A Most Significant February

13 02 2016


I don’t even know where to start. This is the shortest month of the year and it’s not even over and it has been one for the books.

This has been quite the month – divorce final on the 3rd, confirmed my job will be ending this year on the 11th and very possibly selling  my house (for a loss) somewhere in the remaining 16 days.

At the same time, my mother is doing great after having had heart surgery, my dad is doing equally well, the kids are well and I have had terrific feedback with both comedy and my songwriting. Perhaps the internal forces that were waiting to finally be listened to could not be heard in light of the life that had to be left behind. It’s the yin and yang, the pleasure and pain, I guess.

There’s no grand plan to leave it all behind and start over – finally enter that creative universe that I long for. Two kids, college savings and a now badly dented retirement savings requires the practicalities of a “real job” and I am just grateful for those who may be able to help me in that capacity, as well.

What has surprised me, however, is just the wave of almost eery calm that seems to accompany what might be considered “bad news.” The fact is, for me, and I suppose many others, I am much better off with knowing than not knowing, even if the knowing is not good. The in-between stage of waiting, wondering, hoping, fearing, surmising and assuming is a purgatory that is not relegated for the faint of heart. At least with knowing, there can be action – or, in my case, more definitive action.

The same day that I learned about my work situation, I also viewed both my kids’ report cards – straight A’s with the exception of high Bs in honors math for both of them. They are doing amazingly – both academically and socially. I have nothing to complain about. I am convinced that, however difficult this period is for them (and for me), it is where we are all supposed to be in this journey. If I never receive a promotion, check off the items on the bucket list or “make it”, it is of no consequence because I am sure that my purpose in life was to make sure that these two kids were here at this time. I don’t know why….yet. But I am sure.

It makes me happy to finally get toward some resolution. By the summer, I will be in a new place with a new job (hopefully) and a new tax filing status. On a recent TED Talk podcast, the subject was about resiliency from people who had to exhibit tremendous fortitude – much greater than I had to. It was mentioned, as it often is, that we don’t really know what we are made of until we are put in situations that really test us. I agree with this fully. I also think that we don’t know why we are here sometimes until we are put in these situations. The truth is that the steps that continue to forward my path to wherever it is meant to go are the exact ones that I may never have ever followed were it not for some very, very tough times, decisions and truths.

I hope that we all have the resiliency we need to call upon the strongest parts of our being when we are called to do so and that we are supported along the way.

Until next time,



Open Heart (Surgery)

10 01 2016
I am trying to open my heart to the fact that this is a schmaltzy image.

My mother had open heart surgery this past week. Nothing snaps you out of the self pity associated with job uncertainty, divorce, financial instability and overall restlessness like sitting 175 miles away in your home while you know the person who gave birth to you is on a ventilator while someone rewires her heart.

My kids and I just returned from visiting her (and my dad) and there were some key takeaways (sorry – that was so disgustingly corporate) – there were some important messages (that’s better) that I felt compelled to write down and share:

