Laugh Your Way to Lower Stress

file06561. If you’re not laughing so hard you actually hurt at least once a day, you need to re-evaluate your life.
2. Pigtails are better than Botox.
3. You can only fake something for so long. Eventually the real you will shine through, so you might as well just be yourself all the time.
4. If you don’t love animals, you’re probably going to need a lot of therapy.
5. Sorry blondes – redheads have more fun!
6. Dance – even if others don’t recognize it as dancing.
7. Pay attention to red flags, black auras, and deep green eyes.
8. The family we create is often better for us than the family we’re born into.
9. Jimmy Buffet music is a good cure for sadness.
10. Your boobs will be closer to your waist than your chin for 60% of your life.
11. Tip well and treat everyone like people not the job they do.
12. When you’re happy, notify your face.
13. There is no such thing as too much chocolate (as long as it’s vegan, fair trade, and sustainably harvested).
14. Don’t be afraid to let your talents shine.
15. We catch the mood of the people we spend the most time with, so choose carefully.
16. One of the most important things we should all learn is how to be happy alone.
17. The voices in your head are often out of their minds.
18. Not everyone will like you. In fact, there are some people you really don’t want to like you.
19. If you buy the low sodium version, you’ll just end up adding salt.
20. Picking up dog poop is much less disgusting than wading into political debate.
21. True friends show up in many different ways – vegan soup when you’re sick, helping you in the yard, painting your house, or calling you out on your bullshit.
22. Do what makes your inner 5-year-old happy.
23. Never trim your bangs drunk.
24. It’s okay to have money, but if you value money over love, kindness, and empathy, your life will be sad and empty.
25. You can be a great parent without having any human children.
26. When you realize that we really are all – humans and other sentient creatures – connected, everything in your life will change.
27. Throw the ball, tug the rope, and dangle the fuzzy toy.
28. Even if you had an awful past, you can have an amazing present.
29. If dogs don’t like you, you have some karma issues to work on.
30. Every time you whine, speak out loud five things you’re grateful for.
31. Always wear kooky socks or underwear. Or both.
32. There are 7.6 billion sides to every argument.
33. It is okay to unfriend people both online and in life. This includes blood relatives.
34. Be the most fun you’ve ever had.
35. Even if you’re sure your butt won’t fit, you should at least try to go down the playground slide.
36. You should regularly do things that scare you.
37. Never type LOL unless you are. And work on your real LOL skills.
38. Whenever you say, “I’m doing the best I can,” make sure it’s true.
39. Try to line up your mistakes from biggest to smallest throughout your life, but give yourself a break if you screw this up.
40. Even if no one reads it, when you’ve written something that expresses your soul, you’ve have done something amazing.
41. Jealousy is a waste of energy.
42. Nothing real is measured in Facebook likes.
43. You know you’re having fun if there are sequins on your floor after you get dressed.
44. Saying “No” can be the most freeing thing ever. Saying “Yes” can also be the most freeing ever.
45. Dog hair goes with everything.
46. Pointing fingers is a distraction from what we need to work on.
47. Make funny friends. They’ll keep you giggling.
48. Yes, you really can use those math skills you learned when you were a kid.
49. Time really does fly. One day you’re graduating high school, the next you’re been reincarnated as a tree sloth.
50. Always use your powers for good, not evil.
51. You know it was a really fun adventure if you forget to take pictures.
52. Pay attention to what makes your heart smile.
53. A full calendar is not a good measure for a full life.
54. Count your blessings, not your calories.
55. Squirrels make good listeners, especially if you’ve got nuts in your pockets.
56. When the moon is amazing, you should go outside and look at it.
57. Fall in love often – with friends, with animals, with trees, with blue skies, with amazing meals…
58. Wear your heart on your sleeve, but keep your gallbladder covered up.
59. Everyone deserves to wear a tiara now and then.
60. The best anti-aging cure is dog kisses.

I Won’t Drink to That

I’ve never understood drinking to get drunk. There, I said it. Think I’m lame if you must, but I prefer not to have to find a stranger at 3 in the morning to find my shoes or hold my hair back.

Perhaps growing up in a dry county in Texas explains part of my perspective. For those of you who don’t know, “dry” doesn’t mean the humidity was exceptionally low (although in Abilene, Texas, it is); it means you can’t drink alcohol in public. unless you’re rich and belong to a private club (but then again, if you’re rich, the rules never apply to you, right?) Of course, in Abilene, you also couldn’t swim with the opposite gender (whatever that is), dance in public, or curse near a church and spending four years there hasn’t stopped me from doing all those things.

