Improv Your Way Through Life

Had to share this great HuffPost article on improv…I can’t recommend improv enough. Taking improv classes has been incredible for me – they have really pushed me out of my comfort zone. If you want to be challenged (in a good way) in ways you never though possible, take improv….

Why Improv Comedy Will Give You the Best Mindset for Life

(via Huffington Post 11/13/13) Improvisation comedy will teach you to improv life. Life is rough sometimes (all the time) with these walls and barriers and judgments we’ve set for ourselves. The improvisation mindset will strip away it all and teach you to embrace the life’s truths, absurdities, and realities. The lessons are simple — so utterly simple, that they’re deceptive and the most difficult to achieve. It teaches us to unlearn all we’ve learned and adopt a new mind/shift.

Improv Comedy as part of Life:

  • Listen: I mean, really listen. Active listening. To the person who is talking. Don’t be in your head about what you should say next, because then you’re going to miss something really important.
  • Agree, and add something: contribute. Lay on another brick to the foundation you’re all building together. Everyone is part of the moment, and everyone contributes in a positive manner.
  • Know that it’s there… and then it’s gone: this moment has never happened before, and it’ll never happen again — and so the moment is truly unique and special.
  • And thus, be present: knowing that the moment is singular, it forces you to quiet everything else in your mind and be present. Vigilant. Focused. There’s no time to analyze or over-analyze. There’s just time to be.
  • No judgment: anything goes, anything can happen. The crazier it is, the more you push forward. Life is crazy, and when you place judgment on yourself or others, you build walls. Break them down and be in awe of what can happen.
  • Support each other: there’s no individual; it is about the group. When the group succeeds, you succeed. Take away the ego, and together build something awesome.
  • Follow the fear: it seems like the simplest thing in the world, but the scariest and most difficult at all once. You just have to gulp and jump right in.
  • Be yourself: somehow, in this space, it’s the safest place to be. No judgment and all support. All you have to do is bring yourself — not scripted characters nor rehearsed lines. No falsities here.
  • Simplify & seek truth: at the end, it’s all about the relationship you’ve built with your (scene) partner. Human connection is the foundation of it all.

Improvisation cultivates the growth mindset. Improvisation lets you turn each move in a robust move. Improvisation takes you to new adventures.

Adopt the mindset and experience its rewards.

Feel Stuck? Wanna Move Forward?

helpFeeling stuck? Feel confused about the future? I think we’ve all been there…getting more clarity can be easier than you think…but it still takes some work. Wanted to share the below post from Marc and Angel — really great tips and a productive exercise at the end…

