My Husband Loved Me into Skinniness

Okay, listen. I need to know. Why did you click on this article?

Was it because you were already subscribed to this blog and a notification popped up and you knew that, despite the title, the content would probably be something unrelated? Was it because you saw the satirical title, knew me, and figured it was probably some sort of a joke and needed to know what on earth I was talking about?

Or was it because you wanted to genuinely know how my husband “loved me into skinniness” like it was some sort of diet fad or strange controlling relationship where I don’t even realize I’m being manipulated into becoming his perfect woman while losing myself in the process?

What was it? Was it the click-baity title? Because that title is a joke. And I’m worried about you if you clicked on this thinking it wasn’t.

Well, sure, it’s somewhat inspired by true events. But as inspired by true events as like the movie Titanic. The Titanic really sank (I’ve genuinely lost weight) and people were on board (my husband does love me). Otherwise, most of the in between is make believe.

Fine. Let’s get into it. Why even write a title like that?

I found a video of myself on my old archives (when I was actually looking up stuff for my old show Femoir which is now the name of my ongoing podcast – check it out!). The video was an early performance of my touring show and one of the first times I ever visited Los Angeles. I was living in Chicago at the time but came out for a festival being performed at a now defunct comedy theater right on Hollywood Boulevard. I was so excited to be out amongst the showbiz hubbub. At the time, I figured I’d probably move to LA but I didn’t know when and wasn’t in a hurry. I enjoyed the show, had decent audiences, and got to tell people I performed in the heart of Hollywood. And I saw some celebs come in and out of the theater, so all in all a very exciting event.

All this was long before husband. It was when I was either dating someone forgettable (they all were) or when I was single and being rather forgettable (I often was boringly focused on my work).

I saw this video and started laughing because, boy, I had a few extra pounds on me if I do say so myself.

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I wasn’t laughing because there’s anything wrong with carrying some extra weight. Nor was I laughing at myself because I looked weird or was shaming former me. I was laughing because, until that moment, I had honestly never seen it on myself.

See, I always had the gift (curse?) of plenty of confidence. I loved athletics and my body is and has always been pretty strong. Though I’ve gone through phases of being more toned than others, putting on some extra weight never really bugged me. I guess you could say I knew how to work it. And I still felt plenty beautiful. (And still snagged hot dudes because I was (and am) funny AF.) Or maybe, at least, I was so focused on being funny I really didn’t care too much what I looked like.

Seeing that video made me realize for the first time why people were, as of a couple years ago, starting to say “You look great” or somehow imply I had lost weight. I didn’t really get it. I knew that I had begun running more and (and this is the big one) become absolutely obsessed with yoga. Eventually, I did notice that my clothes fit different. I had a bit more confidence about how I looked in some slinkier outfits. But honestly? Overall? I felt about the same despite getting markedly more in shape (thank you again, hot yoga).

So what does my husband have to do with any of this? Welp, he started dating me when I had slightly more weight in inconvenient Santa Claus style places (as you can see in the picture). Maybe not as much as what this picture shows (this was Chicago weight – the result of 9 month winters and a genuine love of beer). But I wasn’t good at taking care of myself generally. I’d workout enough – I have always really loved/needed physical activity. But I never pushed myself to hard out of my comfort zone. And, more than anything, I ate garbage.

Nutrition always had to come at the expense of my genuine love for acting and comedy. I felt like I had to choose. I could eat rice and beans and butter to feel satiated in order to have enough money to pay for classes and shows and all the stuff that goes along with it. OR I could eat somewhat healthy. But even healthy eating meant time I didn’t want to spend meal prepping when I could be writing or creating. I was obsessed and simply using coffee, sugar, and chocolate to push through the plateaus of adrenal exhaustion.

Enter: Hubs. He’s provided a lot of wonderful things in my life. But, for the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the fact that he’s a great cook and an extremely healthy eater. From the time I started dating him, I started getting much healthier food in my life more regularly. He makes this salad – a SALAD of all things – that’s incredibly filling and delicious (and healthy).

