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Stand-up Comedy in Rome with Marsha De Salvatore and Rome’s Comedy Club

3 Dec


If you’ve never heard of Rome’s Comedy Club, it’s high time you remedied that right now, and I’m here to help.

Marsha De Salvatore is a force of nature to reckon with, in the best possible way.

Before Marsha, Rome had no stand-up comedy in English. Consider that for a moment. One woman who blazed a trail, with the odds stacked against her.

Marsha co-founded Rome’s Comedy Club with Stephanie Tyrell, who she met while they were both performing with Gaby Ford’s English Theatre of Rome. Now RCC is in its 8th season and continues to produce top-notch stand-up shows in Rome on a monthly basis. To get notifications of their show dates, send an email to romescomedyclub -at- gmail -dot- com.

Marsha is an intelligent, sensitive, boundary-breaking woman and she deserves a lot more exposure than she currently gets, so I took a moment to throw some questions her way. You can jump to her full bio here.

But first, a little bit of Marsha magic:

S: Marsha, it’s been nearly nine years now since you started Rome’s Comedy Club in 2009. This September you kicked off your 8th season with your – wait for it – SEVENTY-THIRD, yes, 73rd show – and fifth venue. Whew! Give us an overview of the biggest hurdles you’ve faced and how things have evolved since the beginning.

M: I think the hardest thing has been finding the right venue. The stand-up scene has just surfaced in Italy, and the venues are either super-loud and busy pubs with no real stage, or informal theaters. It hasn’t been easy to find the right fit for a comedy show where you want people drinking and sitting so the performers can connect with the audience.

The second problem is with the venue owners. Italians have a different way of dealing with business. Nothing is ever written or confirmed and there’s often a “we will see” mentality. I am American and that is NOT how we roll, which is why I have been ripped off by venues over money. They have also treated my audience in unfair ways and not followed through with what was decided.

The third challenge is to always guarantee a good show. Comedy is subjective, so not everyone is going to like every comic or every show. Plus, I throw in some new virgin comics in the mix, and sometimes that can create a few moments of not the strongest stand-up pieces. I don’t like disappointing people, so when I hear things like “I can’t stand that comic” or “That show wasn’t one of the best,” it is hurtful. I have had to learn that we have to take in critiques and just move on.

dm555 cover

S: Our society is going through a sort of watershed moment right now in terms of women’s empowerment regarding sexual harassment, and comedy is definitely a male-dominated field. This was particularly highlighted recently when the New York Times broke the story about sexual misconduct by comic Louis CK. Aside from the misconduct allegations, what struck me about that piece was just how much the power structure surrounding comedy seems to be totally fortressed by an army of powerful men, who promote and support other men both powerful and just coming up in the field, where women who even manage to break through still struggle to get taken seriously.

That was made even more evident in a recent op-ed by a one of my favorite female performers, writer Lindy West. I want to share a passage of that piece, “Why Men Aren’t Funny,” with you:

“One of comedy’s defining pathologies, alongside literal pathologies like narcissism and self-loathing, is its swaggering certainty that it is part of the political vanguard, while upholding one of the most rigidly patriarchal hierarchies of any art form. Straight male comedians, bookers and club owners have always been the gatekeepers of upward mobility in stand-up, an industry where “women aren’t funny” was considered conventional wisdom until just a few years ago.”

Marsha, what are your thoughts on Lindy’s comments here? Do they reflect your experiences as a women in the comedy field?

M: Sooooooo very true in my little experience here in Rome. I have an ex-comedian friend, Kissy Dugan, who was a working comic in the the States, but then met her Roman husband and gave it up to live here. She has been my guru in my journey doing and producing comedy. When I complain to her about these things, she often says that we are living in a small bubble compared to what it is like in the comedy scene in the US.

Italy is a VERY male dominated and sexist country—just turn on the TV. All the venue owners been male, which doesn’t help if you’re a woman and a foreigner here. That has led to many of my problems in the above question. The comedy circle is ALL men. They are not helpful and don’t share their comedy nights with me. Also, when I have asked in the past for suggestions in advancing my career with agents, they are tight-lipped, closed and NOT welcoming. Of course, they are the first ones to charm me into giving them stage time in my show—which I have—and they have gone off to become professional comics in the UK and around Europe.