15 Things Stopping You from Moving Forward

  1. You change nothing and expect different results. – There’s a saying that the definition of madness is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  If you want to improve yourself, you have to try new things to see what works and what doesn’t.  If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.  Often the difference between a successful person and a person who struggles to implement positive changes is not one’s superior abilities, but the courage that one has to bet on one’s ideas, to take calculated risks, and to take steady steps forward.  In other words, some people sit and wait for the magic beans to arrive while the rest of us just get up and get to work.
  2. You keep waiting and waiting and waiting for the right time. – You cannot wait for the perfect time; it will never come.  If you think this moment feels like the wrong time, think again.  It’s just uncertainty messing with your mind.  Most of the time you must dare to jump.  Today is the first day of a new beginning – the conception of a new life.  The next nine months are all yours.  You can do with them as you please.  Make them count.  Because a new person is born in nine months.  The only question is: Who do you want that person to be?  Right now is the right time to decide.
  3. Your planning and focus are in disarray. – Do you plan your days?  Did you wake up today knowing what you wanted to accomplish?  If not, maybe it’s time you do.  Trust me, a year from now you will wish you had managed your time properly today.  What would you regret not accomplishing this year?  What would you regret doing an abysmal job at, simply because you waited until the last minute and then rushed around doing 50 things at once?  Create a plan to accomplish these things sanely, one at a time.  Planning doesn’t have to be long and tedious; it can just be a 60-second process.  Every night, think about three small things that you want to accomplish tomorrow and write them down.  When you wake up in the morning, review this list before you do anything else, and then take the first step.  If you find yourself being lured to do something that’s not on that short list of three things, bring yourself back and focus.
  4. You refuse to accept necessary risks. – Living is about learning as you go.  Living is risky business.  Every decision, every interaction, every step, every time you get out of bed in the morning, you take a small risk.  To truly live is to know you’re getting up and taking that risk, and to trust yourself to take it.  To not get out of bed, clutching to illusions of safety, is to die slowly without ever having truly lived.  Think about it: If you ignore your instincts and let shallow feelings of uncertainty stop you, you will never know anything for sure, and in many ways this un-knowing will be worse than finding out your instincts were wrong.  Because if you were wrong, you could make adjustments and carry on with your life, without looking back and wondering what might have been.
  5. You make the rejections of yesterday the focal point of today. – NOT believing that you CAN is the biggest trap of them all.  If you don’t know your own greatness is possible, you won’t bother attempting anything great.  All too often we let the rejections of our past dictate every move we make thereafter.  We literally do not know ourselves to be any better than what some opinionated person or narrow circumstance once told us was true.  Of course, this old rejection doesn’t mean we aren’t good enough; it means the other person or circumstance failed to align with what we have to offer.  It means we have more time to improve our thing – to build upon our ideas, to perfect our craft, and indulge deeper in to the work that moves us.  And that’s exactly what you need to do, starting now. (Read Daring Greatly.)
  6. You refuse to take responsibility. – Not every event in your life is your fault, but they are all your responsibility.  A combination of your decisions and external factors for which you had no control brought you to where you are in the world today.  Negatively blaming someone else, or some other past circumstance, will change nothing.  Positively taking full responsibility for your situation and your path forward can change everything.  Leave the unchangeable past behind you as you diligently give yourself to the present moment.  In this moment is every possibility you seek.  Take responsibility for it, and bring these possibilities to life.
  7. PerfectionismYou want things to be perfect. – Every one of us is a perfectionist about something.  Learn to sense when your desire to make something perfect is preventing you from getting it done.  Realize that the idea of perfection is not only unachievable, it can destroy your otherwise productive mindset.  It will keep you running in place, feeling insane for your entire life.  If you feel like you’re running in place right now, take a break and reflect.  Think about the difference between diligent effort and perfectionism.  Know when enough is enough.  Say it out loud if you must:  “Get lost perfectionism!  Without you I am brilliant!”
  8. You avoid the truth. – Personal transformation and growth can be remarkably rewarding, but only when the process of change is based on honesty and truth.  When you’re not being authentic somewhere in your life or with someone in your life, any attempt at transformation eventually leads to anger and frustration.  The truth always creeps back up on you; it does not cease to exist when you ignore it.  Being fake about any aspect of your existence slowly digs a dark void in your soul.  Life will simply not work for you if you don’t show up as YOU.  The truth may not be easy to deal with, but it will always set you free in the end.
