Puppies For Perfectionists by Dana Bergstrom

I'm gonna write the sequel to this book and call it PERFECT PUPPY IN 7,000 DAYS.

That's when Ray turns 19 and he'll be too old or dead to be naughty.

Seriously.

As a recovering perfectionist, I've gotta say that this book makes me ridiculously happy.

Partly, because I now know better than to expect anything to be perfect. And partly, just because it's in my house.

A book about perfection in a recovering perfectionist's living room is kinda like a keg of beer in a recovering alcoholic's kitchen. The temptation to strive to be perfect is RIGHT THERE and SOMEHOW it has zero pull on me! Makes me smile every time I walk past it! (Thank you, Brené Brown!)

The book really is chock-full of excellent advice, and they could even shelve a few copies in the comedy section for people like me who now find the idea of perfection to be absolutely hilarious.

Anyway...unlike the perfect puppy in this book, Lil' Ray didn't come to us healthy and happy via a reputable breeder. His situation was the opposite. So Ray's positive socialization got off to a rough start.

I asked for socializing help and our generous friends and their dogs were sooooo kind and patient with Ray's fearful nipping. And since he showed great improvement with dogs one-on-one, I took him to the dog park which Ray loved more than any other place in the whole world!

Then came the fateful day at the park when a giant German Shepherd, appropriately named Magnum, decided he wasn't gonna tolerate any shit from this scared nippy puppy. In the blink of an eye, Magnum pinned Ray to the ground by his little neck and fiercely growled in his face.

Lil' Ray cried and shook.

We quickly got him out of the situation and went and played in a different part of the park. And he seemed okay.

A few hours later at our puppy class, Ray found the smallest pup in the bunch, a super tiny Rottweiler named Lola, and reenacted the entire dog park scene. Ray played the part of Magnum and Lola was Lil' Ray. The only difference was that Lola seemed completely unfazed.

Never before had Ray tried to dominate another dog.

Bullying begets more bullying. For real.

Our trainer suggested that we redirect Ray with a water bottle.

So when he went for Lola again, Ray got sprayed.

As soon as the water hit his rear end, Ray let out a high pitched scream that startled everybody in the room.

Limping and crying loudly, Ray scurried on three paws to the nearest corner where he cried some more as he licked his now completely lame leg, certain that he was mortally wounded.

Did you know that being shot with a water bottle can cripple a dog?

Me neither.

As it turns out, Ray is basically a gigantic, juicy drama queen.

Sometimes I am, too.

When Ray doesn't appreciate something, he focuses all of his energy and attention on how shitty this certain thing is and then blows the entire situation out of proportion.

DRAAAMAAAAAAAA!

Ray would love spending time playing with toys in his kennel, but only until we shut the door, when he'd exhaust himself with hours of screaming bloody murder because the CLOSED DOOR is ALL he can see.

He wanted freedom to run around and do whatever he wanted at our recent attempt at dog obedience class. But Ray had to be leashed like everybody else, so all his lunging and barking and biting gets us kicked out of school because Ray's LACK OF FREEDOM is ALL he can see.

Several months ago I was having a really hard time with Ray's behaviors and was questioning why the hell I got this puppy in the first place.

I looked at Ray and all I could see was HARD WORK.

But then I realized I was acting just like Ray, focusing on what I didn't like.

Hey! What if I made a list of everything I loved about him?

So that's what I did. I got out a notebook and went on a written rampage of appreciation about our puppy.

The effect on my perception was immediate.

I'd catch him being calm and tell him what a good boy he was.

I'd praise him whenever he wasn't attempting to destroy our stuff.

I'd love him up for chewing his toys instead of me.

I taught him lots of tricks so I could praise him for those.

I'd tell him how smart and sweet and adorable he is.

I laid the sugar on extra thick and our relationship changed instantly.

And even though Ray still acts like a total maniac around other dogs and I haven't been able to take him to the dog park for months because of his bullying and reactivity to certain dogs, his impulse control is stellar around tennis balls. We've made huge strides in that area in recent days.

Progress! And there's more to come!

The truth is...

Ray is already perfect.

He's perfect for me.

Clunky Communication by Dana Bergstrom

Guess what?! Pauly and I celebrate 25 years of yelling next month!

And it took us nearly that long to read a wildly popular bestseller from the 90s, The Five Love Languages: The Secret To Love That Lasts.

Loads of people recommended the book over the years and, finally, after the third person within a few days mentioned it, I knew the Universe really wanted to tell me something.

So we got the audio version for a road trip and even took the free online quiz.

And, boy, was it helpful.

A county clerk issuing our Yelling License

A county clerk issuing our Yelling License

The love languages are five ways, identified by a longtime marriage counselor, that people naturally prefer to give and receive love.

They are:

Gift Giving,
Quality Time,
Words of Affirmation,
Acts of Service
and Physical Touch.

Luckily, Pauly and I share a primary love language.

It's been one of our favorite activities ever since I got my grubby, little paws on his hot hot bod!

Okay, I PROMISE NOT TO GIT ALL FRRRREEEEAKY HERE, but I do wanna say that we love touching sooooo much that we went out and got the perfect piece of furniture SPECIFICALLY FOR CUDDLING.

It's a giant, weird looking, bean bag thingy filled with foam where we sit and watch movies with our arms and legs tangled up all lovey-dovey like. It's soft, snuggly CANOODLING HEAVEN!

Courthouse cuddling, marriage license in hand

Courthouse cuddling, marriage license in hand

The book also helped us discover something else of importance:

We're not very fluent in our partner's OTHER top love languages.

Mine is Words of Affirmation.

I absolutely love to shower Pauly with verbal appreciation, telling him regularly that he's wonderful, adorable, thoughtful, handy, and wise.

And it'd also be nice to receive words of affirmation from him since love languages are about giving AND receiving love.

But doing that isn't his thing.

I haven't actually kept track, but I bet he's only given me like 25 compliments in our marriage.

One for each year...

Yep...

that sounds about right!

The other day when I mentioned I'd enjoy a few more words of affirmation thrown my way, he claimed he doesn't pay me compliments or say what he appreciates about me "because words don't mean anything."

UM, WHAT?

OF COURSE THEY DO!

"You know what words of affirmation are to me?" he said defensively.

"Turds of Affirmation."

TURDS OF AFFIRMATION!!!!!!!!!!!

Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!

I ended up laughing for days about that and totally forgot about the short supply of sweet talk.

Until now, that is. :)

Pauly's other main love language is Acts of Service.

The phrase "Actions speak louder than words" is his reason for dissing my particular love language.

Nearly every day, Pauly makes me a delicious omelette for breakfast. He loves loves LOVES to make food, which works out 'cause I'm not fond of cooking.

Several years ago, when I had an actual job, I'd often come home from the office to a surprise candlelight dinner of steak or pasta with steamed veggies and soft music playing in the background JUST BECAUSE.

Yet, the funny thing is, if he'd just tell me that he loves me on occasion, HE WOULDN'T NEED TO PREPARE ALL THOSE MEALS!

I get so giddy whenever I get a rare compliment from him, I'm positive I could live off a daily diet of only his delicious words!

But, alas, that's not his natural language.

I vividly remember the day when Pauly said that every single time he opens his sock drawer to see his socks all clean and folded, he feels LOVED.

I was dumbfounded.

YOU FEEL LOVED BECAUSE I DO THE LAUNDRY?

But I do that because our clothes are dirty...

NOT BECAUSE I LOVE YOU!

Isn't that crazy?

Yet, that's exactly how it is when you don't know each others' language.

I'm speaking Chinese and he's speaking Swahili.

And maybe that's why, a quarter of a century later, we're still looking for more enjoyable ways to live together.

Now that we've gotten a bit more clarity about this, I'd like to practice each other's languages so we can get EVEN MORE OF THE LOVE VIBE flowing 'cause, well, that's just more fun.

And in the meantime, thank goodness for canoodling.

Impulse Control by Dana Bergstrom

Since Ray’s barky, bitey self disrupted all learning at dog school for two weeks straight, we've graduated on to private sessions!

That's my positive spin on our little demotion.

