement in certain projects and with certain people to seem more impressive.

But that’s not my nature. And the type of people who are impressed by that aren’t the type of people I want to impress. Instead, I have faith in my own talent, my work ethic, my bonds and interactions with others, and my body of work will speak volumes more than any caption I could put on a social media post. Sometimes this works in my favor and occasionally it works against me. But in the long run, I know it will pay off. Even if my journey is windier than many of my peers, I’m a firm believer that when I am able to rise to the top, I’ll have no problem staying there. Because I quietly keep working, and let that speak for itself.

I’m writing this post not to brag about how much I work. But just because I feel the need to express the approach I take to my own work.

It’s so I can feel liberated to go back to continuing to quietly keep working.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m tired of talking about myself. I’ve got an imagination to serve who I can only hear when I’m quiet and is only satsified when I’m working.

So I’m off. To quietly keep working.

Ayurveda Schedule

training_the_mind_healing_the_body_16360dpI recently listened to this fantastic audiobook called Training the Mind, Healing the Body. It’s dense and hefty, but totally worth it.

I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I started listening, but the title was catchy so I was 0pen.

It turned out to be a great audio course in holistic healing, specifically through using Ayurvedic methods.

That sentence felt really zen and really nerdy. And I loved it.

One of the ideas that stuck with me most was the argument that our body, like the seasons, has it’s own schedule. Which means more than just whether or not you’re a “night owl” or an “early bird.” Theses guys basically make the argument that all bodies respond to certain stimulus at certain times better than others. You’ll have to do your own research to learn the details, but I thought it was a really cool concept. And, since I’m all about trying out different schedules that work with my life, I’m gonna try this one on for size.

It makes a lot of sense. Even if I can’t implement all of it, there are small things that I can. Like, the idea that your body is more responsive to exercise and energy in the morning than late at night. And that you genuinely need to wind down and sleep at reasonable hours and your sleep will be better than if you sleep too early in the morning.

I don’t exactly have the most holistic schedule at the moment and I don’t always have a lot of control over the windows of opportunity I have for healthy habits I enjoy like meditation and exercise. But I’m slowly but surely carving out a more reasonable and doable schedule for myself and a generally more balanced life. So as I continue to get closer to that balance, I’m going to do my best to implement all these small changes as well.

I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

The “Just Kidding” Weapon

When I was growing up, we had one particular rule I remember my parents implemented right about when I was a tween that irked me at first. I later realized this tiny tweak made a huge difference on not only on the type of humor I like and create, but also the type of person I’ve become.

What, say you, was this small but significant rule?

My brother and I were not allowed to say something mean then follow it up with “I’m just kidding.”

mean faceWe had to implement this rule because we were doing just that. We were yelling at each other (usually I did the yelling… my brother was more precise and cutting with his words and I just yelled loudly and incoherently most of the time), and we’d say something like “You’re stupid!” then follow it up with “I’m just kidding!”. We’d then act like somehow by saying we were kidding it made it ok and the other person was overreacting or had a bad sense of humor.

When really we were not kidding. We meant to insult the other one.

I found my parent’s rule to be worthless at first. I found it to be limiting and started convincing myself they, too, had bad senses of humor. But they were relentless in their enforcement of it and it didn’t take too long before I just stopped the insults because I knew they were meant to be insulting. I had to get more creative if I wanted something to actually be funny. I realized that by pretending something was “funny” when it was really just mean, I was being lazy and I was being vicious. I never want to be either of those things, so I just stopped.

Years later, as I attempt to make a professional career out of “just kidding,” I make a solid point to make sure my humor (hopefully) reflects positivity and happiness. I want it to only be used as a “weapon” for situations where tensions are high and people need to be disarmed and remember we have more in common with each other than we tend to remember. I made a concerted effort and a specific choice to back off more polarizing careers and interests of mine in order to focus on humor partially because I love using it as a means to bring people together.

Plus I’m a lot better at selling a joke than I am at selling an argument.

I still hear people do it. I hear people say cruel things then, often passive aggressively, blame the very person they were insulting for “not getting it” because they were “just joking.” I call bullshit. You weren’t joking. You were being mean. So if you don’t want to be mean, don’t say mean things. Don’t try and protect yourself with the lazy shroud of pretending you have a sense of humor and the other person doesn’t.

I have a great sense of humor. I enjoy a good roast and will be the first to make joke’s at my own expense. But if I feel like the intentions behind your “insult” aren’t actually for the purposes of being funny but because you’re being mean, I’ll be the first one to turn on you.

So don’t be lazy. And don’t be mean. Just… be cool. Dawwwwwg.

