Episode 20: Advice On Aging & Acting with Art Conn
Lorilee’s close friend and colleague, Art Conn, joins her to discuss his creative journey. Art has worn many hats in his career, from acting and directing theater, to hosting radio and television shows, to working in marketing. He is also well known as the host and emcee for several Clarksville entertainment venues, in addition to being Committee Chairman for the “Best of Clarksville” event for the past 16 years. Currently, Art is a part of Lorilee’s team at Thrive Creative Group, where he lends his many years of marketing and advertising experience. The pair talk about the origins of his creativity, the resilience it’s bred, and the many lessons of self care learned throughout Art’s adventures as a renaissance man.
- On Art’s playlist: “The Joker and The Queen” – Ed Sheeran & Taylor Swift
- His mother’s influence on his love for creativity
- Aging and acting
- His creative transition from acting to directing
- The importance of taking care of ourselves
- Celebrating life and accomplishments in healthy ways
- Advice for working in creative fields
- The importance of passion
- One tool for our G&G toolbox
Sponsored by Her-Bank.com
Episode 20 Transcript
[00:00:00] Lorilee Rager: Hey. I am Lorilee Rager, and this is Ground and Gratitude. It’s a podcast about designing the life you want, one that not only grows, but also gives.
If you’re enjoying this show, you can leave us a review on Apple Podcasts and find us on Instagram, our handle is @GroundAndGratitude.
Before we start the show, I wanna tell you about our sponsor, Her Bank. Her Bank by Legends Bank goes well beyond banking. For me, they have filled in the gaps in areas like financial literacy and helped my own confidence when it comes to banking and business decisions. Trust and relationship really are first and foremost for Her Bank. Visit Her-Bank.com to learn more about banking from a woman’s perspective. Her Bank is a brand of Legends Bank and Legends Bank is member FDIC equal housing. Now onto the show.
Today, I am sitting down with my good friend Art Conn. From Hollywood to the Hilldale neighborhood in my hometown, Art has had many roles in life, from award-winning actor, community theater director, and former host of a local TV show for 17 years. Now he’s the Marketing Manager and Ambassador of Happiness at Thrive Creative Group. From an entertainer to marketing, Art is full of genuine talent and charisma and resilience. I’m excited today to talk to one of my dearest friends about his creative journey.
Welcome Art Conn. I am so happy that you said yes to joining me today.
[00:02:04] Art Conn: I’m so happy that you asked me finally.
[00:02:08] Lorilee Rager: Absolutely. I so appreciate your time, because I know how precious your time is. I do, uh.
[00:02:13] Art Conn: Exactly. I’m so busy.
[00:02:16] Lorilee Rager: Yeah, you’re a busy guy. You’re a busy guy.
[00:02:17] Art Conn: Yes, ma’am.
[00:02:19] Lorilee Rager: Well, thank you very much, very much. It’s great to have you on here. And our normal big hard-hitting kickoff question is I wanna know what song is on repeat on your playlist today.
[00:02:35] Art Conn: I do not have a playlist, but if there was, if I had one, it would be, um, The Joker and The Queen by Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift. Have you heard it?
[00:02:46] Lorilee Rager: I have not. Is it new?
[00:02:47] Art Conn: Oh yeah, I think so. He recorded it a long time ago by himself. And then he got, uh, Taylor Swift to join him, so it’s a duet. And the melody is so pretty, it sounds like the soundtrack of a romantic movie. So I I’m just in love with the, the, the melody of it. So I could play it all day. And in fact, I started to play it behind me while we’re recording, but I thought that Anna might be upset.
[00:03:14] Lorilee Rager: Yeah. We might have to like, you know, pay for rights of that. Probably can’t afford Tay Tay. But I do love her and I love Ed Sheeran too, so I’ll have to listen. Okay. Nice to know.
[00:03:24] Art Conn: I’ll send it to you.
[00:03:25] Lorilee Rager: Yes, please do, please do. Well, that’s so good. And that really does fit everything I do know about you when it comes to being, like, something from a movie and you do love music, and you’re actually a very good singer as well. But we’ll get into all those hidden talents and gems, hopefully here in our conversation. So, okay. You know, because you and I are such long time friends, I know we do know a lot about each other, but I’d love to explain and share with, with our listeners things that, that have really started to interest me about all of my friends and my career. And that’s things like, you know, being a creative, and you work in the creative field, as long as I’ve known you, you’ve worked in the creative field, where do you think your love of being creative actually began?
[00:04:19] Art Conn: Well, that came from my mother. My mother was really creative. She, um, I was so jealous of her because she could play the piano, not, she didn’t read music or anything, she played by ear. She played the banjo. When I saw her play the banjo, I thought what in the world’s going on here? Um, and she, she was, she would make clothes for everybody. She was a great seamstres. So she raised five boys and she did not like, you know, making boys clothes cause they were too hard. Uh, because she couldn’t make denim, you know, blue jeans and stuff. So she loved making frilly dresses. So she would find neighborhood little girls and say, let me make your dress for your party or something like that. And she would make all these weird dresses. And then when I got into directing, I needed somebody to do costumes, she was the one I went to and say, make me this. So she would always make me so outstanding costumes.
[00:05:10] Lorilee Rager: Perfect.
