11 Flicks That’ll Tickle Your Funny Bone

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photo: Biography.com

Many things have influenced my desire to become a comedy writer over the years. Among them, are the 11 brilliantly funny films below. Here are my pee in your pants, laugh till milk shoots out of your nose, favorite comedy films of all time. If you haven’t seen some of these, what are you waiting for? Invite me over – I’ll bring the popcorn and Junior Mints!

Airplane
When I think back to the films that truly sparked my interest in comedy even as a young child, Airplane is right there at the very top of the list. The Zucker Brothers were truly before their time. And with stars like Leslie Nielsen, Peter Graves and Robert Hays – it doesn’t get any better. Never seen Airplane? Surely you can’t be serious.

Best in Show
In my book, Director/Writer, Christopher Guest, can do no wrong. As much as I loved his earlier films, Spinal Tap and Waiting for Guffman starring his recurring cast of misfits, Best in Show is hands down my fave and one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen. I mean, a movie tackling the bizarre world of show dogs and their weirdo handlers – sign me up!

Bridesmaids
Oh how I adore Kristen Wiig. I’m sort of obsessed with everything she does. No, really. I kinda want to wear her skin (in a totally non-serial killer way). I have a copy of the Bridesmaids script at home and reread it often as motivation for the bar I want to set for my own writing. I’m pretty sure I never went five minutes without a gut-busting laugh during this movie. My favorite is the airplane scene after Annie dopes up from fear of flying. I also love that with all the film’s craziness, it also manages to be totally relatable and full of heart.

Spy
To be honest, when this movie came out, I didn’t have much interest in seeing it. I thought, “I love Melissa McCarthy, but this looks kind of stupid.” Big mistake! Or as Trump would say, “YUGE!” When I finally rented it, I literally rewatched it twice the very next day – it was that funny. McCarthy was hysterical and endearing as ever, but the real star of the show is Jason Statham. Who knew this guy even had sense of humor? Doesn’t he usually just murder people?

Young Frankenstein & The Producers
Man, Gene Wilder really was the best, wasn’t he? I love, love, loved him and was reminded just how much recently after his sad passing. I’ve lumped Young Frankenstein and The Producers together because Wilder’s genius never shone so bright than when he worked with producer, Mel Brooks. These two flicks are oldies, but  goodies for sure.

When Harry Met Sally
When Harry Met Sally is without a doubt my favorite romantic comedy of all time. No screenwriter has ever more perfectly captured the complexities between men and women than Nora Ephron. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan are pure comedic dynamite on screen. I wanted to be them and be friends with them all at the same time. Crap, now I have the song Surrey with the Fringe on Top stuck in my head.

Office Space
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Office Space over the years, but it never ever gets old. From Lumbergh to Milton, (two of the best comedic characters ever created), this movie is something all of us who’ve ever had to endure office hell can relate too.

Tropic Thunder
Though I’m sure 99% of the general population thinks Iron Man is Robert Downey Jr.’s greatest role, I’m the 1% who votes for his role as Kirk Lazarus in Tropic Thunder. He was brilliantly funny at every turn. “I know who I am. I’m the dude playin’ the dude, disguised as another dude!”

Wedding Crashers
Vince Vaughn, I love you so much. And when you pair up with Owen Wilson, I love you even more if that’s humanly possible. I’ve seen Wedding Crashers a million times and each go around, I catch new jokes I missed before. From the crazy brother obsessed with Vince Vaughn’s character to Isla Fisher’s turn as a total nutjob looking for love, it was all so, so good.

The Hangover
This is another prized script I have in my library at home and refer to over and over again. To this day, if I could write a role for any male actor in Hollywood, it would be Zach Galifianakis. His turn as the socially awkward and totally deranged future brother-in-law in The Hangover is one of my favorite comedic performances ever. Combine that with Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms, and you pretty much have comedy gold. (Sadly, I don’t recommend the sequels though – just let the original stand on its own.)

What are your favorite comedies of all time? I’m always on the lookout for new ones to add to my must-see list!

