Posts Tagged ‘health’

Gruntin’, Gaspin’ And Wheezin’

March 22, 2014

Wednesday March 19th, 2014 – Gurnee, IL/Island Lake, IL

Where did my youthful exuberance go? Instead of lovin’, touchin’ and squeezin’, I’m gruntin’, gaspin’ and wheezin’. The years are catching up with me, and there’s nothing I can do but fight it tooth and nail while I still have teeth and/or nails. Old age is on the way but only if I work for it.

How did all this happen so quickly? I was too busy with crisis management to enjoy my young buck years, and now that I’m finally starting to figure things out a little there are a whole new set of challenges ahead. This life thing is no easy video game, and the levels change dramatically.

Today I got myself up early and forced myself to get some exercise by taking two grueling laps at my favorite walking track the Gurnee Mills Mall. I used to go there regularly, and I could feel the results over time. It’s a huge mall with twists, turns and offshoots that make things interesting for a walker. There are things to look at throughout the route, and it’s not just a boring treadmill.

Unfortunately, I’ve moved farther and farther away in the last few years, and now it’s a 25 mile trip one way. That sucks up way too much time to drive back and forth, not to mention gas at the cut rate price of $4 a gallon these days. If I lived closer I’d go every day, but that’s not an option.

I absolutely need to get back in a steady exercise groove though, and I have been concentrating on it since my birthday. The weather has been a little nicer than the polar vortex conditions we’re used to this winter, and that’s part of the reason I fell out of my groove. Another part is that it’s a big time commitment of time and energy to work out every day when I am on the road working.

The road life and regular exercise is about as good a fit as the Kardashians and long marriages. I do try to make time when I can, but many times I just can’t. I know that wouldn’t be an excuse if my heart pops like a zit, but in the real world that’s how it is. Pick your poison – earn a living by working at what you know how to do, or have zero income at all but stay home and stay fit.

I wish it were an easier fit, but it just isn’t. Most of my morning was shot by the time I drove to the mall, did my two full laps, went to have a healthy breakfast and then drove home to hose off in the shower. Who has that kind of time every day? Right now it isn’t me, but today I forced it.

A good walk like that usually keeps me sore for a couple of days, and I’m tender already. I feel it in my legs and can barely stand up, but it’s good soreness and I know I need to feel this pain as much as I can for the rest of my life. It takes conscious effort now, whereas in my youth it didn’t.

I used to walk all over the place and not even think about it. Now I have to plan it out before I do it, and force it into being part of my day. Is it fun? Unfortunately no, but I don’t think having a heart attack would be party time. This is part of the aging process, and I see that and accept it.

As the weather breaks, I’ll get out and walk a lot more around where I’m living. There aren’t a lot of walking paths like there were at my last place, but I won’t be here that long so hopefully it will only be a temporary hurdle. I did it up right today, but it’s only a day. It has to become habit.

Two laps through the Gurnee Mills Mall, and I was ready to call an ambulance.

Two laps through the Gurnee Mills Mall today, and I was ready to call an ambulance.

Two Months Torched

March 1, 2014

Friday February 28th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

It’s hard to believe two months of 2014 are gone already, but they are. Wow. Now I’m starting to see how the universe can be billions of years old. The clock keeps ticking no matter what, and nothing can stop it. First it’s the big bang, and before everybody knows it stars start burning out.

If I am ever going to do anything significant with my life, this would be the time to kick things into high gear. Time isn’t promised to any of us, and that universal clock is ticking against us all. I thought I had been putting my time in wisely in 2014, but I look up and tomorrow is March 1st.

It would be March 1st even if I didn’t put my time in wisely, and that’s part of the problem. I’m doing pretty well this year, but it’s the 25 or so before this one that have left me hog tied. I didn’t have nearly the focus and direction I feel now, and I’m paying for it. Everything has a price tag.

I’m still on my marketing kick, and will be for the foreseeable future. It’s going to have to be a lot more than a kick to make a difference though, but I’m in it for the long haul. I feel I’m on the right road, but so far behind the pack I’ll have to buy rocket powered roller skates to catch up.

All I’m looking to do is establish a reliable source of income that will let me not have to worry about paying my bills each and every month to the point of exhaustion. Tomorrow starts another new month, and I still find myself scratching and clawing to come up with the rent. It gets old.

I’ve been working extra hard at learning about all things marketing, which includes subscribing to several online newsletters written by guru types I’d never heard of until recently. A lot of their information seems legit, but other parts are pie in the sky insanity that’s way too good to be true.

