Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hey! It's Michael Palin's Birthday!

And it's my birthday, too! I am in good company. Today is a popular date for birthdays as well as being Cinco de Mayo. And, just like those unfortunate folks whose birthdays fall on Christmas, I am often shafted on gifts. But at least everyone is partying, whacking piƱatas with sticks and licking salt off the rims of goblets filled with tequila goodness.

I am now officially 5-0. I much prefer saying Five-Oh to fifty. Makes me sound like a cop.

People often tell me I look younger than I am. This is more due to lifestyle than genetics. Here's a picture of my brothers Bob and Don. Bob (the one with horns) is two years younger than me, Don (the terrified one) is two years older.

Yes, it's lifestyle over genetics. Here are 50 ways to keep young according to me.

1) Don't eat meat. I have been a vegany-vegetarian for over 20 years.

2) Don't use aftershave or cologne. I use moisturizer. Lots and lots of moisturizer. Kiss My Face olive oil-aloe is my favorite.

3) Challenge yourself creatively. Currently crafting 50 ten-minute plays that will all be performed at the Strawdog in June.

4) Laugh a lot. Fortunately, it's a part of my job.

5) Learn new things. Currently taking two class at Columbia College - U.S. History and Literature & Visual Culture. The Lit class has been very inspiring and helpful in writing and teaching satire. The U.S. History class has been eye-opening. And weird. It's the first time I've taken a history class that covered decades when I was alive!

6) Try new things. I'm going sky diving next week!

7) Listen to new music. Music that's new to you. Not current pop hits, unless you like that. People get stuck listening to the music they listened to in high school or college. I dig that, but I also like discovering new stuff I can jam to. Even if that new stuff is from the 50s.

8) Get a pet. From the shelter or take in a stray. Pets are fun. Playful. Cuddly. I have two cats that are funnier than I am.

9) Be passionate about something. I'm passionate about teaching and sketch comedy. I also care about the planet and try to do things that will make a difference.

10) Explore different routes. I hate ruts. I will try different ways to get to where I want to go.

11) Explore the city. Sometimes I'll pick a neighborhood and go.

12) Have good friends. People that wear you out and bring you down are not worth having in your life.

13) Know how to chill. I think it's important to be able to be comfortable alone as well as comfortable around people.

14) Go be around people. Don't be a hermit. You need to be around other people to help understand - and appreciate - who you are.

15) Be and have silly things. The book on my coffee table is a picture book called Roadside America. A tribute to trashy roadside atrocities. Great book to flip through to remind me how wonderful and ridiculous life is.

16) Eat well. It's not enough for me to just cut out animal products. I eat healthy whole foods as much as possible.

17) Sleep well. Compared to other people, I don't sleep a lot. Probably 5 - 6 hours on average. But I love to sleep. I get cozy. I relax. I dream. And make your bed! You'll sleep better just from that. Nothing worse than crawling into bed at night tired and the blankets are all tangled up.

18) Don't have kids. Okay - this is really just what has worked for me. It's not for everyone. But from seeing decades of family and friends pop out people, it puts miles on you. I know for me, something I spawned would be a 24/7 source of worry and concern.

19) Enjoy kids. Kids are great. Especially when they are not your own. Kids know how to play. I wish they had playgrounds for adults. The gym comes close, but I'd go more often if there was a jungle gym or monkey bars.

20) Do yoga. Yoga helps you center yourself while stretching and strengthening.

21) Ride a bike. Go for walks. Use your body to get yourself places. Good exercise and it helps you connect with nature. There are a lot of trees and birds and squirrels in Chicago.

22) Read. Feed your head good books. Read all those books you were supposed to read in high school and college. I just read Jane Eyre. It's great.

23) Go see live performances. Chicago is rich with opportunities. I love to go to The Poetry Slam, Storytelling Evenings, The Paper Machete. Seeing people being smart and funny and and creative and vulnerable is enlightening and inspiring.

24) Go see live music. And get close enough to see the expression on the musician's faces. This is as true for a bar band as it is for the symphony. You'll see people in their zones, you'll see people mess up, you'll see people who have worked together for years communicate to one another non-verbally. It can be messy and exquisite.

25) Theater. Go see theater. Big theater and small theater. And, just like music, get as close as you can.

26) Have goals, personal and professional. And have friends you trust that you can share these goals with and know they will support you (kick you in the ass) to do them.

27) Share your heart.

28) Be open. Listen.

29) It's okay to have emotions. Not allowing yourself to express your anger or love will also age you quickly.

30) I cannot stress enough the value of botox.

31) I am kidding about 30.

32) Don't hide your age. You are what you are. And it is just a number and, as a society, we tack on way too much meaning on it. Shake it up.

33) Eat ice-cream naked. Alee Spadoni pointed out to me that I can be found in two different videos on-line eating ice-cream naked. To be clear, both were non-dairy and in one, I was at least wearing boxer briefs.

34) Be cool with technology. We're living in an amazing age of being able to carry a buh-jillion songs in the palm of a hand and being able to watch movies and TV shows at our convenience without having to return anything. We have the world at our fingertips and it's easier than ever to connect with someone.

35) Be messy. It's okay to make a mess or look a mess. If you workout, go for it, become a big sweaty mess. If it's raining out, jump in a mud puddle. Have a snowball fight.

36) Don't worry too much about what people think. They probably don't care or they are too busy worrying about what you think of them.

37) Wear comfortable shoes.

38) Dress in layers. Helps you deal with when it's too hot or too cold and it gives you more to work with while stripping for money.

39) Do crossword puzzles and play Scrabble. Helps you keep sharp as well as increase your vocabulary.

40) Take vitamins, but not too many. I currently take a men's multi-vitamin, cranberry pills (for the plumbing) and vitamin C (for the immune system.)

41) Give. Give to charitable organizations you dig when you can. And if you can't give time, give money.

42) Participate in your country, state, city and neighborhood. From supporting local businesses to voting. It gives you a sense of belonging.

43) Home is where you are and everyone's a peer, whether they're homeless or the president. We're all in this together.

44) Appreciate a good story. It bothers me when someone blanketly says "I hate sci-fi" or "I hate westerns." There are great stories out there they are missing out on.

45) Know what's going on in the world and question the info. Don't just drink the kool-aide of your favorite news source. Caution: doing this too much of this will drive you crazy and make you older.

46) Drink plenty of clean water.

47) Massages are important. Good for the muscles and bones.

48) Go to museums. Be curious about art and history.

49) Appreciate beauty. And find beauty in the people and things.

50) Dance! Even if you don't know how.