[00:05:10] Art Conn: So she was the creative, she was musically inclined, and she like wrote poems, um, and she could draw, she could draw anything. Like if I needed something, uh, for a school project or something, she would always come up this crazy idea for me. So, that’e where I get my creativity from.
[00:05:30] Lorilee Rager: I love, I did not know that sweet Miss Dotty could also write poems and draw.
[00:05:36] Art Conn: Yes. And she didn’t do it very much.
[00:05:39] Lorilee Rager: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:05:40] Art Conn: She didn’t do it very often and she doesn’t, I don’t have any work to show of it, you know. I do have some writings of hers, a few things, but she didn’t do artwork, like she didn’t take time to do that. She was always working cause she was raising five boys by herself. So she, she worked all the time, but did a lot of, a lot of things creativity-wise.
[00:05:59] Lorilee Rager: Yeah. She sounds busy and super creative. Well, I definitely knew that she was a singer and I definitely loved meeting her when she would come into, uh, the old agency we used to work at to visit you or to shop next door. And I remember, one of my favorite memories is her, she was really dressed up. Maybe she was going to sing with some friends.
[00:06:19] Art Conn: Mm-hmm .
[00:06:20] Lorilee Rager: Was it, she was in Shine Sisters?
[00:06:22] Art Conn: No, the Young At Heart. She started the Young At Heart group. A bunch of senior ladies that got together. And I used to sing with ’em sometimes too, but they would go to nursing homes and hospitals and, and they would, you know, maybe take a quartet of ladies or, or the whole group. Uh, she would, you probably saw her dressed up. And she would make those costumes. She probably made what she had on.
[00:06:43] Lorilee Rager: Yeah. Yeah. Oh, I love it. Gosh, and that is the sweetest thing ever to go sing and stuff.
[00:06:51] Art Conn: You mentioned, you mentioned that she would shop next door.
[00:06:54] Lorilee Rager: Yeah.
[00:06:55] Art Conn: She loved going there and buying stuff. And every time she would go there, she would buy some kind of trinket for me and bring it over to me.
[00:07:02] Lorilee Rager: Yes. She was holding a trinket, yep.
[00:07:05] Art Conn: I had a, I have a bobblehead tiger, a white tiger bobblehead, which means nothing to either one of us, but she thought it was cute and so she wanted me to have it. And I still have it. And then a, a Winnie the Pooh ink pen that had Winnie the Pooh on as the eraser. It’s just little chochkies, things like that, she would love buying stuff like that.
[00:07:24] Lorilee Rager: Yeah. That’s, that’s what moms do for their boys. I know that. I know this feeling. Well, that’s fantastic. And I, I just completely loved your mother very much. I did, very much enjoyed meeting her. And I could see where your singing talent came from. Um, for sure.
[00:07:43] Art Conn: Oh, thanks, yeah.
[00:07:46] Lorilee Rager: Yeah, yeah, so.
[00:07:48] Art Conn: She and I would do sing duets at church. So, I have some tapes of those. So, one of these days I’ll let you listen to those.
[00:07:56] Lorilee Rager: I would like that. I would like that. And harmonize because, yeah. So good.
[00:07:59] Art Conn: Yes. She could harmonize to anything, even if she didn’t know the song. If I started singing something, she would could, she could hear the harmony and sing it. And that’s, that would used to make me so mad, cause she could do everything that I wanted to do. I wanted to play the piano, I wanted to play the banjo. I wanted to be able to sing harmony, and I couldn’t do it.
[00:08:18] Lorilee Rager: That’s a real talent. That’s a real talent.
[00:08:21] Art Conn: Yes. Yes, it is.
[00:08:22] Lorilee Rager: Beautiful. Well, so do you think also from your mother and raising, you said five boys?
[00:08:30] Art Conn: Yes. Uh huh.
[00:08:31] Lorilee Rager: All by herself, and things like that. Things that, that I noticed in, in creatives and characteristics of creatives and talented people, such as yourself. Uh, I noticed that, even in my own experience, we, we have a lot of self love. I don’t know if that’s what creativity gives us, and that sort of thing. We also have things that I notice through you that, of like selflessness and resilience. And I was wondering where you think that comes from. Does that also come from your mother, you think?
[00:09:05] Art Conn: Oh, absolutely. Um, my mom used to have this quote, um, and I, I may say it wrong, but she always said, um, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. And she said, if you’re sweet and nice and kind, people will want to be your friend. But if you’re vinegar-y and you’re nasty to people, you know, you won’t have any friends. So I’ve always lived by that. Like, I want to be nice to everybody, and I have a lot of friends. So it’s like people say I’m charming, um, that’s one of the adjectives they use for me. And there’re a few bad ones too. But anyway, I, I think it’s because my mom was so sweet and nice and everybody loved her that it, it came to me to be nice and kind and generous. And that’s what I do. I like doing that.
[00:09:57] Lorilee Rager: You do you, you are those things. And,
[00:10:00] Art Conn: I know sometimes at a fault.
[00:10:02] Lorilee Rager: Charming and charismatic, but resilience is one that I also notice. It seems like all the years I’ve known you in all the things, you know, you’ve lived through or and, we worked together for so long. Lord knows you need a lot of resilience when it comes to the chaos of a creative firm.
