Friday, August 22, 2014

The funniest man

Post by Katherine Ellis for the Love for Love series.

image courtesy of

No doubt, Robin Williams was one of the funniest entertainers we, as a collective audience, have ever known. He is right up there with Charlie Chaplin, Lucille Ball, Laurel & Hardy and Carol Burnett. And if you believe in the afterlife, all but Ms. Burnett are up there too. Do you think they wear their masks up in the sky?

We are mourning. As Russell Brand, in a beautiful piece in The Guardian said: “Today Robin Williams is part of the sad narrative that we used to turn to him to disrupt.” The laughter is gone. For now. It will come back, I promise.

But first, talk. A dialogue has begun, and that is nothing but a good thing. In a society where gay marriage is out of the closet and in the center of the room, suicide is a topic that still gets swept under the rug. Why is that? Is it lack of information? Ignorance? Maybe it’s shame?

It could be shame dressed up as discreetness. Like your mom ushering you to the other side of the room.

“Now, dear, you don’t want to ask your cousin about the neighbor boy.”

In 2014, it’s still perceived as more respectable to die of cancer than suicide. If it is suicide, then the reason better be cancer, not distorted perception or mental illness, emotional exhaustion or just straight depression.

On Facebook, one of my friends, as many of our friends, started a dialogue immediately following Williams’ death about suicide, how it’s the ultimate expression of depression and sickness. He also said anyone who says it’s selfish is wrong. I think there is room for both.

If Robin Williams thought he could have climbed his way out of the darkness in order to be with his children, his wife or friends, don’t you think he would have? If he could have taken one long look in the mirror and drank in the love and adoration people the whole world over had for him, wouldn’t he? But he couldn’t. He was so deep in the dark wizardry of self-sabotage, the only voice he could hear in there was the one that said “I hate you.”

You go for a swim off an island, and when you get out far enough and turn around to go back… there is no back. The island is gone. You tread water. It’s exhausting; your lungs burn, and after awhile you want to sink down under.

But you don’t.

If your mental state is strong, you will remind yourself the island was there when you got in the water. There must be some kind of spell going on, nothing more. People will miss you back home, and a whole life is waiting, just as long as you keep your head in the air. But there are those of us who decide sinking down quietly into the night’s dark waters is the easiest choice we have.

I have heard the wizard’s convincing voice; I heard him yet just today. He said, as he often does, the reason it all feels so hard is that I deserve for it to be.

I am the problem.

I have heard that enough and learned thereafter it was wrong, and I was “wrong” to believe it. I’ve cycled through this enough to know that even when the wizard is standing right in front of me, beard, hat and all, he is not real. He is a fucking wizard.

I thank God for that. God and Christopher Burkott.

Christopher was the funniest man I have ever known. For me to be really funny you not only have to have good timing and originality, you need to be great at imitation. Not just with your voice, but with your entire face.

Each and every millimeter of skin must wrinkle and contort into the person whose existence you find entertaining enough to spend bathroom breaks, in the mirror, rehearsing them. What makes you really good is slipping this impression into conversation as if the idea to slip into someone’s skin struck your fancy spontaneously.

Christopher was religious at impersonating people, his voice hitting the ceiling, his mouth stretching open, eyes bugging out… and that was just for one. He is not alone…think of Charlie Chaplin, Carol Burnett, Kristen Wig and Robin Williams.

Malls were big on Christopher’s list. Where else can you find a variety of people like that?

Elbow to one side, he’d rock his arm forwards and back; spread his mouth out wide and his eyes even wider:

“How you doing? How you DOING!!??

They couldn’t help but laugh. And if they didn’t, if their day was so sad nothing could be funny…well then he’d just keep going…and going.

A voice pinched out of the back of his throat, an area remaining five years-old: “What do you mean how am I doing?”

Then he’d wave his tongue back and forth and shake his hands.

He was adamant about them giving in. And give they always would. I would walk along beside him, arm linked in his as I left my man to fend for himself, along with Christopher’s boyfriend.

The mall was not his stage of choice, of course; he dreamed to be in something he could tell his parents to watch back in North Carolina. They weren’t interested in his love life, his emotional ups and downs, though they came as no surprise. Christopher, we found out, had tried many times.

We learned, as well, that he was five years older than we had known. Got the last laugh…he did.

The thing I learned most from my dear friend is killing one’s self is not killing the problem. It is a permanent solution to a temporary one.

