Archives for the month of: March, 2016

I decided to send myself to camp for my 37th birthday.  Not really camp, but sort of.

“Are you going to have to sit in a circle naked?” my coworker asked last week, after I told him why I would be out of town for two weeks.

“I don’t think so.” I said, though I was actually not sure.  “It’s in a hotel conference room. But…”

I’ve taken to calling it Fear Camp, only because I don’t really know what to call it or how to describe it. A week long program built around breaking old patterns and living life deliberately. Or, at least that’s what I’ve gathered from my friend who went and raved about it and from their website.

The truth is that I was intrigued by the concept, figured it wouldn’t hurt even if it wasn’t amazing, could potentially change my life and help clarify things I have been thinking about, was a good excuse to go on a road trip to LA, where I could visit friends, it would be an interesting way to turn 37, and why the hell not?

I packed my car with clothes, yoga mat, and my Mary Poppins style bag of essentials (tripod, selfie stick, licorice, iPad, books, journal, tarot cards (which I am determined to learn how to read), book about tarot cards, computer, cize exercise dvds, and a bag of lemons I didn’t use before leaving home). And here I am in a friend’s borrowed home in Pasadena, with a couple of days to hang out before the five day session begins.

What to expect? I don’t know.  The website is vague, as is my friend who is involved in the program.  It will be what it will be for each, no one will have the same experience.  Be present and see what presents itself. Watch your reactions. Be clear.  What do I want? What am I afraid to admit I want? What do I want to change? Or to move forward with? Certain themes keep popping up, everywhere.  Change, coming out of a shell, having the courage to really be seen and therefor vulnerable, saying no to things that are comfortable but unsatisfying, trust.

On the way home I hope to take the scenic route, I-10 through Joshua Tree and on to Bisbee, Arizona, somewhere I have always wanted to go, rather than the more direct, usual  I-40.  But, something tells me not to plan or think too far ahead.  I can feel curveballs in the air. It’s always an adventure but sometimes that is more obvious than others.

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A few of my favorite things.

 

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“I have one foot out the  door, but he doesn’t know where he’s going,” a co-worker told me last week, over a cup of coffee and a donut from the craft service table, as we stood, backs to a cold wind that whipped dust in our scarf and goggle covered faces, waiting for the director and cinematographer to set up a shot.  I laughed. At the moment my feet were cold, even inside winter boots, and I wondered if they had led me to that moment, or had merely followed along. “Where or when did we get the idea that a job in an office was such a bad thing?” I wondered. Later that night I sat on a cooler, next to a different co-worker, and again we waited for a shot to be set and again a dusty, cold wind whipped our faces.  And again I wondered how I’d come to view this as normal.

But, then, what is normal? I’ve spent the better part of thirteen years on movie sets, waiting for shots to be set, in the wind, and for a long time it felt very normal.  I became used to intense periods of work followed by equally intense periods of existential wandering. It is only recently, since I have been taking more time off, pursuing different goals, making different choices, and following my heart, aka feet, that my previous normal is up for examination. My new version involves sleeping well, writing, wandering with a purpose, taking care of myself physically, and making decisions based on how my overall wellbeing will be effected.

As I sat in the wind, I realized that my former and current normals had one thing in common; my desire for freedom. Somewhere along the way, I’d convinced myself that offices equalled cages, commitments equalled obligations and then resentments, and that there was no way to intertwine finances with my own creativity.  I loved to show up in the morning on a new set, to know that no job ever lasted more than a few months, and that I could save money while working because I had no time to spend it, or do anything really, other than work and sleep.  I was willing to overlook the lack of free time, the weather, and the adrenal depleting high, that was actually quite addictive.

But now, as I spend less time on set and more in the office I designed in my home, I realize my feet are leading me in a different direction than the one I am so familiar with. And I don’t actually know where we are going. I figure we haven’t gotten lost yet, so I’ll just continue to follow.

 

 

 

 Last week I heard the title “Secretary of the Future” while listening to Marketplace on NPR and I fell in love with the idea. In a country with a Secretary of Defense and one of State, why not have one whose purpose it is to look forward to where current policies and strategies may lead? 

