Rank #1: Episode 3: Humorist Debbie Scheer
Debbie Scheer is a successful Denver humorist with a penchant for telling the truth about her life, no matter how raw. Edgy but warm, she catches audiences off guard and then they fall in love with her. On this third episode of One More Shot, she tells the story of how she used the worst moment of her life to reinvent herself and become the courageous comedian she is today-- and how we can find courage in our darkest moments, too.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:00:07] Debbie Scheer was a stay-at-home mom with two small kids and a secret drawer full of jokes. Then her life fell apart and after she stopped crying she found a way to reinvent it.
Debbie Scheer: [00:00:19] I'm going through something so scary, I should probably find something else that's even scarier to take my mind off this really scary thing.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:00:31] And that's how Debbie Scheer became a standup comic. She is my guest on this episode of One More Shot, the show about taking a spark of an idea and making it real. This interview was taped before a live audience at Setting the Stage, a women's concert and networking event in Denver, Colorado.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:00:59] Debbie Scheer, Welcome to One More Shot. It's so great to have you here.
Debbie Scheer: [00:01:03] I'm so excited to be here.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:01:05] I should say also that I left my notes behind. And so forgive me -- I'm not actually taking phone calls. What I'm doing is looking at my notes so that I can introduce Debbie properly. She is a comedian. She's an auctioneer. She's an emcee and a public speaker and she's performed all over Denver and regionally and I have to say you've got to catch one of her shows because she's hysterically funny. She's also the single mom of two boys who are six and nine. And this is the kind of courage that Debbie has, and the kind of comedian Debbie is -- she's created several new shows, including one called Sex Com, the show -- a funny forum about sex in which the audience's questions fuel the show. So what I want to dive into right away, Debbie, first of all is the spark. So you said your spark was finding humor in places that people don't usually find it - Tell me again how you said that.
Debbie Scheer: [00:02:04] Right. I think finding that the nuggets of humor that sometimes live deep deep deep beneath the surface deep but they're always there and they might be microscopic, but they exist.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:02:17] And very very deep beneath the surface, and that's what I want to do is just talk about your story, and this spark for you becoming a comedian because you certainly haven't been a comedian, at least not, you know, outside of maybe your dining room table, all your life, right?
Debbie Scheer: [00:02:33] Correct. That's correct.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:02:34] So you came home from a trip a few years ago to some news that really jolted you.
Debbie Scheer: [00:02:43] Right. Right.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:02:44] Let's talk about that, what happened?
Debbie Scheer: [00:02:45] I had gone to visit a friend in California, and it was four years ago this past February, or a few months ago, last month. And I came home to my partner, at the time, telling me, "I'm not in love with you anymore." This was after almost 11 years and two children that we adopted and saying that she didn't want to go to couples counseling, she was moving out, and, and that was, that was it!
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:03:16] And you had quite the visual image when you told me this story before for how you felt. How did you feel?
Debbie Scheer: [00:03:22] It's not a, it's not an attractive image, but I felt like if you, if you walk into your kitchen and you round the corner and someone's standing there with the biggest cast-iron fry pan and they just hit you in the head, that is literally what it felt like. It was such a shocking gut punch.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:03:42] And the other thing about it was that you were a stay-at-home mom.
Debbie Scheer: [00:03:45] Correct.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:03:46] And so here you are, you're a stay-at-home mom, your kids are, at that time, how old? 5 and 1?
Debbie Scheer: [00:03:52] 5 and 2-ish.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:03:53] 5 and 2. And so you don't have an income of your own?
Debbie Scheer: [00:03:56] Correct.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:03:57] And you've got little kids?
Debbie Scheer: [00:03:58] Correct.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:03:59] And she left and you didn't expect it?
Debbie Scheer: [00:04:01] Correct.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:04:02] And so what was going through your head? What happened?
Debbie Scheer: [00:04:04] I -- I was terrified, because I felt so wildly out of control, like most people do when they're delivered news like that. And I just didn't know what to do. My identity had been wrapped up in being a mom and I had left a job that I loved at a nonprofit and I felt just like I was out so far out in the ocean and there was just nothing anchoring me.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:04:33] You know, I --I've been divorced like probably some other people in the room, and it, it jolts your whole life, you know, even if you're the one who chose it, I think the bottom drops out.