Multi level marketing is the same way. I’m sure someone has made a million dollars in Amway or Mary Kay, but the majority of people that get in it fail miserably. They haul out the diamonds and pink Cadillacs to sign people up, but nobody ever wants to admit there’s more to it than that.

The same is true with what I’m trying to do. I get blasted every day with emails that say things like “INCREASE YOUR MONTHLY INCOME BY $25,000”. Great! Then I’ll have $25,500. Seriously, it sounds good but it isn’t realistic. It takes baby steps to get things rolling properly.

It’s just like those weight loss claims where people say they lost 58 pounds in four days from drinking milkshakes laced with sawdust and chalk water. It’s not realistic to expect such miracles overnight, and I’m absolutely not. I just want to establish a pattern that eventually turns a buck.

Realistically, I’d like to be booked as many weeks as I can working decent venues that can pay a living wage. If it’s a comedy club or corporate function it’s not important right now. Both will work at the moment, and having back of the room merchandise to sell should be ready as well. If I can pull that off consistently – and I’m close – then I’ll be able to go after the $25,000 months.

All these things take time unfortunately. I got myself in some financial trouble, but it could not be avoided. I had health issues in 2011, and I had to spend my savings on living expenses. Now I have an IRS bill to pay off and credit card debt. That slows it down even more. Welcome to life.

Actually, welcome to existence. Life would be so much more – at least in my vision of it. Life would be having the financial machine well oiled and running so smoothly I wouldn’t even think about it. I’d have my bills and living expenses handled every month, and be able to invest all my energy into making life better for others. THAT would be living to me, and I crave it every day.

I have flashes here and there, especially when I’m on stage or on the air. That’s when I feel like I’m living, and not just existing. I feel like I’m making a positive contribution to the collective of humankind, and that’s how I always thought life should be. Then I get off stage and into my ratty old car to do 23 hours of living a cockroach life until my next time on stage or air – if I’m lucky.

That’s just not acceptable, and I’m going to fight it until I win or die trying. Some people have trust funds or people that leave them something in a will. I won’t have that option, so why waste time thinking about it? Everyone that could have died and left me money has now checked out.

I’m not looking for a handout or a free ride. I’m fine with earning it, and in fact I’d rather make my own way. That’s what I’ve always wanted. I had flashes of it when I had radio jobs, but then it ended and I’d be back into cockroach mode. After all this angst, I just crave a bit of stability.

That’s why I’m so interested in marketing. Marketing makes MONEY – at least it does when it gets executed properly. The people that have amassed fortunes have had one teeny weeny thing I have lacked for so long – a solid battle plan. That’s what I’m putting together, and it’s working.

I just have to give it time to manifest itself and keep growing. I get up every day and work on it a little more, and I’m also slowly incorporating others into the mix as well. I’ve got my days full from early morning to early the next morning, and that’s making them disappear even quicker. It went from “Thanksgiving is coming soon” to “It’s March 1st already” at all time record speed.

I have more on my plate now than I ever have, and I think about how to manage it better every single day. I’m enjoying what I’m doing, but I’m still struggling with financial things. Taxes are due soon, and that’s another smoldering nightmare in waiting. I never enjoy slaying that dragon. I’m doing the best I can with the resources I have, but it never seems like it’s enough. It stinks.

At the very least, I’m proud of myself for giving the effort. I’m trying my best, and working on what one is weakest at is always the most difficult task. That’s the only way to improve, so that’s what I’m doing. Business has never been my forte, but I am throwing everything I have into it.

Marketing is a huge arena, but I’m not thinking huge right now. I want to get my newsletter out to the immediate people that can book me every month. We’ve gotten two out so far, and it was a major effort to accomplish that. Talk to me five years from now, and I’m envisioning it to be one of my strong suits. I picture my finances to be in immaculate order, and to be in excellent health.

I never had a picture like that in my head before – or any other one now that I think of it. I was too busy trying to make it to the next month to have a plan for the long term future. Now that I’m planning long term, the future is getting here faster than I expected. I was looking forward to the football games at Thanksgiving what seemed like days ago. Now it’s almost baseball season and I’m wondering where the time went. March 1st already? I can’t worry about it. I have work to do.

March 1st already? Where DOES the time go?

March 1st already? Where DOES the time go? Life’s clock never stops.

