LOFB - Noa“Funny helps me through pain.”

“If you find the need to be funny often, then maybe you’re in pain too often.”

You’re right. I am in pain, and I have been for way too long. And for way too long, I’ve used funny as a cover for pain.

I’ve been in pain since I was a child. I could bore you all day with a sob story about my father, my step-father, and several abusive relationships, but does that really matter?


What matters is that when I was faced with pain, I had to walk on, move through, knowing that the way out was not to shirk away from it.

But here’s the thing. No matter how much you know that the you have to move though pain, it will strike fear in you. It might be a little (“I’m afraid of being laughed at.”) or it might be a lot (“I’m afraid that this could either be the best or the worst decision of my life.”). Either way, fear.

And that fear can amplify that pain to an almost unimaginable level. Your heart races, your stomach turns, your body tightens, you lash out.

This fear will try to cripple you.

At least where you are right now (though painful) is familiar, but making a choice to move through can bring good or bad. That fear will try to tell you that it will be bad.

And there lies the bigger choice.

Anyone can walk through pain. Anyone can stand when you feel like there’s nothing to help you do so.

But not everyone can walk through fear. Anyone can justify the decision to stay in pain, and learn to soothe with any number of different salves to avoid walking through your fear. The fear will tell you the pain is worth remaining in, so at least you don’t have to deal with fear.

But why would do you that to yourself? Why have I continued to do so? Because FEAR IS POWERFUL.

But you can only become better by walking through. You can only move to a better place by walking through.

Your decision to move through can have many different outcomes–good and bad–but the shield against fear is knowing that you are tough. That you are strong. And that no matter what happens, you can change your situation for the better.

Listen to those who tell you that you can move. Cast away those who tell you that you can’t.

Know that you can rely on YOU. YOUR ingenuity, YOUR strength.

And all you have to do is move through the fear.


If you haven’t watched Mike Birbiglia’s stand-up special, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend (available on Netflix), then you’re missing out.

This is one of my favorite stand-up sets that I have ever seen. He takes darkness from his life, finds the light into it, and owns it fully, and hilariously.


YouTube Preview Image


LOFB - JenI’ve always had a fairly strong sense of denial about my mortality.  Growing up I was a ridiculously healthy kid and despite myriad self-destructive and addictive tendencies, I made it through the first 39 years of my life relatively unscathed.  But then my 40’s tore through me like El Nino, eroding everything in its path.  Suddenly I found myself trapped in a body filled with willfully disobedient organs and noticed that my knees, once capable of completing marathons, started clicking like a Ubangi tribesman after only twenty minutes on the treadmill.  Almost overnight the food became too spicy, the music too loud, and I found myself craving dinner at 4:00pm and watching Hoda and Kathie Lee.*

*Nah, I’m just messing with you on that last one. . .but not about dinner. . .dagnabbit.

The fact that I’m a mother combined with some pretty big health scares over the last few years have made me feel like I’m on some cosmic “60 Minutes” set, listening to the clock “tick-tick-ticking” away the minutes of my life. I’ve even started reading the obituaries religiously.  Not as a somber reminder of my mortality but more of a “Better you than me” kind of schadenfreude. In an attempt to dodge the Big D I’ve tried to be fairly proactive about my health.  I don’t smoke and I don’t drink; but when it comes to exercise I am a lazy bastard and on any given day I will be filled with so much candy that Mexican kids will be whacking me with sticks.  I would give anything for a magic pill or elixir or surgical technique to extend my life as I am of the belief that any problem can be fixed by throwing a shit-ton of money at it.  Sadly, all the money in the world can’t buy you youth and immortality*

*Just ask Kris Jenner.

I know death is an inevitability and part of the grand Lion King circle of life and as such I should embrace it as just another mystical journey but I just can’t jump on that hippy-dippy bandwagon.  Even talking about death makes me more jittery than Ty Pennington on Red Bull. Death terrifies me, and it should fucking terrify you, too.  Why?  Because it.  Will.  Kill.  You.

But in the long run, burying your head in the sand and ignoring your imminent demise makes about as much sense as Ozzy Osbourne on NyQuil.  Eventually you have to face reality.  Eventually, you have to face the Darkness.