Debbie Scheer: [00:04:43] Correct.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:04:44] And you don't know who you are, some days. Some days you feel great. Other days you don't. You know the whole career thing. Everything has to get reinvented. Is that how you felt?
Debbie Scheer: [00:04:54] I did. I, well, for a while I felt like I'll just live in the fetal position and cry and allow my friends and your support system to come over and do what they do. Right? They nurture and take care of you but that only can last so long. And so I, I had this idea that I don't recommend people do, but at the time it seems logical, and I thought, "I'm going through something so scary, I should probably find something else that's even scarier to take my mind off this really scary thing." And it was stand-up comedy. Mostly because I'm terrified of heights, and so jumping out of a plane, I was a mom, I didn't want to get hurt. So I thought that's off the table. I'll try standup.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:05:47] OK. So.
Debbie Scheer: [00:05:47] I should have jumped out of the plane!
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:05:50] All right, so we don't have a ton of time, but I am curious, like how on earth did that idea come to you? I mean most people don't think, "I'm terrified; I'm in the fetal position; I'm crying. I don't know how to get to the next day. Oh wait a minute. Let me do something even scarier. Let me figure out what that could be." How did that come to you?
Debbie Scheer: [00:06:06] That idea or comedy itself?
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:06:09] The idea that I should do something scarier than I'm already in.
Debbie Scheer: [00:06:13] I think because I'm a person that loves to have control. And I had none of it. And so I was just clawing my way back to try and find something that, that would -- ground me. And once you had that idea you said, "Yeah, that's it. Let me go do...?"
Debbie Scheer: [00:06:30] Well, it was interesting. I love comedy. I've written comedy and never showed it to anybody because I was so insecure about it. And I I had a friend who owned a bar and they would do, they had a comedy showcase. And I went in to chat with her and I met the host and the host was so gracious and said, "Absolutely I'll give you five minutes," which was amazing. And it just took on a life of its own.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:06:54] So you have your first show.
Debbie Scheer: [00:06:56] Right.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:06:56] And you're walking out to the stage?
Debbie Scheer: [00:06:58] Yes.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:06:58] How do you feel?
Debbie Scheer: [00:06:59] I was actually walk -- I remember this. I don't remember my set but I do remember this. I was walking up the stairs and at one point I thought, "I'm going to throw up." And then I took another step and I thought, no, "I'm going to poop my pants." And then I thought, "No, but they're going to happen at the same time." And then I got on the stage, and it was the most frightening -- truly frightening and exhilarating experience of my life -- and after those five minutes I remember leaving and going back down the stairs and thinking, "I'm still here. I'm actually relatively OK.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:07:41] As in, you didn't die?
Debbie Scheer: [00:07:43] I didn't die or do either of the two things that I mentioned before.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:07:47] Right right right. Exactly. So from there, it wasn't like smooth sailing, right? You still have to make a living and you're still dealing with these two kids who are probably in some trauma themselves. And so so what was, what was the low point after that and how did you come out of it?
Debbie Scheer: [00:08:09] I think the low point was just this this, creating this new identity. Who am I? I had been a stay-at-home mom, prior to that I worked in non-profits, and now who was I going to become from this point forward? Which has its ups and, and, like most ups, has several downs. And so it was just trying to figure it out! Trying to, yeah, I don't know. I can't say there was a specific low point. There are many scary moments there. Yeah.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:08:41] But scary moments. And what do you think got you through -- toward this new life. I mean from, from nonprofit executive to stay-at-home mom. To being left, now you're a comedian, and more. And a lot more.
[00:08:55] Right. I think what got me through and I told you this and I'll make it so brief but I was doing standup one night and I was doing comedy about my divorce and I looked out into the audience and if you're a comedian you're picking up on the energy from the crowd and the facial expressions and hopefully the laughter and people were laughing but there was one woman who wasn't and she looked miserable, so that's of course who I focused on. That's how we operate. And I was so in my head about it. And then after the show I was standing there and I felt someone tap me on the shoulder and I turned around and it was that woman. And she said, with that same look on her face, I loved your set. And I, and I giggled, because that's what I do when I'm uncomfortable, and I said, "Truth be told by your body language, it seemed like you hated it. And I'm so sorry." And she said the one thing that kept me moving forward. She said, "I just want you to know that I -- I recently went through a terrible breakup. I feel like I'm in a similar position and I feel like I now know it's going to be OK." And I thought, "Oh, that's why I need to keep doing this." So that was the spark.
