Archives for category: Balance

Hey, guess what?! No matter how excited you might be about something, be it a city, a job, a relationship, or anything really, eventually that thing will begin to feel normal and then, if you’re like me, possibly boring, and then maybe, you might start to think something is wrong. Where did the clarity, the sureness, and the excitement go? Isn’t it always supposed to be thrilling and amazing? Well, no, actually it’s not. 

This is where I’ve been lately. In my head, trying to “figure things out,” working, sleeping, grocery shopping, driving, eating, and basically living a beautiful, simple, and somewhat unexciting life. Eek, where did I go wrong? Um, nowhere. 

Life is life. As my wise mother likes to remind me, most of our life is lived in the hall. We go from event to event, room to room, but those are the exception. It’s the meals, drives, morning routines, walks, and daily chores that make up most of life, not necessarily knowing where we are going but trusting that another door or window will appear at the right time. For now, we are all just walking down the hall. 

And I don’t necessarily like the hall. I make lists and plans and think that I’ve done something terribly wrong if I am not crystal clear about every decision, all in an effort to control the unknown, calm the anxiety, and create excitement and the illusion of control. 

“Finding beauty in the everyday” is the tag line of this blog for a reason, because it is an exercise that I repeatedly need to practice. Somewhere along the way I began to equate calm with boring and then with wrong and when I find myself craving a hit of excitement, it is presence and gratitude that I am actually in need of. 

Life isn’t meant to be one constant, amazing thrill ride and, in reality, we probably couldn’t handle it if it was. But, ironically, as we become more present, we realize that even at its most mundane, somewhere on the plateau between the peak and valley, life is absolutely perfect, beautiful, and, actually, totally amazing. 

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I returned to LA from Georgia over a week ago and am just beginning to feel part of my life again.  It’s something I write and think about frequently; the idea that there is my real life and my temporary life, the one I have never figured out how to live while on location, from a hotel room on the side of a freeway, complete with bad carpeting and a mini fridge.  And while I have discovered a few of the things that keep me connected (finding organic produce at Target, my workout CDs, and books), it still feels like I am killing time, waiting to get back to living.

So, what is living? When do I feel connected and present in my life? In addition to being around those I love, with whom laughter, talking, and silence come easy, the answer seems to be creativity. Whether its a blog post, a meal, or a card, when I create something, I feel that I am communicating with the world and can rest well.  For the past week I haven’t been sleeping and have also felt too tired to create anything; my meals have been quick, my outfits boring, my blogs nonexistent. Blank. But, slowly, the juices are returning.  The energy to cook, write, and create beauty is returning and I trust that, with some rest, so will the desire to pursue the larger projects floating around in my head.

I bought flowers, avocados, limes, and chips on the way home from work.  Time for a brainstorming, list making, happy hour party, even if it’s just me and my computer, on a Wednesday afternoon.  If I am going to keep making my living in an industry I don’t love, but that allows me time off and pays my bills, there need to be some ground rules:

1.Only go on Location if it’s to somewhere Awesome, for no longer than a month, and only if I am going to make a bunch of money.

2. Create something, anything, once a week, minimum. Write something everyday.

3. Use the money I make working to sign up for every class/workshop that looks fun, writing and otherwise. Save the rest.

4. Say No to Full Time work. Part time allows for classes and projects. 

5. Never forget to find and create beauty, even in Georgia.

 

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I had an aha moment this week while sitting in the wardrobe trailer, in the middle of the night, shopping for expensive sneakers online… The more hours per week I work and the more money I make, the more I spend and look for distraction and satisfaction in things and stuff. 

Since October I have been working just enough to pay the bills and keep “it” all going, with plenty of time to cook at home, eat well, exercise, write, take classes, and create things, but without enough money to buy a lot of extras. And I feel absolutely no lack or scarcity, only abundance and the freedom to do as I wish with my time. Like when I was in college, I’ve returned to shopping at consignment shops, furninshing my house with treasures found at flea markets, and making stuff; things I always enjoy doing, but which fall by the wayside out of laziness when money is plentiful and time is scarce. 