There were plenty of kids in high school who stole liquor from their parents’ personal stashes, but all we had at home was gallon bottles of wine so cheap even winos would scoff at them. My then-stepmother liked to get up early in the morning, put on some Tammy Wynette music, and begin drowning and smoking away her sorrows. In my mind, I associate alcohol with bad country music and soggy shag carpet (stepmother spilled a lot).

Flash forward 40 years and I’m still not that much of a drinker. I made it 23 years in the Lone Star state without developing a taste for beer, which is one of the reasons I had to leave. There’s a time limit on how long beer-haters are allowed to stay. I also didn’t develop a taste for voting Republican, so my departure was good all the way around.

I’ve spent 25 years as a comedian and comedy producer. That means I’ve probably been in more bars than most alcoholics. I usually order a seltzer water with a lime, so it looks like something exotic (yes, to me a lime on the rim makes a drink exotic.) If I can talk the bartender into a little umbrella for no extra money, I will.

As you might imagine, a lot of my comedy friends are recovering alcoholics and every few months one of them celebrates their sobriety birthday and we celebrate by not drinking together.

I want an extra birthday too. One in which I celebrate decades of making good choices without having had to hit bottom. (Well, my last marriage counts as hitting bottom, but not in an alcohol-related way… at least not for me…) Where’s the celebration for those of us who commit every year to not getting inebriated at children’s birthday parties or running up on stage when someone else is performing and showing off our bra? Don’t we deserve a party too?

So I’ve declared October 8 to be my second birthday. That’s the date of my last divorce. If you want to celebrate with me, it’s BYOSW (bring your own seltzer water). I’ll supply the lime slices and if you’re lucky, little umbrellas.

 

 

If you’re a man reading this article, you’re either living with a menopausal woman or you hoping I’ll talk about sex. I will, but not in a way that will make you happy. Or hot. Know that going in.

Menopause isn’t pretty. I know. I’ve got the sweaty sheets and haggard, sleepless look to prove it. But it gets even uglier when men of the guy variety step in and try to fix it. For the love of all that is holy, if you don’t want to open the gates of hell, please heed my advice. You and the mood-swinging woman closest to you will be better off for it.

  • Look in the mirror. Do you have hair in your ears? Gray ones on your chest or among the pubes? Would you like her to bring that up at parties? Okay, than stop talking about her moustache. At least she keeps it trimmed.
  • Yes, you’ve been hot before. In fact, science tells us that there is only one temperature that doesn’t make most men sweat and most women run screaming for a sweater or a blanket with arms in it – 68 degrees. But you have never been “hotflash-hot” unless someone has set your testicles on fire and shoved them you-know-where. So when she says she’s burning up, do NOT respond with, “Now you know how I’ve felt for the past 27 years.”
  • After she flashes, she will be freezing. If you share a bed, you’d be better off using a sleeping bag on top of the fitted sheet so that you can rest comfortably while she throws off and then shivers beneath the covers. Although if you’re resting comfortably while she’s miserable, that may be a topic of conversation over coffee in the morning.
  • Unless you are a superhero who can transform into a giant popsicle and inject yourself into her chest for the 45 seconds-1 minute her hot flash lasts, you are worthless when it comes to offering workable solutions. So keep your suggestions to “Just open a damn window” or “Why don’t you take off your bra?” to yourself.
  • Speaking of sex, if you’re getting any, you’re lucky. She’s hot, she’s cold, she’s thought about hitting you in the head with a 2 x 4 and hasn’t done it. Yet. And she’s dry. Down there. We’re not talking the kind of dry that cheap flavored lube from the porn store will fix either. And there is not enough WD-40 to handle this job. The good news is that menopause may be the one time where quickies are actually the preferred form of sexual activity. So keep your mouth shut (a ball gag can help) and be grateful.
  • If intercourse is off the table (and the bed, the floor, the cat tower, etc.) and she offers up a BJ (which may be rare because when the estrogen goes, so does a lot of her caring about your needs), you’d better reciprocate with whatever she wants, even if it’s a two-week vacation to Antarctica with only her girlfriends. She’s got what’s left of your manhood in her mouth and she could swing from horny to homicidal in 2 seconds flat.
  • If you’re in the middle of an argument about anything from politics to pistachios, do NOT jokingly ask her if her bad mood might be hormone-related. Remember how well it worked when you tried to blame things on PMS? This will not go any better.
  • While “menopause” is defined as the day on which she hasn’t had a period for a year, the symptoms can show up as early as mid-40s during “perio-menopause” (Greek for “Well, aren’t I damned lucky?”) and last well into “post-menopause.” There are women who never stop hot-flashing and mood-swinging. Your 87-year-old aunt with the shotgun by the front door? Now you know why she’s always angry.
  • Be prepared for weeping. Not regular crying at things that are sad, but loud wailing and gushing tears that seem to spring up from an internal sprinkler system at the stupidest things. Cat food commercials, text messages from the dentist, Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy”… all of these can start the waterworks. Even if she didn’t want any more children or never wanted any, the idea that she can’t have them now, combined with hormones stampeding through her brain and body, makes her really sad. If you want to empathize, imagine knowing that you could never have another erection. There you go. That’s what empathy is like. Use that a lot.