Before dating him, I honestly thought of anything green as a pointless filler. They were the useless stuff on hamburgers that restaurants were obligated to put there so it looked prettier. You needed to take them off so you could just enjoy the burger and the buns. Now, thanks to what I’ve seen in terms of my physical health and energy levels, I try and figure out ways to insert something green in every meal like a freaking weirdo health monster.

When he transitioned from boyfriend to husband, the benefits have only skyrocketed. We now take time to meal prep. We both are committed to eating healthy and sticking to a budget when doing so (so I can’t go splurging on my sweet tooth anytime it tickles my fancy because we’ve got goals bigger than that chocolate bar now). And, because he’s a good cook, he gets on my case if all I’ve eaten is rice and beans. He’s shown me ways of eating economically but still balanced and way better overall for my body.

Over the past several years, my body hasn’t slimmed down crazily, but it has toned up significantly. And a huge part of that is largely because I live with a healthy, happy guy who has helped me become as healthy and happy. He treats food like fuel not like something you shove in your mouth so your body stops yelling at you so you can move on. I’ve found balance and actually enjoy spending time cooking with him (not to mention enjoy having healthy foods readily available because it makes my body so happy).

He didn’t force me into being skinny so he could love me more. He just loved himself enough to take care of his body and understand what it needs. I saw that and took it on. And he supported me because that’s what good partners do. And, I gotta tell you, it feels great. I highly encourage all of you to find love in a hungry place.

I feel good and I look good. And that’s largely thanks to my husband. And, of course, my beloved hot yoga.

 

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Military Pals

I’m very close to a lot of military people. I talk about one in particular, and I have a father who served in the Air Force and a Grandfather who was active duty in the Navy during WWII, plus a lot of my closest friends in college were in the Army ROTC program. I was so close to these guys, in fact, that I wrote them a special segment in my college magnum opus, Xavier: The Musical:

When people first read the script, they were like, “There’s no way you’re gonna get these guys to do that. They’ll be insulted.”

In reality, my Army friends were like “How come we don’t get to sing along too?”

I think about my military friends a lot. Their discipline and commitment are inspirations to my own work. I think about them even more on Memorial Day. There are a lot of people I never knew who have given the ultimate gift of their lives to a bigger philosophy so that others may continue to pursue their own happiness. There are even a few I do know. And I am grateful to have known them and let their sacrifice remind me that life is short and beautiful and we should all be so lucky to know what gives us a feeling of purpose in this life and have the opportunity to pursue it.

So thank you, military friends young and old. Thank you for your service. And thank you for your sacrifice. And thank you for inspiring me to keep doing variation on fart jokes, since you guys seem to really love ’em.

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.

Mirror Love

baby mirrorI play a little trick on myself.

It’s not an easy trick. And it’s not a mean trick. But it’s still a trick.

When I catch myself finding flaws and critiquing myself in the mirror, I stop and start giving myself compliments. Repeatedly. Out loud. Until I feel better. Then I walk away feeling a lot better about myself than if I had kept finding all the flaws.

I started doing this not long ago when I found myself engaging in some bad habits as a result of my own perfectionism and nit-picky-ness attacking my appearance. I’ve always been lucky in that I can keep a pretty balanced head about things. When I do go deep into that rabbit hole, I’ve got some fantastic support systems who get me out quickly.

But it’s still not easy to make this choice. It’s not easy to be proactive about my positivity. It’s not easy to stop critiquing and start talking to myself like a best friend. And to forgive myself for my flaws.

That sh*t ain’t easy.

But it’s worth it. It’s worth looking like a doofus to the imaginary friends who are watching me talk to myself alone in my apartment. It’s worth feeling really cheesy as I repeat affirmations to myself in a mirror like a comedy sketch making fun of self-help gurus. It’s worth it sharing that I do this with you even though now you all know that I am as weird as you imagine I am.

