The Truth and Freedom

14 months in a boot, sitting on a porch over looking a river = 60,000 words of life that now need to be sifted, sorted, and hopefully converted into something useful.

I learned a lot about myself, and my story during that recovery time.  I looked at my trigger points for my temper, my joy, and false shame. I gave myself permission to get mad about things I under-reacted to in the past, to feel what I feel, think what I think, and to realize some things weren’t worth the time of day and it was time to let them go.

I usually started my stories with a them in mind and it took a few pages to get to the me part of it. That’s pretty normal for me, really. I’m glad I did it. I know more about who pulls my trigger and why, and I get to take ownership of that back.

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Meme courtesy of Cowgirl Spirit on Facebook

I shared this meme today on Facebook and wow what a response. Several people wanted to correct this and say the truth will set others free, but it will piss them off — all eyes on everybody else.

We just love telling other people the truth about how we see them, don’t we? I hate to break it to you, but my truth about how I see you might not really be the actual facts of the situation. My truth is warped by perception and my past realities. So is yours.

I’ve learned something at the river, If I spot it, I got it. The need to point out other’s faults is becoming less and less these days. Not that I don’t notice them of course. Honestly, looking around and finding faults in others is like shooting fish in a barrel.

1. The overly controlling wife or husband. You know the type, they control the entire social circle, question your motives, know all of their spouse’s passwords and want immediate access to all social media on demand. Or they don’t let them use social media at all unless it’s a shared page. I know several folk, men and women alike who do this.

2. The woman who has a crush on my husband and tears up every time she’s around him. – I’m not going to lie that one alone makes me want to turn into woman #1. It also makes me remind myself that prison orange is not my color. He’s a grown man, he’s got this. He does not need me running constant interference or checking up to make sure he doesn’t talk to her. I don’t even know his passwords and after 25 years, I don’t need to know them. Honestly, if he’s going to chase after waterworks gal if I don’t stay on it, I don’t want him. And he’s not going to, so I’m not worried.

3. The friend who doesn’t have time to talk to her friends, but has all the time in the world to send plea letters from her non-profit-of-the-month making us all feel more like check books than friends.

4. The bitter alcoholic who blames the world for everything, but never themselves. The perpetual victim. “It’s not MY fault.” – or let’s be fair The Put Upon Alanon who super glues their wrist to their forehead and goes on and on about what all they put up with in the name of love.

5. The person who exaggerates their accomplishments ad nauseum in order to fit in or impress – hard not to roll my eyes when this happens. I know a few people who fall into this category.

6. The jealous over other people’s accomplishments gal – She’s not hard to spot, wears a martyrs hat and says “must be nice” an awful lot. Also likes to sigh heavily and roll her eyes.

Surely, I don’t do any of those things.

Smirk.

yeah right.

On my best day, maybe not. But not every day is my best day, you know?

It’s rather easy to feel good about myself when I compare my best attributes to the worst characteristics of others. A friend once told me that.

“Of course you feel good honey, you are comparing yourself to a low bottom drunk — kinda difficult not to come out on top compared to that now isn’t it? Now, let’s talk about you for a change.”

Talk about hurt feelings.

She was right — It’s easy to feel good about myself when I do that. I can be any one of those people I listed in a heartbeat if I want. Heck, I’ve been worse some days.

And so when something sets me off – like the water works gal, the controlling spouse of a friend, or another plea letter. I have the freedom to look at myself and decide what I’m going to do. I can tell waterworks to back off and then let it alone. I can do my best not to be that controlling spouse in my home and trust my husband, and as for plea letter I can ask to be removed from that list and look at my own lists of friends. While I may not send letters, I did have people on my FB list for the sole purpose of marketing to. I deleted them. Can’t very well get snarky with someone when I’m doing the same thing, you know?

They call that taking my own inventory – something I try to do on a daily basis. That doesn’t mean I can’t set boundaries in relationships. I do. I speak my truth when it impacts me directly — If it doesn’t impact me directly then it’s none of my business.

So just for today:

I can tell myself the truth

Clean up my side of the sidewalk

and be free. 

And it doesn’t have to piss me off like it used to. 

I’m a work in progress — a majestic creation designed by the hand of God. I’m just not finished yet and that is okay.

