Connection vs. Consumption

img_0017I am currently in the midst of that classic first Monday in January activity…sorting last year’s receipts. In a strange trip down memory lane, my desk is covered with piles of small white pieces of paper which recount all of the groceries, car repairs, restaurant meals, home improvements, dates, shopping trips, hairstyles, and donations made in 2018. Looking at the piles, as I tally up totals, I can’t help but realize how much of the money was spent out of a desire for connection rather than for whatever it was I was purchasing.

Upon my return to LA from India at the end of January, I began what would become a year of work, jumping from one film set to another, with little time for anything else. As my 60, 70, 80 hour weeks and wages increased, so did my spending. As my sleep dwindled, so did my energy and with it my desire to cook, to make, and to create. Consumption filled the void. I ate out more, shopped more, and generally spent more money as I looked for anything to fill the hole left by not having time to blog, to sleep, to exercise, and to be.

These realizations lead me to look towards 2019 with a new set of goals and resolutions. Connection! To keep that word and all that it entails at the forefront of each decision, job offer, and purchase I make. The reality is that when I am connected to my life, I probably need about half as much money as when I am not.  I sleep well and exercise so therefor don’t need to go to the doctor. I rotate my closet through a network of consignment shops which quickly turns into a fun hobby/treasure hunt. I am able to stay up to date with maintenance of car and electronics which keeps them from being neglected and therefor needing more repairs. I eat out less because I have the time and energy to cook. And I am around for when a friend calls and wants to get together, which leads to what I really want. Connection.

And, for those purchases that do still need to be made in 2019, I plan to

  1. Buy the best version, thereby hopefully having it forever. Think heirloom quality.
  2. Buy only what can be recycled and accepted back into the earth.
  3. Avoid plastic. Buy the cardboard, glass, wood, aluminum alternative whenever possible.
  4. Buy with cash, not credit.
  5. Fix, mend, tend, and repair whenever possible.

So far, 2019 is off to a fantastic start. As I look toward the future, I pledge to stop going to the hardware store for milk, as the saying goes. Rather than seek connection through consumption, I will show up where it can actually be found; in personal and professional relationships, laughter, eye contact, nature, kitchens, dancing, travels, gardens, exercise, dinner parties, hikes, couches, kisses, and creativity.

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To Live Whole

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Every year, my mom gives me a Redstone Diary Calendar for Christmas. They choose a word or a theme for the coming year, as I do, and without fail, our words tend to blend bizarrely well. Out of fear of ever being audited, I keep past calendars in discarded black shoe boxes, taken from costume departments, filled with a year’s worth of receipts.

2016 Faith/ Therapeutic

2017 Adventure/Time

2018 Love/Play

2019…

2016 was all about going deep and having faith that I’d be ok with whatever I found. 2017 asked me to let go of the timeline in my head and to see it all as an adventure.    2018 opened my heart and asked me to play. I love that for 2019 they chose the word Home. I have decided on the word Integrate.

2019 Integrate/ Home

integrate

verb

in·​te·​grate | \ˈin-tə-ˌgrāt \
integrated; integrating

Definition of integrate 

transitive verb

1: to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole : UNITE

whole

adjective

\ˈhōl \

Definition of whole 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a(1): free of wound or injury : UNHURT

(2): recovered from a wound or injury : RESTORED

b: free of defect or impairment : INTACT

c: physically sound and healthy : free of disease or deformity

d: mentally or emotionally sound

2: having all its proper parts or components : COMPLETE

4a: constituting an undivided unit : UNBROKEN, UNCUTa whole roast suckling pig

integrity

noun

in·​teg·​ri·​ty | \in-ˈte-grə-tē \

Definition of integrity 

1: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : INCORRUPTIBILITY

2: an unimpaired condition : SOUNDNESS

3: the quality or state of being complete or undivided : COMPLETENESS

home

noun

\ˈhōm \

Definition of home 

(Entry 1 of 6)

1a: one’s place of residence : DOMICILEhas been away from home for two weeks a place to call home

3a: a familiar or usual setting : congenial environmentalso : the focus of one’s domestic attention home is where the heart is

at home

1: relaxed and comfortable : at ease felt completely at home on the stage

2: in harmony with the surroundings

To be an integrated whole, to live a life of integrity, and to be a person at home in her body, self, and life.  A willingness to let go of control and a desire to stop compartmentalizing. A plan for my hobbies, jobs, relationships, friendships, family to combine into a whole and to mix with all of the juicy messiness that might bring. And the ability to remember that it is in this juice, this mix, that the flavor lies.

That’s what I want for 2019!