Well, I hope these tips help save your relationship and your man parts during the next 5 to 50 years of your life. I’d write more, but I’m so damned hot right now!

 

engagement-annoucement

As ads for diamond rings keep reminding us, December is “Engagment Season.” As someone who has been engaged (and then married and then divorced) three times, I have some advice for those of you who are still single and thinking NOW is the time to change that up.

Here are my Top 7 Reasons Not to Get Engaged During Engagement Season:

1. Do you become a tree on Arbor Day? No? Then you don’t have to get engaged during “Engagement Season.” You also don’t have to get an STD during Chlamydia Awareness Week.

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2.  Are you bored with your romantic partner and think that a diamond on her or your finger might just shake things up? Spend the money on a tropical vacation somewhere during earthquake season. THAT will shake things up.

3.  Does it seem like the next step in your relationship? If you’re thinking about making a lifetime commitment to someone because it’s another step in a process, join a 12-step program for fairy tale addicts instead.

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4.  Is engagement on your to-do list because all your friends are doing it or they’ve already done it and are having babies and leaving you in the dust? Are you in middle school? If so, you’re too young to get engaged. If not, you have so many options, including finding new friends who are spending their time volunteering to fight climate change or drinking.

5.  Do you or your partner just want some jewelry this holiday season? Fine, get some jewelry. Buy from a local artisan who crafts amazing art for your fingers, wrist, neck, ankle, or nipples. It will cost you less money, cause you less guilt wondering where the stones came from, and help keep an artistic community member from a life of crime.

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6.  Have you been in a relationship with someone for too long and it’s about damn time he/she made you an honest man/woman or you did the same for him/her. (Can we please start using gender-neutral pronouns, grammar police?) Really, threats and coercion are how you’re going to play this? That doesn’t bode well for a healthy relationship. Perhaps you could run a republican presidential candidate’s campaign instead.

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7.  Has he/she asked you and you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings? This one is serious, folks. I got married twice out of not wanting to make my then-partner feel bad that he had popped the question, despite the fact that the first time the ring wasn’t even real! If someone else wants to get married and you’re not ready, it’s time to move on. Date someone else. Get a dog. Write a screenplay. But for god’s sake, don’t say yes when you mean “No, no, I’d rather have a colonoscopy!”

There you have it. If I’ve saved just one single person from making the same mistakes I have, my job here is done.

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Questioning My Sanity

I question my sanity regularly. Fortunately, it usually doesn’t answer and I take that as a sign that I’m mostly still okay — or perhaps my sanity has taken a vow of silence.

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Three weeks ago a new puppy joined my family. Well, he didn’t just show up at the front door  and when I answered, say with his eyes lowered, “I’ve been searching for my birth mom and I believe you may be her.” I was somewhat involved in the process. Involved, as in, I decided that my three senior wiener dogs and I could probably use some youthful energy to perk things up around here, then I scoured all the animal rescue sites nearby for dachshunds, filled out three applications, and went to meet a young fellow named “Boston” who was advertised as a 1-1/2 year old dachshund.

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Did I mention that I frequently have doubts about my sanity?

As it turns out, Boston was lying about his age. And lineage. And name.

His name is actually Murray. I know this because when I call it, he comes. Two of my other dogs are named Watson and Justin, so Boston was not going to work. Plus, when he barked, there was no trace of an East Coast accent.

He’s definitely part dachshund — the stubborn, hole-digging, begging for treats until you cave in just to be released from the overwhelming guilt in those eyes part. But he’s also got a little something else in him. I’m thinking kangaroo, given that he can jump 3-feet straight up in the air. I’m thinking maybe I should carry him around in an apron pocket.