[00:10:04] So in that vein I want to talk to you about something that you have shared very publicly in a great forum you can talk about the name of that, talking about mental illness. And you have an anxiety disorder and she does a very hysterical monologue about this, I have to say. But it was also just incredibly, incredibly honest and out there. And, and so, she listed her skills.
[00:10:28] [VIDEO TAPE OF COMEDY SHOW] "I have these amazing skills, like really awesome. And I don't want to brag too much but if I could figure out a way to transfer these skills into a powerful resume I would land the most perfect job for me. Let me share with you some of these skills. I can walk into any environment, convention center, airport, restaurant, concert venue, Ikea, and within seconds I know where every single bathroom is. Thank you IBS. And every single exit. Because you always need an escape plan. I can travel down the rabbit hole faster than any rabbit you've ever seen and I can stay there and set up camp and really truly overstay my welcome. I can create scenarios in my head, images that are so dark, so intense and so very frightening, Stephen King would be jealous. I know, it's totally impressive. And many of you might also be familiar with these skills, if you live with anxiety.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:11:36] So I found that fascinating, because I have anxiety and also because when you have anxiety, the last thing you want to do is tell people that you have anxiety. So you're -- here you are telling the world about it. How do you do that and why?
Debbie Scheer: [00:11:52] I am transparent to a fault. If you ask my parents they'll give you a long history of that transparency. But I do feel like what connects us, is that ability to say, "I have this. Maybe some of you have this, and we're all going to be OK." And so it's like the story about that woman who came up to me after the show and talking about anxiety or whatever it is, it's a way to connect us all together. And that's why we're here. Ultimately I hope.
[00:12:25] Great. So tell us a little bit about your next show because it is next Wednesday at Lannie's Clocktower Cabaret.
[00:12:32] Yes. So I started a show with my comedy wife -- I call her. She's an improv comic. I'm a standup comic. And it's called "Broadsided Comedy, an Estrogen-fueled Comedy Show." And our goal was to create a show that would peel back the layers and topics that society would rather have us not talk about. And we really wanted to talk about it. And so the show on Wednesday is about self-care and it's at the Clocktower Cabaret, and its sketch comedy and stand up and improv and all that yummy stuff.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:13:06] Debbie Scheer, thank you very much.
Debbie Scheer: [00:13:08] Thank you so much.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:13:14] So what I love about Debbie's story is that, you know, we all have one more shots at some point in our life where we decide to do something, some great idea we had, and sometimes it comes from a really positive place but sometimes it comes because we're forced. And a lot of us are forced because of a variety of things, divorce or an illness, or whatever. There's all kinds of stuff. And that sort of Phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes story is so helpful and so real and so positive and it's just really wonderful to see. So I was very inspired by it. I appreciate it.
Elaine Appleton Grant: [00:13:47] And I want to end the way I've ended before which is just to say to all of you, when you walk out of here tonight, think about that. What's your one more shot? And write to me and tell me the answer and that is Elaine@Onemoreshotpodcast.com. You can hear the last two episodes -- the first two episodes -- of the whole series also at onemoreshotpodcast.com. Eventually it will go up on iTunes. Well, thank you all for listening and being here.
Oct 13 2017
Rank #2: Episode 2: Grace Estripeaut can teach you to meditate. And your CEO, too
For years, Grace Estripeaut led a double life. There was her work, where she was a star corporate employee, known as the woman who could get things done. And then there was the rest of her life, the life she really wanted, devoted to mindfulness, meditation, and spirituality. Never the twain shall meet, Grace thought. She was wrong. Listen to this episode to hear the courageous story of how Grace made her passion her career at Boost Your Zen.
Sep 28 2017
Rank #3: Episode 4: Gone to the dogs?
William Loopesko had a great-paying job, a house in trendy Denver, and a girlfriend: the perfect Facebook life. But he hated going to work. One day, hiking with his dog, Clovis, he got an idea for a new company. His new purpose changed everything. He gave it all up to found PuppTech (PuppTech.com) -- and he says this reinvention has made him happier than he's ever been. We talk about William's transformation from engineer to CEO and entrepreneur, and what it takes to live a good life with meaning and joy.