 

Comic Relief

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If ever there was a time when humor is needed this is it. Did anyone see the debates last night? The world is so serious, the atmosphere is so scary. I find myself exhausted and stressed so much of the time. Humor and laughter are the best ways to release all of that stress and anxiety – ok maybe that, a good drink and a nap work too.

Here are some of things that make me laugh:

My husband – One of the things that made me fall in love with him was his sense of humor, and how smart he is, and his green eyes. But he was and is the funniest person I know. Not just funny but smart and witty. He is constantly making us laugh with his impersonations, his funny stories and his quick one liners.

My son – He gets his humor from his father and it’s perfect. His teachers often tell me that they love that he gets their jokes when no one else in the classroom does. He has a very sophisticated sense of humor and his under the breath comments make me laugh all the time.

Dad I want a boyfriend video – I love their accents and how serious the little girl is.  The kids and I have seen this video over and over.

Adele on Ellen – Watching anything with unsuspecting guests gives me anxiety but I absolutely love when Ellen does these segments.  And Adele was so believable and natural as she repeated the words whispered in her ear.

Stefon on SNL – Just the thought of Stefon makes me laugh, or make a tent to share my secrets. Bill Hader’s character is off the wall and inappropriately funny.

Veep – Julia.Louise.Dreyfus. Nuff said.

The Daily Show – although I love Jon Stewart I am warming up to Noah Trevor. The truth is politics is funny and pointing out the ludacracy of it makes me laugh.

Yes, Please – I read this book a few years ago and luaghed my way through it, out loud.  Amy Pohler is a gem and this book lived up to the hype. I also really enjoyed Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling’s books as well. I love funny ladies.

MC Grammar – If you have young kids and you don’t know about So Random I invite you to check it out. It’s sketch comedy for young people but it’s also pretty funny for us old people. This sketch is one of our favorites. It’s funny and educational which is a plus.

Hopefully this gives you some good belly laughs or at least giggles.  Let us know what’s making you laugh these days. I think we could all use it.

Humor Has It

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humor

the quality of being amusing or comic, especially as expressed in literature or speech; a funny or amusing quality; jokes, funny stories of a particular kind.

Our word this week is “humor” and boy, oh, boy, do we love a good laugh here at Sense & Serendipity. It’s one of our favorite things to do when we’re together. A sense of humor is key for us and a good-hearted, pure, funny moment can make a world of difference.

And since we’re also such entertainment-junkies, we wanted to share a list of our favorite TV comedy shows that have inspired us and made us laugh out loud.

GIOCONDA

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My favorite comedy is Friends. The show started September 1994, the same month and year I got married. I remember watching this show in our apartment as my husband and I were building our life together. So many of the episodes aired during important times in our lives. We were both starting our careers in the entertainment business, hanging out with our friends, and then having a family. I remember the Pivot episode, Smelly Cat, and the moment Monica and Chandler got together. These Friends shared so many memories with us. I watch episodes now and they still make me laugh…out loud.This show never goes out of style and will always have a special place in our heart.

JENNIFER

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Photo courtesy of Forbes

My absolute favorite TV comedy of all time is Arrested Development. I have never laughed harder in my life watching a show. (No seriously, like pee your pants hard.) The writing is nothing short of genius, the characters are somehow totally lovable while being certifiably insane and relatable to actual family members I know (which frightens me). From the chicken dance and Buster’s hook hand to Lucille Bluth’s rape horn and Never Nudes, it’s all deliciously hilarious, awkward and so wrong, and it will hold a special place in my comedic heart forever.

GABY

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Photo courtesy of CBS

Without a doubt, my absolute favorite TV comedy of all time is I Love Lucy. I have watched this show since I was a little girl and to this day, it still makes me laugh as if it were the first time I was watching it. It was such a ground-breaking show in the writing, the comedic talent of Lucille Ball, the producing genius of Desi Arnaz and the chemistry between all of the characters. This show brings back childhood memories of watching with my parents snuggled up in their bed and to this day it symbolizes comfort and happiness. I’ve also been known to name the episode within the first 10-15 seconds of the beginning of each show. I absolutely love Lucy and everything about her and the show and there is nothing like getting taken in by the humor and heart of an I Love Lucy episode.