Living In Limbo

January 10, 2014

Thursday January 9th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I can feel a ball of excitement brewing in my immediate future, and it’s giving me a lot of hope for a great year in 2014 – which I predict will be my greatest ever by far. I shot for last year to be that and in many ways it was, but the vibe I’ve got now is markedly better. This is at full throttle.

Nothing is ever perfect though, and I’m deeply disturbed by the horrific situation my roommate Sheri is in. It’s magnified a hundred times, because I’m living in her house. It’s silent to the point of ridiculousness, and I can’t help but be saddened all over again every time I walk in the door.

Sheri has a dog named “Indy” (short for Indiana) that’s a little fuzz bucket that was never more than five feet from her at any time. He’s a yipping little thing and could be annoying at times, but he protected Sheri with his life. He was her pride and joy, and she treated him like her only child.

I’ve never been a pet owner, but I would never think of being mean to an animal. I could sense how important Indy was to Sheri, and even though I’d only been here a month he was starting to grow on me too. He always tried to get in my room, and when he did he’d dig through my stuff.

I wasn’t thrilled at first, but I learned to keep the door closed and it was fine. He wasn’t hurting anything, and had a very playful vibe. He scampered around the house, and if I took time to play with him he totally got into it. He loved the attention, and it felt like he was getting used to me.

It got to the point I would look forward to playing with him when I got home. I could hear him yipping when I opened the garage door, and he’d jump up on me when I walked in the house. It’s not that way now at all, and it’s eerie. The silence is deafening and serves as a constant reminder.

Sheri’s long time friend Debra stops by on occasion to give me updates. Nobody is exactly sure of anything, other than the fact Sheri will be laid up indefinitely. She will have a long tough road back to say the least, but nobody is quite sure where “back” will be. They’re still examining how much damage there was, and it’s a process that will take a while. I have no experience with this.

Debra said I was welcome to stay here for the immediate future, but after that nobody knows. It may come to the point where they need to sell the house, and that’s understandable. She also said it’s good that someone is living here to keep the walk shoveled and look after things. I told her to keep me informed, and whatever I need to do is fine. I’m living in limbo, but I’ll help if I’m able.

The very least I can do is organize a comedy benefit show, and I put the word out today for all the Zanies staff that know Sheri. I’m sure Zanies will let us do the show in one of their locations at some point, and I think it needs to be done for everyone. Obviously Sheri can use some money to pay some immediate expenses, but it will be good for all of us to come together to support too.

I have hosted so many benefits at this point that part is the very least of my worries. I’ll be able to get comedians and we will do a show. We’ll have a friendly crowd that will show up to donate to a worthy cause. The Zanies staff will get together and have fun, and we’ll give 100% of all the night’s proceeds to Sheri. That’s all great, but it just seems SO wrong that we need to do it in the first place. Life is short, delicate and comes with zero guarantees. This is not a pleasant scenario.

Sheri Johnson worked at Zanies Comedy Club in Vernon Hills, IL for twenty years. She has a huge heart, and suffered a major stroke recently. Prayers are nice, but she needs money to pay her immediate bills.

Sheri Johnson worked at Zanies Comedy Club in Vernon Hills, IL for twenty years. She has a huge heart, and suffered a major stroke recently. Prayers are nice, but she needs money to pay her immediate bills.

The Vernon Hills location has closed, but there are three more in the Chicago area and I'm sure they will let us do a benefit in the near future. It's the right thing to do, and I will make sure it happens.

The Vernon Hills location has closed, but there are three more in the Chicago area and I’m sure they will let us do a benefit in the near future. It’s the right thing to do, and I will do all I can to make sure it happens. We all need it.

Healing With Humor

November 13, 2013

Monday November 11th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

This has been a rough year health wise for more than a few of my friends. It’s been no polka in the park for me either having to deal with my recent kidney stone, but that’s nothing compared to what some other people I know have had to face. Many are comedians, and it doesn’t seem right.

I would think since comedians provide a service to humankind we’d get some sort of free pass, but we aren’t exempt from the same health horrors everyone else faces. Sometimes it even seems like we get it worse, which I could never understand. There are a lot of people I know suffering.

Jim Wiggins had cancer surgery just a couple of months ago, and he’s having to get used to life with no prostate or bladder. He is now cancer free which is something to celebrate, but that came with one hell of a price. He’s recovering nicely from what I hear, and hopes to work again soon.