In the journalistic world, I have been slammed with being a woman with (Italian daily) Il Messaggero writing a full article on me, but then using one of the RCC Italian male comics in the main photo.

Or another example: Brussels Airline contacted me for a piece on a local comic doing stand up in Rome, but the very next day they said they were no longer interested in interviewing me because they were going to go with the MALE local comic instead. That male comic is the same one with his photo on my Il Messaggero article.

It has been bad, but I would think as Kissy said, working on the road full-time in comedy in the US is probably much worse.

S: So, with all the hurdles you have had to face, some of which you fiercely managed to overcome and some which remain incredibly challenging, what keeps you going?

M: Laughter. I love doing stand up. The most challenging thing for anyone: all alone, raw, stressful—BUT once you get that first laugh, you soar to the high heavens. It’s the best feeling in the world when you feel you have connected with a room full of strangers.

S: What advice would you give a woman who wants to break into comedy, or a woman in any field where men have a “rigidly patriarchal hierarchy”? What have you learned and what has helped you?

M: To never ever stop or give up. If you stop, you risk getting comfortable and secure, which could cause you never to get back out there. If you give up, you will regret it, and I am a firm believer that life is too short so NO regrets.

I have gotten through it by screaming, venting and having an amazing support system. And to literally say FUCK IT and keep going.

S: So what new projects are you working on right now? How can we help you to promote them?

M: At the moment I am getting ready to go back to the States for the holidays. But in the new year, you will find Rome’s Comedy Club monthly shows at the Makai Surf and Tiki Bar (January 27th is the next show).

There will be some dates (TBA, in 2018 in Rome) of my second one-woman show, Marsha’s So-Called Life. It talks about the toil and trouble in the life of a Calabrese-Ohioan gal living in Rome.

My first one-woman show, DM55: You Can’t Get Blood from a Stone, will be going on tour for three shows in February. Written/directed by Kissy, in both English and Italian, the message is about my life as a thalassemia major patient and on the importance of blood donating. It has gone from the north of Italy to the south, with interviews on a popular nationwide morning show called Uno Mattina. It was also produced at one of Italy’s most famous comedy stages in Milan, Zelig.

But to help me promote: my show is always available for schools, theaters, conferences and can be adapted to the situation in both English and Italian. I can do comedy therapy workshops, DM55 for educational purposes, perform my one woman stand-up show or organize a few comics to go to any location for a show.


S: What’s your vision for Rome’s Comedy Club in the near future and the long-term future?

M: The near future vision is to keep going as is, because it is an amazing project. Long-term, I want more and more people to know what has been created by one FEMALE person on her own, with drive, determination and a passion for making people laugh.

 S: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

M: So much to share.

The first: life is hard, and as my father says: “You got two ways to deal with it—you can hit your head against the wall and it’s gonna hurt like hell, and you lose blood, which is no good for you. Or you can suck it up, laugh, and go get ’em, tiger.”

So, world—ladies—go get ’em, tiger.

And finally: I had a show the other month where a male comedian broke down during his set because he had a bad day because his girlfriend left him. The audience was so shocked and understanding. That same evening, we had a mostly female lineup that rocked the house. High-energy, kick-ass ladies.

It was funny, and yet ironic, to see that the women rocked the house, and the sole man had a hard time because he was emotional. In a male-dominated time, whatta strange situation.

MY point in this babble is, it shouldn’t be strange. It should be a normal situation, where a person was having a hard time, and not a male/female thing.

Like everything we do in this world.

Marsha De Salvatore, with a name like that, is clearly from Ohio. To make things interesting, her parents are both from Calabria. She came to Italy in 2000 to find herself,  but got lost and found herself teaching English to pay off her fashion-college debt. She stumbled into acting while she was at it.

Being bilingual, she has worked the stage in both English and Italian.  She started her acting journey with Gaby Ford’s ‘English Theater of Rome’. where she performed in various plays from To Kill a Mockingbird to monologue shows.

After failing in her attempt to be convincing in drama pieces and coming across as funny, she thought to try stand up. In 2009, she got it together and brought her crazy life experiences to the stage. As a wise friend once told her, if you want to perform it then create it! Thus, Rome’s Comedy Club was born!

Rome’s Comedy Club is in its 8th season and keeps on growing with Marsha also going to Second City in Chicago to improve her improv and writing skills. She performs at Rome’s Comedy Club but also for various university and corporate events in Rome.