I am under no false illusions that I am a responsible adult, but in the interest of protecting my children, I am forced to impersonate one from time to time.  So, I cowboyed up and made an appointment with my Farmer’s agent to discuss  ((gulp!))  life insurance.

Now, let me preface by saying that my agent, Kellie Jo, is rad as shit.  She is a competitive racquetball player, has a wicked sense of humor, and her office is always stocked with a plethora of fine chocolates.  All things being relative, visiting Kellie Jo should be a pleasant experience, but somehow whenever I meet with her I walk in with a smile on my face and a spring in my step and storm out of there more pissed off than Kanye West at a Taylor Swift concert.  It isn’t Kellie Jo’s fault.  It’s the way the word “death” is casually tossed around like a drunken whore at a biker bar and the how numbers on her little calculator drive home the sobering fact that I am worth more dead than alive.

I’d already met with an attorney after my divorce to rewrite my will and estate planning so Gil didn’t decide to go all O.J. on my ass and take my stuff, but I’d kind of been putting off the whole life insurance thing because I’m a little skeeved out by the fact that not only do I have an expiration date like a carton of Yoplait Lite, I have a price tag too.   Life insurance is like an abusive boyfriend gently stroking your hair and telling you everything will be okay while he throws you up against a wall, takes your money, and leaves you with a sense of impending doom.  And if you have a medical history like mine, the son of a bitch will take a lot of your money.  A lot.*

*I’m not saying that you should lie to your insurance agent about your medical history, but if you’ve had any past issues with eating disorders or substance abuse then, well…OK, fuck it.  Lie like a hooker being paid by the moan.

Walking out of Kellie Jo’s office, my wallet was considerably lighter, but my sense of security felt stronger and more solidified.  But still there was that overwhelming sense of “holy shit I’m going to die”.  No matter what I do, or how I try, or what miracles of modern science or cosmetics arise in the not-so-distant future, someday I will simply cease to exist.  And then what?  An afterlife?  Darkness?  Nothingness?  And what will I leave behind for the world to remember other than some unpaid parking tickets and a fabulously well-dressed corpse.*

*Because there is NO damned way I’m going to meet Joe Black without a killer pair of shoes.

Over the years my views on death have been altered more times than Oprah Winfrey’s wardrobe, but now I’ve reached an odd and begrudging sort of…acceptance. Death is just the grand finale; the ribbon on the gift of life that ties the whole thing together like Jerry Springer’s “Final Thought”.  And life is indeed a precious gift, but like all gifts there comes a time when it gets worn out and you need to drop it off at the celestial Goodwill to make room in the closet of humanity.

But in the meantime I’m going to have so much plastic surgery that you could bounce a quarter off my forehead.  I may be maturing, but I’m still me.


LOFB - NoaDarkness spirals are a thing I am intimately familiar with.

You get worn down by how useless everything feels. Why bother going to the grocery store when I can just stay here all the time? Why clean when I have no social life? Why try to do anything else when I hate what I’m doing now–after all, everything is really hard.

It’s easy to get lost. To feel like you have no purpose. To feel like you’re just existing in a void.

The hard part is to remember that things don’t have to be this way.

Read again: things don’t have to be this way.

Life is exhausting, even when it’s really good. Everything can wear you down, but that’s no reason not to try to change your position. To change your circumstances.

It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to change everything at once–you just need one thing at a time. Start at the most important: the common denominator.

When you’re feeling like you’re just existing in a void, it’s time to look inward. What’s the common denominator? Your job? Your activities? Your family? Friends? Love life?

When you find it, it’s time to get to work. What in particular is bothering you about that? Have you spoken about it before? If not, do so! Do you need to just cut it out of your life? Do you need a change within that particular denominator?

Work from the bottom–you’re already there. Start with the worst thing, the thing you keep coming back to as the hardest part of your life, and work to change it. That’s it, just one foot in front of the other, just one step at a time.

You’ll build momentum.

You’ll build a happier life.

You’ll build your way out of the darkness.

It won’t last forever, because you are the agent of your own change.


Repaired Issue 1: I now have internet again.

Repaired Issue 2: COMMENTS ARE BACK.

Unrepaired Issue 1: Remembering that the storm makes us, it does not destroy us.

YouTube Preview Image