Tell us what your all-time favorite TV comedy show is in the comments. We’re always looking for new favorites to watch. 

Fave Home Books

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Oprah once said (in all her Oprah-ish wisdom), “Your home should rise up to meet you.” And I couldn’t agree more with my BFF. Home is a sanctuary, a place where you can totally be yourself, a haven to relax and unwind from the day. It’s even better when it’s clutter-free (I remember those days), reflects your travels and interests, and exudes a warmth and style that invites your loved ones to kick their shoes off and hang out for a while.

I love reading anything that has to do with organizing and decorating your home. In my former life, I may have been a frustrated interior designer because I love the process so much. Here are some of my favorite books on making your home a more happy, peaceful and beautiful place:

Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin
I loved Gretchen Rubin’s first book, The Happiness Project, so when she wrote a book dedicating nine months to making her home a place of joy, comfort and ease, I was totally on board. There are lots and lots of wonderful ideas in here.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
I find it hard to think straight, much less work from home if there’s clutter, so I’m constantly on a quest to find new ways to organize our house and make it a little more stress-free. Kondo uses the KonMari method to rid the house of clutter bit by bit and room by room a little at a time, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by tackling it all at once. My favorite thought of hers is asking yourself if the objects in your home are “propelling your forward or holding you in the past.”

The Complete Book of Home Organization by Toni Hammersley
I’m obsessed with Pinterest. If I didn’t have a job, a child and endless errands to run, you’d probably find me keeled over in a corner someplace, laptop in hand, in a pinning stupor. I love looking up new ways to organize your closet cabinets. I dream of having one of those gorgeous pantries with wicker baskets, chalkboard labels and potato chips stacked neatly in a row. Seriously, I have a problem. Anyway, this book has some great Pinterest-worthy ideas for making all the nooks and crannies of your home organized and beautiful. Now if I only had time to put the ideas in motion…

Modern Glamour: The Art of Unexpected Style by Kelly Wearstler
If you’ve ever stepped into a Viceroy Hotel, you’ve no doubt seen Kelly Wearstler’s gorgeous work. She is hands down my favorite interior designer for her creative use of color, dedication to glamour and that fun Hollywood Regency style. This book has been one of my faves since it came out years ago and I always turn back to it for inspiration.

Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms from Tabletops to Bookshelves by Emily Henderson
Half the battle of interior design is knowing how to style your space once you’ve picked out your furniture, artwork and knick-knack. LA Designer Emily Henderson is a total pro and takes you through some great styling ideas step by step without having to spend a fortune. Plus, it’s just a fun read that’s sure to get your design blood flowing!

Domino: Your Guide to a Stylish Home by Editors of Domino (coming soon November 15, 2016!)
Was anyone else devastated with Domino magazine folded? It was one of my favorite magazines to turn to for interior design wisdom and fabulous tips. Luckily, the popularity of the mag lives on through its publishers through books. A new one is coming out this November and I’ve already pre-ordered it on Amazon.

What home books do you love? I’m always looking for new ones to add to my library! Anyone have a great one on home repair for those of us who are mechanically challenged?

 

 

 

 

Homemade Goodness

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Homemade jam covered with wax.

I have long been a DIYer. I love seeing something and then learning how to make it myself or event adjusting it to make it my style.  I especially like recreating food that I eat at restaurants at home. That way I can have it whenever I want.

These are some of my favorite homemade recipes that I try over and over – and they’re pretty darn good.

Granola – Is granola a health food? I don’t know but this granola served with some almond milk and sliced banana makes me happy inside. My oldest son is a huge fan and would rather eat this homemade version over any store bought kind.

Pizza – I think I’ve mentioned before that I like to make pizza once a week. I usually buy my dough at Trader Joe’s but love to make my own when I have time.  This recipe makes me giddy. Add tomato sauce, cheese and your favorite topping. It’s all delicious on a pizza.

Pancakes – Another food item we make once a week. My husband does his internet investigation and tries different recipes in search of the perfect one. So far the Martha Stewart recipe is the best one we’ve tried.