What about you?!

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Holidaze’ Backwards Gaze.

IMG_9707Another year almost complete, cookies everywhere I look, twinkle lights, car accidents within feet of each other near the mall, the frenzy is upon us! How to stay present, sane, and joyful in the midst of traffic, lines, and expectations (most often self imposed)? It’s time to practice all that we’ve begun throughout the year, returning to morning routines, meditation, slowing down to breath and to laugh. And making lists helps too.

2018! What a bizarre year. How was yours?

One year ago I was preparing for a trip to India, finishing my improv and writing classes in LA, packing my car to drive East on I-40 for my Christmas trip home and the idea that I would soon move back to New Mexico permanently was nowhere on the horizon. Already that life seems like a dream. I recently hung my California license plate on the wall in my studio after finally re-registering my car in NM, as proof that it did happen, but the dreamlike quality remains.

After the initial chaos of the move back, life is finding a groove and I once again feel in the flow. 11:11 repeatedly appears, the perfect opportunities come from nowhere, old friends resurface, and only now does the level to which I was forcing things in LA seem clear. Not that it was bad. Great jobs came along, I met wonderful people, took classes, lived in a cute apartment, and overall had little to complain about, but the flow was missing. My  life felt manhandled and like something to figure out and to solve, rather than to simply be in.

But, it is also clear that it was something I had to do. I now know without any doubt that “wherever you go, there you are.” There is never anything out there (a job, a relationship, a city) that can magically create joy and contentment if it doesn’t already exist inside. We always come back to ourselves whether we like it or not.

I’m currently mulling over words for 2019. As most of you know, I intuitively choose one for each year and invariably they set the tone for the coming year. Love was my word for 2018 and when I chose it, just over one year ago, I had an inkling that though I would have loved for it to herald the arrival of an amazing new romantic relationship, it might end up being more about the self-love kind. Bingo.

And here I am, with two weeks to go before a new year begins, feeling so full of gratitude, contentment, joy, and cookies I could burst. All that I took for granted prior to moving (like my washing machine and driveway), all that I discovered and experienced while in LA (improv, storytelling, being on location for two months in sublime Northern California) and all that I want to create (an integrated life) are coming together and aligning beautifully. And I don’t take any of it for granted.

Scattered around my kitchen table, along with cookie recipes, shopping lists, and wrapping paper, are lists of words… Alignment. Commitment. Fun. Flow… I’m waiting for the 2019 winner to rise to the surface.

What’s your word for the upcoming year? What do you want to create?

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Commit…

To Commit- Verb: To pledge or bind (a person or an organization) to a certain course or policy: “they were reluctant to commit themselves to an opinion”

Synonyms: Pledge, devote, apply, give, dedicate, bind, obligate.

This word has been popping up everywhere lately.

Do what you say you are going to do. Do what you say you want to do.

Make a decision (you will always be able to make another one later). Non negotiable morning routines. Presence. Clarity. Be where you are. Love over fear. Forward momentum. Commit to Joy. Health. Community. Love. Creativity. Prosperity. Relationships. Beauty. Your dreams. Travel. Freedom. Whatever. Your city. Your job. Your family. Your dog. Yourself.

But, do it.

And, Go!

Disclaimer: my WordPress formatting has been spazzing out lately. I have no idea how this will look after I hit ‘publish’. Makes it exciting:/

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Zero Sum, blah blah

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zero-sum, noun

: of, relating to, or being a situation (such as a game or relationship) in which a gain for one side entails a corresponding loss for the other side.

win-win, adjective

: advantageous or satisfactory to all parties involved.

Wowza!!! September.

I arrived back in New Mexico on Friday night, amid a fantastic electric thunder storm that lit up the night sky as we drove west on I-40. The smell of desert rain came through the vent as NPR played in the background. After not having slept well for about a month, and almost not at all for a week, I was on autopilot, willing myself to drive and arrive safely and to think about what comes next, later.

Everything felt completely familiar and totally different.

Listening to our President speak on NPR, I was almost jealous of his ignorant black and white view of the world. Jealous is the wrong word, but how nice it must be to live in a fabricated world of certainty where there is right and wrong and winners and losers, good/bad and never any grey or complication.

Moving back to New Mexico didn’t make LA any less cool in my mind. It didn’t make the things that worked for me there any less great, nor did it mean I’d never return.  Coming back to the beauty, familiarity, and ease of my home state, didn’t mean that the things that had previously annoyed me or felt small here would suddenly cease to do so. My love and annoyance with each could and would exist simultaneously.

paradox, noun

: a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded and true.

