40

I have to say, at least I still make myself laugh! Like that time I moved to LA in large part because I saw 40 approaching and was totally freaked out that it would arrive to find me in the same house, city, and career I’d been in since my mid twenties. Or that time I moved back from LA into that same house, city, and career and breathed a sigh of relief that they were all still there, two years later, patiently waiting for me to realize that none of those outward things had anything to do with inner peace, contentment, or joy.

Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them.

-Leo Tolstoy

And now 40 is here, today, and that makes me laugh too. I was so worried about this particular birthday and all of the arbitrary meaning imposed upon it. If anything, I now feel excited to begin a new decade in the same way I felt excited to begin 2019; a clean slate upon which to design a life I love. img_0331

My twenties and thirties were weird! Good parts, bad parts, and a lot of heavy, confused, conflicted parts. I am happy to say that by the time my late thirties rolled around, I’d become better at having fun and at seeing it all as an adventure, which eased much of that self imposed pressure.

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Am I evolving backwards? I wonder. I was a serious child, teen, and young adult. When my peers listened to pop, I preferred Leonard Coen, Bob Dylan, and any cowboy poet crooning over love and loss. I would draw and design my “fashion books” for hours at the dining room table and fall asleep to Italian lessons on tape at night. An odd duck.

Now, I just want to dance. And laugh. And write and draw and relearn the languages I studied as a child, but have mostly let go dormant.

Spirals coming back around. Never the same lesson but one that takes me just a bit deeper.

Life is short.

Are the 40’s the decade in which the self finds a groove, some clarity, and answers appear? Maybe.

Or maybe we will always feel like our five year old selves inside, amazed when the world bestows the word adult upon us? It seems that little girl understood herself pretty clearly and that ever since I have simply been coming home, back to her.

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The Slow Down

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What the what is going on?!

This week I learned that there is such a thing as a bomb cyclone, that entire trains can be blown off of their tracks by high wind, and what happens in the aftermath of a blizzard induced multi car pile-up in which, Thank God, loved ones were uninjured. And, just yesterday, I saw a car unexpectedly catch on fire, had to cut someone out of a coat in which they were stuck after the zipper broke, and later found myself in the orange barrel lane of an interstate that went down to one lane without warning (I was not alone in this predicament).

What is going on?!

As a lover of astrology I’d be inclined to blame it all on the current Mercury retrograde, but really? The Ides of March perhaps, that notoriously unlucky day on which Caesar was assassinated in the Senate, after he failed to Beware.

Coming on the heels of a week in which most of my circle, myself included, were sick with some version of cold, flu, or allergies, was this week simply another sign to slow down and take it easy? A reminder of how little we are in control of and of how quickly things can change from “normal” to chaotic and uncertain?

On March 14, 2009, I was putting clean sheets on the bed after getting home late from a party and as the rust colored fabric billowed in the air I thought, for no apparent reason, “tomorrow is the Ides of March, I wonder if anything weird will happen?” The next morning I received a call telling me that my former boyfriend had died in a car accident the night before, right around the time I was making that bed. I was devastated. Fifteen days before my 30th birthday, it set the tone for my thirties and what would be a strange decade. As I made the drive from LA to New Mexico for the Memorial Service, the Mojave Desert was carpeted in yellow flowers, something I’d never seen before  and haven’t seen since.

One year later, on March 15, 2010, I was caught in a blizzard driving to Las Vegas, New Mexico, for the first day of shooting the Coen Brother’s film “True Grit”. What should have been a one hour drive became four and, little did I know, they closed the Interstate just after I made it through. So, most of the crew was stuck in Santa Fe anyway and it didn’t matter that I’d made it past multiple accidents and to the motel, crying.

Is it just a crazy time of year, a time best spent by resetting and slowing down, before Spring’s warmth and greenery begin? Time to til the soil and prepare, before planting? A slowdown meant to recharge and ready us for Summertime trips, hikes, and projects?

After a few days of below average, freezing temperatures, today is gorgeous, sunny, and wind free. The energy is calmer. I spent the morning digging up old plants, getting my hands dirty, raking leaves, and preparing to plant seeds soon, once it’s warmer. Dirt always grounds me, no pun intended.

The past two weeks have been a needed reminder to slow down, notice the beauty, rest, prepare, heal, and take a moment to appreciate our precious and bizarre time and lives, never taking any of it for granted.

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Forward>Backward

IMG_1071I was recently granted one of those rare opportunities to step back into the past for just long enough to see how much everything has changed. As Zora Neale Hurston wrote in her book Their Eyes Were Watching God, “there are years that ask questions and years that answer,” and, after so many spent in the question phase, it is a relief to feel and see  answers popping up all over my life.

I spent February in Los Angeles, working on the same TV series I spent half of 2018 on. Same characters, same costumes, same locations and crew; and yet my life has totally changed in the six months since we initially wrapped. No more Silver Lake apartment or weekends spent wandering aimlessly. No more dating or existential beach walks during which I wondered what to do next; Should I look for a new place to live in LA? Move? Give that boring guy a second date? So many days, weeks, months spent going in circles, trying to figure it all out in my head, trying anything to alleviate constant anxiety. Until one May morning, last Mother’s Day weekend, I woke up and knew it had to change. I was unhappy and the beach walks weren’t working. It was time to throw it all up in the air and stop trying to force anything.

I started meditating every day. I stuck with heart opening mantras in the hope that my heart always knows which direction is best and would guide me in ways my head only ever pretends to.

And the answers began to come…back to my little house in the desert…back to part time work and hiking and making and cooking and creating and love and to family and connection. I fell back in love with the life I had taken for granted just a couple of years before.

And then February, 2019. Back in LA. Back for a quick taste of what I left behind and all I could think of was how I couldn’t wait to return to the desert, to the man, house, yard, couch, family, and to the life that happened as soon as I stopped trying to force the answers.

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HBD, Smagik!

Six years ago I created this blog as an exercise to find beauty in the everyday. It was a dreary, February day and I needed a self induced push and reason to get off the couch. By creating the goal of finding or eating or going to or doing something beautiful, delicious, fun, and joyful everyday, my life began to take on these same qualities. Small, everyday, easy to take for granted moments took on a new significance simply by being noticed and appreciated.

Thank you for joining me on the journey! And here’s to many more years of Adventure, Joy, Connection, and to finding the beauty in all of our everydays!

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@smagikstudio

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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