Sunday Brunch: Life Lessons from HIMYM


It’s been three weeks since the series finale of the long-running situation comedy How I Met Your Mother. Whatever your feelings were about that last episode, I think we can all agree that for any show, a nine-season run is pretty impressive, a combination of great writing, a cast that clicks, and not a little bit of luck and magic.

For me, HIMYM was never appointment-viewing, but whenever I caught an episode I was usually entertained for half an hour, and sometimes I laughed out loud (I am not an ‘easy room.’) In anticipation of the finale, then, I binge-watched every episode (thank you Netflix and Roku Streaming Stick), and as I did, I realized that in addition to being funny, smart, and well-crafted (seriously, there were jokes from season one that had callbacks in season nine), the show was also surprisingly relevant, even to people like me who are a bit older than most of the cast, and a good portion of the target-demographic.

This, then, is a list of five things I learned from How I Met Your Mother:

Being Awesome is a Choice.

“When I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead… True story.” – Barney Stinson

None of us can control the way we are perceived, but we can control the way we present ourselves, and that means choosing to be awesome. You can define ‘awesome’ any way you want, but, for me, it involves confidence mixed with a little bit of audacity and just a hint of risk. As an improviser (because in my life everything comes back to improve) choosing to be awesome is just one more way of saying, “Yes, and…” to the universe.

Big Decisions Should Never be Made in the Middle of the Night

“Nothing good happens after 2 A.M.” – Ted Mosby (quoting his mother).

It doesn’t matter if you’re choosing whether or not to sleep with someone, whether or not to take a new job, or any other life-changing choice. The middle of the night is not the time for heavy reflection. Your mind is foggy and your body is tired, neither of which leaves you in optimal decision-making mode. Sure, you may be nocturnal (I am) but even so, the best thing you can do is drink some water, jot down a note to yourself (on paper or on the electronic device of your choice), flip your pillow to the cool side, and go back to sleep. You’ll make wiser choices in the morning, with a clearer head.

It’s Okay to Make Mistakes

“There are certain things in life where you know it’s a mistake but you don’t really know it’s a mistake because the only way to know that it really is a mistake is to make that mistake and go, ‘Yup, that was a mistake.’ So really, the bigger mistake would be to not make the mistake because then you’ll go about your whole life not knowing whether it was a mistake or not.” – Lily Aldrin

Sometimes the only way you can tell if you like something is to try it. This applies to food, hobbies, careers, friendships, and fashion. It probably applies to a lot of other things as well. If we don’t try new things, we stagnate, but not everything we try is going to be successful. Whether it’s a “shitty first draft,” (to use Anne Lamott’s phrase), or that bubble skirt we were in love with back in college, we have to give ourselves permission to be wrong. Besides, sometimes a mistake isn’t so much an error, or a failure, but a nudge toward a different direction.

Sometimes You Have to Just Suck it Up and Deal

“The best I can give you is a fake smile and dead eyes.” –  Robin Scherbatsky

We all have those moments when we’d rather not see people. Maybe we don’t like funerals, or maybe we can’t stomach the notion of one more baby shower when we’ve never managed to carry a child to term. Sometimes, even when we feel empty, we have to just go through the motions – just show up, and get through it – especially if our presence is important to someone we love. We may begin an event wearing a fake smile, but chance are, there will be a bit of real warmth in it by the end of the afternoon or evening or weekend or…whatever. And if there isn’t? Well, we can always go home and hide under the covers afterward.

It Really IS About the Journey

“That’s life, you know, we never end up where you thought you wanted to be.” – Marshall Ericksen

For most of us, the life we eventually have isn’t the live we dreamed of. When I was nine, I wanted to be a jockey or a marine biologist. When I was fifteen, I wanted to be the next Jacqueline DuPres, and until I was twenty I swore I would never get married, and if I did, we’d have separate apartments (I’m still not convinced that last part is a bad idea.) The point is, it isn’t where we end up that makes us who we are, it’s all the things that happen on the way. Sometimes we choose the well-traveled route; other times we opt for the whole “road less traveled” thing, but either way, life isn’t a result; it’s a process.

As for the finale if How I Met Your Mother, I’m one of the few people in my circle of friends who thought it was appropriate and perfect, especially since the signs were there, all the way through the series. Will there be another series that captures the attention and imagination of so many? Of course there will. Does the fact that television is a transitory medium meant first to entertain make these lessons any less relevant? Absolutely not. The beauty of the human condition is that we learn from every experience, even the ones that we only watch on TV.

Note: This piece originally appeared in the e-zine All Things Girl on 1 June 2014, but the original link is referenced but not archived at the internet archive

Thursday 13: Rainy Day Quotations

Closeup of Little Girl in Red Boots by Michael Simons

I haven’t done a Thursday 13 in a while, I started this last Thursday when it was rainy, but then I never finished it for whatever reason. It’s not rainy today, but rather, windy, so I’m going to just do weather-related quotations. Enjoy.

  1. “Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.” ~John Updike
  2. “Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.” ~Langston Hughes
  3. “Tears of joy are like the summer rain drops pierced by sunbeams.” ~Hosea Ballou
  4. “Thought is the wind, knowledge the sail, and mankind the vessel.” ~Augustus Hare
  5. “A rainy day is the perfect time for a walk in the woods.” ~Rachel Carson
  6. “There is a muscular energy in sunlight corresponding to the spiritual energy of wind.” ~Annie Dillard
  7. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” ~Alfred Wainright
  8. “The wind shows us how close to the edge we are.” ~Joan Didion
  9. Spooky wild and gusty; swirling dervishes of rattling leaves race by, fleeing windflung deadwood that cracks and thumps behind.” ~Dave Beard
  10. “Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear if you ignore them long enough.” ~Earl Wilson
  11. “Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” ~Rabindranath Tagore
  12. “What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.” ~Jane Austen”
  13. “What my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
    I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
    Under my head till morning; but the rain
    Is full of ghosts to-night, that tap and sigh
    Upon the glass and listen for reply…”
    ~Edna St. Vincent Millay

Image Credit: Michael Simons via

Dancing Fools

Ballerina Warming Up by David Gilbert

“We’re fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance.”
~ Japanese Proverb

I’ve taken dance classes on and off since I was five years old. It started, as it does for most little girls, with ballet. Ballet is still my favorite.

Later it became tap, jazz (my second favorite), show dancing (basically lite ballroom meant for actors), and even hip-hop.

These days, I pretty much dance in my kitchen, and my living room. My life is a musical, and I sing and dance my way through every task, and even dance with my dogs. Especially Teddy. Teddy is an awesome partner. He’s part Catahoula, so dancing comes naturally.

I keep trying to convince Fuzzy to take a ballroom class with me, but he’s the quintessential white boy with no rhythm. He will, however, dance with me in the kitchen, when Teddy lets him cut in.

I love that we’ve been married 19 years and we still dance in the kitchen and sing silly songs to each other.

Image Credit:David Gilbert via