  9. You close your mind to new ideas and perspectives. – Even as you grow wiser and wiser with age you must remind yourself that an understanding is never absolutely final.  What’s currently right could easily be wrong later.  Thus, the most destructive illusion is a settled point of view.  So remember that success in life does not depend on always being right.  To make real progress you must let go of the assumption that you already have all the answers.  You can listen to others, learn from them, and successfully work with them even though you may not agree with every opinion they have.  When people respectfully agree to disagree, everyone benefits from the diversity of perspective.  (Read A New Earth.)
  10. You let a few negative people fill your mind with garbage. – Of course, there will inevitably be a few people in your life who will be critical of you regardless of what you do or how well you do it.  If you say you want to be a dancer, they will discredit your rhythm.  If you say you want to build a new business, they will give you a dozen reasons why it might not work.  They somehow assume you don’t have what it takes, but they are dead wrong.  It’s a lot easier to be negative than positive – a lot easier to be critical than correct.  When you’re embarking on a new venture, instead of listening to the few critics that will try to discredit you, spend time talking to one of the millions of people in this world who are willing to support your efforts and acknowledge your potential, respectfully.
  11. You keep telling yourself the wrong story. – Forget what everyone else thinks of you; chances are, they aren’t thinking about you that often anyhow.  If you feel like they always are, understand that this perception of them watching you and critiquing your every move is a complete figment of your imagination.  It’s your own inner fears and insecurities that are creating this illusion.  It’s you judging yourself that’s the problem.  You judge yourself by telling yourself a story inside of your head.  Every moment of every day you’re telling yourself this story.  You are building your future around this story, so tell it right.  Create a positive narrative about your dreams and goals that include only the circumstances that matter.  What you think others are thinking about you is not part of this narrative, and neither are your negative self-judgments.
  12. You are holding on to something that’s not real. – Let go of what was never really there.  Your intuition knows what I’m referring to – the pictures in your head that go against the present reality.  Remind yourself that not everything is meant to be, and you have to accept this.  You have to seriously sit down with yourself and come to grips with the fact that you were wrong about it all along.  It was just an illusion that never really was what you thought it was.  It’s one of the most difficult realizations to accept, to realize that you feel a sense of loss, even though you never really had what you thought you had in the first place.  The key is knowing this, learning from it, letting go and taking the next step.  (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Adversity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
  13. You want and expect things to be easy. – Easy goals don’t exist.  A goal is a point of achievement that requires effort and sacrifice.  There are no esteemed ventures worth participating in that don’t require some level of effort and struggle.  Decades from now when you’re resting on your deathbed, you will not remember the days that were easy, you will cherish the moments when you rose above your difficulties and conquered goals of magnitude.  You will dream of the strength you found within yourself that allowed you to achieve what once seemed impossible.  So don’t do what’s easy, do what you’re capable of.  Astound yourself with your own greatness.
  14. You have forgotten the importance of helping others, too. – It’s one of life’s great paradoxes; when you serve others you end up benefiting as much if not more than those you serve.  So if you feel stuck right now, shift your focus from your circumstances to the circumstances of those around you.  As Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  Instead of asking, “What’s wrong with me?” ask, “How can I help you?”  Find someone who could use an extra hand and make an offer they can’t refuse.  When your focus shifts from your own confusion and difficulties, to the confusion and difficulties of others, and you see yourself making a positive difference, it fills you with a sense of meaning and illuminates a clear path to a brighter future.
  15. You aren’t taking small steps every day. – Every moment of your life builds upon the next.  This moment is the bridge between the reality of where you are and the vision of where you want to be.  Reality is approaching you every second.  And the great thing is, you’re able to alter it as it arrives.  You just have to decide what you want to do with it.  The greatest of all mistakes is to do nothing simply because you can only do a little.  In fact, it is far more productive to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a giant leap only to stumble and fall and never get up again.  The path to every goal requires a hundred small steps – one after the other.  Figure out where you want to go, take a step, and keep on stepping.  Diligence and persistence will get you there.