[00:10:21] Art Conn: Yeah, well, I, that resilience comes from all the friends that I have. Um, my friends like you. Um, I have so many friends that I can count on to do things. I’ve gone through some bad times, and I have counted on my friends, you know, to help me out. And not even, I don’t even have to ask them, you know, they’ll say, well, you know, here’s a bit of advice for you or here’s some money. Ha! Thanks.
[00:10:46] Lorilee Rager: Yeah. Or here’s a gift or here’s food.
[00:10:47] Art Conn: Yeah, exactly. Oh, food. Miss Linda and her food. Thank her.
[00:10:51] Lorilee Rager: Yes. Yes. I’ve even, uh, had the recipient of that. Goodness.
[00:10:57] Art Conn: Yes, you have.
[00:10:57] Lorilee Rager: Oh man.
[00:10:58] Art Conn: She think a lot of you.
[00:10:59] Lorilee Rager: She made me some chili last time, it was so good. Yes.
[00:11:01] Art Conn: I know she makes the best vegetable soup ever. So you think I’m resilient? Or what do you mean by resilient?
[00:11:08] Lorilee Rager: I do. I really do think that you’re resilient because like you said, you’ve been through hard times or bad times or sad times, like a lot of us, but you are always still positive. You still, you still wake up in the morning and iron your clothing, which is something I’ve never done. And you still show up with a smile on your face, happy, eyebrows lifted, really, no matter what we had or hadn’t been through the day before or the night before. And it’s just one of those things where I wondered if your mother was like that through raising you.
[00:11:42] Art Conn: Yes, yes. Mm-hmm. Yeah. She always said that Monday, you know, Monday, people say Monday, you get the Monday blues. She said, Mondays are a start of a new week to make better choices. And I thought, what? But I get that now.
[00:12:03] Lorilee Rager: Yes.
[00:12:03] Art Conn: You know, when you’re younger, you think your mom is like, what? What’s, that’s crazy talk. But now I appreciate some of these things that she said to me over the years. I’m thinking, oh, that’s what she meant. OK. I got you. And I’ve noticed that I’ve lived by those.
[00:12:17] Lorilee Rager: Yeah, you, I, you do. And I wondered where that came from, if it was from her, and your optimism and yeah, thinking of a Monday as a brand new opportunity is way better than to think of it as the, you know, a struggling hard day.
[00:12:30] Art Conn: I’ve always thought that. I’ve always said, yay, Monday, I get to start over again. Forget what happened last week, I can start over again. It’s a new day. It’s like the New Year’s Eve, you start off on those, these things, you know. I do it every week. Every Monday it’s like, yay, a new week.
[00:12:44] Lorilee Rager: That is perfect. That’s great. That’s a good takeaway. I love it. Okay, very good, very good. Well, okay. Something else I wanted to talk to you about is, two things, they may, they may work together, they may not, is both your acting and aging. Two different, two different things. But through the years, I know you have had many roles in your life. And we will say that you are maybe approaching being, um, an elder advice giver in the world, um, on the aging side. We won’t, won’t count any numbers. But tell me a little bit about your, kind of your thoughts on how you have confronted, um, and embraced aging and your acting career. And like I said, dive in any way you want.
[00:13:37] Art Conn: Okay. Um, well I was, I started acting, well here’s again, my mom. Um, my mom was also an actress, okay. She did shows at Fort Campbell. And I thought, what in the world are you doing? I had just gotten outta high school. And she said, I wanna do a show out at Fort Campbell. But she had just had cataract surgery and she couldn’t drive. So I had to drive her to rehearsals every night. And I watched her rehearsing and I thought, that looks like fun, so I tried it. So she’s the one that got me into acting. So I acted for several years, um, you know, I did leading roles in musicals, in straight plays. And, um, as I got older, how there’s how I got into that, uh, I found, I found that I like directing. Um, and people say it’s because I like being in control, which is right, but I mean, that is such a creative thing for me. Um, I have to take a script and use my ideas to come across and tell the actors how I want the play to go, all right.
And that starts with casting. I take the script and I look and see what I think each of the characters should be, how they should look. Um, and when I have auditions, I like to mix things up. People come in there and audition for a certain role, and I ask them if they would do a different role. That stretches the actor a little bit, and I think they can do a better job in a different role or something like that. But it’s mostly come down to control, creative control. I like,
[00:15:10] Lorilee Rager: Creative control.
[00:15:11] Art Conn: Yes. Uh, I, the director gets to be the creative person that, that leads that. And people say I’m pretty good. I’ve won an award for it, so I might know what I’m doing.
[00:15:22] Lorilee Rager: Uh huh, it sounds like you did it for a really, really long time. You’d still be doing it. If the theater was still standing.
[00:15:28] Art Conn: Exactly. Yeah. We need another community theater here in town.
[00:15:32] Lorilee Rager: Yeah, I do think we should have one.
[00:15:33] Art Conn: There is The Roxy. We, I did, my mom did a bunch of shows with the Roxy and then I did a bunch of shows. And, but then when I started doing community theater, um, I stopped doing those shows and I stopped acting. Except you saw me do one show recently that, um, uh, they asked me to come back after 20 years and do something on the Roxy stage, and I did. So it was nervewracking, but it was fun to get my feet wet again and be an actor.
[00:16:01] Lorilee Rager: Yeah, that was, uh, Rocky Horror
[00:16:03] Art Conn: Picture show. Yes.