Additionally, she is actively involved in the world of medicine. Periodically she organizes blood drives to help the never-ending issue of blood shortages in Rome. Drawing from the work of Patch Adams, she has been formally trained in comedy therapy and has volunteered in the cancer ward of Bambino Gesu of Rome with La Carovanna dei Sorrisi.

She is also a speaker on comedy therapy and how using some basic principals of Improv can help everyday life. An example of her lecture is this recent link from the American University of Rome.

Here’s how you can keep up with Marsha and the gang at RCC:

SUBSCRIBE to Rome’s Comedy Club YouTube channel
LIKE Rome’s Comedy Club Facebook page: @RomesComedyClub


Catch Me on Badass + Living

5 Apr


While I’m no longer active on this site, due to various commitments that make it impossible right now for me to keep to a regular posting schedule, I wanted to let you know that I’m telling my “Rome story” in a series of posts on a brand-new site called Badass + Living.

Badass has a Rome connection. I met its founder, the fabulous Brenda Della Casa, in a serendipitous evening several years back. We hit it off like soul sisters, kept in touch and grew our friendship across the pond, and I am honored to have been asked to join in her new project as part of its launch.

In my initial posts as a contributor on the site, I’ll be going through my journey to life in Rome, which began [gasp] 15 years ago, when I was in my early 20s. There will be plenty of practical tips, wise reflections, and the clumsy humor in which I excel.

Intrigued? You can catch my first post here:

How I Hit Reset on My Life and Moved to Italy.

And, for more info. on Brenda’s ambitious new project, keep reading.


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Badass + Living is an online magazine for independent, empowered women who find joy in empowering, cheering and supporting other women. Founded on the concept of collaboration over competition, we believe in the beauty of women working together to promote brands, reach goals and celebrate individuality while sharing wisdom, worries, successes and lessons.

The Badass woman is smart, savvy, ambitious, stylish, philanthropic, inspired and totally dedicated to living her best life as her best self. She’s curious, interested and interesting, and she values herself, her friends, her loved ones and her life. She’s a go-getter who gives back. She’s got big dreams, goals, vision (and perhaps a vision board) and she has a fire inside of her that she’s looking to ignite. Best of all, she believes in the Italian Proverb that reminds us that “a candle never loses light by lighting another candle.”

She values a healthy, balanced lifestyle (mentally, physically, spiritually) but still indulges her vices every once in a while (delicious cocktails, a shopping spree, a gorgeous man/woman, or a fabulous dessert). She enjoys the company of other women and has a very good sense of who she is and wants to become. She’s coming to the website for inspiration, education, aspiration and support, and it’s our mission to provide this for her on a daily basis.

We would like to welcome you to our community. Please visit our site and join us on our journey (and contribute to the conversation!)  You may also find us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Now, tell us: What Makes You Badass?

Homelands: The Case for Open Immigration

10 Aug


In June, I wrote about the launch of Deca, a cooperative of award-winning journalists, and their extraordinary online success with a Kickstarter campaign that, in less than one month, raised more than double their original funding goal (a grand total of $32,627 against the original $15,000 goal).

I highlighted Deca not only because it’s an innovative model to showcase world-class writers at the top of their game, writing long form journalism that delves into the heart of important stories, but also because one of their members, Stephan Faris, is a local friend of mine. I can’t say enough about his writing talents, but I try here.

Deca’s second story and Stephen’s first piece with the cooperative came out on July 25 and is titled Homelands: The Case for Open Immigration.

Reading this piece did what I think really great journalism should do: it opened my mind, expanded my horizons, and inspired me to learn more, think more, and want to do more.

Honestly, have you ever considered the radical-sounding idea of a world where borders didn’t exist? A world without restrictions on immigration, where people wouldn’t be deported simply for trying to change countries, where people could freely choose the country that they wanted to be a citizen of, rather than it being a chance “fluke” of birth or happenstance?

These are questions and issues that are more than timely right now, and Stephan brings forth well-constructed arguments for the case, by skillfully weaving together his sources, which range from diplomats to families, politicians to philosophers, and of course, the immigrants themselves, including children.

In June, UK’s The Guardian reported on the refugee crisis in Italy in their piece Europe faces ‘colossal humanitarian crisis’ of refugees dying at sea.

