S I L L Y !!

Now there's a FUN word!  Say it a couple of times.  See!!  Can you even say that word AND be grumpy at the same time?  I don't think so!

To add to the silliness around here, today I have a special guest who will share four strategies she uses to bring out the silly!  Please welcome Joy Tanksley, from Being Joy.  I've only recently gotten to know Joy…and that name, Joy, is so fitting for her!!  Just look below at that FUN picture…now doesn't that have JOY (and SILLY) written all over it!! 

Really, check out her site – it is chock-full of pure fun (like her dancing!!!). 

Today, Joy is not only wearing her bra in a different spot…she is also giving us all some great ways to get our own SILLY on!

Four Surefire Strategies for Getting Seriously Silly


Draw a crazy picture,
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-gumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
'Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain't been there before.
 ~ Shel Silverstein

Silliness is a virtue that is often overlooked and highly underrated. But I had the good fortune of learning its value from my incredibly silly mother. It would totally embarrass her if I told you that she would often perform the “gas ballet”, doing grande plies and dramatic leaps while making the unmistakable sounds of flatulence with her mouth. So I won’t tell you she did that. Suffice it say that silly is part of my pedigree, and, in my expert opinion, we could all benefit from being a little more absurd, foolish, and ridiculous on a regular basis.

Here are four of my personal favorite ways to get seriously silly:

1. The Jelly Butt Game

This must be done in a public place and with a person who is easily embarrassed. Without any warning, begin gently swaying back and forth and bending your knees. Exclaim, “Uh oh! Oh no! It happened! I have Jelly Butt!” At this point, move your body as if your rear end has turned into complete jelly. It’s best if you fall into your companion for support. But watch out! Jelly Butt is contagious. Your friend might someday return the favor by having a surprise attack of Jelly Butt at your expense.

2. Bark Like a Dog
If you haven’t tried this, it’s a must. I can’t tell you how good this feels. Let go of all inhibitions. Get LOUD. Try different types of barks – from yippy to bellowing. Throw your head back and bark your head off! This one is delicious when done alone but is also great with a group.

3. Foot as Telephone
The next time someone’s foot is within reach, make a ringing noise like a telephone. Then answer their foot. They will be totally caught off guard, and will likely begin laughing hysterically. Try to keep a straight face and carry on a one-sided conversation, such as, “Hello? Yes, this is she. No, I am not interested in taking a survey, thank you very much. Well, there’s no need to get snippy!”

4. Wear Underclothes on your Head

This is a classic for a reason. It’s pricelessly funny, and especially so when combined with a goofy dance. I’m a big fan of bras worn on the head, with the strap going down around the chin. Underwear works, too. And it doesn’t have to be yours.

I challenge you to try at least one of these techniques and see how it makes you feel. As the famous philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein said, “If people did not sometimes do silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done.”

Joy brings the silly, and all sorts of other great stuff at her insightful and fun blog, Being Joy.  Check it out today!

Silly Alert!  This weekend I'll be in New York City, with The Levity Project, celebrating World Laughter Day!  And it's not too late to join in.  The more the merrier (and sillier!)!!  To register for this free event, click HERE, or visit the link in the sidebar. 

"Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn't you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are." ~ Rachel Naomi Remen

Today I have a very special guest here (she's from Wisconsin – we could be neighbors…), discussing a topic that is all too often shoved under the covers.  Please help me welcome Maggie, who has created a wonderful resource for anyone out there suffering from the horrors of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and rape. 

Maggie has a personal blog, Okay, Fine, Dammit, that she has had for some time.  About a year ago, after writing a local piece on domestic violence, Maggie felt the deeper need for creating a place where people could share their own personal stories – and to bring some peace and healing in the process.  From that, she created the Violence Unsilenced website.

Violence Unsilenced (VU) is that place where people can share, in their own words – from their personal experiences from domestic violence, sexual abuse, and rape.  Please note: reading the VU site can be emotionally challenging and all the stories are very real. It's in these stories, though, that the violence, pain, and suffering can find some possibility of healing.  It's also a place where each of us, through the voices of those who have been there, can more deeply see how heinous these acts are.  And in that, perhaps we can all take a few more steps towards a healing and meaningful compassion for all our brothers and sisters in this world.  

Please read along, as Maggie shares a more in depth look at who she is and what she has created.

1.  What led to the creation of the Violence Unsilenced website?
Back in 2008, I wrote an article profiling seven domestic violence survivors for a city magazine – and the experience changed me. Then one night, right around that same time my article ran, there was a domestic violence death in my community. In a fit of sadness, I vented on my personal blog (Okay, Fine, Dammit) – and the response was very intense. There were clearly a lot of people impacted by abuse. On top of that, I knew how cathartic the magazine experience had been for the survivors I profiled, and decided I wanted to keep that momentum going. I was well aware by then in the power of the blogging community, and I had a lot of confidence in my fellow bloggers. I knew we could do this together. In writing the article I learned that one in four women will be a victim of abuse in her lifetime. I thought about how small each of our blogging communities can be, and how well we think we know each other. The assumptions we make, the things we don't see. I thought, why don't we show the blogosphere just how prolific and encompassing abuse is?

