Category Archives: Life Rehab Resources

Life Rehab Resources: Comedy

I haven’t done one of these posts in a long time. It’s late in the day, and I decided hours ago, sometime after I got up from a long nap, that I was taking the rest of the day off, but I can’t stop thinking about this podcast I listened to this morning, and I wanted to come here and tell you about it. And I figure if I’m going to take the time telling you about it, there’s a bigger story there, so I might as well just tell you the whole thing, or at least most of it.

I have always loved comedy, loved a good laugh. It’s as essential to me as food, air, water, sleep, music, or books. My favorites growing up were Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Barbara Streisand (I know she might strike you as an odd choice, but her physical comedy and self-deprecation mixed with a gorgeous voice were comedy gold to me), Mary Tyler Moore, Bill Cosby (*sigh*), Dick Van Dyke, Danny Kaye, and Jerry Lewis (*sigh* again) — (and yes, I am aware most of this list is white people).

When I got older, it was cool to like rougher comedy like that of Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy. The older still I got, the less I could stomach comedy. I couldn’t see past the misogyny and racism, the way some comedian’s shtick seemed to boil down to “look at what a mess I am, isn’t that funny?” Rather than make me laugh, it often left me feeling disturbed and confused. And as I had more real life adult experiences of my own (adulting really sucks sometimes), it was harder and harder to make me laugh.

I entered a comedy dry spell. I didn’t go out of my way to seek it out, and none of note found its way to me. Then something started to shift. Two things happened: Tig Notaro was diagnosed with cancer and almost immediately did a live show which started with her walking on stage and saying to the audience “Good evening. Hello. I have cancer,” (the show was recorded and turned into the album Live); and Mike Birbiglia‘s My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend was released, “Mike Birbiglia tells the touching story of his believing and disbelieving in love.”

These two shows changed my comedy world. These were people talking about real, authentic, hard shit, but through their storytelling, they made me laugh, made me think, and somehow, even though they talked about how hard and messy it was to be a human, they made me feel better. We laughed together about how weird it all is. They cheered me up. With the door so lovingly opened, I found my way back to comedy.

Now comedy is a regular thing in my life again. Three podcasts I listen to on a regular basis are You Made It Weird, “Everybody has secret weirdness, Pete Holmes gets comedians to share theirs”; Put Your Hands Together, hosted by Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito, “a first-of-its-kind weekly standup podcast. PYHT delivers 75 minutes of jokes and backstage chats with LA’s best and brightest comics,” and 2 Dope Queens, “Join the 2 Dope Queens, Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams, along with their favorite comedians, for stories about sex, romance, race, hair journeys, living in New York, and Billy Joel. Plus a whole bunch of other s**t.”

This morning I listened to You Made It Weird #357: Mike Birbiglia #4 while I was doing my physical therapy exercises, and putting away laundry, and taking a shower. I’d already listened to the first hour yesterday while I was cleaning the house. I like Pete Holmes’s comedy, and I really like his new show Crashing, and I love his podcast; but what I really really really love is when he gets to talking about spirituality. He’s Christian, but if he didn’t say that outright, you’d think he was a Buddhist.

This particular episode had so much good stuff I can’t even begin to cover it all here, but one thing he said has stuck with me all day. He talked about how when he sees someone getting road ragey, he says “where are you going?” His point being “where is it you are trying to get that is so important you go into a rage if you don’t get there in a timely manner?” He was giving the example in the context of talking about a larger issue, how we all are rushing around, grasping and reaching for something else, and completely missing the fact that we are right here, and being here is the whole point. Every time I caught myself slipping out of the present moment today, I asked myself “where are you going?” It’s a potent antidote to mindlessness, to discursive thinking, to suffering.

Maintaining a sense of humor is so important. And yet, it matters to me that there remains a balance between reality and comedy. I don’t want to be shocked into laughing or distracted from what’s bad; I want a way to process and understand the brutality of life without falling into despair. Good comedy like that keeps me from turning my pain into suffering, for myself and others, and I feel better because it lightens the weight of the reality we all face. It keeps me from giving up.