  1. Sometimes you have to sweat the small stuff. When I was visiting my parents with my kids just after Christmas – my sister was also there with her family and for all the articles and morning talk shows that insist upon the importance of having those “difficult conversations with your aging parents”, it never happened. Certainly, with the knowledge that my mom’s surgery was essentially a week away, that was not the best time but it wasn’t going to happen anyway. Instead, we played board games, got annoyed by incessant calls to eat more junk food and dealt with familial familiarities, good and bad, that would be of inconsequence to most people (yes, apparently it does matter who takes what food home with them and how much). This is as small as it gets but you know what? It is exactly the type of diversion that helps get through times when the gravity of the situation just seems too great to bear. That’s why I think sometimes (and only sometimes), sweating the small stuff isn’t such a bad idea.
  2. We need doctors. I, for one, have had many dealings with arrogant, self-centered, “cry me a river/claim poverty” U.S. physicians who have lost both their empathy and their perspective but…there are many, many physicians who are saving lives, every single damn day. I don’t give a shit about a single doctor who is interested in making some 50 year-old rich, entitled socialite look 30, but for every single doctor helping with cardiovascular disease, the onslaught of neurological-based diseases and children, etc. – thank you, thank you, thank you.
  3. I am a series of computer programs in dire need of software upgrades. I have written before about the scripts we carry around with us and the self-talk that we do and impacts us, either for better or for worse. As I took a shower in my childhood home, it occurred to me after cleaning it out, that there are tons of rituals I do that have been embedded in me for decades that are in need of a little mindfulness. Let me explain briefly. Since I can remember, the last person who took a shower had to clean out the tub and walls. I have always followed the same pattern: faucet, shelf, top half sides, bottom half sides, little stool, left glass door, right glass door and the shower bottom – in that order – since I ever even had a reason to take long showers (which is code for “a long time ago”).  I did it again this morning (the cleaning, not the long shower) and realized that I have tons of these rituals – some physical, some mental, that I never change. How I react after taking a shower in my parents’ house is one thing but what about how I react after being dismissed in a social situation? My thoughts follow a similar pattern every time – and it’s not good.
  4. Friendship is the #1 most vital component to a sustainable marriage. My mother can give my father a hard time. My father can selectively hear and not hear what my mother has to say. But they are friends, tried and true. It was never more apparent than during our visit this weekend. They respect and love each other in a way that transcends (or is exclusive of) romantic love and at least, in older age, seems to be the vital ingredient to a meaningful marriage (or partnership).
  5. I am so thankful for my kids. We were in the hospital for 6 hours and they never complained once. Mind you – they are on the verge of being 15 and 13. 6 hours with their dad and grandparents – in a hospital – on a Saturday – can seem like an eternity. And they were great. There were cell phones and untied shoes but there was also a tremendous respect and love. I am a lucky dude.
  6. Trump, ISIS, my job situation, Kardashians, cat videos, who got a promotion, who is headlining – they will all go away. Every single second focused on the irrelevant and stupid is a second wasted on the relevant and important. Every damned, single second.

My mother has a ways to go in her recovery. The good news is that her cardiac vitals are very good and if she can take the long-term view, I really think everything will be for the better. It is hard to see your parents age, for both the knowledge of what no one wants to talk about and the acknowledgement of one’s own aging and mortality. But it makes one so thankful for the days that do exist where we have to bite our tongue, sweat the small stuff and think about opening our own hearts a little more, which is a lot tougher sometimes than a 6 hour operation.

Until next time,


Right Where I’m Meant to Be

11 11 2015
Time to be where you are.

Time to be where you are.

I had a great weekend for comedy.

I was not with my kids and, as much as I joke about them in my writing, I always deal with a little depression when they are not around me for an extended (24 hour) period of time. The distraction of 3 comedy shows, friends and family this past weekend helped me rid of those feelings, if only temporarily.

Not only was each show better than the last for me as a growing comedian, but also I found that I continue to have a lot to be grateful for – friends and colleagues in the comedy community who continue to bring me along and recommend me, high school friends who came out to see me after such a long period of time since high school that I could not have ever imagined, parents who support this crazy thing I am doing and kids who continue to be resilient, not to mention healthy, during these formative years.

At one of my shows in CT this weekend, it really hit me. I sat at a table of friends from high school and at that small table, we represented a wide spectrum of the human experience. Out of respect for my friends, I will leave out the details but suffice it to say that none of it mattered and that was a beautiful thing for me. In an environment where I find myself often the odd man out, it was so refreshing to have no corners or boundaries by which we were trying to fit into. Sitting at that table represented what I love so much about those friends I have made in the comedy community, as well.

Something that one of my friends said toward the end of the night really struck me. She said something to the effect that she looks outside each day and thinks about how beautiful that day is and how she wants to dance and live and really live life while she still can and for as long as she can.

This is not a fly-by-your-seat person. She has a family she is close to, as well as friends and basically been working full time forever. You get the point. It was not an easy journey for her but she is not even close to done. I loved that. There was no excuse. 

It’s like looking in the mirror and realizing that you’re not the 17 year old who just had all this passion to do big things. That never goes away – at least not for me. The challenge is to understand that our responsibility as friends, partners, sons, brothers, sisters, daughters, parents, grandparents, etc does not bury that 17 year old driven to do big things. Failure doesn’t have to be a fear. It can be an innocent bystander along the way and then you move on. It’s all how we look at it.

