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8 Things That Are Just Fine With Me

I am giving myself permission to live the life I want to live. Take a look at my list of things that are just fine in my not-a-guru humble opinion, and feel free to add to it in the comments below.

1 – It’s just fine if you don’t leave the house or even get dressed on your day off. Order chicken tikka masala for dinner and watch The Amanda’s on the Style Network. (Ya know, or something like that…*clears throat*) It’s just fine that you won’t see or talk to anyone… except maybe baby-speak to your cat.

2 – It’s just fine if you send everyone to voicemail on your cell phone. You’re awkward on the phone. You never know how to hang up. You get butterflies in your stomach and pace back and forth in your apartment the whole time you’re on a call. It’s just fine. Don’t do this for obvious emergencies, your boss, or when your Grandfather calls though, those are rare and important occasions where it might not be fine.

3 – It’s just fine to be selfish if you admit it and learn from it. “I’m not hanging out with you because I’m all about myself right now. I will be a better person when this phase is over.” Deal. Fine with me! Text me when you’re coming back to brunch.

4 – It’s just fine not to commit to things that make you feel nervous or unhappy. You hate horror movies but everyone is going Friday night? You hate doing shots but the bartender gave you two free ones? Everyone is taking their kid to the new Mommy & Me Bikram class and you’d rather shave your head? Just say no, it’s fine. There is only so much time in life and you don’t have to spend it doing things you don’t like.

5 – It’s just fine to try new things and fail after telling everyone all about them. I’M GOING TO PAINT MURALS! I’M TAKING UP FLAMENCO DANCING! I’M MAKING MY OWN TOOTHPASTE NOW! Whatever it is, try it and share it with your groupies. It’s OK to be excited about something even if it doesn’t work out. If anyone gives you a hard time about it, first, question whether or not they’re truly a good friend, and second, remind them that you try new things and that makes you an adventurous person. “Top that!” – Teen Witch, 1989

6 – It’s just fine to care a lot about your money and be thrifty and careful with it. I’m a little bit cheap too, I admit that. However, I’m currently really proud of myself for getting close to paying off some long-standing large debts, little by little. I think it’s just fine if I check my bank accounts constantly to remind myself of my progress. Go me!

7 – It’s just fine if you are sometimes not the…uh…nicest person. Snarky Facebook comment? Bitchy comment to your unsuspecting partner/soul mate/one-night-stand over morning coffee? It happens. Just apologize and move on.  Pretending you weren’t mean or rude is…well, not as fine.

8 – It’s just fine if you grow up and realize you have some forgiving to do. Either for yourself, your family or friends and people in your past. You can do it. It’s never too late to let go of the thoughts and memories that no longer serve you on your path to awesome. “Relax, relate, release!” – A Different World

Now tell me, what is just fine according to YOU? Comment below!

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The Year is Ending, Let’s (Not) Panic!

2011 is coming to an end and the holiday season is in full swing. I have a very “get with it, get into it or get over it” mentality this time of year and I’ve put together a list of things where I plan to do just that…little by little, one day at a time. Pick and choose your favorites and let’s do this. We’re all in this together…

Get With It: 

  • Getting older. I’m in my 30’s, and I’m actually quite relieved about it. People have started to expect me to be smart and thoughtful, rather than snarky and dramatic. This is good for me, because I am smart and thoughtful and I’m glad I’ve reached an age where this is in vogue. Dependable is the new black. I’ve also grown into my fierce eyebrows, finally.
  • Exercise. Don’t groan or sigh at me on this one. I love shaking my ass and I sleep like a baby after sweating in zumba class like underpaid Santa’s sweat in crowded shopping malls. I have to make this a higher priority, or at least place it above “catch up on the DVR” on my to-do list.
  • Sleep. Yep, in my 30’s. My bed is now my baby daddy and I’ll only cheat on him with pillow-top king beds in Mexican resorts. My under-eye dark circles were never a good look, anyway.
  • Eating healthier. This basically means I will try my hardest not to poison myself with fast food or other things that I know actually make me sick, despite what they also do to my waist line.

Get Into It:

  • Organization. I can barely find a pair of matching socks in the morning, let alone the check book once a month for rent. I’m lucky my husband is a moving-talking-live-person, or I’d lose him in this apartment. Oddly, my office space is pristine. I guess that means I like to keep my crazy private, but it’s time for a change.
  • Hobbies. I need more things to do with my free time (when I’m not running around town being famous) other than eating or happy hours. It’s going to be cold for another few months, so I am thinking: reading, more zumba, and possibly baking or some sort of craft that does not involve yarn. Suggestions welcome.
  • Happiness. My smile is way prettier than my frown. Period. End of sentence.