Scot Wickmann is another comedian friend who has been dealing with health issues for a long time. He has been on kidney dialysis for quite a while, and recently he had triple bypass surgery. That’s serious enough, but apparently there was an infection and he had to have more surgery.

Bill Gorgo has been getting updates from Scot’s wife Jackie, and she said Scot just had one of two more surgeries he needs and everything went smoothly. He had an abscess on an artery, and that sounds frightening. I don’t have details and the last thing I ever want to do is bother Jackie.

The bottom line is, even if his next surgery goes well he’ll be lucky to be out of the hospital by Christmas. Crikey. I thought the eight or nine days I spent in the hospital for my surgery in 2011 was horrific – and it was. I can’t begin to imagine having to be in a hospital bed for six weeks.

Again, my problems really aren’t problems compared to what Jim and Scot and so many others are going through, and my deepest sympathies go out to all of them. There are a lot of people in a lot worse shape than me, and I want to help comfort them if I can. It’s all about human kindness.

All that actually matters in life is what we are able to give – especially to those that truly are in need. What could I do myself or help to organize that will make someone’s life even a little more pleasant when there’s a long road of recovery ahead? There has to be some way of reaching out.

I was delighted to be able to organize the big benefit comedy show last October for Milwaukee Police Officer Josh Albert after he was almost killed by a drunk driver going the opposite way on a freeway on ramp. His injuries were beyond a nightmare, but we were able to assist financially.

Peter Jest of Shank Hall in Milwaukee donated the hall, and the all comedians donated our time to perform. Drew Olson was a fabulous host that night, and Officer Albert’s work partner and my cousin Katie Anderer and her whole family got the word out to make it a success. We received a blanket of media coverage as well, and it ended up being a successful event that helped someone.

That’s what life is about. Period. I know we all need to pay our bills, but after that it’s what we are able to give that has any lasting meaning. Seeing my personal friends having to endure all of the personal hell they’ve been through makes me want to jump up and take action to help them.

But what could that be? I’d like it to be comedy related somehow, but I don’t think doing a live show is the answer. I would gladly volunteer to do it in a second if that would help, but it doesn’t strike me as the solution. I think there needs to be something that is able to reach more shut ins.

Scot Wickmann is going to be laid up in bed for a while. Even if he wanted to see a live show I doubt if he could make it unless they wheeled his bed right into the performance area. I’d be fine with it, but I can’t see it happening. A room full of beds with people from ICU would be silly.

It’s hard enough to be funny in a traditional comedy setting, but this would be off the charts to try and pry laughs out of hospital patients. That’s not what I had in mind. I would like to create a product that could be used to touch people depending on their condition, and that’s a wide scope.

One idea I had would be to interview comedians who have endured health issues, and try to put a comedic perspective on things that as a rule aren’t funny. When I was in the hospital, I couldn’t help but notice there are a lot of potentially funny events that only someone who has experienced them could relate to. I bet it would be of great comfort to have a video for new patients to watch.

There has to be a way to produce a video of comedians telling their hospital stories, and have it run on a constant loop on one of the hospital TV channels. I’d bet there could be several releases over time, as a lot of comedians have stories. I’m sure some celebrities would jump on board too.

David Letterman went through major heart surgery a while back, and I’m sure that gave him an abundance of stories that are a lot funnier now that he’s fully recovered. Sometimes it seems like the situation is overwhelming while in the hospital, and something to offer comfort would help to put a patient’s mind at ease. I remember how I felt when I was laying there and it was a bad trip.

Another idea I’d love to pursue would be establishing a humor library in all hospitals so people could watch and listen to comedy as they recover. It could be standup comedy CDs and DVDs or funny movies or even written publications like Mad magazine or comic books. It could help pass the time for patients, and even the employees could use it. I’m sure a medical staff has stress too.

I realize that these are all pie in the sky dreams, but I want to put it out there in the universe so hopefully someone else will see it and act on it. Even if it’s bouncing an idea back at me, I’ll take whatever I can get and move forward however I can. This is an idea that has no time restrictions.

We always see photo ops where celebrity athletes go in and meet sick kids in the hospital, and I think that’s a great thing don’t get me wrong. I’d love to see more of it, but what better source of cheering people up who need it is there than comedians. This would be a way to really be of use.

I think this would be a great place to develop the King of Uranus character. It’s so goofy that it can’t help to at least get the attention of somebody in a sick bed and take their mind off their pain for the moment. One way or another, I really want to reach out and make a hurting person laugh.