More than ever in the past 20 years, I have no clue what things will look like for me next year at this time but I do know that it’s not a question anymore of better or worse. It is simply a question of how quickly it will take me to realize that I am exactly where I am supposed to be at that very moment…sort of like right now.

Until next time, 


Daylight Savings, Raking Leaves & Beginning with the End

1 11 2015

It's a fine line between death and birth

It’s a fine line between death and birth

I’m not a huge fan of the period between Thanksgiving and the onset of Spring. I can tolerate the cold, though I tend to wish for warmer weather. It’s the darkness that I have a hard time with.

I don’t know whether or not I have SAD (Seasonal Affect Disorder) or not. It doesn’t matter if I do and I want to be careful to not self diagnose when there are people who really do suffer either seasonally or otherwise. All I do know is that when the sun starts to set early, I can’t stop yawning – a lot. The urge to nap, slow down and eat carbohydrates is pretty intense – or at least more intense than normal as those are all three things I enjoy doing, anyway. I take Vitamin D and I try to keep up with exercise, regardless, but as the days shorten, so does my motivation. (Daily intake of left over Halloween candy doesn’t exactly help, either.)

It’s not a coincidence, then, that on this first day of Daylight Savings Time when, yes, we gain an hour, but we also start to transition to much shorter days, I made myself sign up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). This is, essentially, a 30 day challenge to write a a 50,000 word novel – approximately 1,700 words a day. I am not sure if I am going to succeed or not, nor if I do, if what I end up with will be worth anything. But I do know that without some sort of goal, the potential for getting to November 30th with little more than another month’s worth of “to do” lists is pretty good.

After grabbing a late breakfast with my son at a diner this morning, we raked leaves for a little under two hours in the front yard. He is an endless source of comedy material but more than that, an endless source of pride. Truthfully, the way this kid is maturing is an experience to behold – his approach to school, his aptitude for helping friends, his hilarious sense of humor and more importantly, his resilience. I am part father and part witness to an emerging adult.

We raked in silence, side by side, with the occasional verbal interruption. He could not tell the feelings of longing and loss that were welling up within me – both grateful for the opportunity to be there in the moment and, at the same time, dealing with a profound sense of sadness, melancholy and frustration at my current situation. If we were laying poolside in 85 degree weather at a resort, I may have the same experience but it would come and go. Something about the fall shadows cast on the lawn as we raked in an autumn chill, the smells of decaying leaves and the distant rustle of wind, leaves and branches set a scene for things coming to an end. It’s all too easy for me to internalize my surroundings. This, in some form or fashion, has been my achilles heal my entire life.

I really struggled with a sense of hopelessness. I am not sure exactly why. Intellectually, I knew that it was both not as dire as it felt nor chronic in nature. Still, the feelings were profound. When I get this way, I try to get to the root and ask “what is going on and what am I afraid of?” I concluded that it’s all about endings. This year is going to come to an end and one way or another, I will have to forge through a new beginning of sorts. Anyone who knows me understands that I am trying to get there – divorce, house, job – there are a lot of endings on the horizons and new beginnings to be had.

Though a story of fiction, I am hoping that the novel I am writing, “On the Side”, will help me get there. I need to get things out of my head and onto paper in one way or another – either through prose, song or comedy. I don’t have much of a choice at this point. Maybe NaNoWriMo is good for me. Maybe it isn’t. I do know that it is better to have something to shoot for than not. I need to apply this to all facets of my life, in reality.

I have no delusions of grandeur. There is no Pulitzer prize, Grammy or Comedy Central special awaiting me. I would be happy to get some extra comedy bookings and record a song or two, if that, not to mention, some sort of job security (let’s not forget about that).

I also know that I cannot simply “walk with my feelings” alone. It helps to acknowledge them. It helps to understand that they are with me, regardless of wish, desire or circumstance. That’s not enough for me, though. I need to have them materialize somehow for no one other than me the same way that a maple tree must shed it’s leaves in November. There simply is no choice. 