Closing Exercise

Choose any area in your life that you want to improve, and then:

  1. Write down the specific details about your current circumstances.  (What’s bothering you?  What’s wrong?  What do you want to change?)
  2. Write down your answer to this question: What are the daily rituals that have contributed to your current circumstances?  (Be honest with yourself.  What are you doing that contributes to the situation you’re in?)
  3. Write down the specific details about your ideal circumstances.  (What would make you happy?  What does your ideal situation look like?)
  4. Write down your answer to this question:  What are the daily rituals that will get you from where you are to where you want to be?  (Think about it.  What small, daily steps will help you move forward?)

Are You a Shadow Artist?

Shadow ArtistNo, not the kind of shadow artist who makes cool looking animals on the walls using your hand and a lamp (although this is neat and creative so bravo if your into that scene). I     m talking about a  different  kind of shadow art.


A shadow artist is someone who supports other artists in realizing their creative potential but may not allow themselves to follow their own creative path. To determine if you are a shadow artist, ask yourself the following:

  • Do you suspect that you are creative but don’t think it means anything?
  • Are you supporting or encouraging artists but not expressing your own creativity?
  • Are you a casting director, agent, producer, publicist, ad exec, lawyer, account manager or an assistant to an established artist who is afraid to even try to write or paint or whatever because you could never be as good as them?
  • Do you worry that you could not earn your living as an artist, and then not try to follow your own creative dreams?

If so…are you ready to transition?

Perfectionism and Birds

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.” – Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life is one of my favorite books on creativity and writing. I came across an article on Brain Pickings and had to share some inspiring quotes (full article can be read here)…hopefully it will inspire you to pick up a copy (this is one you will re-read, trust me)…

“One of the gifts of being a writer is that it gives you an excuse to do things, to go places and explore. Another is that writing motivates you to look closely at life, at life as it lurches by and tramps around.”

“I started writing when I was seven or eight. I was very shy and strange-looking, loved reading above everything else, weighed about forty pounds at the time, and was so tense that I walked around with my shoulders up to my ears, like Richard Nixon. I saw a home movie once of a birthday party I went to in the first grade, with all these cute little boys and girls playing together like puppies, and all of a sudden I scuttled across the screen like Prufrock’s crab. I was very clearly the one who was going to grow up to be a serial killer, or keep dozens and dozens of cats. Instead, I got funny. I got funny because boys, older boys I didn’t even know, would ride by on their bicycles and taunt me about my weird looks. Each time felt like a drive-by shooting. I think this is why I walked like Nixon: I think I was trying to plug my ears with my shoulders, but they wouldn’t quite reach. So first I got funny and then I started to write, although I did not always write funny things.

FotoSketcher - Cedar Key Bird[…]

All I ever wanted was to belong, to wear that hat of belonging.”

“In seventh and eighth grades I still weighed about forty pounds. I was twelve years old and had been getting teased about my strange looks for most of my life. This is a difficult country to look too different in — the United States of Advertising, as Paul Krassner puts it — and if you are too skinny or too tall or dark or weird or short or frizzy or homely or poor or nearsighted, you get crucified. I did.”

“I still encourage anyone who feels at all compelled to write to do so. I just try to warn people who hope to get published that publication is not all that it is cracked up to be. But writing is. Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do — the actual act of writing — turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.”


“I tell my students that the odds of their getting published and of it bringing them financial security, peace of mind, and even joy are probably not that great. Ruin, hysteria, bad skin, unsightly tics, ugly financial problems, maybe; but probably not peace of mind. I tell them that I think they ought to write anyway.”

“My writer friends, and they are legion, do not go around beaming with quiet feelings of contentment. Most of them go around with haunted, abused, surprised looks on their faces, like lab dogs on whom very personal deodorant sprays have been tested.”

FotoSketcher - CedarKey Birds“But I also tell [my students] that sometimes when my writer friends are working, they feel better and more alive than they do at any other time. And sometimes when they are writing well, they feel that they are living up to something. It is as if the right words, the true words, are already inside them, and they just want to help them get out. Writing this way is a little like milking a cow: the milk is so rich and delicious, and the cow is so glad you did it.”

“Good writing is about telling the truth. We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are.”


“Hope, as Chesterton said, is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate. Writing can be a pretty desperate endeavor, because it is about some of our deepest needs: our need to be visible, to be heard, our need to make sense of our lives, to wake up and grow and belong.”

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

“Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friend. What people somehow (inadvertently, I’m sure) forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here — and, by extension, what we’re supposed to be writing.”

“Writing is about learning to pay attention and to communicate what is going on.