Pumpkin Bread – Fall means pumpkin everything. We are fans of the pumpkin bread at Starbucks, but not the calories.  This recipe is a good swap using bananas instead of butter and still giving you that moist, sweet, pumpkin flavor. Have it with a homemade pumpkin spice latte. I may have to try this nutella version this fall.

Salsa and guacamole – I have a simple recipe for each of these. Salsa: use a can of petite diced tomato, chopped onion, cilantro, and a fresh jalapeño.  Add them all together and season with garlic salt and lemon pepper, add lime juice for some zing.  Guacamole: mash the avocado in a bowl. Add water or milk to thin out or leave it chunky and creamy. Season with salt, lemon pepper and lime to keep it from turning brown right away. Mix the salsa and the guacamole together for an even better combo.

Hamburger Buns – This recipe is so good. So good! Turkey burgers are a go to for us. It’s a dinner that everyone likes and pretty easy to make in a short amount of time. When I think ahead and feel inspired I make these rolls to sandwich the patty, lettuce, tomato and spread. This dough is slightly sweet, crunchy and dense. Yum!

Jam – We’re lucky that my mother-in-law makes it a point to make jam with the kids over the summer. I’m not sure how much work the kids do and how much work my mother-in-law takes on but I do know that we have jars of strawberry and peach jam that lasts us well into spring. And even some to give away as gifts. Spread some on those pancakes and you have a recipe of deliciousness.

Dulce de Leche Cookies – It’s almost cookie bake time. My husband’s family has an annual tradition of baking cookies for the holidays together and sharing them. I always try to find something new and different to make. One year I made these and they were a huge hit. It’s the sweet dulce de leche sandwiched in the buttery cookie. Ahh yeah!

Moscow Mule– One of my favorite thing to do with friends is get together and make our own cocktails. It’s so much fun and not as expensive as going to a bar. I really enjoy making this moscow mule.  I’ve been known to show up at a friend’s place with my copper mugs, cause you have to have the copper mug, lots of lime and some ginger beer. It’s refreshing and thirst quenching. Watch the video for a flashback to the Oprah show and a good mule recipe.

How does that sound? Good homemade recipes for having something made at home. Just remember it’s better when you make it with your own hands (and you share with us).  Share some of your favorite recipes, we’d love to know.

Hometown Glory

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What I’m about to tell you might be shocking. Ready? I’m a native Los Angeleno. Like, born and raised in Los Angeles. I know, pretty amazing, right? My city is typically made up of out-of-towners who have, for one reason or another, come to Los Angeles and made it their home. So, us native folks are few and far between. And to make it even better, I grew up in the San Fernando Valley. So that makes me a true Valley Girl. Like, oh my gawd!

And I love my city. It’s my hometown. There’s so much to do and see, and I’m constantly discovering new things and places to add to my must-see and must-do lists. Do you sometimes have to deal with the so-called “posers” and “wannabe-actor-writer-model” types? Sure. But if you can find yourself a pocket of authentic, good-hearted people, you’ve truly found yourself friends for life.

I’ve tried to explore a good amount of this city but I know that despite the fact I’ve lived here my whole life, there’s still so much more to do and see. I’m a huge fan and proponent of traveling and seeing new places, but it’s just as fun to explore unseen things in my own backyard. So I’ve gathered some of my favorite places and activities in L.A. and some that I have yet to explore.

FireflyThis cute little restaurant is tucked behind an ivy-covered wall in Studio City. The bar lounge looks like a darkly-lit library and the restaurant is outside under a canopy of wood beams, skylights and twinkly lights. Amazing food and great ambiance.

Angel City Brewery. Jessie recently discovered this place and it’s on our must-visit list. They offer free tours of the brewery and various events throughout the week including awesome food trucks.

Dodger & L.A. Kings. I come from a baseball family. Growing up, we’d go to games as a family and cheer on the Dodgers. After having met Jessie, he introduced me to hockey and after going to a hockey game with him, I was hooked. If you haven’t seen a Kings game, I can’t recommend it enough. They are the only west coast team to have won the Stanley Cup twice.