Get Over It: 

  • Holiday pressure. The pressure to: entertain, attend a million parties, bake, clean, visit every family member ever and shop, shop, shop. Just stop. If any of those things make you unhappy or you can’t afford them/don’t have the time this year, choose another option. I am choosing: a few thoughtful gifts that I can afford for my family, donating gifts to toy drives for lil’ ones, paying off debt and paving a less stressful 2012 when it comes to money with my husband and I’m not going to set foot in anyone’s house or any store that I’m not excited about.
  • Attention seeking. I will not make everything about me. I will not create drama. I will gossip less. You can all stop looking at me now. Repeat.
  • #1 Daughter, Wife, Sister & Friend syndrome. My family and friendships are so important to me that I let them stress me out. I want to be there for everyone in every moment and that’s just not possible. I’m a better daughter/wife/sister/friend if I take care of myself first and therefore, require less from the people that love me. I have a big ol’ open heart and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I will also not be ashamed to admit when I need some time to myself.

What are YOU getting with, getting into, or getting over? Please share your thoughts below and share this post with other folks who may be panicking right up until the ball drops. Happiest of Holidays to you!

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This Idea Changed My Life

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Now that I’ve acknowledged that, let’s move forward. I’ve had this blog post in my brain for months and was waiting for the right time to assemble the words into a post.

We all go through…a lot. Recently, my home of NYC has seen tremors from an earthquake, faced the threat of a hurricane, 9/11 anniversary terror threats, and (of course) more. Not to mention, personally, some of my family and friends are experiencing difficult, painful, life events. I am sure that some of your friends and family are too. Maybe you know someone who is currently in a lot of physical or emotional pain. It’s possible that even you are, while reading this right now.

Years ago, in my training to become a certified rape crisis counselor in NYC hospital emergency rooms, I learned something that changed my life. It seems almost simple to me now, but at the time, I had never before even considered it. Here it is:

No one person’s pain is any larger or smaller than anyone else’s. You cannot compare your pain to someone else’s. If someone hurts, they hurt. It is not your job to tell them how much they should hurt, or for how long. 

In counseling we were taught this so that we would never compare. To tell a scared, confused, recently assaulted patient something along the lines of, “Oh yea? Well, you should have seen my case last week. She was in much worse shape than you are” to make them “feel better” is really one of the worst things anyone can do. That might seem completely obvious, but you’d be surprised how very common it is to have that reaction, especially if you feel like you can relate to what someone is going through. We were taught not to minimize anyone else’s experience or try to make them see that other people have gone through “worse.” That information isn’t always true, first of all, because you don’t always know someone’s complete history. Something you might find trivial because of your life experience might seem like the literal “end of the world” to someone else. Secondly, we all experience and process things differently. I can’t measure or predict how badly you might feel when you believe your world is falling apart. I can, however, sympathize.

This idea really changed my life. I stopped my very human reaction to convince someone they would be ok, or that things aren’t nearly as bad as they feel they are. I stopped telling stories about how things could be much worse. I’m not always perfect in this, but I think it has strengthened a lot of my relationships and it certainly was a vital thing to remember in the ER in the middle of the night.

Personally, I find the level of tolerance my family and friends have for pain and emergencies to be remarkably high. But that is just my opinion. I feel like I know a lot of strong individuals, whether they realize it or not. You might feel this way about the people in your life, or not. We’ve all thought once or twice that someone needed to “buck up” or “pull it together.” That’s ok, too. It’s so easy to want everyone to see that things will eventually be ok, when you really believe they will. Everybody hurts, right? Right. Just sometimes, in very different ways.

Thoughts? Leave ’em below.

“I am really, really scared right now!”

That is what my smart, beautiful, and down-right wonderful niece said to me this past weekend as we stood in line for her first adult roller coaster. She is 10 years old. She just barely made the height requirement for the larger coasters and the ones with loops and corkscrews. That is a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it, but I knew she would be safe with me as I flashed a pleading look toward the obviously bored ride attendants as they measured her. She was terrified, rightfully so, but she still got on.