[00:16:05] Lorilee Rager: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
[00:16:06] Art Conn: And, um, but I would much rather direct.
[00:16:10] Lorilee Rager: Be on the other side. Understood.
[00:16:12] Art Conn: Yes. I understood my director. I did what he said.
[00:16:16] Lorilee Rager: Right.
[00:16:16] Art Conn: I wanted so bad to do something different, but you know, no, I didn’t.
[00:16:20] Lorilee Rager: Well, when it comes to doing directing, you said, you know, it’s casting, but don’t you also, which I watched you for many years, um, cause you’re such, you’re actually, you’re actually quite the handyman. Because I watch you build stages and build everything.
[00:16:35] Art Conn: I love that.
[00:16:36] Lorilee Rager: Yeah, chair rails to steps to, you had to do all that also? Like when you’re doing a directing at play, you would also plan and lay out the whole stage?
[00:16:47] Art Conn: Right. Yeah. When, at the last theater that I worked at, um, at, when I worked at Fort Campbell, I had somebody do it for me. I mean, we had a crew that would do it. But when I did the community theater, I mean, it was supposed to be community theater. Um, and the people that I had cast, they usually help with the set. But that was, this was community theater and they had jobs and they, during the day.
[00:17:12] Lorilee Rager: Sure.
[00:17:12] Art Conn: And, and so I did the whole set by myself. I mean, I came up with stuff. I had, sometimes I had people come in and, and do some painting for me or just little, you know, stuff they could do. But, uh, mostly it was me, so, and I loved doing that, I loved creating a set. And it meant a lot to the actors. And I asked that question of a bunch of actors about how important the set was to them and if they appreciated it, and a lot of them said, it meant so much to them to have a set, that helped their character.
[00:17:43] Lorilee Rager: Right, that really fit the story, yeah.
[00:17:45] Art Conn: Exactly.
[00:17:45] Lorilee Rager: Each one was completely custom to the story and built, and it was funny, I always think about you coming to my house and walking around with your hand on your chin and going, uh can I use that? Can I take that? Can I borrow that?
[00:18:00] Art Conn: Your, your furniture has been used on so many sets. I wish I had a picture of every. I took from your office, I took from your house. And, hmm, you were so nice to be a friend of the theater and let me borrow whatever I needed.
[00:18:14] Lorilee Rager: A friend of the theater. Yes, that’s right.
[00:18:16] Art Conn: That’s you.
[00:18:17] Lorilee Rager: It was so funny. Well, it, it was a very fun process to watch from very far. And, but as you know, as you did acting, and as you did directing, and as you kind of aged, um, as you mentioned wanting to talk about this topic, by the way, um.
[00:18:35] Art Conn: Yes, I did.
[00:18:35] Lorilee Rager: What what’s, what’s some advice now, now that you would give to anyone, um, as you have confronted, as I say, confronted and embraced aging? You have any advice?
[00:18:48] Art Conn: Oh, piece of advice would be to take care of yourself now. Any young person, don’t let yourself get too, don’t if you have a job, like I do that, sit down all the time, you know?
[00:18:59] Lorilee Rager: Yeah.
[00:18:59] Art Conn: Get out and exercise. I wished I had followed my own advice, but now it’s like, oh, this I should have done a long time ago. But it’s like, um, I compare it to puberty. I don’t know how it is for, for women, but for men, puberty, when you go, a guy goes to puberty, certain things happen to him that you think, how did that happen? Okay. Like under arm, hair, when, that just pops out, okay. So you go through this metamorphosis of, you know, going from a little kid to, uh, a teenager and all these things happen to your body. When you get older, same thing happens. Weird things happen to your body.
I mean, even so far is your skin. My skin has gotten crepe-y. I used to see these commercials, the Crepe Away for women, you know, and I’m thinking, what the are they talking about? And one day I was in some weird lighting and I’m thinking, that’s what they’re talking about. Look how crepe-y my skin looks. So your skin gets really thin and crepe-y. And muscles, muscles deteriorate if you don’t use them. And just getting out of a chair, you’re thinking, oh, why did that, you know, make a noise?
[00:20:08] Lorilee Rager: Yes.
[00:20:09] Art Conn: Sitting down, I used to think old people, why do they make so much noise when they sit down? Like, ugh. I do that. And it comes without thinking about it. When every time I sit down, it’s like, ugh. It’s like, thank God I made it down. So, just so many different things happen to you when you age.
[00:20:27] Lorilee Rager: Right.
[00:20:28] Art Conn: And I, I, like you said, I do embrace it. I mean, it’s better than the alternative.
[00:20:32] Lorilee Rager: Right.
[00:20:32] Art Conn: Um, and so I’m, I’m accepting it. And I just wished I had followed my own advice that I’m giving to younger people. Keep active, do something every day.
[00:20:43] Lorilee Rager: Don’t stop exercising every day, noted.
[00:20:46] Art Conn: And don’t drink and don’t smoke.
[00:20:48] Lorilee Rager: Oh, okay. And I think you would also add to that, just because I know you well enough, maybe sugar. How do we feel about that?
[00:20:57] Art Conn: Yes. I wished I had not eaten so many donuts. Any kind of sugar. Cause I found out thanks to you that I have diabetes.