Oct 20 2017
Rank #4: Vincent Pugliese: How to take control of your time, your money & your life
Vincent Pugliese knew what he wanted to do when he was a kid: He wanted to become a famous sports photographer. By the time he was in his early 30s, he was winning top awards for his shots of famous football and hockey players, living a life only a few people even dream of. But he and his wife, Elizabeth, also a photographer, were both making about $15 an hour, and they had a baby on the way. They both wanted her to stay home; he had to figure out a solution. In desperation, they started a wedding photography business on the side -- and used every cent they made to get out of $140,000 of debt, including paying off the mortgage on their house. Eventually, Vincent went from making $32,000 a year to $32,000 in a day.
I talk with Vincent (who is refreshingly down to earth) about doing what everyone told him was impossible: living debt free, choosing when and where he wants to work, and taking as much time as they choose to home school their kids and travel with them, sometimes for months at a time. In his new book, Freelance to Freedom, Vincent offers lessons for how to become an entrepreneur; how he lives by a growth mindset, and the one thing he does every day if he gets overwhelmed.
2:56: How Vincent talked his way into an interview with the AP, the pinnacle of organizations for photojournalists, with a combination of patience and persistence. Why patience and persistence are a winning combination but one without the other is a disaster.
25:22: How everyone he knew "told us we couldn't pay off det; everyone's going to have debt." They did it anyway.
25:50: How living debt-free gives Vincent and Elizabeth a competitive advantage in business. What Golden Days are and how they help freelancers increase their rates.
32:59: Vincent's diehard belief in a "growth mindset" and a lesson from his mentor: "What does this [negative circumstance] make possible?"
34:21: The hilarious and painful saga of the last night of Seinfeld and losing $13,000 worth of camera gear, and why Vincent can look back on this story happily.
36:21: How one of the biggest failures of Vincent's career landed him a feature in Sports Illustrated -- this photo.
Get Vincent's top ten tips for living a life of freedom.
I mentioned Denise Soler Cox and her struggle to become a beginner again. Here's a link to that conversation, which was Episode 5.
Jan 16 2018
Rank #5: Is your New Year's resolution to give back?
2017 has been a tough year -- from hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and fires, to political news. If you've been watching and wanting to make a difference, but you live a busy life or you're just not sure how to get involved, this episode is for you. Sarah Davison-Tracy runs Seeds of Exchange, an organization that uses storytelling to make tangible change. Sarah gives advice for getting involved in service -- with small, doable steps. In this episode, she talks about helping the Lighthouse Foundation, which rescues Nepalese girls from a life of sex slavery. Bonus at the end: Hannah Badi, one of the first girls to be rescued from this life, tells her story.
- To live a life of meaning and purpose requires three components: destiny/superpower, tribe, and offering. Sarah defines each one.
- Without a tribe, service is unsustainable. We burn out. Grow a tribe or turn to your existing one to continue offering service (and to continue creating something new, which is hard).
- Raju Sundas began the Lighthouse Foundation because he watched a TV documentary about the Badi people, who live in a village 20 hours from his city of Kathmandu. At the time, nine years ago, he had no money himself, but he was moved by the plight of the villagers and felt he had to do something about it. The Lighthouse Foundation now houses, clothes, and educated more than 700 children.
Resources mentioned in the episode:
Read about Hannah in an excerpt from Sarah Davison-Tracy's forthcoming book: Live Ablaze | And Light Up the World. (Click on the bonus content button for the .pdf)
Transcript of Hannah Badi's speech about being rescued and her ambition to become prime minister of Nepal:
Hannah Badi Tells Her Story
The following is a transcript of a short speech Hannah Badi gave at a Seeds of Exchange storytelling event in Denver in September, 2017. Raju Sundas, the founder of Lighthouse Foundation Nepal, translated for Hannah – until the very end of her talk, when she switched to English. To listen to her talk, go to the end of this One More Shot episode, following the credits.
Hannah: [00:39:00] Speaks in Nepalese.
Raju: [00:39:04] When I was nine years old I met Uncle Raju at my village.
Hannah: [00:39:24] Speaks.
Raju: [00:39:33] Being part of the Badi community. I have seen what is happening in Hannah’s village. And I myself went through that experience.
Hannah: [00:39:44] Speaks.