In her book “You are a Badass. How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life,” author Jen Sincero writes about the idea of just seeing what you can get away with. Because that book, which I love (and which you will too), is still packed away with all of my other books, I’ll paraphrase; we are our own worst enemies in that we limit ourselves before giving ourselves a chance to even begin, by thinking of the ways in which something probably won’t work, so therefor why bother?

You want to work as little as possible and live as well as possible and travel and create things and do all of the stuff you want to do, when you want to do it? You basically want it all? Good luck!

Why thank you, yes. I do want it all. I want to be healthy and alive and vibrant and in so doing, inspire others to do/be the same, the way others have inspired me. I want to live where I want to live, work where/when I want to work, and stop believing that somehow this is asking too much.

My hairstylist in LA just moved to Oakland to become a baker. Several friends are going back to school. My neighbor in Albuquerque refuses debt of any sort and pays cash for everything; it’s taken him 15 years to fix up his 150 year old adobe home, but now it’s beautiful and he did it on his terms.

Who says that to have this, you can’t have that? Or to do this, you can’t do that? Bosses, teachers, advertisers, parents, banks, co-workers, and so many other voices that are not actually ours, or true, weasel their way into our brains and come out sounding like practical logic. Based on what? Other people’s fears or a company’s desire to sell you something?

I am going back to looking at the adventure of it all and asking Why Not when an idea pops into my mind. I refuse to believe that for this to work, that can’t work, or that win-win situations, in which we all come out ahead, are too idealistic. Let’s just see what we can get away with!

Photo taken on I-40 West, near Holbrook, AZ.

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Seasons

Working nights for the first time in a long time. Woke and made my way to find caffeine, as kids got off the bus from their first day of school. Mid August, still too hot for back to school sweaters and coats, though beautiful near the harbor in San Pedro where I am sitting, drinking tea, trying to wake up. The end is in sight. Last week of shooting. Day 96. The faintest hint of fall in the air. Maybe it’s the light. Or my imagination. Only 40 minutes from Silver Lake, but feels farther. Grateful for the dark, cool hotel room that lets me sleep during the day. Yesterday I woke too early and, unable to go back to sleep, went for a drive… Down Harbor Blvd until it dead-ended at Warehouse 1, then past the Korean Friendship Bell, before heading up and over the Vincent Thomas bridge and Los Angeles Harbor to Long Beach. Felt like a dream as I drove past the apartment I rented years ago but, due to several location jobs, was hardly ever in; past streets that were familiar but more like I’d seen them in a movie, not my own life. Had the overwhelming feeling that I’m glad it’s now and not then, thankful that clarity does come with the years. 2018. What a strange one you’ve been. Maybe it’s that ingrained back to school rhythm I’ve yet to grow out of. Still feels like this is the actual beginning of the year. New clothes, teachers, friends, routines, projects, and hopes. The change of seasons in Southern California is subtle; leaves do fall, flowers do bloom, the light slants at a different angle, but you really can mistake April for September for December. My internal clock has yet to figure it out. I look forward to knowing that I can wear a sweater and bake bread in October, hibernate by a fire in January, and re-emerge in March. If you enjoy these posts, please follow Smagik.com and please share!

A Flower’s Example

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How to follow the example of flowers, trees, and snakes and let our petals, leaves, and skin fall away when it’s time, rather than cling to all that no longer serves? The balance of nature surrounds us, yet following that example can feel more like a blanket being ripped from a toddler’s hands than like some divine wisdom meant to lead us to the best versions of ourselves.

Which stories are on repeat in our heads? What are we afraid of? How do we let go of that fear? How do we trust and have faith that not only are we meant to be happy but that as soon as we let go of fear, we will be?

I woke up a few weeks ago and, though it could have been just another morning, this morning I woke officially sick of all of my stories. You want to get a dog, but can’t because of work? Old story. You want to be the crazy artist instead of wrangling crazy artists? Then go do it. You don’t like your job? Do something else. Seriously, my soul whispered, get on with it already, this discussion is boring me to death.

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On my nightstand- The Untethered Soul, by Michael A. Singer and A Return to Love, by Marianne Williamson. Morning routine- Live Awake guided meditations by Sarah Blondin (so good, found on the Insight Timer app), hot water with lemon, followed by stretches and/or dancing.

All of this helps me tune into that inner voice which, though always there, is so easy to ignore when the idea of change seems overwhelming. But, guess what? Suppression will make it ten times harder in the end and, as we know, the soul will have its way.

So, why not listen to the whispers, make the move, get the dog, ask the question, and change the story? You’ll be fine, the whispers say. Better than fine. You will thrive.

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