A setting sun, a browning landscape and an emerging winter must still be expressed, regardless of whether it is welcome or not.

Until next time,


There are no coincidences

22 10 2015
There are no coincidences - but lots of choices.

There are no coincidences – but lots of choices.

2015: This year isn’t even over and it still keeps coming – divorce, house that won’t sell, money leaping from my savings account at a rate that would astonish even Superman and today – news that my job may not be long for this world.

It is overwhelming for sure and there is a part of me that asks, “well, surely he must have done something to get to this point.” That’s me judging myself. I listened to a podcast this week about happiness and it reminded me that those of us that judge ourselves are also more likely to judge others. I didn’t like that. I like to think of myself as open minded. Truth is that as hard as I am on myself, I probably take that with me when I observe others, too, without even knowing it.

So, in an effort to turn this around, I tried re-framing all this stuff that seems to be collecting at once. Divorce happens. It sucks. I was not the perfect husband but I really did try my best. I was present. I was engaged. I was there. And I still failed in some capacity. I don’t think there’s any higher karmic purpose for this particular divorce. I think it just falls into the “shit happens” category.

As for the house – well, that’s a by-product of said divorce and a market that seems to be stagnant (at least at this time of year).

What about my cash flow (or outflow as it might be)? Well, two teens, a divorce and single handedly paying for a Bat Mitzvah seems to explain that. Thankfully, I at least was able to pay for stuff I had to.

Finally, the job? Well, considering I have been at my currently employer for 13 1/2 years, I think it’s been a good run. I have to pick myself up for the next chapter…right after this 2nd glass of wine…I promise.

I look at all this in the midst of two kids who are thriving and I am happy. I am actually happy. Nervous? For sure. Unsettled? Without a doubt. Contemplative? Always.

But, I am blessed with family, friends and health. The rest is gravy. I am not an overly spiritual person (though I try at times) but I do believe that perhaps the “universe” is pushing me in a new direction for a reason that has yet to be identified. I don’t believe in coincidence. All these seemingly tough life events happening at the same time cannot be a coincidence. If it were, I think I would have to convince myself that I was one of those dudes with a black cloud hanging over his head. You know – the guy you meet at the kid’s baseball game and think “I am so glad I’m not him.” That’s not me, though. As “put upon” as it may seem to others, I had years – many years – where things seemed to just go fine, or at least with little drama. Maybe 2015 is just the year for me to transition to whatever comes next.

I am pretty sure I know who I am. Someone said that I am pretty open and raw in this blog – in a cautious way. I don’t want to be otherwise. Maybe one day my kids will read this stuff and realize it’s ok to be vulnerable and it’s not a sign of weakness. Maybe someone will read it and feel that way before then. If not, it doesn’t matter.

I feel that in 5 years I am going to look back at this time and where I am at that point and be humbled in a way that I have yet to experience. It is frightening. But the best part of fear is that you have to make a choice. You have to retreat or you have to face it. There are no other options. A decision has to be made.

I’m going to face it. 

Until next time,


Recalibrate, Don’t Reinvent

18 10 2015

Tiny adjustments. Big effects.

Tiny adjustments. Big effects.

It is not unusual to find ourselves intrigued by metamorphosis. Think “before and after” photos of weight loss, home make-overs or stories of “transforming” one’s life to a place never imagined.

These are the stories that movies are made of. However, in reality, I think the less sexy version has a lot more sticking power. How many times have we read that “diets do not work” – that there is no quick fix, but rather it’s about smaller, incremental steps that you have to weave into your daily routine? 

To me, this makes a lot more sense and applies to much more than whether I’m going to be able to fit into the same bathing suit next year as the one a year before. When someone goes through a pretty big life event, particularly if it is not the most positive (ie. job loss, health diagnosis or, hypothetically speaking, a divorce (he says in jest for anyone who has been reading this blog)) – there is a lot of talk about taking advantage and an opportunity to “reinvent” oneself.

That’s a whole lot of pressure. If you believe, like me, that we are fundamentally who we are with the ability to tweak, learn, and grow but NOT in the business of radically changing our true nature, then this concept of “reinvention” seems like a recipe for failure. 