[00:21:08] Lorilee Rager: Don’t say thanks to me. But yes, I was very scared. You were sick and I made go to the doctor.
[00:21:14] Art Conn: You said, go to this doctor, I’m making an appointment. I thought what for?
[00:21:17] Lorilee Rager: I did.
[00:21:17] Art Conn: So when I got there, he said, man, if you had had, I think my A1C was in the 400s or something.
[00:21:24] Lorilee Rager: It was in the 400s.
[00:21:26] Art Conn: It was, it was whatever it was that blood count was almost 400. He said he almost sent me to the hospital to get insulin. I’m thinking thank God Lorilee told me to go. So that’s been like five or six years now.
[00:21:42] Lorilee Rager: Gosh, well, more than.
[00:21:44] Art Conn: Yeah, it’s been a long time. Yeah. But, uh, I remember he, he scared me into, I had, I lost weight, I quit eating so much sugar. Um, and I’ve kept it all these years. I’ve kept it under control. He’s given me gold stars, you know, several times. It fluctuates now, but I’m down to where it’s controllable, my diabetes is. I don’t have to prick my finger anymore. I used to have to prick my finger’s and do the blood glucose levels and stuff. But that, that has stayed, remained, you know, in the safe zone for so long, he said, don’t prick your finger anymore. That’s, all the diabetics out there will know, prick your finger, you get callouses. But anyway, uh, that’s that’s one thing I need to thank you for was getting me to the doctor and getting that taken care of.
[00:22:32] Lorilee Rager: You know, you, when you work together with people, they become, I think, like family. You certainly have, more than that, you know. And, and you start to see people change, you start to see differences. And I could really tell, I mean, I could tell something, I didn’t know what was wrong. But, I mean, I could really tell something was wrong. And you were so weak and tired and just really didn’t feel well for a really long time. And so, yes, I made you go to my doctor at the time and was like, I’m making you an appointment. Go get figured out what is wrong. Nobody enjoys it.
[00:23:05] Art Conn: No, but, and you had me travel to Trenton, Kentucky. And I still, I want, you said, you know, get closer. I really enjoy that doctor. So I’ve gotten used to them and the nurses. I don’t have to say my name anymore when I go in there, you know. I just think that, sit down Art, we know you’re here.
[00:23:22] Lorilee Rager: Yep. It’s a good, sweet little clinic that took very good care of my grandparents and, and everybody from my little community, farming community I grew up in. So yes, I’m glad. Good job, buddy. Well, yes, I agree. And I need the reminder to not, to not stop exercising because I’ve been on a good run for the past few years, but with COVID and, and teaching, I’ve really not stuck with my exercising daily. And I don’t even mean I’m never gonna run a marathon if I’m running, you should run too because it means something very bad is coming.
[00:23:58] Art Conn: I got you.
[00:23:58] Lorilee Rager: But, but I, I see what you’re saying and I really, yeah, I just wanna be able to put my bra on. I want that flexibility to put my arms behind my back. And to climb the steps.
[00:24:06] Art Conn: Yeah me too.
[00:24:07] Lorilee Rager: With a laundry basket. Yes, you too. And, and not be outta breath when I get to the top of the steps.
[00:24:14] Art Conn: I still am, but I’m working on that too.
[00:24:16] Lorilee Rager: Good. Good. We’ll take your own advice and I’ll, I’ll stop asking for donuts, yeah.
[00:24:23] Art Conn: But let me say this for you know, about you. Um, I am so proud of you for what you’ve accomplished in the time that you’ve been doing what you’ve been doing, all the things that you’ve done. I know you’ve talked about it on your podcast before, but, you know, getting there, it had to be a journey for you and you made it and you seem so much happier. So I’m happy for you.
[00:24:46] Lorilee Rager: Oh, thank you. Thank you, buddy.
[00:24:48] Art Conn: You’re welcome. You know, I’m proud of you.
[00:24:50] Lorilee Rager: You are such a good support system for me. You really, really are. You will bring me a kale salad in any kale salad emergency situation.
[00:24:58] Art Conn: Ugh, kale salad.
[00:25:00] Lorilee Rager: In a heartbeat. And smart waters, and you, you helped me very much. And I really appreciate it.
[00:25:07] Art Conn: I don’t know how you like those kale salads, but I’m glad you eat ’em.
[00:25:10] Lorilee Rager: They’re so good. And you listen to me when I say to stop bringing me pretzel strawberry salad, which I love so much.
[00:25:16] Art Conn: They’re so good. Now that I will eat with you.
[00:25:18] Lorilee Rager: No, we can’t do it.
[00:25:20] Art Conn: I know my sugar level goes way up on those, but it’s so good.
[00:25:24] Lorilee Rager: Yeah. That’s a lot of sugar. But maybe we can just do it for special occasions.
[00:25:28] Art Conn: Exactly.
[00:25:28] Lorilee Rager: We’ll do it for occasions, so, okay.
[00:25:30] Art Conn: That’s fine.
[00:25:32] Lorilee Rager: Very good. Well, okay. So that kind of leads us into the next topic of, you mentioned, you know, don’t smoke and you mentioned what my journey, and of course, I, I have been ridiculously transparent and open, for some reason, about my recovery journey with alcohol and, and I dealt with some food addictions as well and disordered eating, but, um,
[00:25:59] Art Conn: Are you gonna want me to be transparent now?