Also in June, President Obama declared the surge of immigrants arriving at US borders a “humanitarian crisis.” More than 57,000 children have fled Central American countries and arrived at the US southern border since last October, according to this article in The Guardian.

The interest that was sparked by reading Stephan’s article led to me picking up a copy of the book The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging the Narcos on the Migrant Trail, which details the treacherous trip north through Mexico that Central American immigrants go through, including riding on top of a freight train known as the “train of death,” The Beast, La Bestia.

This is the power of journalism, especially when it is given free reign to delve deep into timely topics. It opens minds, educates, builds a case for revolutionary new ideas. I can’t speak highly enough about Stephan and the contribution that his reporting makes to this very relevant world issue.

To order Homelands: The Case for Open Immigration, click here (Kindle Single, $2.99).

From the Amazon page:

“As a child, Stephan Faris nearly failed to qualify for any country’s passport. Now, in a story that moves from South Africa to Italy to the United States, he looks at the arbitrariness of nationality. Framed by Faris’s meeting with a young orphan as a reporter in Liberia and their reencounter years later in Minnesota, Homelands makes the case for a complete rethinking of immigration policy. In a world where we’ve globalized capital, culture, and communications, are restrictions on the movement of people still morally tenable?

At a time when the immigration debate dominates the headlines, Homelands follows in the tradition of George Orwell’s “Marrakech” and, more recently, Ta-Nehisi Coates’s case for reparations in The Atlantic. Drawing on more than a decade of international reporting for magazines such as Time, Bloomberg Businessweek, and The Atlantic, Faris takes readers on a ten-year journey along the borders separating war from peace in Liberia, opportunity from deprivation in Kenya, and safety from disaster today in the deadly waters off Lampedusa, an Italian holiday island that has become the scene of a refugee crisis. On the way, he uncovers a series of unsettling but ultimately redeeming parallels between modern immigration practices and the policies of South Africa’s apartheid regime.

Could we really have a world without borders? What would that look like? Based on dozens of interviews with philosophers and diplomats, aid workers and small-town mayors, and a cabinet member of South Africa’s last apartheid government, Faris’s work of fearless frontline journalism also functions as a kind of futurism. Confronting questions inflaming borders in California and Texas, France and Greece, Morocco and Spain, he takes us into the depths of one of the modern world’s most complex moral dilemmas—and returns with an answer.”

A Barefoot Stroll With Brenda Della Casa

25 Aug

Hard to believe, but the lovely and talented BDC and I are about to celebrate our “one year anniversary.” We met in a most serendipitous way here in Rome last year over cocktails prepared by one of the world’s best mixologists, and ended up forming a friendship both professional and personal that continues to grow as time goes on. Brenda was savoring her last evening in Rome, and I just happened to grab the bar stool next to her. The rest is, as they say, history. So appropriate for Rome, no?

Little did I know then that Brenda’s time spent in Rome had such a significant role in her life’s journey (read The Fear of Letting Go), and little did I know at the time what a significant impact she would have on mine as well! Here I catch up with Brenda for a chat about life, love, and basically the art and science of being her fabulous self: a role model for women’s empowerment and lifestyle expert extraordinaire. Enjoy!

Photo credit: Graffiti, Aisha Singleton; Makeup: Lauren Cosenza

Photo credit: Graffiti, Aisha Singleton; Makeup: Lauren Cosenza

Brenda Della Casa
Editor in Chief of Walking Barefoot, Author of Cinderella Was a Liar, Director of Online Content for Preston Bailey, Huffington Post Blogger and Managing Partner of I Am Staggered

First of all, can you briefly chart for us the career path that has led to where you currently find yourself? Maybe just a rough sketch or outline of your trajectory: where you started and how you’ve gotten to where you are now, so we can delve further into the particulars.

Though I have always been a writer, as a teenager, I set out to become the next Marilyn Monroe, but when college was in the picture, I was more excited by the idea of spending my days breaking stories and writing than playing on stage. I took drama classes but it was my magazine writing classes that gave me a thrill. I had an incredible, smart and sophisticated professor, Marianne Szegedy-Maszak who really mentored me and changed the direction of my life by giving me an example of the woman I really wanted to become. I interned for President Clinton in The White House Communications and Press office and graduated with tons of ambition, but no job. I took a position casting reality TV shows and did that while trying to break into the journalism business and when we went on hiatus, I took a job at Morgan Stanley working for Ann Thivierge, Barton Biggs and two amazing mentors, Barbara Reinhart and David Dineen. Barbara told David I wanted to write, David had a girlfriend, Cari Wira, who was an editor at Woman’s Day and six years after graduating, I sold my first clip. Two years later, the executive assistant I worked with sent me a link to a comedy site, The Phat Phree and I contacted them to write for them (for free). I became the only female writer and we were contacted by an agent and given a book deal. That same agent accepted my pitch for Cinderella Was a Liar, a book based on my thousands of interviews for dating shows. See how one thing leads to another?