Congrats, doggo!

But it's Ray's human classmates who are really celebrating. 

They finally get to concentrate on their own dog's education instead of spending the better part of an hour giving me, Pauly and Ray the evil eye.

I'm not kidding.

Because of Ray's loud outbursts, people couldn't hear the trainer, nobody could think, other dogs started to get in on the act. It was madness. I don't blame 'em for all of the dirty looks. Not one bit.

So!

We had our very first lesson today and after analyzing Ray's behavior and getting a history (kept in an unheated barn with 60+ dogs, intense fear of other dogs, plus the story of Pauly’s and my haphazard home training methods), the trainer decided that we need to work on impulse control.

IMPULSE CONTROL!

Oh my God, I'm the one who needs help with impulse control!

In ways, I’m as feral as Ray.

I asked the trainer if this will also work for humans and donut holes.

Suddenly, with evangelical fervor, she launched into a lengthy story about how she was inspired by her body building son (whose food and exercise regime was recited in detail) to change her evil food consuming ways.

She’s been off sugar for A WHOLE MONTH,  and ONLY EATS CLEAN.

VEGGIES!

FRUIT!

PROTEIN!

THAT’S IT!

And she's lost 11 lbs without trying.

"I'M 60 YEARS OLD AND IN THE BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE!"

"Oh, good for you," I thought with both hands inside my sweatshirt pouch, resting on my potbelly.

Sorry I fuckin' asked.

More dog training, less food sermons.

Sheesh.

Actually...

I take that back.

I’m kinda glad she gave her inspiring testimonial because I’ve been thinking of making a change to my diet.

This 47-year-old body can no longer handle what it occasionally consumes, even in small amounts. It mostly affects my skin, which is constantly yelling at me to knock it off.

My impulse control is pretty low when it comes to processed foods. Cheese cheese cheese cheese. Oh my god. I love cheese. Marry me, cheese. Marry me!

And I can’t even have cold cereal in the house because I won’t eat anything BUT THAT. Cold cereal is my absolute favorite drug. A big ol’ brain numbing, comfort food drug. Sometimes when I’m PMSing, I lose my mind and buy a box.

I’m not right for days after that.

Impulse control.

Maybe since I'll be working with Ray every day on controlling his impulses, I’ll be more mindful of my own.

This isn’t the first time Lil' Ray has been a perfect mirror for my own stuff.

He’s good for me like that.

Crash by Dana Bergstrom

Can you call it a BIKE CRASH if you weren't even moving?

I'm gonna call it one because it involved a bike and a crash.

And, of course, Ray.

So Lil’ Ray and I had just finished a successful ride making it past THREE dogs on our high speed adventure around the neighborhood and I was feelin GOOOOOOD!

We rode onto our dead end, gravel road and spotted the neighbors outside, so I stopped to chat. 

But I failed to remember that their puppy, Myla, was in their backyard and what Ray wants more THAN ANYTHING IN THE WORLD is to GET AT MYLA.

So I stop the bike to say HI.

Ray sees the puppy. 

Ray lunges with aaaaaalllll of his might at the puppy. 

I'm slammed to the ground and the bicycle pins me.

Then Ray drags both me and the bike slowly towards their yard. 

My reaction was the usual. 

As long as I’m not hurt too badly, which I wasn’t, I spend my time thinking about how hilarious the whole thing must look. 

I don’t know how long I was lying on the ground laughing hysterically, but since all shocking things happen for me in slow motion, it seems like it was several minutes. 

Ray’s still barking and lunging while all of this is going on and as I’m giggling, I’m beginning to wonder how I’m gonna get up and not get yanked down again.

The neighbors are just standing there looking at me like...

WHAT

THE

HELL.

Why is this woman not doing anything but lying in the dirt in her paint stained overalls and super age appropriate Boston Terrier shirt?

And why did we move right next to a loud mouth wife who yells all of the time? 

And how can we all band together and stop Crazy Ray from making our neighborhood even less peaceful than Dana already has? 

I know this is what they were thinking. 

I lifted my head off the grass. 

“How can we help?” one neighbor eventually asks.

Hmmm. 

Ray might not deal well with them handling him, so I asked one person to grab the bike, the other picked up the bike basket which had flown off in the crash, and I held on to rabid, barky, lungy Ray as we walked across the street to my house, and I continued to giggle. 

Man, I wish someone had recorded that. 

America’s Funniest Videos GOLD! 

Oh. And Happy Doggy Mother's Day to me and to ALL of the other kinds of mothers out there! :)

A LITTLE LEG BRUISING AIN'T GONNA STOP US FROM MOTHER'S DAY TRAMPOLINING. RIGHT, RAY?

A LITTLE LEG BRUISING AIN'T GONNA STOP US FROM MOTHER'S DAY TRAMPOLINING. RIGHT, RAY?

RIGHT!

RIGHT!

Fur The Love by Dana Bergstrom

When we first got Lil’ Ray at 9 weeks old, nearly everyone said that he looked like a Jack Russell Terrier.

Although I managed to remain calm each time it was mentioned,

inside my brain,

I was blowing a fucking gasket.

Ya see, for my entire life I've had friends and neighbors with terriers and that entire time I've known that I would never, ever, EVER live with one.

I feel funny saying this and if you're one of my friends or neighbors with a terrier, please, hear me out.

I've enjoyed dog-sitting gigs and spending time with your adorable and hilarious pups, but I have certain ideas about what I want in a long-term, committed relationship.

Heck, I wouldn't choose a husband who wasn't cuddly or raced in the opposite direction every time I called his name while he's enjoying the freedom of the outdoors.

In my experience, terriers aren’t that snuggly and when they get focused on something, they rarely listen. They’re quirky and funny but ya gotta keep ‘em leashed or mostly confined at all times or something completely insane is gonna happen.

They’ll dig escape routes and run away laughing as you try to catch them.

They’ll pee on innocent people suntanning at the beach.

They’ll loudly bark at whoever walks in the house for 30 minutes straight.

These are things I want to avoid.

This also goes to show that I’m a doggy racist.

I make unhelpful, sweeping assumptions about individual dogs based on breed tendencies, ya know, just like a regular human racist.

With Ray, we totally thought we were getting some kind of herding dog mix, but then my doggy racism kicked in and I got nervous when everybody started making RAY IS A FREEKIN' TERRIER comments.

If this was true, it would be a pretty great cosmic joke.

Welp.

As it turns out, Ray's a highly selective listener; he’s wildly anxious about anything new; he's territorial in the most hostile way; he’s less than thrilled about cuddling or being handled unless flat-out exhausted; he barks like mad at everyone and everything when he's outside; and if there's anything interesting underground he's voracious digger.

So we did a DNA test to see exactly what kind of beast we've got.

The instructions stated we were to collect cells between the gum and teeth for 15 seconds with the two DNA cheek swabs provided in the kit.

Of course, feral, Lil' Ray naturally assumed we were trying to kill him with these new, q-tippy-like things and he kicked, screamed and brutally attacked them with a fierceness bordering on lunacy.  

Each one was in his mouth for less than one second before he mauled our fingers and then the swab, before spitting them out on our dog hair covered carpet. Then while putting the samples in the box to mail, I accidentally sneezed on 'em.

Gaaaaaaaahhhhh!

Well...at least they'll get somebody’s DNA.

I was sure the lab would tell us we didn’t get enough of Ray's cells

OR

they’d say that we have some kind of human-canine mutant breed and WE’D HAVE TO SURRENDER OURSELVES TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR HORRIBLE INVASIVE TESTING, JUST LIKE THEY DID TO E.T.!!!!

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I WON’T GOOOOOOOOOO!

And, GOOD LUCK catching Crazy Ray, YA DIRTY FEDS!

Anyway, since it was gonna take 2-3 weeks before we got the results, which seemed like forever, and I didn’t want to spend the entire time fretting, I opted to come to terms with the fact that I could be living with a terrier.

The first positive step towards accepting my new life was coming across this Boston Terrier sweatshirt at the thrift store.

I laughed the second I saw it and immediately knew it'd help me embrace the idea of rooming with a terrier for the next 15 or so years.