From the very start, VU was a collaborative process. My blog readers contributed their input, their stories, helped choose the name, and helped spread the word – so much so that on the very first day VU went live, there were several thousand visitors. That was over a year ago, and I believe it's still a very collective effort.  I’ve said this before, but I hope when people think of VU, they don't think of me – they think of the survivors and the supporters. It's a good day when I overhear someone talk about the "people over at VU," rather than the "person."

Lance's Commentary:  Maggie, I find much hope in what you have created.  And for me, personally, I really believe it touches upon love and compassion…in the hearing of these stories. 

I think about that figure, 1 in 4 women will be the victim of abuse.  And as I think of the women I know in my life, I really hope that it's way off (although reality tells me it's probably not).  Proof of that made it's appearance just yesterday – as I read the words of a blogger friend, Jill (who gave permission to link to this – thank you, Jill) who just happened to share her own story of sexual assault on her site.  Jill – know that I see you as a brave and courageous soul.

2.  Maggie, I look at what you have created, and find such great hope in the message that you are creating.  As this has evolved over the last year, what has this whole project meant to you?
Even though I knew there were a lot of people with these types of stories, I was still shocked by the sheer volume of responses. I’ve had a 4-6 month wait list from day one, and here it is a year later with no signs of slowing down. So many stories waiting to be told… it’s both terribly sad, and incredibly hopeful. I am bowled over every day, both by the strength of the survivors and the compassion of the readers. I feel blessed that I get to watch this humanity in action right here on my screen.

Lance's Commentary:  Your community is such a supportive one, and what a gift that is to everyone. 

3.   Tell us about these shared stories that you post  – and have they touched you personally?
To be honest, it’s very difficult to be regularly exposed to so much trauma and suffering. I admit I have had to learn to limit my time with the project, and to take care of myself emotionally. But yes, every single one of them touches me personally, because these are not just auto-posted—there is a process I go through with each survivor to make sure he/she is absolutely certain he/she wants to be published, and is accordingly supported and aware of the risks. Afterward, I feel very bonded to each survivor. It’s a very personal and humbling experience, and it happens twice a week. Ultimately, despite the sad content of the posts, it’s always a positive thing for me. Speaking the truth out loud seems to make these survivors even stronger, and I get to bear witness to that miracle—which makes me a better person, I believe. I can’t even remember my life before VU.

Lance's Commentary:  As sad as it can be to read these stories, I also find much hope in the sharing of them.  I very much get a sense that there is a healing in the sharing.  I also believe that I, myself, feel an even deeper level of compassion for the world around me after reading a story on VU.  So, as difficult as these stories are – the public sharing of them really is so good for everyone.

4. Tell us one unexpected thing that has happened since creating Violence Unsilenced.
I didn’t know that it would be so widely and unconditionally supported. I thought it might be a project inside my reading circle, but I didn’t expect the wide-reaching, consistent promotion that so many people (like you, for instance) feel compelled to do. I am so grateful to you, and to all of them. We are seriously doing this together.

Lance's Commentary:  Maggie, know that I believe that you have created a wonderful gift in VU, and it's an honor to have you here.

5. Outside of VU, what’s a typical day for Maggie look like?
My daughters are 10 and five, so they go off to school now. I have a writing studio I rent to do my work, which is freelance writing—I write magazine articles for a living. My family and my personal time are the most important things to me, so I build my schedule around that. I do quite a lot of running around, but ultimately my favorite thing is to hold very still as often as I possibly can.

Lance's Commentary:  I'm guessing that guy in the picture with you is the guy you call husband!  And it sounds like you have a wonderful family life – savor all the moments!  And in that stillness, much clarity….

6. Anything new you have coming up?
I’m speaking at BlogHer ’10 in New York City this year, on a panel about utilizing community for change. I'll also be speaking at the Type A Mom conference (Asheville, NC) in September.  I really feel deeply that there’s a lot of power out there in the blogosphere to be harnessed for good, and I’m also very reverent of writing. I think something is lost in the chaos of the social ladder-climbing, popularity, and promotion in abundance in blogging today. It’s so different from the way it was when I first got started, and though there have been very positive changes, it can also be very discouraging. There’s a whole lot of little-known blogs out there where incredibly good writing is going down, and I guess I’d love for people to widen their viewfinders a bit.

Lance's Commentary:  Your message is such an important one – so that's great about you getting out there and spreading the word.  You will touch many more lives, in amazing ways, and

7.  Deep down, what makes you uniquely “you”? 
This is probably a very tough question for anyone to answer about him/herself. I don’t know what makes me me, but I know what I value most in the people I care about—integrity and compassion. I may fall down a lot, but I try to emulate those traits as much as I can. I also love how different we all are, and personally I’m glad we’re not all trying to be like each other.