Hearing of Scot’s current situation and Jim’s recent issues has brought this idea to the forefront of my thoughts. It would be a great opportunity to match comedians with recovering patients and I’m going to keep thinking of what I can do to get this ball rolling. Service is what life is about.

I want to establish a program for comedians to be able to cheer up hospital patients as they recover. Any ideas?

I want to establish a program for comedians to be able to cheer up hospital patients as they recover. Any ideas?

An appearance by The King of Uranus might be in order. It's always FUNNY when it comes from URANUS!

An appearance by The King of Uranus might be in order. It’s always FUNNY when it comes from URANUS!

Afraid To Pee

November 5, 2013

Sunday November 3rd, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

Still no passing of my kidney stone, and it feels like I’m waiting for the royal baby to be born. I totally thought this would be over with by now. At this point I have heard so many horror stories I’m afraid to pee. Everyone I know who has ever had one has told me in detail how it played out.

I’m hearing horrific accounts of unbearable pain, free flowing blood and passing out, and quite frankly it’s scaring me half to death. I know that little bastard is in there somewhere as I can feel it, but for some reason it’s just refusing to leave. The doctor said it could be up to a week of this.

But what if it doesn’t pass in a week? I can’t afford another surgery, but I also can’t keep living in the pain I’m in. My drugs are running out, and none of the prescriptions have refills. I need the whole thing to be history, but that’s never how life works. I have no say in the matter. It’s nature.

I hadn’t taken any painkillers in a long time, and I’d forgotten how they clamp down on the old bowel plumbing. When I woke up today, I felt a pain on my other side and for a second I thought I had another kidney stone. It turns out I was having a sewage backup, and I needed some relief.

I must have sat on the crapper a good 45 minutes, and it felt like I was trying to pass a football – but not like Aaron Rodgers. Stuff like this is really funny when it’s happening to someone else, but try as I might I wasn’t able to muster one chuckle. I’m sure it will be hilarious when it’s over, but for now it’s a nightmare. I don’t know what hurt more, my kidney or my colon. Who cares?

I tried to read, listen to music, watch TV or anything else that might get my mind off the severe pain I’m having, but nothing worked for very long. I tried to make it through the day without any more drugs, just because I don’t want my bowels to go on strike anymore. One crisis is enough.

I’ll be the first one to admit I’m not very tough in situations like this. Some people are troopers and nothing bothers them. They don’t feel pain, or if they do they’re able to absorb it without any whining. I’m not going to lie, this is rocking my world and I’d do anything if it would go away.

Whoever said “When you have your health, you have everything” really knew what they were talking about. It’s so easy to take it for granted, when in fact all it takes is the tiniest little glitch – like a kidney stone – to throw the entire system off balance and out of whack. I see how it works.

What I don’t see is why everyone seems to want to offer their two cents as to what I need to do to get through this. “Just hang in there” doesn’t really do anything other than give some words to say when there’s nothing useful to say. What am I supposed to do, surrender? Who do I do it to?

The other thing I’m hearing constantly is “I bet you’ll have some new material from this!” I’ve got more than enough material, thank you. If health issues constituted comedy material, all of the new comedians would show up from burn units and trauma centers. There’s more to it than that.

If pain alone was what made up a successful comedy career, I’d be bigger than Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld and David Letterman combined. I’ve taken my lumps with the best of them, but nobody cares about that. Audiences are in their own pain. That’s the reason comedians exist. We heal it.

I've been hearing so many horror stories about passing kidney stones I'm afraid to pee.

I’ve been hearing so many horror stories about passing kidney stones I’m afraid to pee.

No Guarantees

September 28, 2013

Friday September 27th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

I had a tentative gig booked for tonight that was what’s known in the business as a “door deal”. That means the performer gets to keep an agreed upon percentage of the cover charges collected at the door. In this case, I was to get 100% which is as good as a door deal gets. I was optimistic.

The venue held roughly 100 people, and the cover charge was $10 per person. On paper, I had a chance to make a decent payday – not to mention a chance to sell some merchandise. The joint was in an affluent area, and they’ve only tried comedy shows once before. I thought I’d gamble.

What I didn’t plan for was the place closing down completely, which is exactly what happened. I called to confirm on Monday, and was told that they were going out of business abruptly and of course that meant my show was cancelled. I was counting on making at least a little bit of money for the week, but now it’s a total loss. September has been brutal, and has totally wiped me out.