The writer is a person who is standing apart, like the cheese in “The Farmer in the Dell” standing there alone but deciding to take a few notes. You’re outside, but you can see things up close through your binoculars. Your job is to present clearly your viewpoint, your line of vision. Your job is to see people as they really are, and to do this, you have to know who you are in the most compassionate possible sense. Then you can recognize others.”

birdbybird“To be a good writer, you not only have to write a great deal but you have to care. You do not have to have a complicated moral philosophy. But a writer always tries, I think, to be a part of the solution, to understand a little about life and to pass this on.”

“As we live, we begin to discover what helps in life and what hurts, and our characters act this out dramatically. This is moral material. … A moral position is a passionate caring inside you. We are all in danger now and have a new everything to face, and there is no point gathering an audience and demanding its attention unless you have something to say that is important and constructive. My friend Carpenter says we no longer need Chicken Little to tell us the sky is falling, because it already has. The issue now is how to take care of one another.”

“In order to be a writer, you have to learn to be reverent. If not, why are you writing? Why are you here? … Think of reverence as awe, as presence in and openness to the world. Think of those times when you’ve read prose or poetry that is presented in such a way that you have a fleeting sense of being startled by beauty or insight, by a glimpse into someone’s soul. All of a sudden everything seems to fit together or at least to have some meaning for a moment. This is our goal as writers, I think; to help others have this sense of — please forgive me — wonder, of seeing things anew, things that can catch us off guard, that break in on our small, bordered worlds. When this happens, everything feels more spacious.”


“There is ecstasy in paying attention. You can get into a kind of Wordsworthian openness to the world, where you see in everything the essence of holiness. . .”

“If you give freely, there will always be more. … It is one of the greatest feelings known to humans, the feeling of being the host, of hosting people, of being the person to whom they come for food and drink and company. This is what the writer has to offer.”

“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again. It’s like singing on a boat during a terrible storm at sea. You can’t stop the raging storm, but singing can change the hearts and spirits of the people who are together on that ship.”

Bird by Bird is really a must-read, and must-reread, in its entirety.


What’s in a Surname?

I stumbled across a web site on surname meanings and it peaked my curiosity. My surname (aka last name) is Darwin. Could its meaning reveal the true meaning of who I am and who I would become? Let’s not get too crazy….but here goes…

darwin-coat-of-arms-98Darwin Name Meaning:
from the Old English personal name Deorwine, composed of the elements deor ‘dear’ + wine ‘friend’. This name is attested in the 10th century, but it was not common; nevertheless it may have survived long enough to become a Middle English personal name and so given rise to the surname.habitational name from Darwen in Lancashire, named from the Darwin river (earlier Derwent) on which it stands. This seems to be a British name derived from a word meaning ‘oak’. (Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press)

Hmm…dear friend? Oak? I think I’m a dear friend to many. I like oak trees. I wanted to know more…so I went to Google to search my mothers maiden name, Runcie…since I’m a Darwin and a Runcie. Here’s what I found:

RuncieRuncie Name Meaning:

Although the use of family names originated in China, it was about the time of the Dark Ages that their use came to Europe. Initially family names were used by the landed gentry before coming into use with the lower classes. Often these classes used their daily occupation in forming their name. This was the case with the name Runcie and it is believed that the original name was French, being derived from Rouncy meaning keeper of horses.

An early instance of the name Rouncy can be found in the Burke’s Peerage 1896, “Laurence Rouncy Oxfordshire 1276”. This is also where there is reference to the armorial bearings attributed to the name Runcie, having as a motto ‘By Sea ’ with the crest being ‘ a Seahorse erect Or, holding in the fore fins a Thistle leaved’ shown on our home page.

So it seems I’m a dear friend who cares for horses…with connections to oak and seahorses? Maybe I’m reading too much into this, wouldn’t be the first time. Regardless, it was a fun exercise. The search for the true me continues.

What’s your surname mean?

