How Saving Them Saves Me

If you follow this blog you will become aware of two things: that I am a female stand-up comic and that I’m a lover of animals. I decided within the past year to put my love of animals into action and begin volunteering with a rescue and I have not regretted it.

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Proud alum Porkchop

Now here’s something not so obvious about me: I’ve struggled my entire life with low self-esteem. It’s kind of what happens when you grow up the scrawny nerd and you’re raised to be a perfectionist. It can’t be helped when you get your share of bullying and constantly hear about how nothing you do is ever good enough. I consider myself fortunate because I know there are so many people out there that have it worse, but this is my story so I’m telling it.

Being a perfectionist works to my advantage in a lot of ways, but sometimes it can be more of a hindrance than a help. In my own mind, I’m too short, I’m hard to look at, and my personality kind of sucks. I always have to make a joke, I accidentally interrupt people because I have a thought and get too excited to keep it in, and everybody tells me my voice carries which, and don’t lie to me, is a nice way of saying I’m obnoxiously loud. Really, it’s okay. I’ve come to accept this. Besides if you have the perfect life, stand-up comedy is not for you so if nothing else, it makes me funny. There’s my silver lining.

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Eligible bachelor Jake

However, I have good news for anybody who thinks badly of themselves like I used to and in fact still do sometimes. None of that shit matters. No, I’m serious. It really doesn’t matter. You know what does? Your character. Do you do your best every day to be a kind person? Are you kind to everybody and not just people who are like you? Then you’re a person of good character. None of that stuff you don’t like about yourself is important. I’m telling you this because I had to figure it out the hard way and I want to make it easier for others. If I help even one person then I’ll be happy.

Two groups tend to sense kindness in people: children and animals.I seem to be very popular among my friends’ children. Even kids who don’t really know me tend to smile at me. Now that may be because they sense that I’m an aunt who spoils the crap out of her niece and nephew, but you never know so the true test for me was when I started volunteering and working with rescue animals.

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Eligible bachelor Tazzy

After new volunteer orientation, I mingled with my fellow volunteers and the cats before visiting with more of my fellow volunteers and the dogs. When I rounded the corner, this female hound/pit mix made eye contact with me and surprised her handler by bee-lining for me. She was a shy dog and she’d never actually approached anyone like that before. So of course, I found myself unable to resist my urge to pet her and I saw a past in her eyes. We may never know the full extent of it, but it was clear that her life in rescue was the start of a new and better chapter. Shy dogs are often overlooked at adoption events, so I gave her as much attention as I could. A young woman came up and took to her right away. That woman adopted her within a few weeks. I felt like I witnessed and was even a part of the moment when that dog learned to trust again. Needless to say I was hooked and haven’t looked back. I didn’t choose the rescue life. The rescue life chose me.

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I regret nothing

 

Now what does this have to do with self-esteem? Well that’s simple. That dog didn’t care that I’m short. She didn’t even care what I looked like. She didn’t care about my jokes or any of my weird social quirks. She saw something in me. She knew just by sight and scent that I cared about her and wanted to help her. She’s not the only one, either. A notoriously picky male Chihuahua-Jack Russel mix approached me and jumped into my arms when I knelt down to pet him. My lap has also been jumped into. I’ve been leaned upon by dogs of all sizes. Leaning is a dog’s way of saying “I trust you. I feel safe with you.” I’ve had cats paw at me for attention which of course I gave to them. Look, all I’m saying is there must be something good about me. All these kids and animals can’t be wrong. So all that stuff I didn’t and well still kind of don’t like about me is eclipsed by their love.

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Proud alum Rocky

St. Theresa of Calcutta once said “Do small things with great love.” Giving my time and attention to rescue animals probably seems like a pretty small thing, but it makes a difference. Showing people their personalities helps them get adopted into loving forever homes and makes room for us to save another. Nothing builds self-esteem quite like knowing that you’re making a positive impact on someone’s life and that’s how saving them saves me. I only hope now that reading this helps someone else.

Another Friday Night @ Take 5

Friday night’s show at Take 5 was pretty special. It was on Veterans Day and we were lucky enough to have a veteran in the crowd who we thanked for protecting our right to entertain people with our jokes.

The very nature of comedy and humor is critical. You’re poking fun at someone or something. Nothing is sacred. Yet, I noticed that even though the result of our election was the elephant in the room we were all a little tentative about making our Trump jokes. As host I purposely put one out there just to test the waters in case the other comics wanted to blow off some steam. Thankfully it did not go over like a fart in church.

