203.716.1170 mike@mikecarlon.com

I am thankful for all of you who thought of me when leaving good wishes for my birthday back on Friday and over this weekend. I am very fortunate to have such a thoughtful group of friends who took a moment out of their day to think of me and I am grateful that each and every one of you are in my life. I’m happy to say that halfway to 90 isn’t so bad; in fact, I feel better at 45 than I did at 35.

As some of you know, earlier this year I started doing stand-up comedy. Those of you who have read my books know that I’ve used my comedic voice in my storytelling for a long time, but earlier this year I decided I wanted to challenge myself by trying to get laughs in real-time. I signed up for an open mic at The Stress Factory in Bridgeport last August 29th (the day before my 44th birthday) and bailed on it earlier that day. I was sick to my stomach thinking about what I was going to say and what the outcome was going to be. This pattern continued throughout the Fall and I gave up on it altogether come November.

But the itch never really went away, so I made a New Year’s resolution to sign up once again but this time I didn’t cancel. On January 9th, 2019 I did my first set and have been bitten by the bug ever since.

Didn’t he end his first paragraph by saying he felt better at 45 than he did at 35? What does comedy have to do with any of this?

I’m getting to it.

I film all of my sets so I can learn what works and what doesn’t work (I also just might have a constant need for validation). Anyway, as I watched those early sets, I had a hard time reconciling something; the guy I saw on stage did not match the guy who I believed I was. In short, the guy I was looking at was too heavy.

I stepped on the scale and saw the highest number I’d ever seen—217. Clothes didn’t fit right. I wasn’t comfortable in jeans. I wore baggy shirts to try and hide my stomach (It didn’t work). I felt uncomfortable on airplanes and had little to no energy, ever. The couch was my friend at night and I would look forward to sitting in it, watching TV, and overindulging in wine.  Looking back, I likely was depressed.

The end of January came, and with it the J.Lo challenge; 10 days of no sugar and no carbs. My friend Erin Wathen, who I interviewed on Uncorking a Story about her book Why Can’t I Stick to My Diet, decided to do something similar with her network of fans followers on Facebook. So I started a 10-day challenge where I followed the principles of her meal plan; no sugar, no grain, no processed foods, no alcohol (you read that right) and no high sugar fruit.

Before this, I wasn’t exactly what you called a disciplined eater. This was no small change to my lifestyle, but I was determined. I stuck with it and at the end I think I lost 5 pounds over 10 days. I re-upped for a 15 day challenge a few weeks later and this time paired it with exercise. I dropped more weight. After that, I never went back to eating the crap I used to eat, upped the exercise, and am happy to say that I’ve lost just over 25 pounds since January. Clothes fit better, I’m not ashamed to walk around with my shirt off (sorry for that visual), and I have tons of energy.

The other day, while shopping at the grocery store, I ran into my friend Claudia who I thought snubbed me because she walked right by me without saying hello. When I tracked her down in the dairy aisle and gave her hell about it, she turned to me and said that she just didn’t recognize me. It was the greatest compliment I received in a long time.

We get it, you lost weight. Good for you.

I know that’s a long story, but I felt compared to share it because it’s central to a transformation I’m experiencing. I’ve played many roles in the past twenty plus years with employee, business owner, husband, and father being the bigger ones. At some point, though, I feel like I lost myself along the way. It’s in my nature to put everyone else before me and to suppress the things that I want, and while this might seem admirable, it’s not always a good thing. I’ve been bad at standing up for myself. I’ve let people walk over me. I’ve said yes too much when I should have said no. I’d keep my true feelings bottled up inside and the pressure would build until I’d have my own personal Mt. St. Helens experience. As an old friend of mine from college would say, NAGT (Not a good thing).

So, since one’s birthday marks a new journey around the sun, I’m going to list out ten goals that I’d like to personally accomplish this year.

  1. Continue to lead a healthier lifestyle. Okay, this is a softball objective, but it is important to me so it makes the list.
  2. Help my kids find the best school for them. It seems like yesterday my kids were crying from their cribs and I can’t believe they fly the coop next year. Before we get there, though, I know that they have a lot of pressure on them this year and I want to help them find their next “home.”  
  3. Talk more and text less.
  4. See more movies. I love going to the movies and used to do it a lot more before I had kids. Now that I’m no longer an unpaid Uber driver, I’m going to see more of them.
  5. Find a literary agent. Book 7 is written, is good, and is worthy of representation.
  6. Visit my parents more. Dad just turned 87 and mom just turned 86 and I am sure would appreciate seeing me more than just once a year on April break or during a random business trip to Ft. Lauderdale.
  7. Take a writing trip to Hawaii. I often see tourism commercials for places I’ve never been and often remark to my wife, “I’d like to go there.” I do have a sense of adventure that I suppress. A friend of mine recently asked me, “When are you going to start having the kind of adventures your characters have?” This question hit close to home—there are a bunch of reasons why I can’t just do this, but I’ve got to realize that the world won’t stop if I did do something like this just for me. So it makes the list.
  8. Build the courage to stand up for myself when I feel people are taking advantage of me. This is a biggie because it’s in my nature to avoid conflict—so I guess this is a two for one goal; get more comfortable with conflict and less tolerant of bullshit.
  9. Put on my oxygen mask first. When you travel as much as I do for business, you become numb to the pre-flight announcements. One of the ones I remember, though, has to do with putting on your oxygen mask before you help another person with theirs. The rationale is that if you are unconscious due to a lack of oxygen, you can’t help your kid. I am notoriously bad at putting myself first, even though doing so may be a better message to send to others.
  10. Have a better answer to the question, “What do you want?” I get asked this frequently in many different scenarios and I struggle with the response. I typically try and find an answer that suits someone else, “I just want everyone else to be happy” comes to mind. Selfishly, I’d love to say, “I want to make myself happy,” but this will require some reprogramming. So, maybe this could be better summarized as, “Find a therapist.”

Thank you all once again for making my day a little brighter this past Friday. I am truly grateful for each and every one of you.

– MC

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