How to Celebrity

Ijane lynch‘m lucky enough to work in Hollywood with people at all levels of the entertainment world. I’ve learned a lot from every experience and interaction I’ve had with tons of them and learn even more from other people’s personal stories. It’s no secret I hope someday to have a level of recognition for my work and influence like many of the “higher up” people I’m lucky to interact with.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from all the stories and interactions is to be a freakin’ awesome human being. No matter how “big” you may get.

To be humble, to be friendly, to be generous with your time and your money, to take time to chat with people on whatever set or show you’re working on,keanureeves to take time to get to know them and remember things about them, and to accept that once you’re “known” doesn’t mean you have to overlook anyone, anything, or take any of it for granted.

In fact, it’s part of your responsibility to be awesome. That’s part of the fun.

Every interaction you have will be a chance for a person to have a story about you. And because you’re part of the cultural fabric of society and are a recognized figure, people will delight in hearing these stories. You get the opportunity to make (lots of) someone’s day every time you have an interaction.

keyWhen I hear a story about an actor or public figure who went out of their way to be friendly and kind, I take note not only of how the interaction went, but also of the excitement of the person telling the story. And I always think to myself  “I want to give someone that same feeling when they walk away from something they worked on with me.”

It certainly doesn’t mean an obligation. And it certainly doesn’t mean you have to be a pushover. You can bring a level of professionalism while still being kind. And we should be clear, big-name celebrities don’t owe anybody anything.

But it is certainly an exciting opportunity.

And after having been lucky enough to see some wonderful people do it right, I know exactly what I want do to when I get the chance. I want people to walk away feeling excited and enthusiastic and like they were a real contribution to the creative endeavor’s success. Because no matter what level they contributed- fan or extra or executive producer- they are integral and important to success.

But more importantly, we’re all just humans looking for connection and happiness. So if you can give that in a meaningful way, you’ve just gotta, man.

Femoir: The Podcast – Partners! Show Notes

GoT-6I’ve been watching a lot of Game of Thrones lately… so forgive the very specific partnership picture. I talk about being a lone wolf, but if you watch the show there’s a wolf in this picture so I’m counting it (nerdy laughter!).

Anyway! The latest episode of Femoir: The Podcast is live in iTunes. And it’s talking about PARTNERSHIPS!

I talk about how I’m going to vary my intro like the Simpsons, then I dive into being “particular about my company,” and talk about a famous song from Chicago about partnership. I discuss my solo show and my stand up comedy, make a reference to a delightful Chris Tucker moment, talk about how I write about partnership often, discuss Stage 32, The Other Client List (my web series), talk about Closure, and how not all partnerships can work out.

And I also discuss my upcoming Western.

So much discussed! Take a listen and subscribe for free if it please ya!

And now back to Game of Thrones for me…

Why I’m Monogamous

Monogamy-SWANSI grew up in a family with a mom and a dad in the traditional-valued Midwest who are still married after over 35 years together. Every relationship I knew and saw growing up I took for granted that they were monogamous. Of course I didn’t know the in’s and out’s of other people’s business- because it wasn’t my business so I certainly didn’t need to know- but it was the underlying assumption. It was the culture I grew up in. I heard stories of my grandpa doting on my grandmother. I saw my father doing the same to my mother. Every healthy relationship I saw in and out of my family was on based on monogamy.

For those of you salivating right now thinking, “My god! She’s gonna delve into details of her personal life! She never does that! I can’t wait!” Sorry. No go. No details. Generalizations and philosophy only. I don’t like other people knowing my personal business. Because it ain’t yours.

Though I do like talking the juicy details of yours. Feel free to dish because I genuinely love that shit.

But here’s what I will say:

A couple years ago, I got thrown into a loop. I was introduced to the notion that monogamy might be an unfair cultural expectation that we force upon our relationships and thereby nearly doom them to fail because in many ways it’s unnatural. I read the book, “Sex At Dawn,” which is an extremely interesting and fair assessment of how we’ve become what we’ve become in terms of our cultural expectations of our traditional relationships. It makes a strong case for reevaluating how we view the nature of our relationships and how they can better serve our own innate human sexuality.

And over the past couple years, I got to really evaluate and asses what that means to me. Like the good student I am, I was willing to question completely my own belief systems and challenge them. I had a number of first-hand experiences where I got to learn and question and be open to different lifestyles that what I was accustomed to. I willingly tried on different values to see if something fit me better or enhanced my lifestyle in unexpected ways. I challenged myself, grew, and learned a whole lot about what I truly want in life.

I learned, at my core, that I’m still monogamous by nature. Or maybe it was by nurture. Either way, that’s the path for me.