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And given his proclivity for chewing everything, including my earlobes (which is the most action I’ve had in years), I’m pegging his real age at around 9 months.

Murray was found roaming the streets in California. Perhaps he was hunting for a good Pinot Grigio.

So here I am matriarch to a family of three dachshunds and one dachshund hybrid (perhaps I should have called him Prius!) I’ll stand at the back door, rattling off a list of possible names until I hit on the one that belongs to the dog who is digging holes, eating tomatoes, taunting the koi (wouldn’t Taunting the Koi be an excellent band name?), or just obstinately sitting steps away from me ignoring me for the hell of it.

I was right in my prediction that a younger dog would pick up the energy level around here. Everyone is awake a lot more than previously. This is a good thing, for the most part, except at 3 a.m. when sleeping might be a good idea. And everyone is in better shape too. Walks are faster and more plentiful as we attempt to wear the newest family member out so that I can go out into the world and earn enough money to buy squeaky toys for him to destroy the next day.

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Am I glad I have a new pup? Absolutely! Am I also crazy to have four dogs? I’m fairly certain of it. But I’d rather be crazy happy than any other kind of crazy.

We all know that dogs are better judges of character than we lowly humans, so why not ask them how to choose the right candidates for president?

After surveying my three dachshunds and a terrier and labradoodle we met on a walk, here are the criteria they came up with that should help you count a candidate out:

A human would NOT make a good president if:

He starts sentences with, “I’m not a cat, but…” and then tells cats what they should and shouldn’t do.

imagesWhen he goes on the paper, it’s the U.S. Constitution.

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She rides around in the pocket or purse of rich folks.

imagesHe wants to build a wall to keep out losers.

imagesHe always sticks his snout into other people’s business.

images42He hasn’t learned a new trick in decades.

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He only hangs out with his own breed.

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Not only did he not pass obedience school, he still barks with a 4th grade education.

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He blames others for his mistakes… and his brother’s mistakes.

hqdefaultHe doesn’t care who he steps (or sits) on.

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She’s never been a working dog.

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He isn’t a service human; he’s a “serve me” human.

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She thinks everyone should worship the same squeak toy she does.

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He believes in piddle down economics.

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He is against reproductive rights.

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He whimpers about how much he misses the “good old days.”

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I’m thinking of printing out cards that read, “You really deserve a slap to the head, but because society frowns on that, I give you this card instead.” A little poetry in lieu of poetic justice.

I’ll call these my STH (slap to head) cards.

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I needed these yesterday when I was at a local grocery store that carries an equal mix of organic and conventional foods, and a woman asked me if I knew where the “other” grapes were as I looked at the organic ones. She then proudly said, “I don’t buy organic.” I replied, “But those are covered with poison,” to which she responded, “I have to die of something.” In my head, I continued with, “But what about the bees? And the other critters who drink the water full of toxins?! And the people downstream? And Casar Chavez?”

A telepathic environmental activist is what I am. Because saying this stuff out loud could lead to harder drugs, such as  keying people’s Humvees or tossing Chinese throwing stars in their general direction as they serpentine across the parking lot.

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Also deserving of one my STH cards is anyone who says, “I don’t follow politics.” This is especially true if their response is to a statement such as, “We really need to do something to change the impact of humans on the earth” or “I sure hope no one takes away Social Security because I don’t know how I’ll survive on pension plan of a snarky wordsmith.”

Do they feel that being aware of issues beyond what type of lip gloss Iggy Azalea uses or whether the latest superhero movie holds up to the comic book requires too much effort? As if to “follow politics” they might actually have to physically follow the issues around, hopping a cab here, a Greyhound bus there, never knowing whether they’ll end up in Vegas or Muleshoe, Texas.

For them, my STH cards would be a substitute for my standing on a cruelty free, vegan, free-range soap box and yelling, “You don’t have to follow anything (except the 4000 people you stalk on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest) to take an interest in the world at large. It’s a fascinating place out here. You should come take a look sometime. There are real goats and llamas too!”

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Carly Fiorina, most of the female staff at Fox News, and any other woman who speaks out against equal pay for women, unfettered reproductive health care, or maternity leave should get an entire deck of cards. Come on, you’re packing a penis, right?

STH cards would help prevent me from hurling boxes of tampons at these women, yelling “Traitors!” and insisting they sit through the movie Beaches until their estrogen surged back to normal levels.

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I clearly need to design these cards fast or take my chances of showing up in a real life Orange is the New Black situation.