Because down the other path lies madness. The other path doesn’t serve me. The other path doesn’t make me happy. But I can’t just ignore the impulse. I have to replace it with something positive. I can’t just tell myself “Don’t look at yourself in the mirror because you’re always hyper-critical.” I have to tell myself, “If you’re gonna look in the mirror, we’re gonna be loving about it. And that’s that.”

And… I’ll be honest with you all… it really does make a difference. I feel a whole lot happier and healthier after every one of my mirror lovin’ sessions. Which is nice since they could have gone the other way and made me feel a whole lot crummier.

Try it. Let me know how it goes. If you want a jumping off point of the how-to’s of this process, please refer to the following classic video:

Make It So

692fc9dd16755212_PicardMainI ran into someone famous recently. That happens in LA. Especially in Beverly Hills at swanky restaurants.

I’m usually cool about it. That’s how you gotta be out here. And I did keep my cool for the most part. But the thing is… I LOVE this man. Love. Love love love love love.

So as he got up to leave, I snuck towards the door and quietly waited to ask for a picture and say hi. Because I LOVE him and would have never forgiven myself if I didn’t at least ask. He stopped to chat with me but declined the picture which is absolutely 100% a-ok and totally understandable. He couldn’t have been sweeter about it. It was thrilling to even talk to him for a minute. He owes me nothing- especially not a picture while he’s trying to just go about his normal life.

But it did make me have  new goal. I already want to work my butt off and become a big player in the entertainment industry. BecauseI know I can. Part of me is embarrassed to admit it, let alone write about it publicly… but screw it. I want to work hard, do good work, and bring laughter and light to tons of people because I know I can.

And then one day, when I’ve done some of those things, I will get a moment to hang out with some of my idols and will get pictures with them. Maybe they’ll even want pictures with me. Who knows. But I’ll get there.

I will make it so.

 

Prince Charming

prince charmingIncredible news, everyone.

For those of you who have ever followed this blog in any capacity, you know that I make up relationships in my head with men I see regularly at the gym. (Click here and here and here for some samples.)

For those of you who have never read this blog before, I’ll clarify. Yes, I’m a friggin weirdo.

Anyway, I have big news. I saw the most perfect human being you could ever see. And he was at the gym. And he was beautiful.

He wore all black. He looked like a male model. And this is LA, so he probably is a male model. If I were a creepy old man with a “modeling” business and business card, I totally would have approached him to model for me.

Who am I kidding. If I had my business cards on me, I would have approached him to model for me anyway.

Of course I didn’t talk to him. That’s not how these things go. Instead, I stared silently from a distance.

I actually lucked out. He chose a spot in the gym that was near where one of the stretching mats is. I stretched for much, much longer than I normally do because I could steal looks at him.

He was beautiful. I know if I see him again it’ll totally be meant to be and true love and we’ll ride off to a magical castle together and live happily ever after forever and ever.

 

 

Mommy Birfday

Today is the celebration of the birth of my awesome mother. photo

I wrote an article about her called “My Momma” for mother’s day this past year.

If you haven’t read it, you should. She’s a spectacular human being and I love her dearly and am glad to have another excuse to celebrate her.

Also, mommy, if you’re reading this- my card will be late. I’m still recovering a bit from #ParentalDownpour and was behind on things so I forgot to send it. Consider this your card til you get it, ok?

Ok I love you bye bye!

Flexible Goals

flexibilityI love goals. I write about and talk about them a lot.

One thing I’ve never included in the goal conversation, however, is the fact that I’ve learned to be flexible about my goals. Probably because I’ve only recently learned the value in maintaining that flexibility.

While I think it’s beneficial to really visualize what you want most in the world so that you can do everything you can to achieve it, I think it’s fair to recognize that you can’t force the world to bend to your every whim. You can create whatever reality you want, but it won’t always look exactly like what you expected.