Enneagram Me This…

Have you ever heard of the enneagram personality types? I hadn’t either, until an email a few weeks ago offering a workshop on it. I haven’t taken a workshop on it, although it sounds interesting. Here is a short definition (thanks to Wikikpedia):

IMG_4472The Enneagram of Personality (or simply the Enneagram, from the Greek words ἐννέα [ennea, meaning “nine”] and γράμμα [gramma, meaning something “written” or “drawn”[1]]) is a model of human personality which is principally understood and taught as a typology of nine interconnected personality types. Although the origins and history of many of the ideas and theories associated with the Enneagram of Personality are a matter of dispute, contemporary Enneagram understandings are principally derived from the teachings of Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo. Naranjo’s theories were partly influenced by some earlier teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff. As a typology the Enneagram defines nine personality types (sometimes referred to as “enneatypes”), which are represented by the points of a geometric figure called an enneagram,[2] which also indicates some of the connections between the types. As there are different schools of thought among Enneagram theorists about some aspects of how it is understood, its interpretation is not always unified or consistent.[2]

There are many resources online to learn more…one of the most comprehensive seems to be The Enneagram Institute.

I seem to be…

IMG_4457You are a Type 6 with a 5 wing: “The Defender”

Your trifix is 6w5, 2w3, 9w1.

In enneagram theory, you have one type for how you relate to the world (either 8, 9, or 1), one type for how you think (5, 6, 7) and one type for how you see yourself (2, 3, 4.) Your tri-fix contains one number from each of these triads. They are listed in the order of how strongly they present in your personality.

Your core type (your strongest type) is Type 6 with a 5 wing: Type Six individuals are reliable, committed, and security-oriented. They are natural troubleshooters, and are always aware of potential problems. This makes the Type Six anxious, but the anxiety fuels them to resolve their problems. They can range from loyal to rebellious, depending on where they get their security from – if the security is from within, they can be very defiant… if it comes from others, they can be very cooperative and devoted. When a Type Six is in a growth state, they become calm like a Type Nine. When they are stressed, they can become arrogant like an unhealthy Type Three. You are a Type Six with a Five wing, which means that the committed nature of the Six combines with the cerebral nature of the Type Five. As a result, you often excel at concrete thinking and troubleshooting.

Your second type (your next strongest type) is Type 2 with a 3 wing: Type Two individuals are generous and kind. Twos love others and want to be loved, and becoming close to others is a theme in the life of the Two. This is why Two is often referred to as the Helper type – because they keep coming, time and time again, to the aid of others. Out of all the types in the Enneagram, Twos are the most likely to help someone when they’re feeling down or when they’re being attacked. When a Type Two is stressed, they can become aggressive like an unhealthy Type Eight. When they’re healthy, a Type Two becomes emotionally aware like a healthy Type Four. You are a Type Two with a Three wing, which means that the helpful nature of the Two combines with the ambitious nature of the Three, making you a very driven individual.

Your third type (the least-used of the three) is Type 9 with a 1 wing: Nines are receptive, easygoing, and loveable. Out of all the types in the Enneagram, they have a special ability to get along with others. For this reason, they’re often skilled mediators, resolving conflicts both within themselves and among others. Nines value peace, especially inner peace, very highly. When in a state of growth, Nines become energetic and driven like Type Threes. When stressed, Nines become anxious like an unhealthy Type Six. You are a Type Nine with a One wing, which means that the harmonious traits of the Type Nine merge with the idealistic nature of the Type One. You have an idealized view of the world, and your drive toward harmony is one way to fulfill that dream.

Some words that describe you: relaxed, peaceful, harmonious, generous, helpful, selfless, loving, loyal, reliable, anxious, skeptical.

What’s your enneagram?

Friday Agreements

1. Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.


READING CHALLENGE: The Four Agreements

Quitting Caffeine? Really?