Even though he wanted a career in entertainment so baldy he could taste its bitter sweetness…even though he had shot his first part in a major movie just before…even though his boyfriend said he would be back tomorrow…and back he was, to find him…there was nothing that could keep Christopher Burkott from stepping onto the wood table that night, after he had lifted up the cushion on his dining room chair to do so.

There was nothing, unfortunately, that could keep him from flying through the air of his own dark dream.

Two weeks after he was gone, we sat in a cold theater in Burbank on a Friday afternoon. The major studio that produced the movie held a screening. We watched, and listened in horror, as the suited-up execs innocently laughed harder for Christopher’s small part than they did for any other actor in the movie.

And why shouldn’t they?

Because even though there were major actors in the picture -- Charlie Sheen, Denise Richards…George’s mom from Seinfeld…they laughed for the best impersonator, the funniest man I have ever known.

And he was gone.

He thought he was the problem, so he left in order to fix it. But the problem was he didn’t see past the problem…much like another funny man we all kind of knew.

How well can you know anyone who wears a mask? Next time you go to the bathroom, look for the man practicing in the mirror.

Katherine Ellis is a writer, actress and entrepreneur. She is a native of Los Angeles, where she spent her childhood accumulating numerous acting jobs under her (vintage) belt. When she is not playing dress-up or writing about it on her vintage fashion blog Breakfast at Gemini's, she is writing her memoir Going on Nine. Needing snacks to munch on while writing is essential, and thus her unique natural toffee company was born. McFaddy Candy Co, as featured in In Style magazine, currently caters large scale special events in Los Angeles and is sold in boutique stores across Southern California. 
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Course Review: Soul Revival!

I have to admit, when Heather asked me to participate in Soul Revival, all of the standard thought processes happened: "I'm too busy" (resistance), "I don't wanna" (more resistance), and my favorite "I'm already doing enough work on myself" (a little fear for good measure!).

I'm so glad I said yes!

Please know that I'm far from completing the course - it's wonderfully extensive - but what I've done has been absolutely lovely. Even the graphic design of the course is lovely and calming.

Heather breaks the course down into manageable chunks, and you can focus on whichever area feels right at that time. The rest are always there for you.

I started with Segment 5: See. What greeted me was some fabulous information and some exercises. I learned, I practiced and I grew. Moving on to Segment 3: Smell, the format was similar. What I wasn't expecting was an exciting list of aromatherapy scents, the moods they're best for and some additional information! SCORE! I never would have known that Basil is good for fatigue, and Heather even gives a shopping list and how-to guide.

Loves, when I tell you that I feel like I haven't even scratched the surface of this course, I mean it. Every piece has been wonderful and I can't wait to get to more of them. I so appreciate being able to work through it on my own time, and am already using lessons from the Segments I've worked through.

Check it out. Ask Heather a question. Don't be afraid to dive in. I promise there's something in this course for everyone.

Connect with Heather: Web | Facebook | Twitter| Blog | Instagram
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Kind Business: Why Sharing Is Key To Success

Post by E.K. Bradley for the Kindness in Business series.

Rusty Antique Skeleton Key from KeyLimeSupplies on Etsy

The island I call home is filled with small businesses selling their wares. Few franchises or chains exist, at least not compared to Bangkok or other large cities across the globe. I take pride in knowing the owners of the cafe I frequent on a daily basis, and enjoy chatting with the business women who are hard at work day in and day out, running restaurants and other small establishments. What gets me even more excited is knowing that here in Thailand, street food trumps eating at a ‘proper’ sit down restaurant (this is indisputable) and seeing how much pride the chefs take in the one or two dishes they wok up and are known for inspires me.

Of course business is business in many respects, and more and more Hypermarkets are dotting the island, running out of business the convenient stores. But people are protesting them, putting up signs indicating that when the hypermarkets come they pollute the area and cause small businesses to pack up shop and move. There is this feeling of activism floating in the area everywhere in Thailand, and change will follow it.

A few months ago I came across a video on YouTube discussing what is known as collaborative consumption. The term ‘sharing economy’ is also used to describe the growing trend in business all across the world where people are craving something more than mere possessions. It’s defined by Wikipedia as ‘a socioeconomic system built around the sharing of human and physical assets’. Instead of people just wanting to buy a product, they want to know where their money is going and even trade skills. In other words, there is a growing movement of individuals using the internet to buy/lend/trade directly with those that have something to offer, regardless if they have a business or not.

A great example is Airbnb. Users are renting out rooms or entire residences to travelers in need of accommodation; this is empowering locals that have a spare room to rent and giving travelers a deeper connection to the location they are visiting. Another example is Trade School where students barter for knowledge instead of paying huge fees. You can pay your teacher with Twizzlers, cheese, or anything else instead. I’m not kidding.

