Pollyanna’s Pissed

For the past couple of years, and weeks, I have yo-yoed between the consumption of constant news and social media concerning our current political situation and then, after the nausea, anger, and anxiety take over, backing away, going into withdrawal, consuming none, and feeling better. I struggle with the need to feel informed and the reality that the news and social media seem to lead me in circles, frustration consumes me, and nothing is actually accomplished.

I recently saw a post on Instagram that said “I am no longer accepting the things I can not change but changing the things I can no longer accept.” As a frequent utterer of the serenity prayer,

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference

and though I appreciate the sentiment behind the Instagram post, I was left feeling slightly panicked about where to begin. I can not control the patriarchy and people who vote against their own self interest repeatedly. I can’t control the electoral college and climate change and the white misogynists who currently run our country.

It feels too big. Injustice so huge that the entire foundation of our country needs to shift in order for it to change.

So, once again, what can I control?

Where and how I spend my money, whether I vote, how I volunteer, contribute, am involved, and educate myself, how I creatively interact with the world, the energy I bring to all situations, my choices, whether or not I choose to see the glass as half full or half empty, and whether or not I wake up each morning and decide to try all over again. For fear of sounding like a Pollyanna, always looking for goodness, and as someone who is not comfortable with anger (I’m working on it), sometimes it really is just a shit sandwich and I have a hard, if not impossible, time finding any beauty. But, I keep looking. (I know some of you are rolling your eyes. That’s ok.)

At the moment I am grateful for the anger which will hopefully encourage more people out of their complacency and to the polls on November 6th (check your current voter registration even if you have never moved and always vote in every election), for the comedians, journalists, and artists who every day come up with new material to help me process, laugh, and think my way through the day, and I’m grateful for the courage of Dr. Ford.

No matter how ugly it is, none of it is new, but we are waking up and finally turning over the rocks. Only now, after it’s been exposed to the light, can things change. And they have only ever changed once a bunch of people were fed up enough to say “Nope. Time’s Up.” Never has that change started at the top.

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Embrace It.

IMG_2881.JPGI have had a hard time sleeping for the past couple of weeks and for anyone who knows me, or reads this blog,  that could sound like old news. But, it is actually new news! Instead of lying in bed full of what ifs and how is this going to work and the like,  it feels like an army of fireflies has invaded my body and is having a dance party while holding lit sparklers. I can feel the energy of possibility, adventure, change, and magic coursing through my veins and pulsing from brain to heart to gut. For the first time in a long time, I can see how A led to B and then to C and a new sense of clarity and purpose is taking hold.

While in the Advanced Course at MITT (mittraining.com), I committed to creating an integrated life. I came to realize how compartmentalized much of my thinking had become and how self limiting and sabotaging that was.  Instead of placing creativity  in one box, making a living in another, sense of community in that one over there, and love somewhere next to it, I want one big, full, integrated life which encompasses them all.

What do I do that brings me gratification and joy? What do I do when no one is paying me to do it, just because I want to? What do I love about my life right now and what do I want to change about it? Where do I see myself in one, five, or twenty years?

It is very easy for me to belittle the answers to these questions with a quick “well, doesn’t everyone do or want that?” or  “but, that’s just me messing around,” rather than realizing that not everyone loves taking photos and playing around with photo apps on their phone for hours, arranging beautiful spaces, writing about their experiences, thinking about what it means to be a human/spiritual being, sharing recipes, and trying to create beauty in the world on a daily basis. At times I think, “oh, but that’s all too random and I should focus on just one thing. What do photos, home decor, spirituality, food, and beauty have to do with each other?” Well, in my experience, everything! They make me happy to be alive. And, I know I am not alone.

For the first time, I feel clear that there is a reason I have the interests and passions I do and that they are not to be taken for granted, belittled, or ignored, but rather embraced, as yours are. They can and will benefit both myself and the world if I just let go of the need for it all to look a certain way and trust that by being my authentic self, I will create the integration, impact, and joy I desire. It is already happening.

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Grey

The themes of negative space, grey area, and the beauty of imperfection have been reappearing in my life lately. Blurred areas where it isn’t black or white or said or pretty or really even understood, keep drawing me in, whether through my current time off between movies, the need to infer rather than tell in my flash fiction class, the metal scraps left behind from jewelry making, or the book sitting on my coffee table, “wabi sabi: the japanese art of impermanence”, by  Andrew Juniper.  Each has led me somewhere totally different than I thought I wanted to go when setting out and it’s only now that I’m beginning to realize the grey and the negative were probably the point all along, it just took me a minute to realize. 

Frequently when I take time off between movies, I feel somewhat aimless and ungrounded, as if I’m on vacation, fun, but always aware there is an end in sight. But, this time, I’ve begun to switch my thinking. Maybe movies are the negative space, serving to support my writing, reading, traveling, blogging, jewelry making, hiking, cooking, and learning adventures. Maybe the space I’m in now is enough and should be viewed as important, necessary, and productive, if not more so, as the time I spend on set. 

I began my most recent foray into flash fiction on Wednesday night, with the great teacher Meg Tuitte, and was reminded again of the importance of grey area in this kind of writing. With most flash pieces being under 1000 words, it is necessary to jump into the middle of a story and trust your audience to keep up. Without time to give a background on each character and then curve slowly towards the climax, one sentence might have to do the trick. It’s a great exercise on being clear and concise. 

