Just ask my granny

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iStock: Aaron Amat

Super motivated after hearing Scott Dikkers share the secrets of good humor, I am going to swear to be funny. To aid in this pursuit, I am going to collect some data about humor because I know data is the essence of success in the 21st-century.

My humor muse is Alexa, who greets me daily with weather updates and a joke. I now seek to be your Alexa which if you like that idea, you can respond, “You bet” (Alexa does that).

So here goes, fellow humor writers and wannabees. Please reply back to the following questions.

Question 1

Door #1: A…


Isn’t now the time to heal?

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Unsplash: Jacob Morrison

I’ve been hearing The Byrds’ song, “ Turn, Turn, Turn,” in my head lately. It’s a great song, but it was written and played in 1965, so I can’t explain this phenomenon. But in the way that music subliminally speaks to us, I realized the tune and its words reflected my need to turn the page and begin a season of healing-as a nation.

The last time I wrote about the deep divide in our country, my focus was on how we could constructively explore our differences. It was painful to write and probably painful for many to read, but…


Alfred worries he’ll be discovered

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iStock photo: Melitas

Last week Alfred shared with Coach the 5 tools he hopes to master to help build confidence. The last tool on Alfred’s list was the ability to hear what people think but don’t say. Coach provided some tips on deciphering the unspoken word.

Coach: Wow! What’s this? Do I see Soho Globs?

Alfred: Yes, you do. Made by me. That’s the special part. That smile on your face tells me all I need to know. Don’t say a thing.

Coach: I see you are rapidly progressing in hearing the unspoken.

Alfred: Well, I wouldn’t say that. I would say that…


And can a leopard change his spots?

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Unsplash photo: Dominik QN

There are so many ways to describe the challenge of change. Some expressions are poetic. Others practical. Still others offer skepticism framed in a question. As one would expect, we have a range, and what we choose will reflect our own sensibilities. Here are some options.

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

This expression was made popular by John Heywood in 1546. Heywood referenced a treatise on husbandry by John Fitzherbert, who wrote:

“The dogge must lerne it, whan he is a whelpe, or els it will not be: for it is harde to make an olde dogge to stoupe.”

This translates to, “A dog must…


As he begins to build range

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Unsplash photo: Tony Hand

Last week Alfred and Coach discussed the importance of building a set of skills — 5 to be exact — all chosen by Alfred. This should help boost Alfred’s confidence, says Coach. Alfred is set to report on which 5 skills he targets.

Coach: Hey Alfred. How’s it going?

Alfred: I’m good — and loaded with answers and questions for you.

Coach: Great. Let’s start with the answers.

Alfred: Ok. You wanted me to identify my 5 tools, some of which I have and others that I need to work on.

Coach: Right. If you had them all today, you…


Its time has come

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Unsplash photo: Sharon McCutcheon

There are so many silly national holidays, and I should know. I’ve written about many of them — World Introvert Day, National Popcorn Day, and Periodic Table Day, which shares the day with National Fettuccine Day and National Send-a-Card-to-a-Friend Day. Well, they may not all be silly. We should help introverts feel more accepted. So too, some basic building blocks of scientific innovation begins with the periodic table, making a shout-out warranted.

But just as we’ve finished celebrating the over-hyped Valentine’s Day comes a holiday which in my mind truly should be marked: Random Acts of Kindness Day on February…


There is a 5-tool player in us all

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Unslpash Photo: Eduardo Balderas

Last week Alfred and Coach discussed whether Alfred should jump a level in math, which his teacher recommends. Alfred didn’t want to put his emerging friendships at risk and was preparing to reject the offer. Coach suggested that Alfred give it more thought. Alfred’s mom tasked Coach with helping Alfred build “range.”

Coach: Hello Alfred! We’ve got a lot to discuss today.

Alfred: More than usual? Something besides math? Or chess?

Coach: Well yes, but first tell me what you decided about math.

Alfred: <looking sheepish> I’ve decided to jump. Ok, here’s some humor for you. …


And what it means in being our best selves

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iStock Photo: Joann_Pate

It was in January when I was having dinner with my sister-in-law, who asked somewhat nonchalantly whether we were worried about the impending virus from China. Always the businesswoman, she said, “I think it will have serious repercussions on our supply chain.” I didn’t pay it much mind, though now I know her words were prophetic.

Then came February. I was enjoying a Saturday ritual of Bananagrams with two dear friends, both medical practitioners. I sneezed, and one of my friends looked frightened as she backed up her chair and suggested that we wipe down all the tiles. From there…


Celebrating an anniversary we hope not to repeat

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Unsplash photo: Tengyart

As we near the anniversary of a virus-that-shall-not-be-named, I offer up a few funny moments. Better to laugh than to cry, right? Here we go as I make laughter my silver lining:

  • My son took over my grocery shopping for a while: The combination of his creative mind, and the virus-that-shall-not-be-named stockouts, meant that I had turnips, dark chicken cutlets (just short of “despise” on my list of what I don’t eat), and many, many mushrooms. First, I gasped, then I laughed, and then I made something that was actually good (though never to be repeated).
  • CodeNames online gave us…


And we are the better for it

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Unsplash photo: Joe Gardner

How do we process adverse moments? Do we cower? Seek cover? Tremble? Dream for better? Or can we find purpose and solace in the world’s imperfection?

This question feels timely as we try to make sense of our Covid-constrained world, political dissension, and painful economic and social setbacks. Trying to stay hopeful and manage our angst can be a herculean task.

Perhaps some expressions can offer a perspective to help bolster us. Fortunately, there are choices. Some are poetic. Others are practical. Some roll off the tongue. Others are more elegant but difficult to recall. Which expression resonates is personal…

Jill Ebstein

Mom, consultant, tennis and dog lover. My focus is intersection of business/family/modern day peculiarities. Created AtMyPace series

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