Tell us about how Walking Barefoot, your personal blog and now showcase for your lifestyle expertise, came into being, and a little about the niche that you’ve managed to carve out on the Internet. You started your site back when blogging was just a glimmer in most people’s eyes, so tell us about the exponential growth you’ve experienced, your readership, and your current mission and vision for your site.

In 2005, a colleague mentioned that her sister had started something called a “Blog” and I was intrigued by the idea of playing editor. I have great respect for Hugh Hefner and Diana Vreeland and a blog was a very small way for me to play out my fantasy of having my own online magazine. The posts started out silly, musings about my coffee guy and the shoes I had found on my way home from the market, but it soon grew into something more authentic, a place where I followed Hemingway’s suggestion that writers sit at a typewriter and bleed. The more honest and open and vulnerable I was, the more emails I received from people who were also dealing with this and that. In the past 8 years, this site has grown to be read in over 160 countries and by a very wide demographic. The bulk of my readers range from 17-45 and there is no significant majority when it comes to income or race. That’s pretty telling in that it shows me that we are all dealing with the human experience, no matter where we are in our lives. We all have pains and fears, worries about our future, ties to our past and concerns about how to navigate through life. We also all have reasons to be grateful and joyful as well as the power to change our future by doing the work here in our present. My mission is always to remain authentic and real and to bring some kind of value to my reader, even if it is simply a five minute break in a stressful day, but also to really listen to my readers and give them what they ask for. I’d like to see more guest posts and eventually start videos and a TV program.

You are quite a Renaissance woman, with your talents extending into several different endeavors and fields. Can you share with us the process of writing your book Cinderella Was a Liar and how that project came to fruition? What was your biggest challenge in bringing that book to the market, and what are you most proud of as a result of publishing?

That’s very sweet of you to say, but I really see myself as someone with great curiosity. I am an ambitious creature but only in the sense in that I like to conquer things which I half-jokingly blame on my being an Aries. I have always had the dream of having an empire like Playboy, but have always treated every article assignment like a gift which has kept things exciting. My grandfather was always reminding me to focus on one thing at a time and over time it will build something. I focus on six things at a time and I am grateful a foundation has been built. I didn’t set out to write a book or to start a blog, I just knew that I wanted to write and when opportunities presented themselves, I jumped at them. I pitched several ideas to my agent, Byrd Leavell, after he had approached us about The Phat Phree and we worked through it and took it to the houses. I led the meeting at McGraw-Hill and was later told that it was partly my proposal and partly that meeting that sold Cinderella Was a Liar. I wrote the book in six months. I loved the process and what the book brought into my life (people, opportunities, readers) but I would say, in terms of publishing, I am most proud of having the courage to write about my past for The Huffington Post and a little piece called Twenty-something: Quarter Life Crisis which went viral and continues to be posted and shared by people 12 years later. I am also deeply proud to work for Preston.

Let’s talk about that. You’re currently the online content manager for Preston Bailey, an innovative, world-renowned and highly sought-after wedding and event planner. I think many people would consider this to be a dream job. What’s it like to work in such a high-profile and influential role? What brings you the most satisfaction in this position, and what unique skills and assets do you bring to Mr. Bailey’s brand?

Along with writing for Esquire, working for Preston is my dream job. Preston is an icon, but he is also hilarious, deeply generous, kind and humble in ways no one would expect. I feel I can call, email or go to him for anything at any time and that really says something about him. My other team members are incredible as well. My CFO is like an oracle, terrifyingly smart and charismatic, and my CEO is one of the funniest, ambitious and challenging people I have ever met. My colleagues are my friends and we spend most of our day working and laughing very hard. I was able to play an integral role in the design and development of the new site ( which is an online magazine. I am fortunate that Preston really values each person’s talent and gift and he and my CEO really allow me to own my role and take my suggestions and ideas very seriously while mentoring me to always become a better writer, editor and even person. I learn so much every day and am challenged in ways that really push me. I really grow in this role and I feel I add value while working with a talented and hard-working team, all the while surrounded by the beauty created by Preston Bailey—who can ask for more than that?