I Chose This

resolve june 5 2013 ” I miss my friends. I miss our house. I miss our store. I hate you for bringing me here.” she said. And he reminds her, “But we chose this, remember? The house, yard, and store were too much to take care of now, and we were too far away from town and the doctor’s offices. And we’re closer to our daughter now. You can walk to her house. You couldn’t do that before. So what if we have to drive farther to see our friends, we knew that when we chose to move.”

* “I hate living in Chicago. It’s scary and it’s hard. And those men I have to work with? They are crude! They keep trying to scare me off. It’s so hard some days Gramps.”

“But you chose this, remember? You wanted to live in Chicago. You wanted to have a career. You knew you would be the only woman in that group when you accepted the job. You chose this life. The only question that remains now is what choices are you willing to make today? Are you going to step up to the plate and face the challenge you accepted or are you going to run away?”

YOU CHOSE THIS, REMEMBER?

If I remember nothing else from my Grandfather, I hope I never forget those words. You chose this. Own your choices or they will own you.

My Grand Father had an 8th grade education at best, and I swear up and down he was the smartest man I’ve ever known in my life. I miss him beyond measure most days.

The great thing about choices is we get to change our minds and make a different choice, or we get to buckle down and do what needs to be done.

I got a little whiney this week. I didn’t think I was being whiney. I thought I was just stating facts, I’ve been performing all month at various venues and some have been harder than others. I haven’t slept well in I don’t know how long. I’ve been up half the night most nights writing new jokes, practicing my banjo and my guitar, writing stories, talking with friends, working through home work that is due June 15. I have gardens to work, and deadlines looming. I got to feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all and I think part of me was looking for a little bit of sympathy only I didn’t get it.

I’m glad really. Women (and men) don’t need sympathy — especially in light of the fact that we are all living the lives we choose to live. (For the record, sympathy and empathy are not the same thing.)

We may not view our lives as choice. Sometimes we view ourselves as victims of either fate or circumstance or others but nothing can be further from the truth.

I’m choosing to add music lessons, a ministry class, and playing stand up in bars and clubs to my already full schedule of running a home, caring for aging parents, and going green in my gardening (No GMO’s for us thank you) not to mention becoming a full-fledged cyclist. All of these are good choices. Yes, it does mean I get a bit less sleep. I’m not a victim. I’m living my dream. I’m performing comedy. I’m working hard at being the best comic I can become. Every choice I make pushes me a little bit closer to my goals.

I can either accept, appreciate, and value the hard work that goes into that – or I can stay a stuck little girl and whine which leads people and myself to wonder – if it’s really that awful why do you keep doing it?

We choose where we work, where we live, whom we trust, how we eat, how we spend our time and what we think.

When we replace the have to’s with chooses to’s, we step out of the little girl victim mode and become women who own our own lives.

It isn’t always easy. Life is still life. Relationships are hard. Work is hard. And even in the face of hardship we still choose how we respond.

We aren’t beach balls tossed around by a crowd. We are women. We control our steps, our hearts, and our destiny. Only when we live it, breathe it, and own it are we free.

* I went on to earn numerous performance rewards, including but not limited to recognition from the National Associate of Female Executives for being the first women to work in Internal Communications for a National Telecommunications company. When hired, the manager told me “HR says I have to hire a broad, I give you 90 days.” — Today that department has almost as many women working in it as men. I’m proud I chose to rise to the challenge and stick with it.

What a ride!

Last night’s interview on Slay N Savage was a blast. — If you missed it you can CLICK HERE for the archive.  One of the questions they asked was how did I become a stand up comic. That’s not an easy question to answer off the top of my head. It’s been a crazy journey full of twists, turns, starts, stops, long periods of self-doubt with bursts of WOW THAT ROCKED!

It’s been a wonderful journey so far. If someone had told me back when I started that I would be playing in bars and clubs, be cast as an extra in local movies and get interviewed on Blog Talk Radio, I would not have believed you. So a quick thank you to my son Charlie, and the always affable Yakov Smirnoff who accidentally gave me my start, without even realizing it. — oh and sorry about the stalking dude.

I found this story today while I was going through my old notes looking for material. I’d forgotten I’d written it. Hope you like it.

How I became a stand up comic.