I love it and it's super cute and I will wear it and be happy no matter what the test results say!

Weird shirts are now one of my favorite things.

I got this sweatshirt after Pauly and I were called Righteous Partiers.

It cheers me up every time I put it on.

Anyway, I now have loads of ridiculous, thrift store tops.

I don't even speak French!

So...back to Ray.

We got his test results and it turns out he’s mostly a mix of herding type dogs but he does have 25% of mixed breeds that are unknown.

Which means he could totally have terrier in him.

And ya know what?

I’m cool with that because the very instant I laid eyes on Ray and held him in my arms, I knew this dog was gonna be all about UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.

Not his unconditional love of me, but mine of him.

So here I am, in my strange shirts, releasing resistance to all things terrier and letting go of my doggy racism.

I’m gonna learn whatever our wild and feisty, tiny guru plans to teach me about loving unconditionally.

And that’s why I’m here on planet Earth anyway…

fur the LOVE!

Simple Pleasures by Dana Bergstrom

Our new puppy, Ray, has been kicking my ass.

But only because his main life goal has been to get every thing he sees into his stomach.

Someone keeps eyeballs on him pretty much 24/7.

And DAAAAANG Lil' Ray is so stinkin' fast and curious!

Wait.

Fast and Curious?!

Isn't that a movie title!

It is!

It'll be a film about Ray and every outrageous object he's tried to eat while running away from us at top speed!

Vin Diesel will sport a red-haired wig and fake boobs and play me, a dog trainer chasing Ray in a souped up Mini Cooper, who is out to save delicate, doggy intestines from lethal, foreign objects!

It's FAST AND CURIOUS: PUPPY PATROL!!!

Deadly dangly earrings!

Flaming blow torches!

Jagged rocks and sticks!

Action packed with rock hard bodies and adorable puppies...

this movie has it all!

Right.

Anyway…

In the last couple of weeks Ray has become much easier to monitor and life is less terrifyingly dramatic. He now knows what “leave it” means and most of the time he actually listens.

Ray used to be a morning person/puppy. He’d wake up and immediately charge off to start swallowing dangerous stuff.

But as time goes by, Ray is less motivated to eat all of our worldly possessions. And he's at his laziest in the a.m.!

Yaaaaaaay for lethargic, boring ass puppies!

I get crazy giddy when Ray wakes up, goes potty, comes back inside and falls asleep.

QUIET TIME! I can actually READ and WRITE again!

It's like I've won the lottery! THIS IS THE BESSSSSST!

Ya know what I love about Ray?

The little guy is helping me focus on the simple pleasures in life.

And aren't those what makes life grand anyway?!

An interesting book.

A tasty meal.

A sunny day.

A funky song.

A free association blog post.

And hanging out with your favorite people...

and puppies.

Our neighbor took this cute pic of Ray at 9 weeks. Hope your finger tip's grown back by now, Sam Bergstedt! Great photographers risk it all for a sweet shot!

Our neighbor took this cute pic of Ray at 9 weeks. Hope your finger tip's grown back by now, Sam Bergstedt! Great photographers risk it all for a sweet shot!

The Happiest Place On Earth by Dana Bergstrom

It has loads of smiling people, fresh air, open space, an incredible amount of tail-wagging, and more cuteness than one can stand.

It's not Disneyland.

It's the doooooog paaaaaaark!

We've been going daily for almost two weeks and now I can barely imagine a day without it.

That place has THE BEST kind of chaos and mayhem!

There’s endless sniffing and chasing and licking.

Pups run amok with mid-air Husky/Dalmatian scruff chewing contests. Great Dane paws smush little Collie faces. A Lab scoots under a Terrier, stands up and carries her on his back. Hilarity ensues.

It's also kinda exciting and daredevilish because there's a REALLY good chance of getting body slammed by a wild pack of running dogs!

I try to remember to keep my knees bent at all times, just in case they hit me from behind, which has happened a couple of times.

I'm chatting with several folks and suddenly - BAM - I'm horizontal!

It's always shocking and it makes for some pretty impressive bruises, but you know what I always wish for whenever something like that happens to me? 

Instant replay...

actually, instant replay with slo-mo to see all the facial expressions as I fly through the air and land surrounded by so many concerned, yet probably secretly amused, humans.

What a hoot.

Besides enjoying watching people fall down, there's so much doggy slapstick going on, I smile the entire time I'm there.

And, somehow, everybody seems to happily bounce back from whatever awkward thing just happened.

Our 18 week old puppy, Ray, is finding lots of buddies to chase and wrestle with, but he really goes to meet new people.

Ray is certain he's found TRUE LOVE the moment each human walks into the park.

"OH! OH! OH! THAT BEAUTIFUL TWO-LEGGED BEING HASN'T PET ME YET! HEEEEEEERRREEEE I COOOOOOOOME!"

Ray instantly lights up faces and melts hearts as he lunges at people with his enthusiastic tongue and a wild butt wiggle that takes over his whole body.

Hey!

That's exactly how I won over my husband, Pauly!

Oh, Dana. Stop!

Anyway!

I think Ray is gonna turn me into a massive extrovert.

Either I find him piles of people to adore or he's gonna chew us to bits with those razor sharp puppy teeth!

Ray charmed these two kind strangers by sitting on their laps and feet. He finally decided to play with their dogs.

Ray charmed these two kind strangers by sitting on their laps and feet. He finally decided to play with their dogs.

Ray knows that we know that he loves us, so he only sweetly snuggles a couple of times a day - morning and night - when he's too tired to think about gnawing on our limbs. After that, he’d clearly prefer to spread the lovin' around. Ray thinks monogamy is for suckers.

It'd be ideal to go to the park twice a day, but when would we get any work done?

Hey! Maybe we'll sell our home, build a tiny house on wheels and just live AT the dog park so he can play there all day!

Or I'll get a job at a facility where Ray can be a certified therapy dog and kiss-kiss-kiss the residents who would like a little more physical affection.

Yeah!

Or maybe I'll have potlucks and campfires and invite friends and dog-loving strangers to our house every single night.

Or I'll be an Uber driver whose tagline is HAPPIEST CAR ON EARTH and Ray can ride along and smooch on my passengers.

Ideas are flowing!

If you have some more, send them my way.

Lil' Ray has got a LOT of love to give, y'all! And I'm gonna find a way to help him give it.

💜

Miracles In Space by Dana Bergstrom

When I get a little overly focused on something that feels crappy, I sometimes tell myself "800 miles per second” and that snaps me out of it.

Like this morning, I was thinking about the piles of paperwork sitting on my desk; the mass of clutter in my office corner; our attic that’s bursting with things we’ll probably never use; and how I still haven’t filled out an advanced directive or done any kind of planning for when Pauly and I are done with these human bodies.

Basically, I was ruminating over loads of unpleasant shit I don't wanna do and was starting to feel super overwhelmed. And that short list is just the tip of the iceberg of things I could get wildly worked up about.

I was lucky I stopped myself there with “800 miles per second”.

This is the speed Earthlings are hurtling through space. Or at least how a couple of people have calculated it.

When I remember I’m traveling at a crazy high speed without knowing how I got here, or where I’m going, or what’s gonna happen next; a wave of ease comes over me.

Chill, Dana.

Just do one task at a time.

And then sit back and enjoy your trip through space.

Something else that works is remembering my unity experiences.

I’ve had a number of experiences where I felt at one with everyone and everything. I was able to see the perfection of the entire world.

And only one of those was drug induced.

The rest were just mystical experiences that came when I was really relaxed.

I saw the wholeness of everything in existence. No separation or lack or judgment of anyone or anything. Just 100% appreciation for being alive in a strange, beautiful world that’s brimming with so many contrasting and interesting experiences.

A Course In Miracles says that a miracle is simply “a shift in perception”.

That’s it.

And that’s exactly what remembering these things does for me.

Awrighty then.

That was my first of many miracles of the day.

:)

Off to finish some paperwork at 800 miles per second.

Arches Cluster, the most crowded place in the Milky Way. Beautiful and sparkly like a disco floor. More dancing. Less worrying.