Sol y Luna. Nothing beats my mom’s Mexican cooking. It’s home to me. But Señor Sol in the Valley definitely comes close. Delicious food in a fun authentic setting. And if you can make it there for happy hour, you can’t beat their chips and salsa and margaritas. Delisioso!

Cal State University Northridge Valley Performing Arts Center. CSUN has outstanding theatre arts and music departments and the Valley Performing Arts Center has been establishing itself as respected venue for professional artists like Carol Burnett and Bernadette Peters.

The Village at Topanga. This hidden little gem of an outdoor mall in Woodland Hills opened in late 2015 and hosts an array of restaurants, shopping, a cool outdoor play area and a top-notch spa.

The Greek Theatre. Everyone knows and loves the Hollywood Bowl. But The Greek Theatre is it’s quaint little sister. It’s a great outdoor venue near the Griffith Observatory to catch a concert and enjoy the L.A. night sky.

Comedy Sportz. This is the PG-version of The Groundlings. It’s kid-friendly improv theater but just as funny as any other I’ve seen. It’s done with teams in a sports setting and it is hysterical. Definitely a must-see especially now since they’ve relocated from Hollywood to North Hollywood.

Lake Balboa. This beautiful park is snuggled right in the Valley and has wonderful picnic areas, great walking and jogging trails all wrapped around a beautiful lake. It’s so peaceful and relaxing that you forget you’re in the middle of the San Fernando Valley.

Japanese Gardens. And right next to Lake Balboa are the Japanese Gardens. I’ve yet to visit the gardens but from what I’ve heard, they’re definitely worth checking out. The six-and-a-half acres boasts a meditation garden and an authentic tea house.

Malibu Wines. If you want to venture a little further out of L.A. and get some great wine, visit Malibu Wines. It’s a picnic-style outdoor area up in the hills with live music and wine tasting. They even do Mimosas & yoga on Sunday mornings outdoors on the lawn. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, visit the nearby Malibu Wine Safari for wine tasting amongst the wildlife.

What are your favorite things to do in L.A. and L.A. spots? I’d love to find out and add to our must-see list.

Weekend Wrap-Up

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home
the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household; a place where something flourishes, is most typically found or originates; any place of residence or refuge

Our word of the week is “home.” And while we’ll be doing a deep dive into that over the next few days, today we’re talking about what home meant to us this weekend. Whether it was gathering a close-knit group of friends who feel like home, supporting a hometown basketball team or welcoming home a football team that’d been gone way too long, we had fun-filled weekends for sure and hope you did too!

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Gioconda
We had a great weekend. Friday, we went to the last Spark’s basketball game of the season at Staples Center with my daughter’s friends and parents. We had awesome seats and even got to go to the VIP room for all you can eat candy. And the kids made it on the jumbotron a few times. Saturday, my husband and I went to see Sully. It’s an incredible story with perfect performances. Sunday, we had the first softball game and swim meet of the season. My husband coached my daughter in softball and I went did the timing for son’s swim meet. A full weekend for sure.

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Gaby
Saturday, we went to a wonderful birthday dinner at Firefly to celebrate with an amazing group of friends. I love this group so very much and felt incredibly happy to be surrounded in so much love, laughter and friendship. It really was the perfect beginning to my birthday week. And I can’t wait to (hopefully) get together more often with this beautiful family of friends.

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Jennifer
We had a crazy busy, but bananas fun weekend. One of the biggest highlights was going to the LA Rams’ home opener against the Seattle Seahawks with a group of friends on Sunday at LA Memorial Coliseum. The overwhelming enthusiasm (and even camaraderie) from the crowd was electric. You could feel the excitement our city has over finally bringing the Rams back home to LA. We’ve waited a loooong time to have an NFL team again. What’s even better – the Rams won! Yeah, baby, yeah!

What did you do this weekend? (And why weren’t we invited…hmmm?)

Momes of Apreesh

Happy Friday! Lots to be thankful for this week.