Some other good comedy:

Life Rehab Resource: Rachel Cole

liferehabresourcesI haven’t written one of these posts in awhile, and I certainly haven’t finished the series. There’s so much more worth sharing. Then the other day I was posting on Facebook about people who have shifted my life profoundly, helped me to heal, to wake up, to open my heart a little wider, and I realized I had a few of these posts “in the queue.”

The first time I ever mentioned Rachel Cole here was in November 2011, just two months after I started the blog. It’s clear that it wasn’t the first encounter I’d had with Rachel’s work because the reason I mentioned her in that particular post was to say that I’d finally confirmed a date with her to come to Fort Collins and give a Well-Fed Woman mini-retreatshop. That was the first year she did the retreatshops, and I somehow was brave enough to ask her to come, found the courage to host one.

I was a different person back then. At the beginning of 2011, I had made what would turn out to be my last New Year’s resolution — to be a better friend to myself. This commitment came out of the realization that I hated myself, and I knew enough to know that had to change or nothing else ever would. In September of that same year, I signed up for Andrea Scher’s Mondo Beyondo class and started this blog. By November, I’d made plans to host a Well-Fed Woman mini-retreatshop.

rachelpeach

image from Rachel’s website

I’ve been working with Rachel ever since. I hosted that first retreatshop in February of 2012. That summer, I went to the World Domination Summit and got to hang out with her some more. During the fall of 2013, I took part in the first Intuitive Eating Reading Group Rachel offered. In October of 2013, she graciously let me stay at her apartment while I was in town for a retreat and she was traveling with the second tour of the retreatshops. I returned in November of 2013 to take part in the final retreatshop of that tour, and we shared a wonderful dinner at the end of the last day at this really great Asian place, (I still think about the salad we had, the spring rolls with yam, so delicious). Every holiday season, I sign up for her Wisdom Notes. This spring, I was able to be a part of her first offering of Feast. It’s been four years of some of the hardest, best work I’ve ever done.

Rachel helped me save my own life. Before working with Rachel, I was starving. I didn’t know how to feed myself, care for myself, love myself. I didn’t even know what I was hungry for, food or otherwise, just knew I wasn’t getting it. I was malnourished and struggling. I’d had an eating disorder for decades and didn’t even realize it. I’d been in a long term abusive relationship with myself and was only just becoming aware of it, only starting to see the damage I’d done. Having made the same journey herself, from disordered eater to helper, teacher, healer, Rachel had so much wisdom and so many resources to share. She’s a hunger whisperer, a doula of nourishment, guiding women to a life where they are well-fed and cherished.

When I first encountered Rachel, I was immediately drawn to her. I confess, I was also a little afraid of her. It was obvious I wasn’t going to be able to hide, to remain comfortable in my cocoon if I worked with her. She was the real deal — clear and direct, brilliant and fiercely gentle. She knows exactly what is at stake, how important her work is, and she won’t back down. As she says on the About page of her redesigned website, “While my style is known to be extraordinarily warm, spacious and gentle, there is no denying that this work is radical.”

This video from her website is a really good peek into what it’s like to work with her. It makes me tear up every time I watch it because I just adore her, love her so much, have so much gratitude for her wisdom, her help, her support, her friendship.

Feast for me was like the Master’s program of my work with Rachel. It enabled me to review everything that came before and sink into a mastery of the material, the practice of being a well-fed woman. I’m in touch with what my body needs and wants, but it’s about so much more than my body. I approach my life from a place of self-compassion, clarity, purpose, ease and joy. That just wasn’t possible before Rachel. Working with Rachel also means connecting with a tribe, a sangha of other women making the same effort, all of us trying to wake up. Their support and companionship is a key part of the experience.

Rachel is now accepting applications for the next session of Feast. The deadline to submit is August 19th. I can’t recommend the program enough. I endorse Rachel with my whole heart and would urge any woman who is suffering, who is hungry, to take a chance and work with her. It could change your life.