Arches Cluster, the most crowded place in the Milky Way. Beautiful and sparkly like a disco floor. More dancing. Less worrying.

My First Stand-Up Comedy Routine by Dana Bergstrom

Yesterday, my comedian pal, Jenny, suggested that I write a five-minute set so we can go to an open mic and I can make a fool of myself.

Well...that's not why she suggested it.

She thinks it'll be fun.

I don't even know how to begin such a process, so I'm writing a blog post instead.

Ya know why I love Love LOVE doing blog posts?

Because I never have to get dressed to chat with y'all!

I can write wearing my favorite outfit - a stained 29 year old college sweatshirt and jeans with holes blown out in sketchy places - like I'm doing now.

Or I can write wearing no clothes at all!

It's soooo great!

Maybe I can talk on stage about how, as a feral human, getting dressed every single day is like a total ordeal for me.

And how, more than once, Pauly has walked around the corner to find me in the kitchen, nekkid head-to-toe, happily making scrambled eggs for breakfast.

"Hey! Put on some clothes!" he shouts.

"All the windows are covered! I don't need 'em!"

I say - DON'T WEAR ANYTHING UNLESS YOU HAVE TO - clothes are constrictive, and unnecessary, and I can hardly wait till we have a world leader who finally announces this truth and makes all clothing optional.

I will move to that country and will hope that it is warm.

Or maybe I can use open mic time to discuss my comedically incompatible husband who believes Minions are the most hilarious things on the planet.

Geez.

Pauly was watching them again yesterday and if I didn't derive so much joy out of seeing him laugh, I'd blow a giant gasket over his love for those yellow goofballs.

Truth be told, I'm jealous. There are so many times I say something funny and he doesn't even crack a smile. But one Minion on YouTube bonks another one over the head with a pair of goggles and Pauly FALLS OFF THE COUCH crying and laughing.

I love that man very much and I do not understand him.

minion.jpg

Maybe I can talk about that.

Or I can talk about how a friend suggested that I post a How-To-Twerk video since I love making dance vids.

I've never attempted to learn the move so I found a tutorial online.

I began to twerk, well...maybe...I did, but I was wearing super baggy overalls and couldn't tell in the mirror if I was actually doing the move.

All of a sudden, I'm staring at myself wearing only a t-shirt and panties, with a big pile of denim around the ankles, ass in the air, and wondering what on earth I'm doing with this strange, middle-aged existence of mine.

Maybe I'll talk about that.

Or I could mention the night I was PMSing and drank too many cocktails in an attempt to cope with the wild, emotional roller coaster I was on.

Then came the tequila-fueled shopping spree where I purchased a ridiculously gigantic and expensive food dehydrator on Amazon.

Not something fun or whimsical or luxuriously extravagant.

A dehydrator.

Goddammit.

Do you know how much extra work I've created by buying this?

Work that involves going outside and growing vegetables and WEARING CLOTHES?!

After the dehydrator arrived, I really, really, really wished there had been a breathalyzer attached to my iMac.

I guess we all know what gadget I'll be purchasing next time I'm sauced and near a computer!

Welp.

I still haven't written my five minute set, but this is a start.

I think my living room has just become a stand-up writing lab where I hope to eventually shoot comedy videos from the neck up so I never ever ever have to get dressed.

Goals!

I've got 'em.

Facing Phallic Fears by Dana Bergstrom

Like most humans, I've worried plenty about what others thought of me.

Then middle-age arrives and some of us are like, "Geez! Other people's opinions are none of my biznass! I'm gonna ditch 'em and get on with the fun stuff I came to dooooo!"

And some of us do that, to the best of our ability, but occasionally things pop up indicating that we still have more hoohaw to let go.

Like the other night, I dreamed someone told me all of my emails were accessible to anyone on the internet.

"Wow," I thought.

I wasn't worried about it, but was curious to know if it was true.

I nonchalantly hopped online and quickly scrolled down the list of my emails.

Huh. No biggie.

But then I stopped at the last one, one I didn't even recall was in my inbox.

Black Helvetica. All lowercase. Just quietly sitting all alone at the bottom of the screen with the subject line...

"penis"

OH MY GOD! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

I totally freaked out.

I freaked out so hard that I woke myself up and sat up in bed.

"Oh, thank goodness! That email's not really in my inbox. There's nothing to worry about."

Then suddenly it all became hilarious to me.

I'm terrified of penis emails?!

Ridiculous!

Pauly was awake so, between laughs, I told him about it.

He just stared at me blankly.

Sometimes my very modest husband has no idea what to do with me, so he doesn't react at all, probably hoping it'll stop me from talking about whatever disturbing topic I'm wild about, in this case, very public, genital-related documentation.   

"Okay, fine," I thought. It's not funny to him but I know someone who will totally see the humor in this, so I sent my dream off to my pal, Marian.

Marian quickly responded on a new email thread with the subject line...

"penis".

And THAT, folks, is what friends are for!

😃

The Best Kind Of Name Calling by Dana Bergstrom

Pauly and I were called something outrageous the other night. And now whenever this name pops into my head, I start giggling.

We were in Minneapolis since our pal, DJ Nola, was spinning her magic at Club Jäger on Friday. The instant we walked into the club, I literally began jumping around like a baby bunny.

But that's only because Craig Lambert, another wizard on the wheels of steel, was playing fantastic music from the get-go.

Hop hop hop! Shake shake shake! No warm-up required! Pauly loved the jams and joined me on the dance floor, too.

The place began to fill up while we bounced and beamed to Craig and Nola's transcendental tunes. Then I saw another one of my favorite DJs, who I hadn’t spoken to since he played in July on my happy birthday!

His DJ name is Cloudy Kid but Pauly and I call him DJ Cutie. He’s not only funky, he’s stinkin’ adorable.

Well...lemme rephrase that.

I'm the one who thinks he’s adorable.

One of the many wonderful things about being married to Pauly for the last 24 years is that he has zero problem with my announcing that another dude has Got It Goin' On.

Each time I point out a guy who's my type, which is always a fun, rare sighting, my sweetheart does the exact same thing.

First, he smiles and shouts "HE'S GOT NOTHIN' ON ME!" while taking his hand and running it through his long, dark, invisible hair, which was last seen sometime during the 90s.

Makes me laugh every time!

And it's true. Even though these guys always have amazingly gorgeous, long locks, they don't have a thing on him.

Pauly also makes fun of me whenever we run into one of these hairy fellas. I ADORE Pauly's insult comedy no matter who it's pointed at, so, yeah, my lil' crushes are entertaining for us both.

Anyhoo!

DJ Cutie spins a lot of amazing old school funk, soul and disco, which I’m crazy about, and on the night of my birthday he slipped in a perfectly-placed and completely unexpected jam by Madonna.

VOGUE!

No!

Way!

I instantly lost my mind…

well, actually...

me and ALL of the gay guys in the club lost our collective minds.

Holy! The combined energy soared through the roof with loads of screaming and arm waving. That was one blissed out, femme dance floor!

But I love to give artists their props and I missed the chance to let DJ Cutie know how fabulous his set was. So when Pauly and I ran into him on Friday, I expressed my appreciation for the whole night, plus the peppy, Material Girl bombshell!

This is when he said that although he didn’t really know anything about our lives outside of our many dance floor encounters, he knows one thing.

And that one thing is that we are...

Righteous Partiers!

As soon as the words came out of his mouth I started laughing.

He then went on to emphasize that we live too far away and we COULD be down in the Twin Cities partying with them every week and SINCE PARTYING IS THE ONE REASON WE ARE HERE ON EARTH, we should REALLY move closer because, once again...

with great and adorable emphasis...

we are Righteous Partiers!

I very much appreciated his impassioned sermon and told him so.

What I didn't say was that this was one of the funniest names we've ever been called.

I think it’s 'cause dancing was considered a questionable activity during our upbringing. Pauly wasn’t allowed to go to dances AT ALL. I was, but it was tolerated and not encouraged. I was actually forced to sing in church as kind of penance/trade for some of my secular activities, which was annoying at the time but amusing to me now.