Our line-up included Chris Kiley, Tom Mongelli, James Camacho, Chris Sicoli, and Steve Schwartz. Everyone was outstanding and the crowd really enjoyed themselves. I ran the show to fill in for Kurt since he was out of town and I’m pleased to say that since Take 5 is still standing, his sound equipment is still intact, and nobody was killed or injured it went well. If you’d like to see my set, you can watch it here.

The Four Houses of Hogwarts as a Guide to Success

Every fan of Harry Potter knows exactly which of the four Hogwarts Houses s/he belongs in. If you’re not sure, there are several quizzes online that will give you the answer with Pottermore being the most accurate given its closeness to the source material. However in order to be successful it may actually be best for us to embody all four Houses instead of choosing only one.

The four founders of Hogwarts felt it their duty to teach magical youth to use their powers to make a positive impact on the world around them. Each of them had specific qualities they looked for in their students. Godric Gryffindor chose the brave and the strong. Salazar Slytherin chose those of pure Wizarding blood and prized ambition. Rowena Ravenclaw favored cleverness and a thirst for knowledge. Helga Hufflepuff felt that Hogwarts should have a culture of inclusion and decided that she would teach any young witch or wizard with the desire to learn. Knowing they wouldn’t live forever, the four founders bewitched the Sorting Hat and imparted to it the qualities they looked for in students and the ability to read the mind of anyone wearing it so that it could choose the right House for each Hogwarts student.

The qualities that each House embodies are great to have; however though it pains me to say this, Hogwarts and the wizarding world are fictional constructs. I know, I’m heartbroken, too. In fact I cling desperately to the hope that my letter never came because Voldemort took over the Ministry of Magic and wiped the records of all Muggle-born witches and wizards and one day my records will be recovered. However, since it looks like the owl won’t be arriving for me anytime soon and yes, I just looked out the window to be sure, let’s talk about why the one-House mentality wouldn’t necessarily work in the real or if you prefer Muggle world.

Throughout our lives we’re told to be well-rounded, never stop learning, and never limit ourselves. Research has shown that the average person switches careers, not jobs entire careers, once every five years. You may end up with your dream job after college or graduate school and it’s great for a while, but then over time you start to burn out and that dream job becomes just a necessary evil in your life. Once the thrill is gone, you’ll need a change and you can absolutely re-invent yourself in any way you choose, if and only if you’ve made the effort to be well-rounded. I’m not saying that the qualities of each individual House aren’t good to have, but I am saying people who are successful tend to embody bits of all four.

images-26The bravery and strength of a Gryffindor are necessary when you have to stand up for what you feel is right or when you need to power through even though you’re mentally, emotionally, or physically exhausted, but they’re not appropriate for every situation. In business and in life, discretion is often the better part of valor and there’s much to be said for knowing when and how to choose your battles. You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to. It’s often best to follow First Lady Michelle Obama’s advice and go high when they go low.

images-25The pure blood and ambition of a Slytherin are good to have but they’re not everything.  Being proud of your heritage is great, but your heritage is where you came from. What about where you’re going? You might have the right name, but if you have the wrong mentality you could end up going nowhere fast. Ambition will get you far in business and in life, but too much of a good thing can be bad. Too much ambition can make people think of you as arrogant and make them not want to work with or do business with you. Two words: Donald Trump. Sometimes in order to lead, you have to follow. He never learned that lesson and that’s why he’s run several once successful businesses into the ground.

images-24The cleverness and thirst for knowledge of a Ravenclaw are good things, but can lead others to think of you as a know-it-all and no one likes a know-it-all. Having a thirst for knowledge can be positive, but there are still some things in this world that just aren’t meant to be known or understood. If we knew and understood everything, the world would lose its wonder. While having knowledge is important, it’s also of equal importance to know when and when not to act on that knowledge. If you don’t believe me, Google the Manhattan Project or go re-watch Jurassic World.

imagesHufflepuffs are inclusive and while that’s noble, it’s not always a great strategy for success. After all, Tom Riddle was included during his time at Hogwarts and he still became Voldemort. We should be inclusive, but with the knowledge that there are people out there with malicious intent or who may otherwise prove themselves unworthy of being included. When that happens, don’t hesitate to manage them out. You may not want to, but it’s for your own good. Robin Williams once said that it’s better to be alone than it is to be surrounded by people who make you feel all alone.

Embracing the qualities of all four Hogwarts Houses can make for a successful life. There will be times when you need to be as brave and strong as a Gryffindor, as proud and ambitious as a Slytherin, as clever and knowledge-driven as a Ravenclaw, and as inclusive and noble as a Hufflepuff. Remember Dumbledore’s words, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go see if my owl has arrived yet.