Coffee has brought me great joy. I can’t say our affair will ever be over for sure, but we may be taking a for now. Without going into too much detail, I have some occasional tummy aches and my doctor suggests I give up caffeine, just for a month or so. Give it a go…see of it helps. I looked at him like he was the homeless man I usually see urinating at my bus stop. Shocked, appalled, disbelief!

After I calmed down, I thought about all the great things people said about quitting caffeine and the things I myself experienced when I did this (a few times). Oh sure, it’s great after the withdrawal headaches stop. I sleep much better and my concentration seems better too. All the same kind of responses. So I figured, why not, I was only drinking maybe 3 cups max a day…how bad could it be?

I woke up last Saturday and just drank water. The intense migraine headaches started at noon. I took two Alleve to no avail. I was in a foul state of mind, would take any calls or meet anyone in fear I’d rip their heads off with my negative super power mind control. How could something that brought me such joy betray me like this? Caffeine…say it ain’t so you vixen! I took a nap from 3-7pm then went to bed at 10pm and slept like a baby. The next week was OK but sluggish. I didn’t run any marathons or run for senate.

OK…5 days later I started drinking JOE again. Guess I fell off the coffee wagon. It happens. Starbucks is what it is for a reason.

I may quit again if my tummy doc insists but for now its working for me.

Tell me…what’s your experience with coffee (aka the black nectar of the Gods)?

If I Were a Veggie?

Ready for another fun writing exercise? OK, take 5 minutes (just 5) and write about “If I were a vegetable, I would be…” No editing. Write what comes to your mind first. Most important, have fun!

Just to be clear, you are writing about if YOU were a vegetable, not if Chad was a vegetable.

Here is mine (since I’m sure the suspense is killing you):

If I were a vegetable I would be a squash, a yellow squash because that is what I thought of just now. I like yellow, it’s a good color.

Squash is good raw, with dipping sauce. Its ok steamed too, with pepper.

What would my squash name be? Squashy is just too obvious? Or is it? Let us see.

Hello, is Squashy home? Can Squashy come to the movies? Meet our new head of accounts, Squashy, he’s very creative! Oh Squashy, you broke my heart you dumb son-of-a-bitch!! You had enough yet Squashy? You gonna give up yet you ol rubber neck fool!

Oh Squashy, you just take on the flavors of those around you, you got no real flavor of your own, and you’re a mimic veg! Death to Squashy! Long live Zucci!! Zucchini. Zucci?? Really? Oh give it up, green vegetables are so boring.




Another Year Older

Today is my birthday. I am another year older. I feel pretty indifferent about it. I don’t really feel my age, I feel much younger. I guess that’s a good thing? As I write this, I feel like wow, I have survived for 38 years. Not that I have had a horrible life by any means – survived seems so dire. But think about it, this world is a crazy place – I should be thankful I survive my morning commute! It got me thinking, where did all this birthday stuff come from? So I went to Google, and no, Google didn’t invent the birthday. Oddly enough, historical research on the origins of birthdays is inconclusive. Just bits and pieces of history. Back when it was much harder to survive, I can see why a birthday – another year of survival – was so…meaningful. Don’t get me wrong, I think today is meaningful – just not the same way as I would if say I…survived the plague.

Google did help me find some answers (as it always does)…some interesting stuff from good ol Huff Post and writer Todd Van Luling…check it out:


Here are seven of the major developments throughout history that have led to you being able to do this once a year.

TK TK gifs

1. Egyptians started the party.


When pharaohs were crowned in ancient Egypt they were considered to have transformed into gods. This divine promotion made their coronation date much more important than their birth into the world. Scholars have pointed to the Bible’s reference of a Pharaoh’s birthday as the earliest known mention of a birthday celebration (around 3,000 B.C.E.), but Egyptologist Dr. James Hoffmeier believes this is referencing the subject’s coronation date, since that would have been the Pharaoh’s “birth” as a god.