This was a huge improvement from what my parents had experienced. My mom’s church had banned dancing, declaring it a sin while she was growing up. And I was told that my paternal grandmother would not be happy to learn that I’d attended my high school prom and this was gonna have to be our family's little secret.

So, yeah, in our ultra serious, religious home environments the word “righteous" was never a word associated with "partier". Quite the opposite.

Then there’s the fact that we’re about two decades older than DJ Cutie AND IT ONLY TOOK US ABOUT 50 YEARS (47 & 49, but who's counting?) of life on planet Earth to be called "Righteous Partiers", making us some mighty late bloomers in the partying department. :)

But, ya know...if I think about it for a sec, we get SO DANG HAPPY on the dance floor...

in truth, we could be righteous.

We let go of all thoughts and allow unfiltered life energy to flow directly through us...

smiles are permanently parked on our faces while the rest of our bodies totally spaz out…

we're fully in the NOW channeling pure positive energy...

Yep, that’s a lotta LOVE right there!

I think DJ Cutie is on to something.

Partying AKA Joy in the present moment is why we're here.

Party on!

Follow Your Bliss, Super - Callous - Fragile - Ego - Expialidocious by Dana Bergstrom

Sometimes I'll see a fantastic quote and get an impulse to text it to a friend.

This morning I spotted a magical one and sent it off:

LIVE THE LIFE YOU LOVE
If you allow yourself to be the person that you are, then everything will come into rhythm. If you live the life you love, you will receive shelter and blessings. Sometimes the great famine of blessing in and around us derives from the fact that we are not living the life we love, rather we are living the life that is expected of us. We have fallen out of rhythm with the secret signature and light of our own nature.
John O'Donohue

My friend enjoyed it so much that she forwarded it to someone else.

Her friend replied, "It didn't work for Hitler."

Here's the thing:

I think it could've.

As a young man, Hitler dreamed of becoming an artist. He had a great passion for painting yet he was rejected from art school and made unsuccessful attempts to make a living as a painter.

But what if he had decided to fiercely pursue what he loved, despite the repeated rejection he got from his father and the external authorities in the art world?

I mean, why go around spewing hate and starting wars when you could take a simple job and make just enough money to be surrounded by brightly colored paints and beautiful scenery while creating something that brings you joy?

According to a conversation in August 1939, published in the British War Blue Book, Hitler exclaimed "I am an artist and not a politician. Once the Polish question is settled, I want to end my life as an artist."[4]

What if the fear of being perceived as not good enough is what caused Hitler to not follow his bliss?

Focusing our time and energy on what we love is how we awaken our true nature. It is that part of us that inherently understands we are all connected.

Of course, Hitler's actions were beyond horrific and, as a result, many people believe that he was born evil.

Yet, that is the exact line of thinking that Hitler himself promoted - some humans are born better than others - which absolutely is not true.

It's just that people who abandon their dreams often choose a perpetually critical and lack-based focus, which is what feeds their super-callous-fragile-egos-expialidocious and sometimes they can become a menace.

I would freekin know.

I was afraid of not having enough or being enough, so I ignored most of my passions for years! And I yelled at near-deafening levels during those years like a lil' redheaded dictator who thought she desperately needed things to be a certain way.

Several years ago I was standing in our living room and I was so mad (read: fearful) and yelling soooo loudly over a remodeling project that I…

get this…

injured my lower back.

I am not kidding.

As soon as I felt the sharp pain, the whole thing became immediately hilarious to me and Pauly but, holy crap, you gotta be a special kind of maniac to do something like that.

And I AM that special kind of maniac…who then got to explain the entire ordeal to her sweet, gentle-natured osteopath.

Oh well. Embarrassing myself is my thang.

Depending on externals for self-validation and security is how I was living.

And Oooooeeee, that's a mighty unpleasant way to live.

Happily...feeling good by simply focusing on what I love is a daily choice!

Don't be like Hitler. Follow your bliss!

OMG.

I just visualized that as a black bumper sticker with bold, white lettering.

The world's worst bumper sticker.

Okay, erase that nonsense from your mind with Jerry Seinfeld and Friends' Hitler jokes.

Or just go do something that feels good, loves!

Win-Win by Dana Bergstrom

I remember the day my therapist said I could achieve win-wins in any situation.

The cogs in my brain came to a screeching halt.

I contorted my face and squinted at her, certain that she was now the nut in the room.

Doesn't my therapist know the world's a place where we battle for resources and security and there's no way there could always be a win-win?

Doesn't she understand that humans are born inherently broken and that I've been working really hard to become a better person?

Doesn't she get that life itself is difficult not easy?

But here's the thing: My therapist is amazing and she'd never said anything outrageous like this before.

And I truly wanted to understand how she could make such an unreasonable statement.

So with my still squished up face I softly asked, "What do you mean?"

She said that I could decide to do only what brings me JOY.

And if I allow the other person to do only what brings them JOY, then we could come together in JOY and that's a win-win.

My grimace remained.

WHO does only what brings them joy? Who lives like that?

I've witnessed obligation and shoulds and have-tos and need-tos and sacrifice all based on external authority type definitions of what is good, right, healthy, Biblical and worthy.

But JOY?

Doesn't that make you a hedonist headed straight for hell, or if there is no hell, at least condemnation from all of the "moral and upstanding people" of the world?

Welp. My therapist and I had this conversation several years ago, and it's taken me until now to fully comprehend what she was talking about.

Today I can see clearly how I am able to live every moment for the purpose of joy.

It's actually possible.

And that's because I have the ability to think whatever thought I want.

I can always choose the least resistant thought in this very moment.

My petty mind (the new name for ego - it gives it less power!) is always gonna conjure up some reason not to enjoy this very moment. It'll go to the past or the future and focus on negativity or as I used to call it, "reality".  :)  "I suck, you suck, this situation sucks." That's where my petty mind likes to live - in resistance.

But it's entirely possible to let go of thoughts of lack and move to a state of allowing goodness to flow.

In my case, it's been important to let go of the belief system that we're all born sinful, broken, lacking, and separate from one another. That makes it sound like life begins as a problem.

When, in truth, there is no problem.

There's a stream of creative wholeness called Life Energy or God or Source or whatever you wanna call it, that I'm either allowing or I'm resisting with my thinking.

I know win-wins are possible now.

As I continue to allow that stream to flow, I am trusting in the goodness of life itself.

And I'll run into people who feel the same way and we'll create beautiful conversations, experiences and things together.

Like today!

We've become pals with our mail lady. As soon as she got our route, she began giving our old dog, Oslo, treats every day. This brought her and Oslo joy. Then we'd give her chocolate and coffee to-go on cold days, bringing joy to her and us.

We had so much fun chatting when we first met that, right away, I got casual with language. This brought us both marvelous, curse-filled joy.

Anyway...she's been out on leave for weeks and hasn't seen the exterior on the fixer upper that Pauly and I have been having so much fun and joy creating.

And today I find this on the back of some junk mail in my mailbox.

A joyful, sweary note from my favorite mail carrier!

Made my day!

Win-wins abound!

Gonna Love Me Some Chitchat by Dana Bergstrom

I've posted recently about my awkward party chatter.

And today it's REALLY starting to bug me that I dislike small talk so much.

But that's only because I think I suck at it.

I've been so busy judging small talk and the fact that it exists, that I've never tried to improve my skills in this area.

But you know what?

I don't like how I feel when I'm judgmental.

When I'm not looking for what's lacking or wrong, I feel free.

Of course, I'll always have preferences, but it's the pushing against people and things that feels crappy to me. That's conditional love. And non-acceptance of WHAT IS is the root of all suffering.

With this last post, it became obvious that I'm super judgy of small talk and I've been suffering unnecessarily because of it. 

I mean, even the name causes me to cringe a little.

"Small talk" makes it sound like it's a waste of time, but it's not.

It has the potential to blossom into beautiful, meaningful convos I love to have about how magical and completely wild and wacky life is!

Judgment comes from fear.

And today I realized that I'm afraid of being myself with someone I don't know. And it's 'cause I'm feral and excitable and I have a lot of not-so-mainstream ideas and experiences, which haven't even made it on the blog. Yet.