Perhaps my favorite example is Tripoto where locals and travel experts give tours of areas they know and love. It’s free to list your tour and you can cater it to what you love most about your town (tour of the best pubs, restaurants, parks, etc.). This trend of connecting locals with travelers is growing at a rapid rate and a host of internet based platforms are growing to meet the demand. People want more than just a tour guide, they want to support the local economy and get a once in a lifetime experience.

I’m not sure how many more Hpyermarkets will be popping up in Phuket before we leave this summer. They are still a popular option for those looking to buy cheap food and clothing all in one place. Yet just yesterday I discovered a shared working space for digital entrepreneurs to share, consisting of a kitchen, a conference room, library, and of course Wi-Fi, owned by a pair of marine biologist who felt communal work spaces were the way to go. By the time we’re gone I don’t doubt even more businesses modeled after this sharing economy concept will have popped up not only in our neighborhood but across the island. Indeed my friends, kind business principles and community sustaining business models are the way of the future.

E.K Bradley is an award winning writer, photographer, and Holistic Life Coach that values the simple things in life. 
She is passionate about helping women live more creative, holistic lives. 
You can find out more about here.
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Post by Lynn DeVasto for the Kind Kindred series.

photo taken by Lynn DeVasto

I used to want to be perfect. As a child, I thought that if I were perfect, my parents wouldn't fight. I wouldn't be lonely. As a young adult, I thought that if I were perfect, I would be loved, and I could avoid being abused. Of course, I was told it wasn't abuse, it was just me, pushing too hard...not being enough, not doing the right things, if only I would learn. And learn I did...somehow I got away and moved on.

As I got older, I thought if I were perfect, I would (of course) have the perfect life. If I were married, if I had a child, if I made a certain dollar figure, if I had a house, if I could travel, if I were a size 6. And then...I had all those things. And life fell apart. The reasons are numerous, but I think life fell apart for me because I needed to see that perfection is not all it's cracked up to be.

Perfection is simply a pretty shell. Most people love conch shells, because, well, they are lovely. But while they may be beautiful on the outside, all shiny and polished...on the inside, it's layer upon swirly layer, with little baby shells stuck inside and layers and layers of sand baked. Not so pretty, in the perfect kind of world. For me, though, I collect the ones that have been broken open and you can see the depths of what's inside, you can see where life has sanded down the rough edges, and left the remnants of those little shells that are stuck in there and won't go away. Give me the open views, give me the brokenness, give me the gritty sand, give me the real.

It's only when the shell is broken that the true core is able to come through. We're all beautiful in our brokenness, if you know how to look.

To healthy and happy,

Lynn DeVasto is the owner of Live and Love Your Life, which helps you deal with the trifecta of Food, Fitness and Feelings. She has taken her experience of losing 90 pounds and her certifications in Personal Training, Holistic Wellness Coaching, Sports Nutrition and Barre to create a premium coaching experience. This allows you manage your health in a way that works for you instead of against you. Click HERE to get her juicy tips to Live and Love Your Life!
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Monday, August 18, 2014

Our light gives others permission to shine

photo by Jenny Ingalls Nelson

Kate Courageous said it best in a Facebook post last week: "My friends, if things are going well in your life, and that triggers others...well, beyond a healthy compassion for them, that ain't your business.".

Have you ever felt badly about letting your light shine? I know I have, and I completely believe that we shouldn't let our light shine in a way that makes others feel inferior, but I think it often goes beyond that. I think that we often choose to dim our light intentionally. We think "what if it makes him/her feel badly?" or "what if he/she doesn't appreciate it?".


What if the opposite is true? What if letting your light shine gives others permission to do the same? What if letting your light shine reminds others of their own light?

Sometimes misery does want company, but sometimes the people around us need to see that there is light, to remember their own.

Starting today, I challenge you to let your light shine. Don't hide it, don't dim it, just put it out there when it feels right. Just maybe, your light will be exactly what someone else needs to allow their own to shine.

Thank you for being on this journey with me.
❤, Lara

CLICK TO TWEET: Our light gives others permission to shine.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014


she says she will become a bird
             & he will be a bee

they will both learn to fly she says
             but he will be smaller

she is only two & he is
             actually her father

who is he to tell her these things
             that she wants won't happen

Robert Lee Brewer is the author of Solving the World's Problems (Press 53) and Senior Content Editor of the Writer's Digest Writing Community. He's married to the poet Tammy Foster Brewer, who helps him keep track of their five little poets (four boys and one princess). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.
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