I’ve got a thousand stories about this type of stuff. For example, I had created a goal for myself to essentially do more voiceover work. I didn’t know how I’d go about it. Within about two months after creating the goal, I found myself not only submitting my voiceover work to agents for critiquing weekly through VoiceRegistry.net, but also had landed my first animation gig on a short project. When I first pictured the goal, I saw myself standing in front of a mic with headphones on getting constant feedback from booth directors. And a little while later, that’s what I had.

It’s not exactly what I thought, but it was exactly what I asked for. So I enjoyed it, was grateful for the opportunities provided and went back to the drawing board to clarify the next thing I wanted.

I think a key to happiness is allowing yourself to see the good and not being blinded by only seeing one fixed outcome. So you want the love of your life to show up and sweep you off your feet? Awesome. That’ll likely happen. And it’ll likely come along with some conditions you didn’t see coming. So do you say, “Screw you, Universe! That’s not what I meant!” and throw away a perfectly wonderful opportunity. Or do you say, “Sweet. Let’s see what the heck happens in this…” and figure it out as you go along.

If you’re so obsessed with the outcome looking exactly like you expected, you’re setting yourself up for perpetual disappointment. Maybe the outcome you’re obsessed with isn’t what will actually serve you best. Maybe by missing out on that one opportunity, the universe is leaving you open and available to the life-changing one around the corner. But ending that relationship, it’s making room for the more amazing one that’s waiting behind the corner. By having you “fail” in one area, it’s lighting a fire under you that will fuel your motivation to do even more. And in that motivation, you end up creating three projects that will launch your career. Maybe by hitting that red light you don’t get side-swiped by the person who’s going to run the red two lights down from now.

I don’t know about you,  but I know when I set a goal or have any specific outcome I desire, I allow myself to visualize it as best I can and let the universe fill in the rest. And as long as I’m listening to my gut and living in perpetual gratitude for the good and the bad shiz thrown my way, I think I’m doing alright. Or as they’d say in the hood, “aiiite.”

Talented Friends

ellen picNot to brag… but I have some really friggin talented friends.

I’m consistently blown away by the sheer level of talent that I’m constantly surrounded by. They’re not Oscar nominees like the people in the picture. But it’s only a matter of time before we all take our own selfie at our own award show we created through on our own terms. Also it’d be nice to go to the Oscars.

I have friends who I can call up and say “I wanna do this thing and I was wondering if you could make it kinda like this weird feeling but also make it not weird,” and they’re like “Yep. Totally understand your language. You got it.” I have other friends who are like, “I wanna do this incredible idea for a fun web series and wondered if you’d wanna hop on the wagon? Here’s the exciting and hilarious outline I came up with,” and I’m like, “Yep. It’s an honor. You got it.”

I know people who cam make rooms of hundreds of people laugh for a solid hour by just telling jokes. I know people who can turn their pain into entertainment and make people far away from them feel connected. I know people who turn their parking tickets into an art project as a reminder that even something negative can be turned into something entertaining. I know people who are creative and hard-working attorneys, who will go to bat all hours of the day for their client no matter what the circumstance. I know people who make a simple event like signing a contract a whole 24-hour party because they know how to get the most out of life.I know people who put their life on the line in military service because they believe in serving something bigger than themselves. I know people who can edit a story to make it even more hilarious than anything that could possibly be written or filmed. I know people who I can share an idea with and will throw out three things that will inspire and invigorate me further.

And that’s not even scratching the surface.

It’s not always easy to constantly reaffirm that choosing this life in LA, this life of entertainment, and this life of project-based long-term investments is worth it. There are tough times financially, physically, and emotionally for sure.

But it’s a whole lot easier by being constantly inspired by the incredible level of warmth and creativity and talent that surround me- both near and far. (Wherever you are...)

As for the people I don’t like who are doing well… whatever. Share some success with the rest of us…assholes.