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Jennifer
We were so lucky to have my mom here in LA with us for the week. The only thing we hate about her visits is when she has to leave (sniff-sniff). Jack just adores his GG – she is so playful, silly and loving with him. From running around our house playing walking talkies together, to teaching him to play the war card game to trips to the park, watching him play tennis, and taking him to Venice Beach, my mom always gives him her undivided attention and as much love as he can possibly handle. She is truly one in a million.

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Gaby
We had family over on Sunday to celebrate a very belated birthday for Jessie and him passing his first level sommelier exam. It was wonderful to get together with loved ones at our home. My favorite moment was when Jessie led an impromptu mini “wine class.” It was wonderful to see him so excited to share all that he’s learned so far, which is a lot. I love seeing him find his passion and pursue his goals. And it’s exciting to know this is just the beginning.

img_4933Gioconda
I am continuing my quest for taking in lots of live music this year.  This past week my sister and I went to the Carrie Underwood concert at Staples Center. I don’t know all of her music but I think she’s an amazing singer. We had floor seats and were looking forward to being up close for this concert. The show was so great. There was flash and fireworks. But my favorite moment was when she toned everything down for an acoustic version of “I will always love you” from Dolly Parton. Her voice is everything.  I appreciate my sister for being my companion for moments like this. Next up for us: Ingrid Michaelson at the Ace Hotel.

Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone

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screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-5-56-38-amI often find myself at that scary place. That place where I ask what do you want in life? Where I am faced with the decision to play it safe or to take a chance. There are  risks, I know. There could be danger ahead. But there could also be great joy, huge success and no regret. Sometimes that chance is worth it.

At my daughter’s school they have a learner profile, the attributes that we think are important for someone growing and learning in the world today. Students should be principled, balanced and caring as they navigate the issues of the world. They should be reflective, open minded and inquirers as they figure out what they want for themselves. One of the attributes, a very important one, is to be a risk taker. It opens up the world and makes things possible.

Now I will play it safe 9 times out of 10. I will tell my kids to take the known path vs. the unknown. But sometimes it is worth the risk to discover something new, to feel the thrill and to step out of what we feel comfortable with.

I do a lot of volunteering at both of the kids’ schools. I enjoy giving my time to the places where my kids spend so much time and seeing that it makes a difference. A few nights ago I had to get up in front of 200 women to introduce myself and talk about a committee I am in charge of,  a committee that I think is doing great work. I was terrified and couldn’t wait for it to be over. I didn’t have any time to write out what I wanted to say and rehearse it 2 20 times before getting up there. I just spoke. I couldn’t tell you what I said but once it was over ladies came up to me and thanked me for what I was doing, I even had a few that wanted to join my committee. Hey, it wasn’t that bad after all.

Last night my sister and I went to see Carrie Underwood in concert. It was awesome and man, that girl has an amazing voice. At one point during the night she talked about taking the chance and getting on a  plane by herself to head to LA and audition for American Idol. That leap of faith, and not standing in her own way, led her to be on that stage last night singing in front of all of us. It led to her success, her marriage and her son. That was an example of what is possible on the other side of fear.

As I am getting older I find that moving down that unknown path is not as scary as it used to be. The job I do now is way out of my comfort zone. I am learning everyday and asking a lot of questions, figuring things out as I go. But I also found that I know more than I give myself credit for. That it’s ok to say, I don’t know the answer to that and then go and figure it out. Over the last year I have learned that I don’t have to have it figured out in order to do it. That realization itself is comforting.

As I was sitting down to write this I tried to think of steps you can take or a guide to stepping out of your comfort zone. For me my word FORWARD has been instrumental in getting me moving. It’s a trigger. It reminds me that the way I want to go is ahead not backwards and certainly not staying in one place. Move forward. Take a little step than another.

We all love being where it’s comfortable. It’s happy and safe there and there are times when that makes perfect sense. But then we are faced with deciding to be brave, to get a little uncomfortable. Maybe it’s the moment when you know you need to say something to someone but your battling with yourself to speak up. Maybe it’s making a bigger change in your life, your work, your relationship, your health. Maybe it’s just being truthful with yourself. Any of these can be a scary place. But taking that chance and making that leap could be the best thing for you. And you will find yourself in a better place or look back and think, now I know.

Your comfort zone just suddenly got bigger.