What if this new person and I don't have a single thing in common? What if we keep reaching for something to talk about, but there's nothing there? #introvertanxieties, right?

And if it ain't clicking, when can I get up and walk away before my cheeks begin to hurt from fake smiling?

Oh wait.

That's just nuts.

I'm not gonna fake smile anymore.

DAMN FEMALE SOCIAL CONDITIONING.

Okay, let's call bullshit on that one and be done with it.

[Dusting off hands and throwing Pleasant Girly Girl Nonsense away]

I bet there are some great books on the art of meeting new people that don't involve faux grinning till your face goes numb.

Book suggestions welcome and appreciated.

So today on my Facebook feed, a class on the ART OF CONVERSATION pops up.

But it was for $49 bucks.

Facebook knows what I'm thinking about and that I'm on a budget.

WELL! I dig Krista Tippett and her On Being podcast. She's a master at the biz and I think this is a great start.

I love how life always presents the very next thing for me.

It knows I'm done pushing against chitchat.

Yep!

I'm here in this body to enjoy myself, and that's what I'm gonna do.

Small Talkers, It's Gonna Get Wild by Dana Bergstrom

I'm not crazy about small talk.

Deep, juicy conversations are the best.

Or if I can't have those, then I want nonsensical, goofball ones.

Those are just as fabulous!

Pauly and I sat next to a guy at a house warming party who had a record player on his shirt and I asked him if he was a DJ.

He furrowed his eyebrows said, "No," and looked at me like I was nuts.

However, I completely ignored that social cue because my DJ LOVE momentum was MUCH too strong to stop. I'd already become super excited by his shirt and proceeded to tell him that I was crazy about DJs because I looooove to dance and they just make me soooooo happy.

He said he was wearing it because he enjoys music. Then he looked at my solid brown shirt with nothing on it and asked if I was unemployed.

Right there the convo went from ridiculous to funny. I loved it.

I've actually spotted this guy from a distance a couple of times around town since, and I think, "Oh! It's DJ Tyler!" and I smile to myself for an unreasonably long time.

But I haven't chased him down to chat again because I REALLY, REALLY WISH he was a DJ. And by the annoyed look on his face when I first asked him about it, I'm pretty sure he still isn't one even though he fools fools like me with his snazzy outfit.

That same gathering birthed some more fabulous nonsense about how I love to kill Pauly's dreams. As it turns out, I'm not the only spouse who thrives on ruining every fantasy and idea of the one I love! So we discussed matching Dream Crusher Halloween costumes with another beautifully nutty couple.

I'm gonna get this one because it highlights my best features - my potbellies.

If all of my party chats were this silly, I'd attend lots more non-dance related gatherings.

But today I think I finally came up with a new way to avoid small talk FOREVER!

From here on out, depending on my mood, I'm either going to sit in a corner and eat quietly by myself or I'm going to excitedly start all conversations like this:

Hi!

[Massive smile and enthusiastic hand shake or hug, depending on how well I know you]

So, insert your name here, what's your favorite thing about being temporarily alive in a body?!

Because I just want to acknowledge, right up front, that we're all gonna die.

Ya know, get it out in the open.

You're gonna die.

I'm gonna die.

It's not small talk anymore.

Shit's gettin real.

Aaaaaaand I've moved the convo directly to the BEST THING on planet Earth. You get to share what you LOVE about being alive!

Now we don't talk about how your feet hurt from shopping all day or how you feel about the stinky weather (unless it's crazy, extreme, death-defying weather- I love that), or the lack of gluten-free options at the party. Blah blah boring-ass blah.

You know you don't like this kind of talk either, right?

Instead, we just acknowledge that life in a body is short and we're here to enjoy it!

If the person answers my question or even says something ridiculous, then I know we're gonna have fun.

Or if they look at me weird and walk away, that's also perfect.

I just saved us a lot of time and massively improved the party for us both, didn't I?

Sure did!

See you at the next shindig!

Double Bellies: A Love Story by Dana Bergstrom

I've been eating whatever I want this summer without any judgment.

It all began when Pauly and I shared a sweet treat from the ice cream truck lady.

A surprise midday snack for 3 dollars! I love it!

The next time I went to the store, it occurred to me that we could use waaaay more access to treats.

I gotz to have ice cream in our HOUSE, not just in the truck that randomly drives by blasting weird nursery rhymes.

That's when my sweet tooth spotted a sweet deal - a case of 24 Klondike bars for less than 9 bucks.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAA?!

TOO BAD, FELLOW SHOPPERS!

THEY'RE MINE NOW!

I brought 'em home and shouted the good news at Pauly. Our freezer's bursting with ice cream bars! We can eat 'em all day long!

About this same time, I started wearing overalls every day, not thinking about what might happen if I enjoyed regular sugary snacks in clothes that BARELY TOUCH MY BODY.

But something did happen under all of that denim.

I grew a super cute, extra potbelly.

But first, a lil' potbelly history!

I'm three and I'm all about flaunting it. BAM!

I'm three and I'm all about flaunting it. BAM!

I had one as a kid and then lost it due to regular spazzy dancy jumpy activities. It showed up again in college from non-stop pizza eating. It disappeared again when I got sick with rheumatoid arthritis, then it quickly came back and never left. Weight has been a hot topic among relatives and family, and we all know how our culture feels about it; so as I grew up, it became an area where I felt I wasn't good enough.

Flash forward through a couple of decades of potbelly-related self-judgment, when I posted a dance video and then decided to write a post about how my ego was going bonkers on me. That post is actually what helped release my resistance towards my belly and finally accept it.

Then a few weeks ago, my overalls were too dirty to wear, which meant donning regular jeans. They felt tight when I pulled 'em up but it wasn't till I sat down and saw not just one, but TWO big rolls spilling onto my upper thighs, that I knew my sweet intake had caught up with me.

OMG.

I have TWIN potbellies!

And they're taking up MAJOR lap real estate!

"This is not good," my ego began to say.

Thankfully, I have days where I'm quick on the draw.

Not good according to WHO, Ms. Petty Ego?!

What external authority is gonna tell me that it's not okay to have two potbellies?

And who is this external authority who gets to decide what my body looks like and feels like to me?

Nobody! That's who. I choose how I want to look and feel.

I was already fine with the first potbelly. I know I can be fine with this one too. It just might take some time.

True true true.

But then something amazing happened.

Whenever I'm not working on a task that requires both arms, I usually have one arm resting inside the bib of my overalls, directly on my paunch.

It's one of the best things about wearing overalls. It's an incredibly relaxed posture.

I love running into other overall wearers who are in the same exact stance. We're all wandering around in public with our hands in our pants. It's not only a chill way to stand around, it's kinda gangsta. It makes me happy.

So.

The other day while driving with my right hand, my left arm was in it's favorite, little spot on the tum-tum.

Suddenly, I realize that my wrist and hand are being softly cradled - in fact, it was a PERFECT FIT - right in between my potbellies!

Oh my! What is going on here?

My arm is gently nestled in a super cozy way and it feels incredibly...

SWEET.

A wide smile grew across my face.

It sounds strange, but I immediately noticed how

CALM and COMFORTING,

wholly ACCEPTING,

and surprisingly MATERNAL it felt to be supported in this way.

And THAT is the exact moment when I fell in LOVE with my two potbellies!

How magical!

I was driving (rather unsafely, it occurred to me while writing this) and grinning and loving my body!

Now when I look at myself or even notice other people with what society would call "extra weight", I no longer have a sense of judgment or lack. I usually think NOTHING AT ALL but sometimes I think "Look at all of that wonderful COMFORT!" and immediately sense the pleasure and sweetness of my bellies.

I've even surprised myself by looking down to find that I'm rubbing and patting my bellies.

HEY!

How 'bout that!?

I can do without another dog for awhile!  I have super adorable tummies to pet instead!

Ya know...the great thing about falling in love with this new part of me is that whether the bellies stay on my body or go, it makes no difference.

They could eventually come off without much effort, simply because I'm not judging and resisting it, but I don't know that for sure. They may stick around and that's fine too.

The only thing I do know is that what I choose to focus on in this very moment determines my experience.