I thought of one of my posts from the end of 2014, in which I’d described the type of Empire I wished to preside over, after reading a horoscope which urged me to do just that. The official color would be gold, the official texture would be sand between the toes, and so on. It was all very official. 

So now I will become my own Secretary of the Future. While staying present and open to what life presents, how can I look forward to goals I want to achieve and keep myself on a path towards them? How can I make choices that lead in that direction and away from distraction? 

The part I find difficult is that balance between having goals and also leaving space for the universe to work its magic. There is a lack of specifics in most of my goals that could worry me, but instead gives me a sense of peace, trusting both that whatever is meant to be will be, but that it is still up to me to point my life in the direction I want to go. My imagination can only conjure what it knows about and there could be bigger and better solution to each of my goals than I could ever fathom. 

The future I envision is one full of adventure, travel, creative expression, love, joy, fun, community, health, and serenity. To achieve it demands vigilance in my current decision making process and congruence between what I say I want and what I actually do. I must be honest with myself about why I am doing what I am and remember that different outcomes need different routes than those previously chosen. The paradox is that by planning for the life I want to have, I am more present in the only one I will ever actually live, here in the present. 

Even without many specifics, I like the vibe of my future and can feel the energy I gain when I make decisions that move me closer to it. I also like calling myself Madam Secretary. 

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What better thing to bring into existence and care for than the life one wishes to lead?!   Obviously our parents brought us into existence originally and literally, but from the time we could form an opinion, speak, cultivate a talent, and dream, these little lives of ours have really been up to us to do with what we will.  What are you willing to trade precious time for and, when that time is up, what will you look back on with pride or regret? Where have you chosen safe and comfortable over unknown and, therefor, scary? What is important to you? What makes you happy? What would you do if money were plentiful and you couldn’t fail?

I’ve been thinking a lot about these questions lately as I look at the choices that have led me to exactly where I sit right now, writing this, at a green desk, surrounded by objects I love, in my office, in a home I remodeled, on a 2200sf lot, in a city I moved to for college almost eighteen years ago, in the state I grew up in, one hour from the town my family still lives in, in the country I was born in, on a Thursday night.  Besides having no control over who I was born to or where I was born, I created and curated everything else in that sentence,  with the choices I made.

This realization came as a bit of a shock to me a few years ago, when I suddenly felt that I didn’t recognize my life or know how it had come to be what it was. Without realizing it, I had either made choices by not making them or by making them to satisfy someone, or something, else’s idea of what was important. It was sometime in 2013, around the time I started this blog, that I realized a few of the things that were important to me were to have some type of a normal daily routine, write, take pictures, be of service, travel, have more fun, and see my loved ones more often. I was tired of accepting 70+ hour a week costuming jobs on movie sets because I didn’t know how to say no, was addicted to the adrenaline high, the money, and the ego boost it provided. During these jobs my plants died, relationships disintegrated, and I stopped sleeping.

I needed balance in all areas of my life and didn’t know where to begin.  So, I started small. I took a break from out of town jobs. Then from jobs that were too long. Then from any job that didn’t sound amazing.  And, by doing so, was quickly reminded of the saying “for every no, there’s a better yes around the corner.” I’ve become picky about the jobs I accept and base my choices on how each will benefit or hurt the creative and full life I have finally begun building, not how the job will fulfill my ego.  I’ve begun to see time as the most precious of all, more so than status or money, and, though money earned from costuming still supports things such as blogging, making tiny movies, and taking photos, I am less willing to sacrifice so much of my energy for that end. I am currently working part time on a TV show and couldn’t be happier. It allows me the time to sit at my computer on a Thursday night, thinking about how I want to create this awesome life of mine.

It is only recently that I can see it all as a creative project.  How I cook, dress, arrange my bookshelf, stay in touch with friends, play with my nephew, work in a costume department, and write is a big bunch of choices I make daily, which will lead me to either feel like I am living my life or that it is living me.