I’m to the point now I can barely put gas in my car. I’ve got work coming up in the next three months, but that doesn’t do me much good right now and I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel to make it day to day. I never thought I’d be this low this late into it, but that’s how it’s turned out.

There are a variety of odd circumstances that put me here, and many of them are plain old bad breaks. Woulda, coulda, shoulda isn’t going to change anything, but I sure am in the trick bag for the time being. I’m working hard every day to get myself out of this rut, and I could use a break.

Then just when I thought I was in a bad way, I heard that some comedian friends of mine are in a whole lot worse shape than me. Scot Wickmann is a Chicago comedian I worked with steadily for a few years when I was with a group called Chicago Style Standups. I knew him long before that from the comedy trail, and we always got along well. He was just a guy out making a living.

I was surprised to hear Scot had triple bypass surgery this week, and it made me sad. Scot has had quite a few health problems over the years, and I never wish that on anyone. He’s a diabetic and also has been on kidney dialysis for several years. That sounds extremely painful, but after I got out of the hospital with my own type 2 diabetes diagnosis Scot was right there to help me.

He brought me to the hospital he goes to for his dialysis, bought me lunch and introduced me to his dietician who joined us and made suggestions on how I can change my diet to improve my condition. That was unbelievably nice of him, and I never forgot it. He didn’t have to do all that.

I’ve tried to keep in touch with Scot and a lot of my other friends – comedians or not – but it’s a daunting task with how hectic life gets most of the time. Who has time to connect by telephone much less in person? Time slips away from all of us, and weeks become months become years.

I also received some sad news that another comedian friend Jim Wiggins is going in for cancer surgery in a week. There’s another comic well liked and respected in the business. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Jim, but he and Scot are suffering miserably while boils on the face of the Earth like Charles Manson and so many others are pictures of health. I just don’t get it, but it seems to happen all the time. I’m sad my gig got cancelled, but even more so for Scot and Jim.

Scot Wickmann "The Married Man" - if you pray, please offer something up. Triple bypass surgery is no joke.

Scot Wickmann “The Married Man” – if you pray, please offer something up. Triple bypass surgery is no joke.

Jim Wiggins can use some prayers and good vibes too.

Jim Wiggins can use some prayers and good vibes too.

Good Health Revisited

June 2, 2013

Saturday June 1st, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   One of the reasons I’ve been in such a funk lately has to be the fact I have not been keeping up with my diet and exercise program like I need to. I am thoroughly embarrassed, ashamed and the only thing that will turn it around is to get back into that groove. There are no excuses. I blew it.

   There may not be excuses, but there are reasons. I went back on the road earlier in the year and the groove I had worked so hard to get into just slipped away. Looking back, I allowed myself to skip a day and then it became two. Then I allowed myself a ‘treat’, and that became two as well.

   Before I knew it, I was exercising once or twice a week if that. Oh, I always MEANT to get out there bright and early every morning and take my daily exercise walk – but then the phone would ring or I’d need to drive 400 miles or I’d need to get some sleep before my 400 mile drive home.

   The road life and a healthy lifestyle are not an easy pairing. Making time to exercise is difficult enough, but often there is no place to do it. I like to get out and walk outside, and sometimes that can be next to impossible in a strange town where I don’t know which neighborhoods to avoid.

   Eating is a whole other issue. I love to sample local cuisine whenever possible, and sometimes it’s not always health friendly. An occasional treat is one thing, but I was overdoing it and I need to stop. I didn’t go totally of the wagon, but I did enough to feel it noticeably. I need to cut back.

   The summer season is here and I have painfully little road work (or work of any kind) so I have ZERO excuses. If I don’t get myself back into the shape I was in, it’s my own fault and I deserve all the bad things that will absolutely happen. I know what I need to do, and I intend on doing it.

   I intended to before, so that’s why I’m concerned. Bad food tastes SO good, and always will. It seems so unfair, but that’s how it is. For the rest of my time in the body I have, I need to make an effort every single day to control both what goes into my pie hole and how I choose to exercise.

   I’ve made the effort the last few days to get up and walk in the morning, and do I feel it when I get home. Damn, am I out of shape. And it didn’t take long. That’s what frightens me. I put in an extensive effort since I got out of the hospital in 2011, and I thought my blobbo days were over.

  SO wrong. It’s easy to slip back into old unproductive habits. I never got back into the fast food and soda death grip, but I did allow myself to partake in breads, pastas, cheeses and other nasties I need to re-eliminate. Vegetables, fish and salads need to come back more, and more water too.