[00:26:02] Lorilee Rager: If, if you’re willing, you don’t have to tell it all, you don’t have to tell it all.
[00:26:06] Art Conn: No I will, I will.
[00:26:07] Lorilee Rager: But, but you know, you you’ve mentioned that before in your past and being a smoker. And, um, you know, when I think of, I, I think you’re full of a lot of wise advice. It sounds like also your mother gave you a lot too, to share things like, you know, what would you tell your former self, uh, or anyone listening? Um, especially again, when you think about creatives or people under the pressure of show business or perfectionism and control of the stage of their life or the real stage. Um, you know, what, what’s your advice?
[00:26:43] Art Conn: Well, and let me just tell you a little story that happened to me. We’re gonna talk about addiction. Okay.
[00:26:49] Lorilee Rager: Okay. Okay.
[00:26:50] Art Conn: Um, When I was doing theater, we, uh, theater is a, a happy party type, uh, group of people, okay.
[00:26:59] Lorilee Rager: Yes.
[00:26:59] Art Conn: So after rehearsals, we’d all go out and drink or party, you know, some, some kind of partying. Um, and a friend said, uh, Art, are you an alcoholic? Now this is back in the eighties. I say, okay, so a long time ago. And I said, no, I’m not an addict. And they said, um, well, you do, you know, you drink every night? And I thought about it, I thought I do every night. Wonder if I’m an alcoholic and addicted alcohol. So I decided to quit and see if I, how I did. So I quit. I didn’t a drop for like 20 years. And I thought, oh, I was not an alcoholic. I was not addicted to alcohol, so I’m okay to drink every once in a while. But,
[00:27:47] Lorilee Rager: Oh, right.
[00:27:48] Art Conn: I don’t, I don’t drink now because I just don’t like it. You know, I went so long without drinking. I, so I didn’t have that addiction. Now, I wish the same thing had happened with my smoking. I started smoking when I was 16 years old because of peer pressure. Everybody around me smoked and I wanted to be one of the cool kids. So I started smoking.
[00:28:08] Lorilee Rager: Yeah.
[00:28:09] Art Conn: So I smoked for 50 some odd years, almost 60 years.
[00:28:16] Lorilee Rager: Wow.
[00:28:17] Art Conn: Um, and then just last year, um, I got bronchitis and at the bottom of the doctor’s report, it in big bold type, you know, capital letters it said “stop smoking”. And I thought, I wonder if I could, if, uh, and I thought, I’ve always thought I couldn’t quit smoking because I was addicted to nicotine. It was that addiction thing. I’m doing air quotes right now, I dunno if you can see it or not. So I thought, let me try it and see. And at the time when I was sick, I, you know, cigarettes didn’t taste good. So I put it down and I quit smoking and I realized that it wasn’t the addiction that I had. It was the habit. It was just like, you know, um, what helped me was that nobody else around me had the habit.
[00:29:08] Lorilee Rager: Yeah.
[00:29:08] Art Conn: Except maybe one or two people. So when we’d go to a restaurant, I’d say I’m gonna go out and smoke, every, then leave everybody I’d, you know, be out there by myself.
[00:29:16] Lorilee Rager: Yeah.
[00:29:17] Art Conn: Or, uh, people would come out with me and then they’d say, can I stand down here away from you? And I felt so isolated sometimes because I was the only one that smoked. So it helped that, um, uh, I had the people around me not smoking, you know what I mean? So I didn’t have all that. It wasn’t smoke blowing in my face all the time and thinking about it. I just, not too long ago, I was out, went outside of a restaurant and somebody was out there smoking and I smelled it and I thought, ooh, that smells good. I remember those days.
[00:29:46] Lorilee Rager: Yeah.
[00:29:46] Art Conn: But I don’t think I’ll ever go back to smoking.
[00:29:49] Lorilee Rager: Good.
[00:29:49] Art Conn: Because I broke the habit. And thank goodness I didn’t have the addiction, you know, addicted to nicotine or whatever it is you get addicted to.
[00:29:57] Lorilee Rager: Yeah.
[00:29:58] Art Conn: I didn’t have the addiction. I had the habit. And I wished I had done that when I was younger.
[00:30:02] Lorilee Rager: Right, right.
[00:30:03] Art Conn: I wish I’d said, no, I don’t wanna smoke this nasty stuff, but I did.
[00:30:07] Lorilee Rager: Well, did you think, well, I remember when you had bronchitis and of course in the age of a pandemic, you were terrified that it was COVID or something
[00:30:15] Art Conn: Right.
[00:30:15] Lorilee Rager: you know, like that and gonna get in your lungs. Did you, do you think having that sickness and being so sick, because you were really sick, um, maybe scared you? Or, or you kind of, you couldn’t smoke, honestly, could you? Because you were so sick.
[00:30:33] Art Conn: Right, well, yeah. But usually, I mean I’ve had, uh, I’ve had, uh, bronchitis before and I thought, well, as soon as I get better, I’ll start going to smoking. And I would always go back to it. And this time I thought, you know, if I can quit for a few days, let me see if I can quit for a week, and then a month, and then it’s, you know. I’m, I’ve, it hadn’t been a full year yet, it’s almost been a year. And when I get to the year, I’ll start telling more people, you know, I’m a non-smoker.