And I LOVE to focus on feeling good, no matter the conditions.

Unconditional love.

That's what my potbellies are showing me it's all about.

How I Lured A Comedian And Her Dog Into My Basement - Thanks Internet! by Dana Bergstrom

One night I got a text from a couple of my grrrlfriends, asking if I'd like to join 'em for some dancing.

I don't turn down dance related invites because that would be SILLY.

So Pauly and I headed downtown where The Flame Nightclub was completely packed.

Ooooooh! The music is SO DANG FUNKY!

I bounced, shimmied, and shook my way onto the dance floor.

There was a female DJ spinning vinyl records.

But it's never really about who is playing. For me, it's ALL about the music.

Does it move my booty?

Does it make me temporarily forget that I am in a body?

Does my consciousness transcend time and space on the dance floor?

If so, then that's my JAM!

And this DJ played my jams

ALL!

NIGHT!

LONG!

When it was over, I was so blissed out on PURE FUNK AND SOUL that I totally forgot to tell the DJ how much I adored her set!

Oh, man. I looooove giving people appreciation.

This is one of my favorite things to do on Earth. If I'm wild about something or someone, I just want to express express EXPRESS how fabulous I think they are!

And this girl had a whole lotta DANA LOVE comin' her way. I just needed to track her down to give it!

I found her website in a flash.

DJ Nola, master spinner of Disco, Funk and Deep House, got an exuberant love note from me and a question about her next gig. She suggested we become Facebook friends so I could keep up on her schedule.

Thanks to super handy social media, over the last few years we've hung out at loads of dances and become fast friends!

And, WHO KNEW, but an unexpected bonus of being pals with my favorite DJ has been meeting a new tribe of people who are some of THE MOST CHILL BEINGS I've ever encountered.

These dancers/artists live in an amazing kind of flow. Their focus is clearly on creating fun and unique experiences versus obtaining things, acquiring status, and striving for future attainment. CREATIVES is a fitting name for this happy herd of music lovin' humans.

Anyway, I briefly met a woman from The Creatives at a 70s concert (Kool & The Gang/Village People!) and we saw each other again at another gathering before going out dancing.

I loved her vibe. She has this amazing, clear, open energy. She feels like an old soul to me. And that night Nola just happened to mention that she was a comedian.

NO!! WAY!!

I LOOOOOOOOOVE COMEDIANS!

In fact, I am completely obsessed with comedians. They utterly fascinate me.

How does someone just decide to get up on stage and talk, facing massive in-person rejection day in and day out? Who does that? Why do they do that? And how did they get so brave? And what would make a WOMAN do this? What's driving her to tell her story knowing that she's gonna be sexually harassed and disrespected for doing her thing? What makes a female want to face all of this shit? Who and what inspires her? How does she hone her craft? What makes her tick, man? Really! What. Makes. Her. Tick?

I have a lot of questions for comics and I don't have anyone to ask. And here was a REAL LIVE ONE at the same party!

I knew that despite my usual social awkwardness, I wanted to make an attempt to be pleasant and outgoing.

Oh, Lord. Being friendly to strangers is SOOOOOOO difficult for me.

I suck at small talk in the most horrible I-have-no-fuckin-idea-what-I'm-doing-way. But FOR THE LOVE OF COMEDY I was gonna go for it. 

I got my big, fat chance when I spotted her in the club bathroom.

"I heard you're a comedian!?!" I LOVE comedians!" I shouted at her.

This is all I remember saying. Well....I'm sure I said more stuff. But I'm repressing it BECAUSE I was so awkward.

Actually...now that I think of it...I do recall telling her that I write a comedy blog.

And I only remember this part because I IMMEDIATELY REGRETTED saying it.

My blog is not that funny. It's occasionally funny. It's MOSTLY about how I'm a nut-job and am trying to STOP being a nut-job.

But I'm not going to go up to people and say... "Hi. I write a blog. It's about how I'm high strung and harass people with my screaming and I really wish I wouldn't keep doing that, but I do. Wanna read it?"

Wait.

Maybe I will start saying that.

That's an accurate description.

Anyway, much to my surprise, she started reading my blog and we began interacting on Facebook, and she is HILARIOUS.

Out of the blue I told her to come up to Duluth anytime she wanted a little vacation from the Twin Cities, not EVER expecting her to take me up on it. She probably had comedy sets to write, gigs to schedule and, ya know, people to entertain.

But one day she messaged me, suggesting a specific date for a visit.

Okay...

apparently...

this is happening.

But I had no idea how it was gonna go. So I wanted to warn her that I'm an introvert and that I'm really odd -- just some basic shit to be aware of before staying at my house.

"Anyway...I barely know you and I'm rarely friendly to people, so inviting you up for a weekend is a really strange thing for me to do. I won't be too weird about it...or maybe I will. Or maybe just stating this is about as awkward as I'm gonna get. Let's hope. I'm sure it'll all just be hilarious. I'm looking forward to it, Jenny, whether it's weird or not.

Her reply was perfect.

"Oh it'll be weird. Get ready"

She came up for the weekend and stayed in our basement guest bedroom with her 10 year old pug called "Pug" and, yes, it was slightly weird, as to be expected.

We talked about comedians, which I never really get to talk about with ANYBODY. As it turns out, we are both wild about Amy Sedaris, my favorite funny person of all time. Check her out!

And Pug is just as funny as Jenny. Pug doesn't really care about or listen to humans at all. She just slowly moves around with her bulgy eyeballs and smushed face, making loud, gross, breathing noises. I could barely take my eyes off of this hilarious creature.

It was a great weekend. Honestly...I don't remember laughing this hard and this much in a looooooong time.

And the best thing is that I've FINALLY found someone to share my love of comedy with.

Ain't that great?

YES, IT IS!!

Thanks, Internet!

Who'll Rescue Me From The IRS? Jesus or Krispy Kreme? by Dana Bergstrom

While sitting at my computer doing income taxes, my vibe began dropping drastically. I was freaking out about money and having loads of trouble with the online tax program.

Anxiety began to build as I stared at our income (or in my view - lack of income) and I started making growly noises, because - GRRRRR - that's what I do.

Soon the grunts weren't fully expressing how annoyed I felt. So I moved into some manic fist shaking, a fair amount of baring of teeth, and finally amped it up with some loud yelling about glitches in the muthaflippin software.

My beastly noises escalated until it'd become obvious that the Internal Revenue Service, Americans' favorite persecutor, had officially RUINED my day.

So what did I do in my poor me victim state?

I ran outside, hopped in my tiny car, and raced down to the gas station where some Krispy Kremes were waiting for me.

AHHHHHHHH!

My rescuers!

I jammed a donut in my face, drove home, sat at my desk and continued snacking on sugar till I was numb enough to finish entering our taxes without any more snarly sounds.

It was a fabulous solution!

Well...until my belly began to ache.

Now that right there is a great example of a Victim orientation to life.

And it's one I still occasionally use to justify high volume donut consumption.

But, happily, I was introduced to a couple of freekin' genius diagrams that help re-frame my low vibe victim perspective into a fun, powerful, and freedom-based Creator orientation.

The story of the victim/drama triangle is one we all know by heart -  think "Robin Hood stealing from the rich to give to the poor" - a tale of Victims, Persecutors, and a Rescuer.

This predictable triad describes all of our drama-filled relationships. It's also illustrated in countless books, TV shows, movies, and the majority of news stories! And what I didn't recognize until recently is that all three roles believe they LACK POWER.

Another example on the Drama Triangle is my well-worn role as Rescuer. Friends and family would get themselves into a jam and I'd bail them out with time, energy and money. I'd feel good about myself for helping these needy victims of circumstance, but then if they needed too much help, I'd feel victimized by them. Around the drama triangle we'd go, each of us with a belief in our powerlessness against external situations.

I've written plenty about being a Persecutor on the blog. It shares the same belief in lack of power, but it's just a more aggressive approach. It's where I'm telling Pauly that he's doing every single thing wrong on our fixer upper or blaming him for not warning me about my wild eyebrows.

