Archives for category: Life

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What a week! What a month! It's like my nervous system, and those of everyone I know, are on constant high alert, waiting for the next twitter bomb, threat, shock, and proverbial shoe to drop.  I'd love to blame the eclipses, which we are in the middle of right now, but science and nature are getting enough flack lately, so I'll just blame us.

As I listened to our President threaten North Korea, I found myself thinking, hmm, this makes my already sparse earthquake survival kit seem even more lacking than it already is.  The Army Surplus store around the corner from my apartment advertises Survival Supplies, be they for an Earthquake, Burning Man, or Nuclear Attack and, curious to see what they had, I popped in. Food in sealed pouches guaranteed to last for a decade. Bullets. Gas masks. The list goes on and on. No, thank you. This is not the kind of stuff I want to buy or worry about. Nor is it the kind of world I care to live in or survive should the unthinkable come to pass.  I left the store without buying anything.

When I walked outside, it was a quintessential gorgeous LA day, 75 degrees and sunny.  A tree nearby was literally raining down purple blossoms.  Wow, I thought, this could all vanish with the push of a button.

Later that night, as I was laying in bed, I happened to feel one of my breasts through my T shirt and was startled to feel a strange bump. "WTF is that?" I thought. After finding a doctor who could see me quickly and getting my first mammogram, it turned out to be nothing serious, but for the second time that week I thought how quickly the lives we all take for granted can change forever. I also thought about how fortunate I am to have great health insurance and how unfair it is that so many in this country don't and that this will cost lives.

We take for granted that we will wake up in the morning and, still sleepy from the night before, drink our coffee and head to the jobs where that one guy will make us laugh and that other one will annoy us and then we will sit in traffic and eat dinner and not think twice about any of it.  We take for granted that Nazis are bad and that the President of the United States will have no problem saying so.  We take for granted that everyone wants to live and that in a war of mutually assured destruction, there will be no winners. We take all of this for granted because it is logical, fair, makes sense, known, etc.  But, then we remember that we are living in the era of alternative facts and this turns everything as we know it upside down. And the reality of the perilous tightrope walk we call life becomes more obvious than is comfortable to admit.

So, what to do? Radiate love in the face of fear and hate.  Value your health and take care of yourself in any way possible.  Help take care of your community.  Savor the beauty of being alive and create more of it.  Show up, speak up, stand up, and stop taking any of it (the fact that we are alive, on this planet, with each other, at this time) for granted.

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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’m standing on the side of a rural highway in Georgia. And it is hot. Sticky. The humid air is visible,  something I’m not used to coming from the desert. A small breeze tries to blow periodically, but then gets tired and gives up, not that I would be able to feel it anyway. I (the girl who grew up running around on the prairie, playing in arroyos, camping) am covered head to toe in every bug deterrent clothing item made and sold by REI, to the point that only my face is visible.  Stories of ticks and chiggers run through my head. I stand on the paved shoulder, afraid of the grass and what might lurk below. Who am I and when did I turn into the type of urban princess I used to scoff at?

Early in my costuming career, in New Mexico, I would smile quietly when the LA part of the department arrived on location wearing cute, clean, impractical shoes, complained about the local restaurants, or were scared of the bugs.  Buck up, I’d think. 

Standing on the side of the highway, I look across and see a young girl playing on a slip and slide in her front yard. She runs back and forth with her brother as their mom sits on the porch, watching, drinking a coke and smoking a cigarette. Every once in a while they turn to watch us; dozens of people who just appeared on the side of their road, filming a car driving back and forth, all covered head to toe. Periodically the girl or her brother slide too far and end up in the long grass at the edge of the yard, the same grass I’m scared of. I watch them scream and slide and, very slowly, I lean over, untuck my pants from my socks, and unzip the legs. 

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I’m sitting in an airport for the third time this month, reading my horoscope. Home, home, home. My fourth house is all lit up, hitting the domestic vibes/homefront notes for the next month, just in time to be outside of Atlanta, for work, living in a hotel.  So, how to avoid going crazy and give myself those homey vibes, while on the road? What does home mean? Where is my home? 