[00:31:01] Lorilee Rager: You’re a non-smoker.
[00:31:01] Art Conn: But I won’t be the type, right, but I won’t be the type that’ll go, oh, that nasty stuff. Why are you doing that? I will never do that. Cause I would, I didn’t like people that did that.
[00:31:11] Lorilee Rager: Yeah. It made you feel bad. Yeah.
[00:31:13] Art Conn: Yeah. I don’t wanna make other people feel bad, so I would just shut up and say, no, thank you. I don’t wanna smoke.
[00:31:21] Lorilee Rager: It’s very similar,
[00:31:21] Art Conn: And I wasn’t so much scared. You asked, you asked me about being scared. I wasn’t scared.
[00:31:26] Lorilee Rager: Yeah.
[00:31:26] Art Conn: It just, I just knew that if I could quit, I would feel better.
[00:31:30] Lorilee Rager: Yeah.
[00:31:30] Art Conn: And I could breathe each easier. And it’s helping me, you know, I’m, I live in a two bedroom, uh, townhouse. So I had to walk upstairs all the time. So getting to the top of the stairs just took my breath away. So now it’s getting better.
[00:31:42] Lorilee Rager: Good.
[00:31:43] Art Conn: So I’m breathing better.
[00:31:43] Lorilee Rager: That’s wonderful. I’m so, so proud of you buddy.
[00:31:48] Art Conn: Me too.
[00:31:48] Lorilee Rager: So proud.
[00:31:48] Art Conn: Thanks. Thanks.
[00:31:49] Lorilee Rager: It’s a huge accomplishment. It really, really is. Any type of addiction or thing that we kind of lean on and to stop it, it takes, it takes a lot. So be very, very proud of yourself.
[00:32:01] Art Conn: Thank you. I am. And thank you for being proud of me too.
[00:32:05] Lorilee Rager: I am very proud of you. Very proud of you. I, you know, I never did smoke. I tried so hard. Oh man. I remember my friend smoking in high school and like I stole a package, I’ve I haven’t ever stole anything in my life, but now I’m about to confess I have one time. A pack of cigarettes from a farm hand out of his truck. He had like cartons in his truck, and it was like Drows or something, and then I went way back on the farm, all by myself, and tried to smoke. And I was like, I am going to learn to do this, because it is so cool. And I couldn’t do it. I mean, it hurt my lungs so ridiculously bad. I drove back and put the packet, the package with like three cigarettes missing, because it took me a minute to even figure out how to light it and hold it and, and I just couldn’t do it. I was like, this is way too complicated, I don’t know what I’m doing. But I tried and I couldn’t do it. And, um, I’m glad it didn’t take. So I never, I never understood the addiction and I was thankful no one in my family did smoke for me growing up, um, some great uncles did that I just wasn’t around, I wasn’t around anybody that smoked, so
[00:33:15] Art Conn: Right.
[00:33:15] Lorilee Rager: it just really wasn’t something. Unlike drinking, but that’s another story.
[00:33:21] Art Conn: Yeah.
[00:33:22] Lorilee Rager: But you know, some, something I was thinking of is you still celebrate life, you still celebrate after a show or when you’ve done them and didn’t drink for 20 years and you still had fun and you still have a great group of friends that still love you. Nothing changed about that. And you still were able to go out and celebrate and, and be proud of your accomplishments in a healthy way.
[00:33:47] Art Conn: Yes. I, you know, I don’t have many friends that drink.
[00:33:50] Lorilee Rager: Yeah.
[00:33:50] Art Conn: And to prove that, um, a friend of mine who works a bar downtown, uh, wanted to have a party. She, you know, had she, uh, reserved the, the basement and invited a bunch of friends. And nobody showed up except her brother. Everybody had an excuse for not showing up. I forgot. I really forgot about it. When I, I felt bad and took her to lunch the next day, you know, to apologize for not showing up. I said, but do you realize that your friends, the friends that you invited, we’re not drinkers. We don’t do any drinking. There was like one that who drank, one, once in a while, but most of my friends just, you know, don’t drink.
[00:34:32] Lorilee Rager: Yeah.
[00:34:32] Art Conn: Now Miss Linda, I’m gonna tell on Miss Linda, okay? Can I do that?
[00:34:35] Lorilee Rager: Fine by me.
[00:34:37] Art Conn: When we’d go to Edwards, she will have, um, a Bloody Mary.
[00:34:42] Lorilee Rager: Yeah.
[00:34:43] Art Conn: And one of her other friends has a glass of wine every time, but only when we go to Edwards. That’s, I guess it’s just a thing to do. And I tried one of their chocolate martinis.
[00:34:54] Lorilee Rager: Uh, huh.
[00:34:54] Art Conn: Oh my gosh. That was bad. That was bad because of my diabetes.
[00:34:59] Lorilee Rager: I was gonna say.
[00:35:00] Art Conn: It was too sweet.
[00:35:00] Lorilee Rager: There’s that sugar again.
[00:35:02] Art Conn: I know, but it was really good. But I didn’t, I didn’t like it.
[00:35:05] Lorilee Rager: That’s the way it should be. And that’s, that makes me happy. It makes me happy for you to have good friends and healthy relationships and ways you can celebrate and go out and, and all that good stuff. Um, so, okay. I’m gonna ask you again for some advice too.
[00:35:20] Art Conn: Okay.