2. Greeks added candles to cakes.


The Greeks offered moon-shaped cakes to Artemis as a form of tribute to the lunar goddess. To recreate the radiance of the moon and her perceived beauty, Greeks lit candles and put them on cakes for a glowing effect. The Greeks most likely took the idea of birthday celebration from the Egyptians, since just like the celebration of the pharaohs as “gods,” the Greeks were celebrating their gods and goddesses.

3. Ancient Romans were the first to celebrate birthdays for the common man (but just the men).


The prevailing opinion seems to be that the Romans were the first civilization tocelebrate birthdays for non-religious figures. Romans would celebrate birthdays for friends and families, while the government created public holidays to observe the birthdays of more famous citizens. Those celebrating a 50th birthday party would receive a special cake made of wheat flour, olive oil, honey and grated cheese. All of this said, female birthdays still weren’t celebrated until around the 12th century.

4. Christians initially considered birthdays to be a pagan ritual.


Due to its belief that humans are born with “original sin” and the fact that early birthdays were tied to “pagan” gods, the Christian Church considered birthday celebrations evil for the first few hundred years of its existence. Around the 4th century, Christians changed their minds and began to celebrate the birthday of Jesusas the holiday of Christmas. This new celebration was accepted into the church partly in hopes of recruiting those already celebrating the Roman holiday of Saturnalia.

5. Contemporary birthday cakes were invented by German bakers.


Although the general idea of celebrating birthdays had already started taking off around the world — like in China, where a child’s first birthday was specifically honored — Kinderfeste, which came out of late 18th century Germany, is the closest prerequisite to the contemporary birthday party. This celebration was held for German children, or “kinder,” and involved both birthday cake and candles. Kids got one candle for each year they’d been alive, plus another to symbolize the hope of living for at least one more year. Blowing out the candles and making a wish was also a part of these celebrations.

6. The Industrial Revolution brought delicious cakes to the masses.


For quite some time, birthday celebrations involving sugary cakes were only available to the very wealthy, as the necessary ingredients were considered a luxury. But the industrial revolution allowed celebrations like kinderfest and the subsequent equivalents in other cultures to proliferate. Not only did the required ingredients become more abundant, but bakeries also started offering pre-made cakes at lower prices due to advances in mass production, such as the scene above capturing workers of one of the many Cadby Hall bakeries of the late 19th century.

7. “The Birthday Song” was a remix, kind of.


In 1893, Patty Hill and Mildred J. Hill wrote a song they called, “Good Morning To All,” which was intended to be sung by students before classes began. The song eventually caught on across America, giving rise to a number of variations. Robert Coleman eventually published a songbook in 1924, adding a few extra lyrics that would quickly come to overshadow the original lines. The new rendition became theversion we now all know, “Happy Birthday To You.”

BONUS: Marie Antoinette didn’t say “Let them eat cake.”


First off, nobody attributed this quote to Marie Antoinette until about 50 years after her death, when French critic and journalist Alphonse Karr claimed Antoinette had said the phrase, but essentially only sourced rumors. Despite Karr’s theory, the phrase “let them eat cake” actually first appeared in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s autobiography,“The Confessions.” In the book, Rousseau is afraid to go into a bakery because he feels underdressed. He then muses, “Finally I recalled the stopgap solution of a great princess who was told that the peasants had no bread, and who responded: ‘Let them eat brioche.'”

Antoinette was actually just a little girl when Rousseau’s work was written. While it’s possible that she had read Rousseau’s line and was quoting it in the infamous moment (and therefore not making a tone deaf remark about poverty), Antoinette biographer Lady Antonia Fraser, disapproves of this theory.

“[Let them eat cake] was said 100 years before her by Marie-Thérèse, the wife of Louis XIV. It was a callous and ignorant statement and she, Marie Antoinette, was neither,” Fraser said in defense of the young princess. Marie Antoinette’s name should be cleared!

Let us all eat more cake!

There you have it…some fun birthday history. Now…tell us about your best birthday ever…and all those who comment may just get a birthday cake (or not)!