Written: November 4, 2009 – Just four months after deciding to go pro.

The roads I travel in life are rarely smooth. Maybe it’s because I live in Oklahoma and we don’t believe in repairing concrete, or maybe it’s the wanderlust redhead in me, either way I start down one path and I inevitably wind up on some motocross race track doing loops, turns, tricks and stops, pausing from time to time to eat mud pies.

This is a mud pie kind of day. I’m editing what I used to think are funny stories into something more compatible with a stand up format. As I sit at my computer picking gravel out of my knees and my stories, I’m struck by the thought of “Who can I blame for this mess?”

Being a humor writer and loaning out stories and jokes is a smooth road. Stand up comedy? Not so much. I don’t know this road and yet here I am, forsaking one for the other. I’m taking my shot and running with the big dogs. Why? Only my therapist can answer that. It just feels right. That’s all there is to it. I have this insatiable need to make people laugh and to do it well. “Hi, I’m Deana and I’m a stand up comic.” My 12 step group meets in clubs throughout the United States.

I didn’t start my comedy career doing stand up. I’m a humorist. I write and tell funny stories. Have for years. Then it happened. My oldest son gets straight A’s in 6th grade and he wants to see Yakov Smirnoff in Branson. Simple enough really. Branson is only three hours away so off we go. I should have just bought him a car. It would have been cheaper.

Yakov has this part in his show where members of the audience are allowed to tell him jokes. The person with the funniest story gets to go on stage and interview him. Neat little piece. At least it was before my son looked up at me and said “Mom! You’re funny, why don’t you tell him one of your stories?”

” How hard can it be.” I thought to myself.

I’m convinced those words will be on my tombstone. In short, I died a horrible, humiliating, miserable death-by-choking in front of Yakov, my son, and 1,400 people. All of it on film. Nice.

I can only blame myself for what happened next. I spent the next two years striving to save my pride and convince this dear sweet long on patience man that I am indeed funny. I went to no less than six of his shows hoping for another shot. We communicated via telephone, email, snail mail and in person. I even bought roughly ten of his paintings. Hey, it’s not stalking until you see the whites of the restraining order, okay? It turns out that I cannot get within a hundred yards of Yakov without turning into a walking lobotomy. Go figure.

In short I made an idiot out of myself. I convinced him that I was something alright. I’m not so sure about the funny part though. Suffice to say, I have not set foot in Branson in about five years. Just driving through Missouri gives me hives.

undeterred by my egostically driven set back, I continue on as a humor writer and story-teller. Joining writing groups and comedic message boards to better hone my craft, I learn that Christian comics have their own club of sorts. They have a message board, Facebook, fan pages and conferences. Figuring that four years is enough time to hide from comics and that the stigma has to have worn off by now, I drive with a friend to their most recent conference in Nashville Tennessee.

I am at home with these funny people. No longer a slave to my comedic lust, I find other kindred spirits and I find peace. My friend talks me into participating in their Open Mic for newbies and I gladly participate.

In all fairness, I erroneously assumed that the men and women would be separated. Women would critique women and men would critique men kind of thing. I assumed incorrectly. Imagine my surprise to learn that my panel of advisors would consist of men named Bone, Nazareth and Thor. There was also Kenn and LeLand, the oddballs with normal names, but I digress. Bottom line, I’m a female humorist/story-teller about to face an entire audience of comics and male critiquers with a story about the time my husband’s doctor guilted me into being present during his vasectomy.

I’m an intelligent woman. It did not take me long to assess three things.

1.) This story was probably not appropriate for this particular venue.
2.) I don’t have the energy to stalk these five men for two years to convince them I really am funny so I better think of something quick.
3.) I had consumed so much sweet tea that evening that the stability of my bladder is now questionable.

I took three of my funniest bits and tried to turn them into stand up material on the fly. Thankfully they laughed while I tried not to hyperventilate or pee.

As for my bladder issues, I just moved around a lot hoping it would stabilize. If that failed, I’m over weight so I was just going to tell the guys that I’m pregnant and my water broke. They are men. They would have dropped me off at the nearest hospital and gone on their merry way and I would have hidden out in my hotel room until the conference was over and my room-mate was ready to drive home.

And that, my friends is how I became a stand up comic.