[00:35:21] Lorilee Rager: Is what, you know, because I’ve been exploring, um, again, this creative careers and things like how I do feel like we’re so similar in our personalities and as I’ve met, excuse me, as I’ve met other creatives that people pleasers, people with this charisma, as you said charming, and maybe possibly some easy addictive behavior styles. And, um, that kind of live optimistically, the creative field just kind of fits for us, I feel like. And so, you know, I always wanna think about anybody that’s looking to change careers or do something, what advice would you have for anybody that’s in a creative career or wanting to start out, any like beginners advice or tips or ways to deal with and work in the creative field?
[00:36:20] Art Conn: You have to have a passion for what you’re doing. Like actors, um, what I loved about, uh, community theater is somebody has the passion to be an actor but don’t have the tools for it, I love taking them and having, showing them how to be an actor or teaching them acting. It just it’s, it tickles my heart, you know, to do something like that. But you’ve gotta have the passion for it. I, like, I had the passion for being creative, okay, in that field, but I didn’t go to school for it, okay. I went to school for theater, but everybody like you and the people that in your office that went to school to learn what their passion was, that’s the best thing to do. If you have a passion, find the tools to learn how to do it good.
[00:37:14] Lorilee Rager: Oh yeah.
[00:37:15] Art Conn: I wish now that I had had taken those classes that I was supposed to take to be a creative, you know, like a designer or something like that. But I didn’t realize it until I started working with you, back in those days, you know. Then I thought, oh, this is fun. I wish I knew how to do this. And you taught me so many things, but yet you, you didn’t have the, um, what do you call it? Um,
[00:37:42] Lorilee Rager: Patience is that the word?
[00:37:43] Art Conn: Temperament, patience or temperament to, to, to, so with me, because we were buddies, you know, you was like, oh, Art, you know how to do this, don’t ask me that. And I didn’t, had no idea how to do it, you know.
[00:37:56] Lorilee Rager: I would say in former life, uh, extra stressed out, maybe overweight, uh, hungover me, maybe didn’t, didn’t have the capacity to really teach you like I should have. Yeah.
[00:38:07] Art Conn: Yeah. Well, it wasn’t, it shouldn’t have been your job to teach me, but it was my job to do what you wanted me to do. And I needed a little help.
[00:38:15] Lorilee Rager: Yeah.
[00:38:15] Art Conn: And I couldn’t get it from you.
[00:38:18] Lorilee Rager: You did stay, and still do, so curious and so eager to learn and so passionate about it. So that’s really, really great advice, and,
[00:38:27] Art Conn: And I learned to watch videos that you told me to do. There’s a video for that. Go watch it. I would go, okay. And I did, I watched so many tutorials, but it’s like, I wish I had gone to class at, at, you know, when I was in college and taken that, gone that route. But the route I took, I enjoyed too, so
[00:38:46] Lorilee Rager: Yes, I think, it’s all,
[00:38:48] Art Conn: It’s all good.
[00:38:48] Lorilee Rager: You’re on a good, you were on a good path. Well, good.
[00:38:50] Art Conn: Yes.
[00:38:51] Lorilee Rager: Well, good, good. Well, alright. So, wrapping up from all of this creative goodness talk and
[00:38:58] Art Conn: Yes.
[00:38:59] Lorilee Rager: learning. I would like to know what tool would you leave in our Ground and Gratitude toolbox for others? Any advice or mantra or?
[00:39:10] Art Conn: That, okay. Here’s what I would suggest. What my mother told me, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. That can be, you can take that to make it your own. I always thought of it as being nice and sweet attracts more friends. And I think people need to know that you need your friends. My friends have been so good to me. You need them. Don’t be a Negative Nelly and repel anybody that wants to get close to you, okay, cause you’re gonna need your friends. So remember honey against vinegar.
[00:39:50] Lorilee Rager: Honey against vinegar. That’s really, really great advice. Okay. Very good, buddy. This has been wonderful. You have been the best. Thank you for sharing and being so honest.
[00:40:02] Art Conn: Well, I try to be. And I’m, I’m usually pretty good. I’m usually pretty honest. And you, I’m an open book, you know, I tell you everything, you know everything about me. So there it is.
[00:40:12] Lorilee Rager: Well, I learned more today and learned more about your sweet mom. So I really appreciate you sharing buddy and being here for this today. Thank you.
[00:40:21] Art Conn: Yeah. Thank you.
[00:40:23] Lorilee Rager: And that’s a wrap buddy.
[00:40:26] Art Conn: Yay. That was painless.
[00:40:28] Lorilee Rager: It was supposed to be.
[00:40:30] Art Conn: Yeah. Good.
[00:40:36] Lorilee Rager: Thanks again to my buddy for bringing his ever present positive energy to our conversation today. And thank you for tuning in to ground And Gratitude. You can find more info about the show and our topics and blog posts at GroundAndGratitude.com. Be sure and join me next time for more honest conversations exploring what it means to be a creative in this world and how to bring all the love, joy, and laughter back into the process of design, and into life too.
Ground and Gratitude is produced by the amazing Kelly Drake and Anna McClain.
Just be elaborate in your answers. Don’t just give me short answers.
[00:41:40] Art Conn: Don’t interrupt me then.
[00:41:41] Lorilee Rager: Exactly.