Kathy Buckley overcame some formidable obstacles – from growing up hearing impaired to getting run over by a jeep while sunbathing on the beach – to become a renowned stand-up comedian living the life she wanted. Here, she tells us how she did it – and how you can, too.
What advice do you have for women who feel like life’s challenges are stopping them in their tracks?
First and foremost, if something terrible is going on in your life, don’t share it with a dozen people – share it with the 2 closest people in your life. You give it life by sharing it with too many people.
Secondly, choose your words carefully. An example -- In October I was in the pharmacy for a medication for my sinuses. There was a woman there my age who looked sad; I put my arm around her and said, “Smile honey, you’re still living,” and she said, “My doctor said I have two years to live.” I said, “Can you give me your doctor’s number? Maybe he can tell me when I will be laid.”
No but seriously, I asked her if anyone knew yet about her prognosis, and she said no. I told her – “You get to make the choice before you walk in the door where your loved ones are – you get to choose whether you are a victim or survivor of cancer. If you’re a victim, you’ll never have the support you need. If you choose to be a survivor, you’ll get all the support you could ever need.”
You can choose your words – “I have 2 years to live” – or “I have 2 amazing years to do the things that are most important to me.”
So here’s my advice to women who are struggling with something:
When something happens, take a step back, what just happened? How do I work with this? Can I put this on the shelf and not overthink it? Or can I overthink it and then find the solution? (And then go have a glass of wine and smoke a cigarette, whatever works for you.)
Tell us more about how can we use our vocabulary to make our lives better.
I grew up with a mom who was very negative. Everything about her life was judged or labeled. She didn’t trust anyone. I grew up with that belief system – then I realized my not trusting people left me alone, and judging people gave me nothing – so why do it?
What I did for me was I went through the dictionary – I made this list of all the positive words – graces, gratitude, perseverance – and I started throwing them into my vocabulary.
When people asked me how I was, I didn’t say “fine.” What the hell is fine? The mediocre of feelings? I said “terrific,” “great,” “fabulous.” When you use these words, your energy changes.
I’m incredibly happy about nothing. I changed my vocabulary to a belief system that everything is wonderful – and it is. I still have to deal with the ignorance of society – they think of me as a deaf person, but the only disability out there is attitudes. Change your vocabulary – make a list of all the incredible things, and practice that vocabulary with those around you, with your kids and your friends.
Your website says, “90% of the negative that happens is created by our choices” – what does that mean?
I believe that a good percentage of our thoughts are not ours – they were influenced upon us. They become our belief system. But as you get older you have the choice to change your belief system for the better.
An infant comes into the world, as far as I’m concerned, he’s a blank computer. I didn’t come into this world saying I’m a Catholic, Muslim or Jew. I’m going to be whatever the person who feeds me is. You become who you’re with. So take a good look at the people you’re hanging around with and ask yourself, “Is this what I want to be?” When I did that – I had to let go of a couple girlfriends, they were like my mother. They weren’t poisoning me; I was allowing it to happen.
Look at your environment – if you find that things aren’t meshing right – it’s up to you to change it. You are responsible for your happiness and your individuality – for what you are -- mother, daughter, sister, wife, mistress (those women really get on my nerves).
Any parting words of advice or support for our readers?
The Bible said to love your neighbor as yourself, don’t do that – half of us are not even that crazy about ourselves. Do learn to love yourself – first and foremost. Then you’ll teach people how to love and respect you. You want to be treated nicely? Treat yourself nicely. People always talk about giving. It’s not about giving; it’s about being able to receive. When you receive from yourself, you can receive gracefully from others.
Billed as "America's First Hearing Impaired Comedienne," Kathy Buckley is a five-time American Comedy Award Nominee as Best Stand-Up Female Comedienne, and the winner of countless other awards for her work. Her television appearances include The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, The Today Show, Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Inside Edition and more.