Now, let’s talk for a moment on a personal level. You’ve been remarkably open about the difficulties you faced in childhood, as you alluded to earlier when you mentioned the courage it took to share about your past in some of your writing for The Huffington Post. You’re also very open and candid throughout your writing, which I really appreciate. Coming from my own social work background, I like that you consistently maintain a theme of encouraging self-empowerment for women. How much of an influence have your personal struggles and challenges had on your ability to strive for such excellence and succeed in such high achievement in your life, both professional and personal? In what ways do you think you continually model one of your mottos, “Always a soldier, never a victim?”

Great question! I think my struggles in childhood and early adulthood impacted my development, but I was determined not to allow them to define me, in part, because I was so ashamed of where I had come from. I was always treated as though I was “less than” everyone else because of my situation–be it my marks, my clothing or my not having a place to live. I was told by my father that I was the wrong gender, by my mother that I was discardable, and even those who cared for me painted a grim picture of the road ahead. My favorite teacher said that it was a shame that the bus would always run me over and I would not have the chance others would have to go to college or have a normal life because of my circumstances. Quite frankly, that was the worst and best thing to ever say to me. I know I can credit my grandfather’s influence for any decent qualities I have, and as flippant as it sounds, I also think that looking up to Madonna as much as I did really helped me. I fought to finish high school while not having a real home, I fought to get into college, and I moved to New York and emulated Madonna’s “I will get what I want” attitude until I proved to myself and those around me that I was as worthy as everyone else. Lastly, I know what it feels like to be victimized and to feel helpless and powerless, so I really admire true personal power. I have amazing women in my life who are in total control of themselves and who take care of themselves and of those they love and stand up for themselves, and I know what it feels like on both sides. Being in control of your own life and protecting yourself feels better, and I want all of my readers to feel the security of knowing they are enough as they are, even if there are some things they want to polish, and they can handle anything that comes their way but do not have to keep handling disrespect or devaluation, even from themselves.

Can you tell us about one of the most formative experiences of your professional life, the impact that it had on you and how it either directly or indirectly brought you to where you are currently?

Working for Preston. I would say that it has pushed me to be the best I can be each and every day. When you are representing the print portion of a brand like Preston’s, you need to constantly educate and push yourself. It’s a very tough and rewarding position and I am lucky to work for Preston and be a part of his team.

Tell us three (or more!) things you are grateful for every day.

My health, my family of friends, Tony Montana (my chihuahua), my career, my readers, having the opportunity to experience travel and the fun things I get to experience as a result of my job and having a home that is safe, secure and that no one can kick me out of.

What’s next for Brenda Della Casa? Where can we expect to see you go from here, and how can we get involved?

I am launching a new site, re-launching I am Staggered and working on some new projects that will allow me to be more interactive with my readers. I am also off to Puerto Rico with my girlfriend next week and then planning a trip to Spain.

Where can we find you online?

Walking Barefoot, as well as social media: @BrendaDellaCasa on Twitter, Walking Barefoot on Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.

Lastly, what advice would you give to your younger self, knowing what you know now? And, what advice would you give to a young woman (or man!) looking to make their way in the world?

To my younger self: Don’t try and make things work with someone who disrespects and/or devalues you. The pain of trying to undo that kind of treatment is worse than the pain of loss you will experience. It also wastes precious time and resources better utilized to enhance your life with travel, new experiences and new relationships. I would also tell her to work hard but also work smart and accept that not everything is going to go her way because she is human, not because of where she came from. Lastly, I would tell her to pay attention to what people do and not what they say and to make adjustments in her own behavior based on what they do/do not do. Just because someone was nice doesn’t mean that you still need to be when they start being nasty.

My advice to others is the same and to also know that you aren’t supposed to have the answers, life gives lessons and tests and gold stars along the way. Make a plan and don’t be afraid to tweak it or abandon it altogether when it’s clear that is the best choice. As my friend Lauren says, “Prepare for all scenarios, balance risk vs. reward, and then follow your heart.”