For the past two weeks, I’ve been on location, working 70-80 hours a week, eating junky food because I’m tired, not sleeping enough, not exercising and, incidentally, shopping online. Why??!!  Because I am bored, uninspired, not feeling connected to my life, and looking for any kind of satisfaction. Chocolate and shoes fit the bill. 

I lived years of my life in this kind of circle until I finally realized what was happening. Time, Freedom, Health, Fun, Travel, Friends and Family, Community.. these are the only things I really care about anymore or that help me to truly feel satisfied. What else could I use that fancy sneaker money for? Don’t get me wrong, every once in a while there is a pair of sneakers capable of bringing joy! But, overall, when I find myself shopping online at two in the morning, eating chocolate, I am usually looking for distraction and satisfaction that should be coming from other sources. 

So, the past two weeks have been a good reminder of what my life used to be like versus what it’s like now. And, I’m grateful to fill the coffers a bit. But, how can that money serve me and help me get the things I truly value rather than a bunch of stuff? That’s the question to remember and to answer. 

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IMG_8709What if we never figure it out? What if we never figure out whether a conversation we had with our dad at age twelve inadvertently influenced our future relationships with men or which grain is causing our skin to break out periodically? I was having a similar conversation recently with one of my dear friends, a fellow searcher and investigator of life, while sitting on bar stools at a Cajun restaurant in DTLA. What if we just have to be ok with never actually figuring any of it out?

I have a stack of self help, health, and relationship books that moves around my apartment. At times next to my bed, or on the couch, or periodically back on the bookshelf and, while the books themselves change, the stack somehow remains a fairly constant four books high.  Combine this stack with the journal that is always near, various classes, workshops, and self help groups, and much of my life has been dedicated to figuring it/me/us out. So, what if that is impossible?

I’m starting to realize that may be entirely beside the point of why we are here.  Thinking along those lines has repeatedly led me towards the idea that one day, down the road, I will get it, playing on the idea of destination as goal, rather than  journey.  It also begs the question, “So, you finally figure it all out, now what? Are you just a satisfied lump, content to sit on your couch ‘all figured out’ or a constantly evolving being that will simply move onto new and different questions once some are answered?”  If life has taught me anything, it’s that that destination centric thinking will lead to both suffering and missing out, whereas when we view “it” and ourselves as a constantly evolving adventure/creation/cosmic joke, one in which the journey is the point, then joy, creativity, and fun have room to flourish.

Fun! That word was nowhere to found on my to do/have lists until recently. And, though I do have to be healthy enough spiritually, emotionally, and physically to have it, it is just as important in keeping me healthy on those same levels as any of my diets, workshops or books. When I find myself taking “it” and myself too seriously, all I have to do is remember that we are literally spinning on a big round planet, through space. Why? Who knows?! So, take the day off, eat the cake, write the song, take the class, say yes, quit the job, buy the shoes, go on the trip, and let go of the lists, the rules, and the need to know. Because we may never figure it out. And that will just have to be ok.

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Lessons of 2017, so far-

You can not go backwards. 

When changing ingrained habits, you will be tested. 

Humor is invaluable. 

You can only ever make the next right choice. 

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It is up to you and only you to create the life you want. 

Your teachers will come in all forms. 

Until the lessons are learned, the situations will repeat. 

Resistance works. 

Panic achieves nothing. 

Creativity is a necessity. 

Sometimes it is necessary to turn off the news and turn up the music. 

 Your intuition is Always right. 

Life goes on. 

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As my dad and I recently made what I hope to be the final drive moving things from my house in New Mexico to my apartment in LA, I was struck by the thought that just one year ago, none of my current reality was anywhere on a conscious horizon. For all I knew, I was content to keep living in my house, working as a costumer, and continuing as before. Forever. The truth is that I wasn’t consciously thinking about any of it, but rather just going along. 

Cut to the winter of 2017 and I am living in a different place, working as little as possible in my career of over a decade, protesting my current government, taking improv classes, signing up for multiple other classes, dating, and consciously creating a life that reflects and encompasses who I want to be. 