Likewise, in the small metals class I’m taking at Meltdown Studio, in Albuquerque, I began by making a brass cuff. When I didn’t like that, I stamped out a bunch of shapes with the idea to make charms for a necklace. And, in the end, it was the rectangles with shapes missing that were my favorite. Negative space.  (The words happen to say “she jumped out of the boat”, a little reminder to myself that once out, it’s almost impossible to go back in:)

And then, last night, I just happened to pick up a book that’s been on my shelf for years, but that I’d never read. Though only at the very beginning of Andrew Juniper’s “wabi sabi- the japanese art of impermanence”, I was drawn in with this idea, “the Japanese were to become masters of space, and have throughout their long artistic history stressed the importance of space or nothingness as a juxtaposition to things that presently exist”(p 9). I love the idea that that space is just as important as the existing object or idea. 

I am reminded of an interview I heard with Bill Gates on NPR, though not sure on which show. They were discussing the possibility that Gates real legacy could end up being The Gates Foundation and all that it has been able to do around the world, rather than Microsoft, though that too helped change the world. You just never know when this will lead to that and then to that. The thing you thought was the goal could end up being a mere stepping stone to something so big and amazing, your little brain couldn’t even fathom it back then. 

As I think about all of this and as examples keep popping up in my life, I am reminded to enjoy the ride. Not to be cliche, but it really is all about the journey. The grey negative inbetween might end up being the point in the end, so why not let go of some perceived goal, success, point in the future, just enjoy, and see where it leads?

Joy

I love this time of year; the week between Christmas and New Years Day specifically. With its mix of excitement, melancholy, nostalgia, and anticipation, it can be an emotional roller coaster, a purge, an adventure, or whatever else I decide to make it, usually a big stew of all, good and bad.

At the moment, I am streaming LA’s KCRW, baking banana bread to give to neighbors, making lists, cutting up magazines, and trying to stay present in the midst of the year end hoopla. It is a strange phenomenon, how quickly one year can go by and all that can happen and change within that year; simultaneously stretching and shrinking time.

For 2014, I chose the word Happiness. I hoped to make decisions based on this word and to keep it at the forefront of my mind. Three months in, on my 35th birthday, I added the word Congruence. How did my stated desire to be happy line up with my actions and vice versa? By mid year, I felt it working. Through a combination of events and choices, I felt more grounded in my life than I had for years.

As I look towards 2015, there are many words that jump to mind; presence, adventure, fun, love, or creativity. But, the one I’m going with is Joy. Hoping to build on a foundation of Happiness, Congruence, and Presence, I want to bring more lightness, spontaneity, fun, and joy into the mix. Goals include board game playing, cocktail mixing, road tripping, camping, writing, landscaping, dancing, traveling, sun bathing, recording, and letting go of all preconceived notions of how “it” should look or be. “It” being life.

I recently read a horoscope in which the astrologer referred to Empire Building and advised me to think about the type of empire I’d like to build. So, here it is-

The Smagik Decree for 2015

Official Mood= Happy and Content
Official Drink= Hard Apple Cider
Official Hobbies= Refrigerator Poetry, Swing Dancing
Official Goals= Radio School, Improve Spanish, Travel Somewhere New
Official Mantra= Let It Go
Official Trips= X Country Road Trip, DC, LV, ?
Official Color= Gold
Official Texture= Sand Between Toes
Official Economy= Prosperity
Official Exercise= Stretching, Skiing
Official Food= Steamed Artichokes, Dark Chocolate
Official Animal=Goats
Official Event= Birthday Party with Piñata
Official Slogan= Lighten Up and Look Around! It’s all Good!

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Icing

Thank you, Brooklyn. Thank you for being the icing on my triple layer, cream cheese frosted, perfect for breakfast, or after dinner, cake of an adventure.

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After waking on my friend’s couch from a surprisingly good night of jet lagged sleep, I made my way to Civil Service Cafe for a truly hipster American breakfast of eggs, potatoes, steamed kale, and Earl Grey tea with my dear friend, RP. Over a shared almond croissant, we proceeded to come up with a plan for the next six months that had us both yelping with joy in the cafe. Let’s just say it involved bikes, flying boats, stories, and more shared croissants. All this and it wasn’t even 11 a.m yet.

Outside it was a beautiful, NY October day. Walking in the direction of Williamsburg, we stumbled upon an impeccably curated store, Joinery (263 South 1st St). It was full of beautiful clothing, shoes, objects, fragrances, and it was difficult to come away with wallet intact. I made it out for only $45, spent on a delicious rose/cedar scent by Olo. Not too bad considering the damage that could have been done.

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After leaving RP, I found myself along the East River where there was a food festival, then along Bedford Street where I had to buy a necklace of a tiny cast bronze Singer sewing machine from a guy (ambrosiojewelry.com) selling bronze and silver pieces, and finally at Brooklyn Industries they were giving away free mimosas (and it was 20% off), so I had to go in.

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Finally, after doing enough financial damage to bring my adventure from “under budget” to right “on budget”, it was time to make my way to JFK, with suitcase bulging.

Thank you, Brooklyn, for easing me back into the USA with such a delightful day.

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