August 29, 2014, Vol. 12, Issue 15
It’s moving week. Finally. I just counted that I have made at least 8 moves this summer.
Move out of the house. Move 95% of stuff into storage. Clean. Move into the cottage. Move stepdaughter and granddaughter out of their apt. when they move back to Prague, sell stuff, move stuff to storage, clean apt. Move out of the cottage. Clean. Move (just a carload this time) to Reno to pet/house sit for 2 weeks. Move back to Lake Oswego to a hotel room for a couple of nights — no cleaning! Move carloads of stuff from storage before the movers arrive. Finally, the real move into the new house. Great movers. House is clean. YAY! Mountains of boxes to unpack . . .
You can see what my Labor Day is going to look like. At least, we’ve been invited to a barbecue!
In light of my distraction from moving, I’m sharing a guest columnist this week — Motivational comedian Kat Simmons wrote this behind the scenes look at the intersection of comedy and despair, and the inspiration that led her to combine the power of comedy with the power of a motivational message. Enjoy!
Letting Go of the Laughter
by Kat Simmons
When I got the text that Robin Williams had died, I stared in disbelief at my phone, thinking certainly it was a hoax, the same kind that promises me I will make a dollar from Bill Gates every time I share a message on Facebook. The reality finally seeped into to all my conscious crevices, like a cold rain. The year I started comedy, I watched Robin Williams dazzle a sold out house at the Metropolitan Opera House, and I wept. I thought, “What would it feel like to have that many people love you like that?” I do so hope he really knew the answer to that.
The marriage between despair and humor seems inseparable. Laughter and tears have the same cord that connects them on opposite ends. The funniest person in the room, might also just be the loneliest? After the lights go off, and the audience and help goes home, there you are, all alone. I have stood on stages with thousands of people in front of me, and then gone back out in the dark, to feel what that felt like too. It is like looking at the Thanksgiving dishes when everyone has gone home. One minute there is all this energy and admiration for you, then poof, the lights go out and that moment of deep connection with the audience is broken. It is gone as fast as the neon lights fade. Then you are eating a to-go meal on a white towel on your hotel room bed.
I have been a comic for 27 years and in the last few years I have heard another voice inside my head, or maybe it is in my heart? The need to touch and inspire people has become as great as wanting to hear the laughter. When you are a stand-up comic, you are a professional people pleaser. If comics tell you they don’t care if the audience likes them, they are lying. We are in the business of getting you to love us. Is there ever enough of that love? Is there enough to erase away whatever pain makes us stand up in front of strangers and work for approval and a paycheck? We are as good as our last set, and until we can rectify a bad one, we carry that memory with us until we have erased it with laughter, and we are redeemed once again. I have lots more to share than jokes, and really at my core, and perhaps why I told the jokes, is my story. A story of feeling different and out of place, but in the laughter I felt at home. The more I know and accept myself, the less I need that approval.
Three years ago I made a conscious decision to start acting on my deepest dream, which was to not just do comedy, but also be an inspirational speaker. The first few times I spoke from my heart without punch lines, I really had to stay centered and know that just because they were not laughing did not mean they were not listening and feeling. Whereas jokes are immediate gratification, touching people at their core is usually done in complete silence. I panicked the first few times, because I was so accustomed to the laughter and applause. I had to trade what I could not hear, for what I could feel. I could sense souls being moved, I could see the tears in their eyes, I could see the nods of acknowledgement and I knew in those moments of complete silence that I was making a difference. I knew my story, my challenges, my authenticity was moving people. I knew that my honesty was allowing them to speak their truth too. This new connection was deep and gratifying. I will always make people laugh, and comedy will always be a part of who I am, however, the sacred silence will now mean as much to me as the laughter.
To learn more about Kat’s programs and availability, give me a call at 503-699-5031, or an email — firstname.lastname@example.org .
Moving was not what I had planned on doing this summer, making that saying, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans,” all too familiar. I knew right away that I was going to need a powerful attitude adjustment, and was happy when I found the perfect mantra.
I made multiple copies and posted this all over the house, so that I could not miss the reminder.
Trust that something good is coming your way.
Don’t let fear tell you that the news is always bad.
In that place of not knowing, anything can unfold.
And that’s exciting, if you allow it to be.
It turned out to be very powerful. For several weeks, we did not know where we were going to spend the summer. We ended up getting to live in an adorable cottage nearby for two months and experience the simple life in small but efficient space. On the other end of the spectrum, house/pet sitting in Reno helped my friend out and we got to experience her spacious and luxurious home. Both were very peaceful and in lovely natural settings. It was easy to work and we got to live with a minimum of our own stuff with us — a very good prelude to downsizing. And, now, in the end, while this house is smaller, it’s much, much nicer in many, many ways.
I’m going to slip into “not knowing,” and let it be exciting (instead of frustrating!), while chanting my new mantra, “If in doubt, throw it out,” — or at least re-purpose it to a new owner.
Until next time, take care of yourself for your well being and those you love.
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