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.

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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.

Be kind to your body

I can demand a lot from myself. I often don’t get enough sleep. I push really hard. And I have high expectations for what I can physically achieve.

So the other day when I tried this food that had something wrong with it and basically made me shaky and sick for 24 hours, I made a solemn promise to myself. I will take much better care of my body from here on out.

Maybe this seems like a silly request from a woman who blog about fitness- theoretically an act that already helps your body out- but, like I said, I think I can push it too much. After this food made my body feel like absolute shit, I’m going to take a breather from all things that can make your body feel like shit. No excess sugar, no alcohol, no empty calories, no shady leftovers…nothing that could make it feel that way again for at least the rest of the year. I’m writing it out and putting it on the interwebs so you can hold me accountable. I really pissed my body off and I want to make up for it by being very kind to it this second half of the year.

I’m going to make it a point to get enough rest every night so I can be more productive and healthy throughout the day. I’m going to drink too much water and listen to my body when it says it wants more of something or less of something else. And I’m going to see how that makes me feel.

Part of me is glad I feel this shitty. It’s quite a wake-up jolt to stop pushing and thinking I’m invincible. Clearly, my body will push back. And based on how I feel right now, my body always win.

I have an inkling the end of the year I’ll feel a whole lot better than I do right now since I’m about to become Puritan. And I don’t think I’ll be Puritan forever, but we’ll see how it goes. Maybe it suits me.

The kindness of strangers

Yesterday I started my day with a short but intense 4+ mile run in the beautiful town of La Jolla in San Diego. There is a somewhat notorious steep hill in La Jolla that is difficult to run or bike or walk up. I- for some unknown reason- decided I would run this hill. For fun.

Ugh. What have I become.

The day before I got curious and decided to drive to the bottom and find out just how long the incline goes for and just how long. It’s a solid 2 miles of continuous uphill.

I can do that right. Right?!?

Truth be told, I have a race coming up in a couple months in La Jolla that has a very steep and intense incline around mile 8 so I’m trying to trick myself into believing hills are no big deal. So…

The next morning I got up and did it. I stayed right at the top of the intense incline so I ran the two miles down the hill, turned around and ran the two miles right back up. And it was pretty brutal.

The best/worst part was just at the end of the incline, it gets really steep and you know you’re almost done but you’ve got to push harder than at any point beforehand. It was at that point that I was really pushing and struggling to keep running no matter what and push through. It was also at that point that some stranger in a car leaned out the passenger window and applauded and cheered for me.

It was just a brief moment, but it made a world of difference. Just like the people during races who sit outside for hours blindly cheering on every runner (and I pretend it’s all just for me), this person’s simple and easy act of kindness was enough to help keep me running strong through to the top of the hill, to finish the run with a sprint, and to smile through utter exhaustion.

I think I was more proud of the human race and its impulse towards random kindness than I was for having run an intense two mile uphill.

Though, I’ll admit, I was pretty proud of annihilating that hill, too.