Re-Imagineer: Patty Forehand

You were an elementary school teacher for over three decades and then made a huge Reimagination in your life when you were in your 50’s. You became a stand up comedian! Tell us how that happened?

I was a year away from retiring from a career that I had done for over 3 decades. I was shaking in my practical and pathetically ugly teacher shoes. What would I do for the rest of my life? Visions of knitting and endless hours of uninspiring television viewing danced in my head.

Boredom became my stalker. It kept whispering that it would have me soon. I tried to push it out of my mind. 

I volunteered to teach professional development to teachers thinking that I could quiet the negative thoughts. At the end of a fun workshop that I had delivered sprinkled with jokes and teacher war stories, a fellow coworker told me I should try stand up.

I balked at the idea at first. After all, I was old, not glamorous or particularly beautiful, and certainly not rich. Who was I to pursue such a destiny?

Then, I decided why the hell not? I had been telling my students for years that their lives were up to them. “Pursue your dreams and work hard,” I had said time after time. Were these mere words that I spat out to sound wise? No!

When you started this journey, you went to some open mic sessions and took some comedy classes. But you jumped right in! You’ve now done over 50 gigs in Atlanta, Nashville, Washington and more. How did it feel as you were launching this completely new career?

I signed up for an open mic.

The night I went on that stage was like a rebirth without all the messiness. I had found my calling. The laughs filled me with an ambition and longing that I didn’t know existed in this little body.

I took classes, did tons of open mics. Washington Post wrote an article about mature people doing new things. I was featured in that article. My new career started rolling. 

Next, I went on the Today Show & Tamron Hall. The amazing Michael Clinton wrote about me in his book, ROAR.

I am not special. I am you. We all have the potential to do incredible things. You must act on things. Dreams remain dreams if they stay in your freaking head. They only become reality when you take action. If Superman didn’t try to fly, he’d still be on the ground.

I’ve traveled, featured, and headlined in show after show. 

The world had opened up in a big way. I am feeling excited about what is coming next.

What advice would you give someone in midlife who dreams of moving on to a new chapter but is hesitating to make the leap?

I have always believed in action. You have to chase your dreams like an athlete on steroids. Run towards a goal without worrying about obstacles. When a problem gets in your way, solve it. Jump over those little suckers. Kick them out of the way.

Take classes, seek guidance, find mentors, practice, practice, practice. The first step? Get yourself out of your head and onto the field where your dreams live. Don’t think about why you can’t do something. Think about why you CAN!  

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