And I really have no idea what I am doing! Like seriously no idea. I am being repeatedly  tested when saying no to the familiar and comfortable, be they cities, jobs, or habits, as if the Universe wants to be really certain of my commitment. After emerging from the tests, I simply try to make the next right decision on a daily basis, saying no to the things I know do not work, and trusting that at least then there will be room for what does work, even if I don’t yet know what that is. Onward–>

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Happy 2017, smagik readers! 

On NYE morning, I woke up in a motel in Kingman, Arizona, half way between NM and LA. New Years Eve. 2016 for another few hours. And, as I sat eating my complimentary breakfast, all I could think was “I didn’t realize leaving my comfort zone would be so uncomfortable.” Ha! That possibility had honestly never crossed my mind. Not until I was home for Christmas, loading up my car with things to take to LA, saying goodbye to family, and driving across the desert, again. 

When I arrived in LA, it was drizzling and chilly as I made the fifteen or so trips up and down 48 stairs to unload art, dishes, shoes, files, Christmas presents, one Buddha statue, and a shelf from my car. Once unloaded, I stared at piles of things deemed worthy of bringing west. Wow, now what? “Just keep going,” whispered a voice. 

While home for Christmas, I became aware of two distinct voices raging a sort of battle in my head. One was loud, screaming, scared, gripping, wanting only to stay safe, secure, and to know how everything was going to turn out. The other was a faint whisper that told me to keep going and to trust that I was being guided. And for much of the trip, the screams were winning. It was only after my first panic attack in ten years, late at night on Christmas night, that I realized how quickly and urgently I had been operating for the past few months and that it was time to get quiet, slow down, and come back to the whispers.  

When I slow down, tune in, and keep myself very, very present, it is easy to trust in the adventure and timing of my life. When I move too fast and try to manhandle the universe into doing things exactly how I want them done, WHEN I want them done, panic ensues. 

So, here I am in my fairly empty but cute apartment, sharing walls with strangers for the first time since college, exploring a new neighborhood, and trying to just make one decision at a time. All I know is that this feels right for the time being. I needed to mix things up and I succeeded and I have to trust that I will continue to succeed. 

Because I find there to be the finest of lines between fear and excitement, I choose Adventure as my word for 2017. When handed choices, obstacles, and situations, I plan to make my decisions from a place of “what is the adventurous, and therefor trusting, way to do this?” It builds upon my 2016 word of Faith, around which I know I still have more than a few lessons to learn. I trust that by bringing Adventure into the mix, I will choose fun and joy more frequently, keep myself present, and practice having Faith that I am being guided through the fog. Onward! 


I wish all of you a joyous, happy, present, fun, healthy, prosperous, and adventurous year!! Make it great! 

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se·ren·i·ty
səˈrenədē/
noun
the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.

What can I control and what can’t I control?  How can I be calm, peaceful, and untroubled when so many around me are hurting and very troubled? How can I best be of service?

These are questions which I began asking myself in earnest three years ago and which, just when I thought I had them down and was acing my serenity tests, have come back with a vengeance over the past ten days.  In the wake of the 2016 Presidential Election, I find myself reactive, confused, angry, annoyed, pessimistic, optimistic, hopeful, and fired up.  How can one person (or country) be such a soup and what do I do with all that is rising to the surface?

While I was asking these questions on a very personal level three years ago, it has become clear that while the context may change, the answers actually remain the same. I can control myself, my actions, my words, and (with practice) my thoughts. I can not control anything else. End of discussion.  How can I be calm and peaceful when so many around me are hurting? Well, how is my not being calm, peaceful, and centered going to do anything to help others or to better the situation, whatever that may be? It is only with a calm and centered mind that I will be able to act without reacting and to communicate clearly and kindly.  How can I best be of service? Like the previous answer, only when I have taken care of myself on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level will I be able to assist and help others.

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Tonight I turned off the news and went for a walk.  I could see some sort of a sunset filtering in through the curtains and realized it was my responsibility to my own wellbeing to go look at it, get some fresh air, take some photos and breathe.  It was when I realized I felt some kind of guilt for turning off the news, afraid to be deemed uninvolved, complacent, or an irresponsible citizen that I realized how far off course I have become lately. What exactly do I hope to do with whatever it is NPR will tell me tonight, besides get upset?