It wasn't long after reading about this Drama Triangle that I realized that the literal Christian theology I was familiar with fit the Victim Orientation to a T!

In this theology, an anthropomorphized God is displeased about our fall from grace and therefore, we're always teetering on the edge of some kind of punishment. We inherently sinful humans are the victims of this moody God (persecutor), but, Jesus has come to our rescue. He sacrificed his life so we wouldn't be eternally damned. As long as we acknowledge our rescuer, Jesus, and accept him as our savior and follow specific Christian rules, God will show mercy and instead of punishing us, will love us.

To me, this Biblical interpretation is the perfect example of conditional love: "Do these specific things to satisfy my perceived needs and then I will love you."

It's Victim Consciousness played out on a big, fat, cosmic scale.

I've never been fond of that take on Christianity, but it's a popular one because our human minds often cling to the basic presumption of lack, in this case, original sin and powerlessness in the face of an upset God.

Here's the antidote to that entire way of perceiving:

A dynamic where no powerless and lacking victims can be found.

There are only empowered Creators, Challengers and Coaches.

From a Creator orientation, I could see every challenge as being beneficial for my growth.

I could've chosen to focus on the ways that taxes benefit us all and simply do my part. I could've even told Pauly that I was feeling anxious and he'd likely become a Coach, asking me questions to help me look at what false thoughts about money and lack were bringing on the anxiety.

But, hey, I chose donuts instead! No biggie. I can always choose again.

In terms of being a Rescuer, which I used to do to feel like a "good person", I now help people when it brings me joy. I've begun to question the whole idea of seeing others as victims, and am able to see people as powerful creators who are requesting a little boost. Acting as a Coach makes it waaaaay more fun for me and for the person who's asking for assistance.

As a Persecutor, sure, I could holler at Pauly a little less, but he tells me I'm cute when I yell. As a middle aged, potbellied lady, this offers my ego little incentive to change. "Why fix what ain't broke?!" it vainly says.

However, once I realize that blaming others isn't REALLY that fun, and my voice is tired from all the yelling, I'm able to shift into a Challenger role. I take full responsibility for my life, express my authentic self, and ask others provocative questions to encourage openness and growth.

So here's a new approach to the old theology!

Instead of God being an angry-old-man-in-the-sky Persecutor, I could choose to define God as All-That-Is, an unknowable, undefinable energy source animating every single thing, meaning that we're never separate from each other. And yet this energy source offers us all contrast, highs and lows, and acts as a Challenger for our expansion as consciousness.

I am a Creator, making choices about what I want to experience, which includes my challenges.

And Jesus is just one example of a self-realized Coach. There are many self-realized, fearless, religious and non-religious beings acting in that role.

As I remember my empowered state, I'll be doing taxes and even EATING DONUTS YEEEEEAAAAAAH! from a place of peace instead of lack/neediness. There's a huge difference in any experience when I do it with a joyful and powerful Creator's mind.

To me, this means taking 100% responsibility for my experience.

And although I'm not accustomed to acting from a Creator Orientation in all areas of my life, I am taking baby steps towards it.

Because creating lovely and joy-filled experiences for myself and others is easier when I see all of us as being powerful creators.

*Visit www.powerofted.com and read the book The Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) by David Emerald for lots more great info on shifting into a high vibe perspective as a powerful Creator.

Labels Are For Buttheads by Dana Bergstrom

Gorgeous.

Ugly.

Normal.

Weird.

Republican.

Democrat.

Genius.

BUTTHEAD.

Labels, man. They're everywhere.

For ten years, Pauly and I were respite care providers for kids who were defined as disabled in one way or another. And my main takeaway, besides absolutely adoring these children, was that the labels that they'd been given mean nothing.

Energy is what matters when it comes to relating to anybody or anything, really.

People don't respond to labels. We respond to the energy behind the words.

We tend to only remember how we FEEL around particular people. Yet, our egos continue to generate definitions like gigantic label making machines.

What's behind the label that you've been given?

Does it seem like who you REALLY are is actually considered when you're being called that?

Are you seen as the mysterious, undefinable, ever-changing, creative being that you are? Or are you perceived as a certain, static thing?

That's what labels do. They attempt to put people, objects and ideas in a specific, fixed, condition or category. It helps us to feel like we've got things managed or under control if we label shit.

I recently realized that I define myself a lot. And often in negative, lack-based ways. As if calling myself these things will encourage change somehow. But all it really does is to keep me stuck.

What if I just saw myself and others without definitions?

Or if I'm tempted to define someone, why don't I just see them as the whole and perfect energy being that they are?

Or if I can't see them as that, I could at least begin to name a few of their positive aspects.

Our dog, Oslo, gone in body but not in spirit, is a master in seeing all things lovely, with or without spectacles.

Our dog, Oslo, gone in body but not in spirit, is a master in seeing all things lovely, with or without spectacles.

Looking for pleasant things about ALL people doesn't mean that I have to vote for them for President, ya know. I can make this wild election year easier on myself, keep my undies out of a bundle, and simply choose the candidate who I see as having the most positive traits.

The most magical thing about a more free-flowing, upbeat perspective is that my energy isn't spent on judging and being critical, which is about as much fun as a poke in the eye, or a rock in the sock, or a kick in the shin, or a smack on the butt.

Wait...

That last one's kinda nice when it's from your playful, hot husband.

[Blush]

Anyway.

HEY, didn't you come to Earth to focus on creating things and experiences you love?

I'm pretty sure I did.

Saint Paulycakes And The Patriarchy by Dana Bergstrom

I mostly paint a picture of my husband as a living angel.

My blog and Facebook page are full of stories about his patience, his generosity, and his sweet and amiable personality.

And they're also full of stories about how I'm the opposite.

After reading enough about this dynamic, my high school boyfriend was inspired to write this comment,

"With each one of your posts, I find myself admiring Paul more and more. He will be up for sainthood someday if these stories are passed down from generation to generation. Books will be written about him. Statues made. But, St. Paul and St. Pauly are both already taken, so he'll need a new name at his beatification."

And how did my favorite husband of all time respond when I read him these clever words?

"I don't know why anyone would say that. I love living with you."

EXACTLY what a SAINT WOULD SAY!

Haha!

However, even though I'm nuts about the guy, in my opinion, St. Paulycakes has a few growing edges.

For instance...in the past few years, Pauly has begun to immediately shoot down every single one of my awesome ideas.

Well, even if my ideas are not that great, he automatically disagrees.

He's initially against ALL of them.

And, guess what?!

I'm FINALLY ON TO THE BUGGER.

This is how the man keeps me DOOOOOOOOOOOWN!

Goddamn patriarchy!

Okay.

I'm kidding.

Umm...not really.

Yes, I am.

Well...

kind of.

But, I think I just discovered WHY this happens.

When I get a fun idea, I get PUMPED. My energy can soar THROUGH THE ROOF and I become COMPLETELY WILD.

And I think Pauly's immediate negative response is only to give him a fighting chance to think before I SWALLOW HIM UP with all of my dancing, clapping, spinning, joyful, HIGH VOLUME idea yelling!

How can a person ponder anything with so much smiley, bouncy goodness going on around him?

How will he remain in control?

He WON'T.

And so I've allowed his instantaneous "NOs" to dampen my spirit.

I've begun to keep any new concepts of mine to a very low roar or not at all.

But NO MORE, y'all, NO MORE.

When I have a hot, fresh idea I'm gonna go for it!

Because I now understand this has simply been Pauly's way to create some space for himself in my high energy state.

Ya know...

It really does help me to reframe ALL situations in terms of energy.

If I'm attached to definitions and labels (like patriarchy) which I have a particular judgment about, I'm gonna overthink things, get defensive or self-righteous or victimy, rather than just sensing energetically what's going on.

Pauly simply needed extra energetic space and found an easy way to get it by being negative. But now that we both see this, we can change the dynamic so it works for both of us.

Perhaps it means I just spin, bounce and shout a little less when I present my ideas.

Or maybe acknowledging this dynamic is all that's necessary to shift.

We'll feel it out as we go because as he and I continue to change and learn new ways of being together, that is the only way to do it in flow.

❤️