 

My Daddy Issues

It’s Father’s Day on Sunday. For Mother’s Day, I wrote a blog about my wonderful momma. I mentioned possibly writing something like that for my daddy. He insisted I don’t. Because that’s how he is. But I’m going to do something similar anyway. Because I do what I want. And he knows that better than anyone.

So here’s a list of 13 Amazing Things (in honor of Friday the 13th) my father has done and continues to dodaddy.

  1. My dad likes to say how when I was born, I stopped crying when he held me. He says I had this look in my eyes of, “So this is my new servant who will serve my every whim…. Excellent…”
  2. To this day, my father maintains I never cried as a child. My mom claims I didn’t stop crying until I got tubes in my ears because I was in constant pain. My dad insists she’s making it up.
  3. I had a ton of stuffed animals when I was growing up. I used to come home from school when I was younger and see that they had been up to lots of shenanigans while I was gone- power struggles, detailed room takeover strategies taped inside miniature manila folders, etc. I had to come home and save them.
  4. When I couldn’t sleep, I used to dramatically flop around the house making frustrated noises because I didn’t like being the only one awake. My dad would come in and tell me stories and keep me company until I would fall back asleep. He would make the stories up on the spot and they were often so interesting that he’d go on for a long time hoping to lull me to sleep only to have me quietly insist he keep talking because I was so entertained.
  5. I had recurring bedtime story characters with unique perspectives who would go on all sorts of adventures in the real world and return to their magical land to tell tales to the other magical creatures. All of which he would make up on the spot.
  6. When I was in middle school, my dad packed my lunch and every day included games and puzzles he’d come up with the night before for me and my friends to entertain ourselves while eating. He continues to pack my mom’s lunches for work. And usually prepares her dinner, too. And puts a napkin on her lap so all she has to do is sit and eat her warm meal. He often does the dishes, too. (Don’t get me wrong- my mom works hard, too. Dad is just willing to cater to her every need and what woman in her right mind wouldn’t take advantage of that?)
  7. We got to travel to Germany and Denmark together. One day in Denmark, we sat in the square and had a few too many (highly potent beers) and considered getting tattoos. Luckily, we decided to get dinner instead. Halfway through, we both realized what a terrible idea that would have been.
  8. I’ve made him love rap and hip hop music as much as I do. He’ll play hardcore rap with the windows down on the way to his government job because he’s the most bada$$ accountant and auditor in all the land.
  9. I have a few make-believe personalities, including a woman who’s convinced she’s an alien.  When I talk to most people about that, they’ll look at me like I’m a weirdo and change the subject. My dad and I have long debates about the people on her home planet and their actual intentions behind sending this woman to Earth.
  10. He makes games out of everything. We would listen to songs and change what they might be talking about so it would go from sweet to hilarious. Here is an example of that type of thinking years later in action. We would also say “The next song is about you!” and no matter what it was we’d have to describe why it was like us. Sometimes, he’d pretend the trees on the side of the road were talking to me and I’d talk back and we’d have long conversations about what it’s like to be a tree and where I was headed or whatever the trees felt like talking about that day.
  11. When it snowed or was freezing, he would go out and clear off the snow and ice and warm up every person in the house’s car before he went to work so we wouldn’t have to do it ourselves.
  12. While many of my friends are becoming doctors and lawyers and doing more traditional and stable jobs, he couldn’t be prouder of my own choice in career. He always tells me “the world needs more artists” and reminds me how proud he is of me and how exciting it is to be creative.
  13. I get a good morning and goodnight text every day.

This list could go on and on. These just scratch the surface.

I’m a writer/actress/comedian now. I think if you look at the list above, you can see where some of my highly active imagination, love of creativity, support and inspiration come from.

A lot of people seem to think women in entertainment must have some serious daddy issues. My daddy issue? Good luck living up to the most wonderful, loyal, creative, hard-working and hilarious man I know, buddy.

Love you, Padre. Happy Father’s Day.

PS-  Please send money.