   The combination of diet and exercise can do wonders. I am (or was) living proof of it but it has to be done every single day. Once or twice a week just won’t cut it, and that I am living proof of. I now have several months of warm weather ahead to get myself back to where I know everyone needs to be. I see a nation of balloon asses all around me, and I don’t want to follow their lead.

   I took a long walk this morning, and thought I was going to keel over about halfway through it. I could tell I’ve lost any conditioning I may have had, and am starting completely over. Even my blood was brittle, but I didn’t quit. I came home a sore, sweaty panting slob, and then flopped to the couch for a nap. I was proud of myself for hanging in there, but know I’m going to have a big job ahead of me keeping this going every single day. It’s not fun, but I guess a massive stroke or a fatal heart attack would not be a party either. I strayed off course, but now I’m back to healthy.

Problems? What Problems?

March 13, 2013

Tuesday March12th, 2013 – Arlington Heights, IL

   Just when I think I have problems, something comes along to tell me I don’t. Every day any of us is above ground is a good day, at least in theory and on paper. Yes, things do go wrong for all of us but no matter who we are there always seems to be someone else suffering just a bit more.

I had lunch today with one of my former comedy students Vince Carone. Vince took my class more than ten years ago now, and we’ve kept in touch off and on. He’s a smart hardworking kid who is not a kid anymore. He’s a grown man and has been making progress in the comedy game.

Right from the start, I could see good things for Vince. His parents had a sports card shop of all things, and he understood the business angle a whole lot sooner than I ever did. He also happens to have an outstanding work ethic along with being a good looking kid and natural for the stage.

I watched Vince climb the ranks, and it didn’t surprise me at all that he started to close shows a lot sooner than I ever did. He really has a grasp for the big picture, and he doesn’t expect to get a break without working for it. Not a lot of comedians have all that going for them, but Vince did.

I hadn’t heard from him in quite a while, but that happens. It’s impossible to keep current with everybody, as I’ve had more than 2000 students alone. That doesn’t count booking agents, comic friends and regular friends in general. People cross paths when they do, and that’s how it goes.

I was wondering how Vince was doing as I hadn’t heard a peep for a long time, and last week I received a startling email informing me how he’d been having severe health issues for the better part of the last year and had dropped out of sight to almost everyone. It took me by total surprise.

At first it was thought he had Hodgkins lymphoma, and that’s no small prognosis. Vince said it was a mind blower, but he was never bitter about it. He had resigned himself to the fact he would be uncomfortable during his chemotherapy and then recover after that. Then it turned into a giant circus as they weren’t able to locate the cancer and he wasn’t sure what was up or what to think.

He was in the hospital for a couple of weeks and the whole story sounded like a nightmare that even Mr. Lucky hasn’t had to live through – even though I’ve had my own health issues to worry about. Vince has gone through some surgeries and is taking medication now and feeling better.

He told the story at lunch with remarkable resolve, and is not letting it get him down. He’s on a medication plan that’s making him feel better, and he may or may not have to deal with this hell anymore. Nobody knows, and that’s got to be frustrating too. One just never knows how life will work out. We all get surprises thrown in front of our life’s path, and it’s up to us to sort it all out.

I was really sorry to hear of this, but if anyone can handle it it’s Vince. He’s got a solid family and is really grounded in good values. I wish he didn’t have to go through this, but who has any choice as to the sufferings we all have to go through in life? Whenever I think I have problems, I think of stories like Vince’s and know that I don’t. Nobody ever said life was fair – and it isn’t.

Walking Tall

December 15, 2012

Thursday December 13th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   I’m delighted to be able to say truthfully that I’ve been keeping up with my physical exercising as of late. That’s one thing that is truly an individual decision, and everyone is accountable for it. It’s not easy to maintain a healthy diet and regular exercise, but I have been making it a priority.

It takes time and effort to exercise, and it also makes me tired so I sleep more. I do sleep much better, but there’s still the tradeoff with the extra time commitment. I try to make the best use of that time by using it to think through ideas I’m working on, but it still shortens up my work day.

It really gets tough if I have to be on the road. That’s the lifestyle that contributed to getting my type 2 diabetes diagnosis in the first place, so I have to be extra careful. It’s work enough to keep up a regular diet and exercise schedule at home much less try to maintain one living like a gypsy.