I told her that if she felt like crying, just to scream instead because screaming on rides was 100% OK and that way she could let it all out faster. I promised that (even though would stand in line forever) before we knew it the ride would be over. Who can turn down permission to scream your head off? Turns out, she was a pro. She even worked up to keeping her eyes open and loved hanging upside down for the brief loops while going somewhere around 85mph. Having been a lover of roller coasters and frequent Six Flags Great Adventure ticket-holder in my youth, I was ridiculously proud.

In line for an even scarier ride there was a young girl pleading with her older sisters in front of us, “I don’t feel well! Don’t make me do this! I don’t want to go on this ride!” and they were mocking her in return, “Too late, you’re already this far in line, you’re just SCARED! Don’t be SCARED! Why are you so SCARED?!”  We were both watching this, and I leaned down to my niece and whispered in her ear:

“Ya know what I think? I think that it’s OK to be scared. Some things in life are scary. But if you’re scared now, it means you are about to do something really brave…and there is nothing better than being brave!”

As the words were coming out of my mouth, I realized that I also needed to hear them. I have big dreams. I don’t dream small. If I want to make my own dreams come true I am certainly going to have to be brave. The thing is, I think sometimes we’re hard on ourselves for feeling fear. Note: If fear is causing you to stay in bed all day watching DVR’d HGTV shows and eating Tostitos with lime until your tongue goes raw, you should re-visit the idea of anti-anxiety meds before proceeding. However, if you have the kind of fear I do, the kind that exists simply to show you just how much you really want something, than you’re likely about to do something fabulously brave. And really, what’s better than being brave?

You may wait forever, but before you know it...the ride is over. So, buckle up and let's go.

Don’t Be a Raging Bitch & Other Advice I Give Myself

Since I am not a Guru, I don’t have all the answers. I live mostly by trial-and-error and benefit from a city full of examples of how I do, and don’t, want to live. Here is some of the advice I’ve given myself along the way. Let me know if it helps you too.

“Don’t be a raging bitch” is advice I sometimes have to give myself. PMS is the real cause at times (not a great excuse, but it’s a reality nonetheless) but at other times I am just cranky, hungry, tired, stressed out or nervous and need to remind myself not to scream and whine at my husband just because he said hello in the morning before I’ve stumbled out of bed. True story. I’m not proud. The thing is, I do tell myself these things, and I listen. I make a real effort to be a sane and useful human every single day. Some people don’t even do that. If you’re one of those people, stop being a raging bitch. Just stop. You don’t have “haters.” It’s not “you against the world.” The world is busy. Get busy too or go be a raging bitch in private. Note: If you do have “haters” than consider how this advice could remedy that. Also, stop saying “haters.”

“Don’t mask dislike or jealousy with “LOL.” Oooooh…social networking. You think you’re so clever with your “pages” and your “likes” and your massive amounts of “friends.” Well, you are. The problem with you being so popular is how we sometimes communicate on sites like Facebook & Twitter. The thing I’ve caught myself doing recently is kind of embarrassing if I were the sort of person to feel embarrassed. I’ve done it, and maybe you’ve done it too. Ever read (or write) something like this in response to a status message?

“OMG, you’re on vacation AGAIN! Morocco this time? That must be really nice for you! Isn’t it just so great that you’re rich and can afford all that time off? Guess your boss isn’t pissed you’ll be gone for 3 weeks this time either. LOL!”

Does the “LOL” at the end really mask the obvious jealousy and disdain in that comment? Does it make it OK just because the “LOL” implies it was all said in jest? Maybe Lucy Travelpants works hard for her money, saved 6 months for this trip, regularly volunteers and has an evil boss she deserves a major break from. Or maybe she doesn’t. Either way, it’s not fair to assume anything based on a status message. We never know what’s really going on in anyone’s life unless they post every little thing at all times. (That’s a whole other issue.) If you’re not truly happy for someone you otherwise care about, just don’t type anything. I’ve slapped my own hands quite a few times on this issue. Don’t tell me I’m alone on this one!

“Stop reading and start doing.” This advice is not at all for everyone. In fact, I’m not sure how many of you will be able to relate to me on this one. (I’m excited to find out!) I don’t read self-help books. The reason why is not because I don’t think they are absolutely incredible. There are millions many enlightening, intelligent and inspirational books out there with oodles of information and techniques inside that we could all use to change our lives for the better. I’ve bought some of them. The reason I don’t read them is this: when I read a self-help book I feel accomplished. My thoughts go something like this: 

“I have a problem/quirk/decision and I’ve taken the necessary step to seek help from this awesome book. I’m so proud of myself! This book was a stroke of genius! I don’t feel alone about this anymore either! Go ME!”