In looking back over the past year or so, when I ponder those things that have made me really happy, they all come back to the same things that maybe I had lost or had compromised during my marriage. It doesn’t matter what that is and it was my decision all along. However, the one good thing about reflecting on all of this is that is has allowed me to adjust the knobs of my personal “studio sound board” to where the mix is just right…or at least getting there. It’s about recalibration.

I gave a very short blessing to my daughter yesterday during her Bat Mitzvah and referenced a quote that always stuck with me from my English class during my junior year of high school. It was from Ralph Waldo Emerson and you may be familiar with it:

“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. 

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages… In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.

The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried”

Our contentment ultimately lies within us – not around anyone else. This is a hard lesson because it puts the onus on us to look at our internal portfolio of where we spend our time, with whom, how and for what purpose. And when we do so, we may find some serious adjustments that need to be made – but they are worth it.

Is it time for you to recalibrate?

Until next time,


Thanks for reading and please consider signing up for my blog or twitter @MarcKaye1.

fear. fear. FEAR!

24 04 2015


It is sort of ironic. You know the familiar quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt – “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” It’s a great quote but truthfully, I’m not sure it really applies to me as i have a long list of things to fear.

However, it is a quote by his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt that does resonate with me: “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot. Without question, this has been much more true to my experience.

I had a great conversation recently about fear. You all know the deal – it can be debilitating, irrational and lead to missing out. But it is as real as the skin on your face (or for most of us, at least).

When I decided to try stand-up comedy for the first time, it was because I had realized earlier that part of what was depressing me was not living the life that I wanted. I don’t mean  as if I should quit my job and pursue something in an unrealistic fashion. Rather, it was just simply about trying something new. Experiences, like music, really fuel me. The Red Hot Chili Peppers sing “I like pleasure mixed with pain and music is my aeroplane” and I get it. I really, really get it. But more about that at a later, more alcohol-inspired blog post!

I am in the midst of a divorce and, at the same time, what I feel to be great uncertainty with my job. Yet, I am oddly at peace with both – more than I ever would have imagined. It is not that my anxieties don’t get the better of me from time to time but facing different fears, getting comfortable with the uncomfortable and working from a place of “yes”, rather than “no” has been an amazing elixer to remedy those anxiety fueled moments.

As a side effect, as I work through the uncertainties associated with the end of a marriage and what might be a pivotal career moment – both leading me to wonder “what is next”, it is the byproduct of those new experiences that I decided to face while putting fear aside that have helped me as I journey through all of this – friends, connections, and opportunities.

I have learned through mindfulness (as I continue to explore meditation), that it is not just about giving up control, nor about just being “present in the moment”. It is a powerful coping experience because it simply causes me to pay attention and identify what I am feeling rather than just feel it. This is why I gravitate to writing and playing piano so much – particularly when stressed out. It is funnel by which I can “tune it” to what I am writing or playing, think about it – even lose myself momentarily. It is about trust – which, after all, is really the exact opposite of fear.

I will always have my struggles. I will grapple with the evolution of trying to “figure it all out”. I will do all of this knowing, however, that it is not about having the answers but more about listening. I think this is where instinct really comes in.

i had never put it all together in this fashion before. I suck at pretty much everything, yet, I feel i have a fairly good instinct about people (even in the midst of now separating from the one person that mattered most). (Or maybe I just tell myself that). In any event, I think the gut instinct is really a test of whether you can trust yourself over your fears. Can we choose to make those decisions that are hard for us and for others in lieu of the fear of what it may lead to?

I had a conversation with my daughter recently about trying new things and not being afraid of failure – that failure is actually a good thing – a difficult proposition for anyone, let alone an 11 year-old. I do think it’s time that I take my own advice and the more I do it, the more rewarding it is. After all, the things that end up waking us up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night are rarely the things we have been fearing in the first place.

So, in summary – find your aeroplane, face one fear and go for it. With the exception of things like skydiving, if you fail, you’ll still be around to reap the rewards of having tried something new.

Until next time,


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