While on my walk, I saw a bougainvillea in full bloom, a hawk sitting on a power line, a sunset, a wall decorated with hearts, and two bird of paradise flowers that looked like they were having a conversation.  I came back, turned on some music, ran a bath, and poured a glass of wine.

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Life has a way of sending us the perfect situations to test foundations we thought were solid and, until they really are, will continue to do so. I have been shown many cracks in mine lately and, as Leonard Cohen wrote,

Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

It is an ongoing practice to remember that I am the only thing/person/ place/etc that I can control and that it is only by taking care of myself first that I can then be of service to others.

 

 

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I have been given a beautiful reminder that once the door of change cracks open and the light seeps in, there really is no going back.  I am about to begin week four on my current movie and, as far a being a set costumer on a feature film is concerned, really can not complain.  I am working with friends, the cast and crew are lovely, we are shooting almost entirely in continuity order (That Never Happens!!), and I get to spend my summer in some of the most spectacular locations in the western United States. And all I can think about is that I would rather be writing, somewhere near the ocean, helping others to find and appreciate the beauty in their lives, and implementing the changes in my life that I have recently decided need to be made.

I accepted this most recent job because it was both an opportunity to work with old friends I’ve done many movies with and a chance to replenish the coffers after almost nine months of only working part time.  And I don’t regret the decision.  But, it has also solidified the realization that once there has been an internal shift, there is no going back to how it was before.  I am comfortable on a movie set, I pride myself on doing my job well, and I am grateful for that,  but I am no longer satisfied with being comfortable and knowing something “like the back of my hand.”

So, what to do when my mind and energy are somewhere other than where my body and attention are? Is it possible to keep these two sides of myself balanced and content for two more months, without feeling like I am split down the middle, never present, and wishing away my summer?  Can I come up with a plan for my future while having gratitude for where I am right now, allowing the present to help solidify the future? I think so.

One of the things that have entered through the light of that cracked door is my current obsession with Tarot and with learning this ancient art.  In his book “Voyager Tarot- The Oracular Way,” author James Wanless writes that “Living the moment is the best guarantee of the future. Knowing ourselves in the present creates the energies and situations that take us on to our next lesson and opportunity.” It is my impatience for those future lessons and opportunities that has me itching at the moment, rather than enjoying where I am and trusting in right timing and that all is (always) as it should be.  I can begin planning now, even if the implementation stage is a little ways off.  Research. Who is doing what I want to do? Who is my market? Where do I want to rent an apartment when I move to LA? What is the best way to rent out my house in Albuquerque? What can I do daily to stay engaged with my creativity and joy?

I don’t know exactly what comes next.  But, what I see when I sit on the prairie daydreaming, while they set up the next shot, is that I want to write/design a book, I want to help others make books, I want to sell limited numbers of treasures I find while traveling, I want to create beauty in the world, I want to help others to find beauty in their lives and create more of it, I want to wear clean, nice clothing to work (sorry REI, but all of your UV protective clothing I will spend the next eight weeks in doesn’t count), I want to live near the ocean, I want to create a community of creative, brave, fun people, and I want to use and expand on the talents and creativity I have kept hidden for years.

So, I am grateful to this movie for pushing me in a new direction as gently and kindly as it possibly can.

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fontcandyBut, shouldn’t I be farther by now? I thought it would look different.  I’m hot. Where’s the water? This isn’t what I expected.  Isn’t there a faster way?  I’m hungry.  I can’t find the map. Maybe I was supposed to take the left back there.  I think this is the wrong road.  Is that a mirage up ahead? I am really hungry.  I should have bought the fancy trail mix with macadamia nuts. I hope they have coconut water when I get there…Wow, look at that little yellow flower growing through the pavement.  I think my legs are actually getting stronger. My legs are going to look so good.  I wonder if there are any swimming holes nearby. Wow, that breeze feels great. I think that’s the same bird that I saw a few miles back. Is he following me? That cloud totally looks like an elephant. Whoa, that one looks like a palm tree. It smells like rain. That smells so good. I think I’ll sit by that tree for a minute. It is so beautiful out here.

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