I challenged it. I pretended I wasn’t. I tried to be the chick that strings along a lot of dudes. I tried to be the person who didn’t care about certain things and cared a lot about others. But no matter how many ways I stretched it, my mind always snapped back to the basic ideas I grew up with. I wasn’t my best self. I was weirdly insecure and indecisive. I sacrificed too much of my basic wants and needs and ended up losing myself. And learned from the process.

But the biggest reason why? I’m too busy for anything but monogamy.

That’s basically it. I’ve got too many other passions and projects on my plate. If I have a partner help me, support me, and delight me as I sail through these adventures, that’s all I want. I don’t need anything else. I appreciate the people who explore other lifestyles because it’s obviously important to them. And I appreciate that my choices aren’t for everyone. If I’m happy and satisfied, I’m too busy nurturing and caring for and investing in my partner to worry about what’s out there that I might be missing. I actually like working through things. I like being challenged and growing. I don’t believe in our constantly upgrading culture that seems to think our happier self is outside of the world we have access to right now. As long as I got a guy who wants the same things in life, and we’re bringing out the best in each other, that’s all I need. And I’ll save the rest of my energy for the millions of other elements of this life that I’m passionate and curious about.

Let me be clear- if you’re not happy in a relationship and it’s not salvageable, certainly move on. I don’t believe that we all have to mate for life and resign ourselves to whatever fate we chose in a partner when lives and people and wants and needs can change in dramatic and unforeseeable ways. You have to be true to yourself and your own happiness. So you have to be willing and open to whatever that means for you.

It’s just for me, I have a tendency to go all in with anything I’m investing in. Whether it’s a project or a person, I get focused on making the most of any opportunity. And if I spread that focus out too thin, I don’t feel like I’m giving it my best. And it’s not everything it could be. And then I regret it. And wonder what it could have been if I had just been more willing to focus on it.

So that’s what I do. I focus. I get tunnel-visioned. I invest. I care. And I’m willing to take whatever emotional blows come with actually caring about the outcome of something. I’m willing to go this distance and fight to the end of the line. If it ends, so be it. But at least I can know I gave it my all.

Plus, romantic relationships are just one element of life. There are so many wonderful things to experience and learn and create. Ain’t nobody got time for dat.

And by nobody, I mean me.

And by dat, I mean dating multiple people.

But different strokes for different folks. My own values and choices are certainly not meant to threaten or judge anyone’s lifestyle. You do you, honeybear. What you do in the privacy of your own home between consenting adults is none of my business.

Unless you want to make it my business and tell me about it. In which case, like I said before, I’ll totally be into because I’m a sucker for listening to other people’s love lives.

Though sharing the details of my own isn’t my thing. Nor is sharing in general.

So if you’re the lucky suitor who wins my affections- you my boo, my bae, my mans, my babymomma- good luck and may God have mercy on your soul.

Femoir: The Podcast – COMPARISON – Show Notes

It’s another Femoir: The Podcast, friends and here are the show notes for all the things that are chatted about during this episode.

It’s a lot this time, so strap in… here we gocompare!

I mention 123 and me. I meant 23andme. Silly mistake!

I also talk about The Chicago Comedy scene, Wikipedia, and my previous podcast called “GUT.”

Then I mention what my favorite Zen Good/Bad story, Mindy Kaling, a great article by “Thought Catalog” called This is how we date now, my soul buddy Renee.

Then I invent Nude Feeds… naughty! And I make W sounds like “Cool Whip.

Subscribe for free on iTunes. Episodes out every other Tuesday!

Crop Top

crop topI never thought I could pull off a crop top. I mean, look at this guy. I don’t look like him!

Growing up, I was always most self-conscious about my stomach. It’s where I hold most of my weight. It’s the last thing to start toning out when I am getting in shape. I’m not shaped like a tiny slender stomached chick. I’m more athletic (when at my best) so only making major cuts and really going out of my way to work it make a difference.

I’ve gone on about this before.

But as I’ve gotten slowly more confident with my body and pushed the limits of my own shape… I’ve ventured out in my dress too. I’ve actually worn crop tops on occasion.

I feel so naughty for even admitting it! AH!

I’m from Indiana. We don’t wear crop tops there. I certainly never wore them or even considered such a dramatic clothing choice. But I’ve slowly let the land of the people who are more bold and confident with their body and clothing seep into my own thinking. I’m not saying my shirts are that short… but sometimes a little tummy can peek out. And I don’t get self-conscious. And I’m proud of that. Not because I look like a photoshopped fitness model. But because I look good. And I work on it.

But more importantly, I work constantly on being ok with me. So if that means wearing modest crop tops without embarrassment because they make me sort of feel like a rockstar, so be it. Bring on the scissors. I’ve got a tiny sliver of stomach to let peep out.