Raju: [00:39:52] If nine years ago if I was not rescued from that village I wouldn't be able to speak today.
Hannah: [00:40:00] Speaks.
Raju: [00:40:45 All my friends, those who used to play with me, were being sold in brothels. I have seen everything with my own eyes.
Hannah: [00:40:57] Speaks.
Raju: [00:41:12] [In Badi villages], they celebrate the girls. Because they don't celebrate girls as girls but they celebrate as income source, of money.
Hannah: [00:41:20] Speaks.
Raju: [00:41:37] Mothers teach their daughters how to entertain or how to attract a man.
Hannah: [00:41:42] Speaks.
Raju: [00:41:55] Badi people, you know, is one of the people groups that are being treated as a lowest of the society. [In Nepal’s caste system, Badi people are the lowest caste – the “untouchables.”]
Hannah: [00:42:06] Speaks.
Raju: [00:42:14] In our society the dog has value. Dogs can go from one house to another house. But Badi people cannot go from one house to another house. They are “untouchable.”
Hannah: [00:42:28] Speaks.
Raju: [00:42:32] So since our lifestyle was like that, education was just a dream. No one can study.
Hannah: [00:42:41] Speaks.
Raju: [00:42:46] When they were nine to 10 years old, that is the time they had to start the business [of enforced prostitution].
Hannah: [00:42:54] Speaks.
Raju: [00:43:24] They are treated this way in public places like police stations, bus stations, hospitals, anywhere. They are being ostracized by people. The moment the people know that they are Badi people, they are open to being abused.
Hannah: [00:43:46] Speaks.
Raju: [00:43:48] No matter what type of caste, the moment people know they are Badi people, they are seen as sexual toys. Anyone can do anything to them, all kinds of things.
Hannah: [00:43:57] Speaks.
Raju: [00:44:01] I thought that I would end up in a brothel. Or I would have to sell my body. I was thinking like that.
Hannah: [00:44:08] Speaks.
Raju: [00:44:10] My sister was sold in front of my own eyes. My friends were sold in front of my own eyes.
Hannah: [00:44:17] Speaks.
Raju: [00:44:22] Nobody heard our voices. We were the voiceless people.
Hannah: [00:44:26] Speaks.
Raju: [00:44:33] When I [Raju] went and spoke and told them that I was there to help them, it was difficult for them to believe a man. They didn’t trust me.
Hannah: [00:44:42] Speaks.
Raju: [00:44:45] When I went in her village for the first time, she performed a dance.
Hannah: [00:44:50] Speaks.
Raju: [00:45:03] When I met Uncle Raju, I felt that the future of my life was in his hands. I can trust someone like that.
Hannah: [00:45:14] Speaks.
Raju: [00:45:17] I brought Hannah and 31 other girls to Kathmandu.
Hannah: [00:45:19] Speaks.
Raju: [00:45:22] She started to go to school.
Hannah: [00:45:24] Speaks.
Raju: [00:45:28] I had a great struggle in the school as well, being Badi.
Hannah: [00:45:32] Speaks.
Raju: [00:45:39] Ever time they encounter problems in school, we always encouraged them, that their time will come. You will rise.
Hannah: [00:45:47] Speaks.
Raju: [00:46:00] When I came to Lighthouse, I found the authentic love. There is no fake, no selfishness. And people from other parts of the country also shared love, you know.
Hannah: [00:46:16] Speaks.
Raju: [00:46:23] I came to know my value.
Hannah: [00:46:27] Speaks.
Raju: [00:46:32] I have completed my college degree [note: college is high school in Nepal].
Hannah: [00:46:35] Speaks.
Raju: [00:46:38] So soon I'm going to study political science in university.
Hannah: [00:46:43] Because I want to be a prime minister of Nepal.
Raju: [00:46:46] That's amazing (cheers from audience).
Hannah: [00:46:52] I want to change my nation and I want to change the caste system, and I want to support Badi people. I want to be a strong woman of Jesus Christ. And I am so happy I'm here. And thank you for everyone here. So thank you for your love. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your prayer. And thank you for you make me strong. And thank you for helping us, Uncle [Raju]. He's my great father and great mother.. And thank you so much for everything and please help us.
Raju: [00:47:37] Thank you. No need to translate now! (Cheers from audience.)
Dec 22 2017