Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Many Faces of Joan Rivers

The past few days, I have had moments where I just find myself crying as if I have lost a family member. I keep trying to figure out why the death of Joan Rivers has affected me so much, but as I take to social media - I see that I'm not alone. 

When I left home at 18 years old, my then girlfriend (still best friend) made me a mixed tape of songs that also included a portion of a Joan Rivers routine. That friend was showing then how laughter gets us through tough times, (ours was the fact we were going to be thousands of miles away from each other). I lost all of my grandparents by the time I was 19 and it hit me this past week that Joan Rivers
was like the Jewish grandmother I never had. The one that would keep you laughing, give you advice (in a no-holds-barred way), and oddly enough - one I turned to each week. Like the new generation that only knew her because of Fashion Police on the E network, I'd tune in each week to hear what she'd have to say about what someone had worn to some event that most of the country would never attend. Or I'd log onto Youtube to see her web series interviewing people from her bedroom. Her's was a sense of humor that while not for everyone, always made me laugh with a 'did she really just go there' type of response.

But even more than the laughter, I loved the realness of her. The softness you could see if you ever watched her on her reality show, or the documentary on her life or even at times when she appeared on the Apprentice. All of these showed another side of this hard working woman that constantly gave back.

As someone who believes strongly in paying-it-forward, this woman did it all the time. She would tell the younger generation of comics and entertainers to give back to their public. Stop and talk to fans. Answer a question for the media. And help out those less fortunate. What she did for God's Love, We Deliver  for the past 25 years is incredible. The woman was talking about AIDS (and doing benefits for those suffering from it) long before entertainers were afraid to even be associated with the word. 

I am amazed by the amount of work an 81 year old woman was doing weekly when I find I am tired by Wednesday. Her schedule would wear anyone out. But she wasn't slowing down. She reinvented herself over and over from comic, to TV host, to spokesperson, business woman - the list goes on and on. Inspiring for any entrepreneur that believes in constantly learning and doing something new (and spoke volumes to this particular entrepreneur). 

I think the reason so many of us are having problems with her death is that she wasn't sick. She was at the top of her game. A routine procedure wasn't supposed to take down the hardest working woman in entertainment. And yet life can turn on a dime. There are no guarantees and we do not always get explanations. But we can learn to live each day to the fullest. To not put off something we may have wanted to do. Watching her life is a great example of how to go after your dreams and not put anything off.

One of the few photos I've kept in my office from 2002 
Yes, Joan Rivers had many faces (and I'm not talking about the plastic surgery). I'm talking about the entertainer, the mother, the grandmother, the philanthropist, the entrepreneur, the woman that left us too soon when she still had so much more to give.

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