Lance's Commentary:  I fall down a lot too.  And perhaps that is all part of the journey we are each on.  There will be moments when we are making great strides, and then others where we slip and fall.  And in those moments when we fall, the beautiful part is that we CAN get back up.  And that's not any more evident than in the VU website, and the people who share so openly their stories.  And in that unsilencing of the violence….they can get back up.  And perhaps we can get back up, too….touched by compassion and love.

Closing Comments:  Maggie, it is an honor to have you here and sharing a bit more in-depth look at what Violence Unsilenced is all about and what is has come to mean to you.  I know you don't feel like this is just you out there creating this.  I still want you to know, though, that you shine your amazing and beautiful light into our world…and that does make it a better place.  You have given survivors of some really bad things a place to safely share and move further down that path of healing.  What a wonderful gift you are! 

Thank you, once again, for being here.

You can keep up with Maggie by visiting the Violence Unsilenced site or her personal blog, Okay, Fine, Dammit.  Keep up with her on Twitter, @maggiedammit .

Note that I have also added a badge to my sidebar in support of what Maggie is doing.  If you are interested in joining in support of this, you can Take the Pledge right here.

Tree of Light
Creative Commons License photo credit: JPhilipson

"The way to happiness: keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Fill your life with love. Scatter sunshine. Forget self, think of others. Do as you would be done by. Try this for a week and you will be surprised." ~ H. C. Mattern

Twenty Six Point Two

by Lance Ekum on April 23, 2010 · 56 comments

Creative Commons License photo credit: kaneda99

“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” ~ Sir Edmund Hillary, New Zealand mountaineer and explorer

We head out into this life we're living, a journey in some direction.  For each of us.  And along that journey, we encounter crossroads, new paths, paths less traveled, paths traversed quite well.  These paths – and there are millions of them out there in this world we call "life" – are all directions we can choose to go in.


"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself, any direction you choose." ~ Dr. Seuss

Today, I am putting the feet that I have into a good pair of running shoes.  I am choosing to compete in my first marathon.  The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon.  October 3rd, 2010.

26.2 miles.  That is the mountain.  And yet, it will become not this mountain that I conquer, but myself. 

This conquering of myself will be no easy task.  There will be moments of doubt.  In fact, I know this – as there have already been moments of doubt.  There will be aches and pains that I haven't felt before (and there already have been).  There may be moments where I question what I was thinking in signing up.  There will surely be moments where I won't want to put in another long run. 

That's why I've brought on the best coach – Coach Lori.  She's been there.  She knows what it's like – the training, the time, the aches, the challenges…and the conquering of ourselves. 

And that's it.  As amazing as I anticipate it will be to cross that finish line, the bigger thing for me here, is the going deeper within myself.  This WILL be a challenge for me.  A challenge both physically and mentally.  It's in this challenge, that – in the words of Sir Edmund Hillary – I will conquer myself.  And perhaps I have already.  At some level, I have.  With the challenges, the mountains, that I have faced already in life.  This becomes a new layer, as I go deeper within.  A new conquering of myself. 

Perhaps that is really it.  On this life journey we are each on, there will continue to be new challenges for us to face.  Some of these challenges will be ones we bring on, and other will happen by chance.  I believe very much that the challenges we choose to conquer for ourselves will better prepare us for all that lies ahead. 

Today I choose the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon as that next challenge, and the next conquering of myself.

The journey continues…

As it does for all of us.

Laughter In The Jungle

by Lance Ekum

“At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.” ~ Jean Houston Whoa!  I look at this picture of myself and laugh!  Go ahead, join in WITH me!!!  (honestly, I DON’T wear that tiara anymore!!!) (and…I did NOT wear that lipstick!!!) Laughter is a pretty wonderful thing!   Hey, I […]

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Centennial Edition: Sunday Thought For The Day

by Lance Ekum

Note:  If you are having trouble viewing this video, please click here. Some days my vision blurred. Fall down. Am lost. Out in this great big world. And still. A guiding hand to offer help.. A voice from distance far. A human spirit so close to me. Footprints we do impart. A journey down this […]

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What Is Awesome?

by Lance Ekum

Note:  If you are having trouble viewing this, please click here. “The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore A W E S O M E !! Rain hair. Getting grass stains. The smell of crayons. Picking up a q and u at the same time when playing Scrabble. […]

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A Brother’s Story

by Lance Ekum

Today’s special guest is a regular visitor around here, and someone who has a lot of fun in life and in his writing.  When he’s not saving lives or out for a long run, you can find him as a regular contributor over at the CalorieLab website.  Please help me welcome Dr. J, as he […]

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Sunday Thought For The Day

by Lance Ekum

photo credit: TheMarque+ The Starfish Story One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide […]

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Pockets of Paradise

by Lance Ekum

Paradise right here in our pockets….that sounds pretty sweet! Today I have Tess Marshall here, from The Bold Life, to share her wonderful writing.  Tess is filled with a deep love for life, and even beyond that – she has this real zest for the life she lives!  BOLD is a fitting word to describe […]

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