All I can do is make the best choices I can in whatever circumstances I’m in. I realize I can’t be 100% correct, and once in a while I can have a treat if it’s not out of control. I’ve really managed things well since June of 2011, and I feel the difference every day. I won’t go back to the old me.

Still, the lifestyle of an entertainer is extremely hectic and stressful and maintaining one’s good health requires conditioning over time. I ate whatever I wanted for decades, and I have to believe there are several quarts of special sauce, hot fudge and animal fat encrusted on my heart valves.

It’s not an option to give up my program now, and in fact I need to increase it significantly for 2013 and beyond. I’ve mainly been walking, but my doctor suggested starting a weight program a while back which I haven’t done. I suppose I could also start doing pushups and sit-ups as well.

Then there’s stretching and yoga. I’ve heard amazing things about yoga from many people, and it’s something I would be up for trying at some point. I’d also like to get a bicycle and use that as a change of pace from walking since I live near several paths. Maybe I could ride to a yoga class.

The possibilities are endless, but unfortunately my time is not. It’s been tough enough to keep a fairly regular schedule of walking, especially when I’m at such a stressful point in my life. I have all I can handle with everything else that’s going on, and it would be super easy to blow it off.

Hopefully, I’ll get some benefits in the long run from all of this. In my heart, I know I’m trying to play the cards I was dealt the best way I can. I’m not looking for the easy way out, even if I’ve got to make difficult choices that aren’t always pleasant. Believe me, getting my untanned fanny up early and out for a long walk isn’t my idea of a party, but neither is recovering from a bypass.

None of this is what anyone thinks about when they dream their big showbiz dreams, but it’s a part of life that we all have to deal with eventually. It’s easy to blow it off in youth, and most do. I know I did. Who thinks about daily exercise, a healthy diet and dealing with diabetes? Pass the good stuff! Why yes, I believe I will have dessert with that double cheeseburger meal. I’ll worry about it later. Well, later comes a lot sooner than one thinks. My decadent diet days are ditched.

Balance Is A Bitch

February 18, 2010

Wednesday February 17th, 2010 – Lake Villa, IL

It finally feels like I’m starting to make some measurable progress clearing off the huge pile of backed up tasks I set out to do at the beginning of the year. Valentine’s Day is past and time is rounding the corner to my birthday. If I keep it up, I’ll be in full stride by then.

All those quips and slogans motivational speakers use are true, no matter how cliché all of it is. Thoughts ARE things, and inch by inch it IS a cinch. We DO become what we put in our minds, and without goals nothing can be achieved. The hard part is taking action.

I spent most of today sorting through the scattered pile of confusion I’ve allowed to get completely out of control. Books and clothing and scraps of paper with comedy notes and phone numbers and receipts and anything else imaginable are laying around like a tornado went through, and there’s no excuse for it. Yes, I’ve been busy, but this is not acceptable.

I’ve never been a neat freak, but I’m not Oscar Madison either. You wouldn’t know that by walking through the clutter where I live, and it’s to the point of no return. I have to get organized very soon or I’ll never be able to get anything done. It‘s to the boiling point.

I really do have all kinds of things going on, and a lot of them are good, but if I can’t get myself into some sort of order I’ll lose whatever positive momentum I do have. This is an inner tweak which is manifesting itself outwardly and I’m just not going to let it continue.

One thing for sure is that my grandfather was SO right when he used to talk about how the most difficult thing in life to achieve was balance. He said it was even more difficult than getting rich, because many who did get rich sacrificed a lot of other things to do it.

Being balanced in all areas of life is the ultimate challenge. Has anyone done it? I used to think Tiger Woods was pretty close, but then he had his little fender bender and all that ended. Who else is close? Bill Gates? Oprah Winfrey? I guess I can’t think of anyone off the top of my head, but I’m sure there are some people who have found a way to balance.

Extreme wealth isn’t necessary, but some degree of it is. Also, physical health, a family, creativity, continuing education, a chance to give back and all kinds of other things are on that list. Who has time to do all of it? How about even some of it? Most of us stumble our way through life, maybe focusing on a few things we do well because it strokes our ego.

How about taking time to really work at what we’re not good at? That takes total guts to even try, but I totally want to do it. If I never get rich or famous but continue to grow for a lifetime, does that make me a failure or a success? It depends who’s asked on what day.

I’d love to have it all, but is it in the cards? Is it even possible? I don’t know, but I put a full day’s work in today and in the short run it meant nothing. In the long run, if I keep up daily improvement I’ll be a much better me in not that long of time. I‘m seeking balance.