The problem is, I am so damn proud of myself for being self-aware and seeking out help that I usually don’t ever fix my real problem. I just bask in the glory of having acknowledged it. The words don’t really sink in until I actually take some sort of action beyond soaking up the knowledge the book has given me. (Side note: I am the same way with inspirational quotes. I read one and think, “Wow, that is so perfect and smart and speaking directly to me right this moment!” and then I just move on. I’ve never read “Carpe Diem” and found myself jumping off the couch to seize the day, if ya know what I mean.) This is not to say I won’t ever read a self-help book, it’s just that for a long while now my approach has been to make an intelligent guess and just try something and fail if it doesn’t work…then try again. I trust my intuition whenever possible. I also surround myself with smart and caring friends & family who make good suggestions. I have to have quite a bit of courage for this to work, and that part is not often easy. I can’t lie to myself either, and pretend I’m getting better/learning/growing when I’m not. Again, not easy. This may not be a good idea if you’re looking to do something dangerous that you haven’t spent any time researching or your problem needs medical attention. For me, however, this approach is actually working out so far. When it stops working I’ll be looking for the kind of book that says, “Now put the book down and go do  __________ before you self destruct” at the end of each chapter. If that doesn’t exist you’re going to have to help me write it.

Thoughts? What advice do you give yourself?

She’s Nobody’s Fruitfly

I was coming out of the grocery store in my neighborhood and bumped into a friend of a friend who, when telling her my evening plans, said she “couldn’t wait to meet my gay.”

My…what?

Let me back up a bit. Growing up, I was familiar with homosexuality because of some of my family members. In college, a few of my classmates came out to me. Being involved in the performing arts, my comedy duo partner and I have performed in most of NYC’s gay bars and clubs. I have plenty of gay and lesbian friends and consider myself lucky for living in a city that is literally bursting with diversity. I am a generally liberal and open-minded person.

Now that we’ve gotten my history out of the way, let me say first that I understand the term “faghag” and if you don’t, here is the wikipedia entry. Because my comedy partner in crime, Jason, is both gay and one of my closest friends we’ve run into this stereotype before. Jason and I have been friends since college where we first performed together, and our on stage comedy chemistry translated into both a friendship and a musical duo. Despite hanging out and working together often we don’t fall into a lot of the other gay-male-straight-female stereotypes. I was never hopelessly in unrequited love for him. We didn’t date before he came out. We are not each others only close friends. He doesn’t pick out my clothes, hairstyle or makeup.

We’re friends. We respect each other. Onstage together we find ourselves hilarious. We do tell gay-themed jokes sometimes but he usually writes for me and I usually write for him. He doesn’t introduce me as his faghag. I tried once to say “my gays” recently and it felt both ridiculous and insulting although it did not insult the gay male I said it to.

In short, people are not property. He is not my gay. I am not his hag. If he were straight, would we still require labels for our friendship?

Some of you may be thinking, “Lighten up, it’s just slang and not usually meant to be offensive” and I know what you mean by that. When you’re out drinking and blowing off some steam sometimes it’s fun to just shout out stupid  things. We’ve all been there. However, if we all really believe that equality is a human right, then why do we keep celebrating stereotypes? If I want my gay friends to have all of the rights that my straight friends have, that I have, than why do I have to label them at all? I’m not thrilled when heterosexuals are referred to as “breeders” either, for that matter. If your parents weren’t “breeders” you wouldn’t exist. Boom.

Furthermore, when did anyone else’s sexuality become my business at all? Frankly I could care less if  someone sleeps with men or with women (or both.) If you’re anything like me you might have been introduced to a new group of people like this: “That’s Lisa, she’s an accountant, Maggie just sold her first painting, Jenny is the one from Jersey that I told you about, and that’s Brian and James, they’re gay.”

Oh really? That’s it? Brian and James don’t have jobs, talent, and aren’t from anywhere? The fact that someone is gay can easily be the least interesting thing about a person…and how did you expect me to start that conversation anyway? “Hey, I’m NotYourGuru, I hear you’re gay…how’s that going?” What all of this comes down to is that I love and respect the gay community and hope that members and supporters alike can be a little more open-minded as well. This is just my not-a-guru point of view. Thoughts? Leave me a comment below.

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