Wisdom For The New Year: Comedy Soothes The Soul



The wisest advice, according to mother, emergency room nurse, and karaoke comedy maven Kathleen Kelly is: celebrate life.

"Live, laugh and love," is Kelly's friend and comedic partner in Humor Me Komedy Troupe Jim West's motto and it's good advice.

West and Kelly began the Humor Me Comedy Troupe (on hiatus until March) as part of that celebration.

"You should have known better than to call me and Jim and ask what was the best advice we have ever given," Kelly said before she and West launched unstoppably into song.


by Kathleen Kelly and Jim West

(to the tune of Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler")

Headed out to Payson

On a bus bound to know where.

I met up with a stranger.

We were both too tired to sleep.

We were starin' out the window...

Staring at the darkness.

Then boredom over took us.

He began to speak.

You gotta know when to hold em.

Know when to fold em.

Know when to walk away.

Know when to run.

You never count your money

When it's lying on the table.

There'll be time enough for countin'

When the dealin's done.

Well I hoped that he would stop there.

As I whispered out a small prayer.

That he would, as the sayin' goes,

Leave well enough alone.

But he got up on his soap box.

And I'm not the type to throw rocks.

I had no place to run to.

Besides the seeds were sown.

He said:

Take one day at a time now.

Like a silk purse and the old sow.

Don't count your chickens

Before they hatch.

Be sure to smell the roses

During the struggles life imposes.

A bird in the hand you know

Is worth two in the patch

And when going gets tough on you.

The tough they just get going too.

You gotta know what to throw away

Know what to keep.

Don't insert your mouth gear

Before you engage the brain gear.

Just fake it till you make it.

Though the mountain's steep.

If you give the milk for free now.

You know they'll never ever buy the cow.

But that's a horse of a different cowboy.

Now we're gettin' deep.

You know a stitch in time can save nine

And if you don't stop that

You will go blind.

If you drive like a lightening flash

You get a thunderous crash.

On and on he spouted.

Sometimes he even shouted.

Quoted from the Bible

And Dr. Phil.

Well I prayed that he'd get tired.

But he seemed to get more fired.

I felt just like a captured bird

As he grated my last nerve.

When he stood up on the table

With his poems and his fables.

I held my breath before I spoke.

And I counted to ten .

I said thank you for your wise words.

But they come and go like snow birds.

And for you I just got four words.

To bring this to an end.

The less said the better.

And better late than never.

Too much of anything

Just isn't very nice.

So next time before you speak out loud.

‘Bout the silver linings and that cloud.

Just keep it simple stupid.


Celebrate life is a motto and advice Kelly takes earnestly to heart.

Kelly's son, Michael Ellings, was killed by a drunk driver when he was just 17.


Kathleen Kelly with her son's celebrate life poster.

After the tragedy, she discovered, in his room, a poster he was creating for a school project. "Celebrate Life" was the theme. Around it Kelly has placed pictures of him, plus events in her own life she celebrates -- Irish dancing, comedy routines, special times and ties with friends.

"A thousand years and two seconds" is how Michael's mother describes the time since she last hugged him.

It is one of the reasons she works holidays, nursing someone's mother, brother, son, daughter, father, sister in the emergency room. "I can make a difference, give hope, because I know how it feels," she said softly.

Brightening again, she said, "I celebrate life each and every day."

Do people give more advice than they observe? It's a question that could only have a rhetorical answer, but a few other Rim Country residents had their own advice to give and take.

"If you will love and care for people sincerely, all things are possible," Mt. Cross pastor Elaine Watskey said is the best advice she has ever given both as a pastor and in her previous career as a businesswoman. "Don't make assumptions" is another powerful piece of advice from Watskey.

"Just do it!" is the advice that hangs on a plaque in my grandmother's living room, said teenager Lucy Schouten.

"I try to follow it," she said.

The best advice Schouten said she ever gave a friend: "be more assertive and try new things."

Retiree Pat Thrasher said the best advice she ever gave anyone was not to make all the mistakes she has made.

"But I don't think the person took my advice," Thrasher said, then laughed.

Library Friends of Payson member Donna Hopkins recommends "think twice."

"Cookie" Sawyer has always followed her mother's advice to look people in the eye and smile -- because it just might make their day.

Sawyer's own advice to parents is to, "Spend all the time you can with your children because they grow up fast." She admits she did not do that herself, but is gratified watching her own grown children take her wisdom to heart.

Cosmetologist Betty Dixon who works at Cookie's said her best advice is, "When you wake up in the morning make yourself fresh and beautiful -- that will keep you confident all day long."

And, in homage to the people in our community who never quite seem to get the last word (their wisdom makes an impact whether they are around to see it or not), here is the sage advice and mottoes teachers in the community have provided over the years:

Becky Derwort: Be happy with yourself and happiness will surround you.

Larry Potvin: Don't rationalize failure.

Dorothy McKim : Think of the consequences before you say or do anything.

Monica Nitzsche: The most important things in life cannot be bought.

Karen Ormand: As long as one keeps searching, the answers come.

Anna Van Zile: It does take a community to raise a child. As a parent, neighbor, person in the check out line, etc. we each serve as example for those around us and teach through those examples.

Kate Moore: We leave this world empty handed; be certain to do something useful while you are here.

Max Foster, our sports reporter who taught math and coached for 35 years carries this quote from President Theodore Roosevelt, in his pocket: "It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Mary Ann Runzo: Be faithful with the gifts He has given you.

Mary Jones' words of wisdom are by former U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell: "Have a vision. Be demanding."

Tina Crabdree: Be consistent and persistent in all that you do.

Jerry Rhoades: Everything we say and everything we do is a reflection on who we are.

Audra Judd: Don't settle for anything less than the best.

Kara Huskey quotes the wisdom of David L. Garrett: "One of the hallmarks of character is how well you do the things you do not wish to do."

Teresa Lammers: Persistence will get you what you want.

Tiffany Christensen, an avid hockey fan gave this advice: Keep your stick on the ice.

Val Zumbro: Play well with others.

When James Quinlan was teaching English at Payson High School in September 2003 each day he would put a meaningful quote on the board for his students to memorize for extra credit at the end of the week. Asking which quote was his favorite was impossible then and he had not changed his mind in December 2006 when interviewed as an English teacher at Gila Community College.

Quinlan's personal motto: Life is not a puzzle to be solved, but a mystery to be lived.

And last, but not least, Jerome Whetz said, "Look for the humor."

Hear. Hear.

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