I recently had a reassuring realization while in Northern California for a couple of weeks, again for work and again living in a hotel. I missed LA. Having only lived there for six months, after repeatedly trying  to adapt for ten years and but always eventually fleeing for the clean air and calm of my previous home, New Mexico, this was a huge shift. And a welcome one. I missed the assortment of healthy food, the mass of stuff to do on weekends, the hipster adventuror spirit which can be both annoying and awesome,  my classes, friends, apartment, stuff and my morning routine. I was officially homesick for my new city. So, that’s a good thing! 

But, what to do to create home when away? My yoga mat, many books, music, a big bag of food and tea, journal, and tarot cards are traveling with. I’m heading out with an open attitude and belief that seeing different parts of the country and world will give me some good stories to tell and a greater appreciation of my own city when I return next month. 

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 hope

  1.  to cherish a desire with anticipation :  to want something to happen or be true

  2. archaic:trust

  3. to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment.

  4. to expect with confidence :trust

“I hope you can let this go.” -President Trump to Former FBI Director Comey.

vs.

The platform of Hope upon which President Obama ran in 2008 and 2012.

vs.

Hope or Trust.

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I have looked at and said the word Hope so many times today that it no longer looks or sounds like a word, you know what I mean? What is it?  And what if, just what if,  hope is actually what is causing our country to stumble right now? As I rolled this word around in my head, I kept coming back to its implied passivity, a wait and see attitude that can lead to doing nothing or, worse, to expecting others to do it and then acting like a victim if they don’t.  What about the hope that coal mines will come back, that global warming is a Chinese hoax, or that going backwards is ever an option?  As much as I love the optimism it can carry, hope has doubt at its core and there is no getting around it.

What if, instead, we choose trust?  Trust in ourselves and our communities and in the idea of working together, for each other and with each other, to move towards a common goal? What if we begin to demand that kind of reliability within all of our relationships, including those with our government? I have faith in this country and know that we are better than the hoping/wishing/waiting/ burying our head in the sand and crossing our fingers that things will improve trap we seem to have fallen into.  I don’t know that hope is serving us well and think it is time to switch it up.  Just a thought.

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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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IMG_8388Last night I leaned against the railing of the Belasco Theater’s mezzanine in DTLA and watched as two friends from high school played to a packed house, with their band “Minus the Bear”.  And, as I watched and listened, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that everyone I know, myself included, is nailing it. “It” being living.  This “creating a life that makes you happy and feeds your soul and makes it seem like there’s a point to all of the absurdity” thing. The often self imposed angst, confusion, and pressure I so frequently felt and saw mirrored in those I love for the past twenty or so years, seems to be lifting. Not that anything has been figured out necessarily, but, speaking for myself, there just came a point when the choice to be happy and joyful had to be made. Or not.

After the show, one of my friends showed me a picture he’d recently come across of us taking our final Thespian Club bow at the end of our Senior production of Titus Andronicus. The world lay at our feet and all we had to do was be brave enough to catch it and run.  He was meant to play music on stage. I had spent my high school years on stage, in art classes, and studying German and had no idea where those interests would lead me, but trusted it would be somewhere good.

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And then life happened.  Things that sparked my creative light took a backseat and I tortured myself frequently about needing to figure it all out.  And I let enough time pass that I actually started to forget the high of being on stage, rehearsing, improving, writing, collaborating, and creating. Instead, I helped others bring their visions to fruition, made a decent living, and ended up with a career I wasn’t in love with.

But, as they say, the Soul will have its way.  And the quicker we learn to accept that truth, listen, and follow, the less we will suffer.

In my friend’s lives and my own, I see the beginning of that acceptance  and the magic that acceptance then creates.  In some ways it feels like I’ve taken a twenty year detour to get back to my 1997 self, albeit now a more confident, experienced, and (hopefully) wiser version.  And I don’t regret any of the strange and sometimes dark paths I periodically chose, for it all helped me to appreciate and have immense gratitude for the clarity and homecoming I now feel.

Standing in the mezzanine last night, it was as if I could hear our eighteen year old selves rooting us on, proud of the choices their older selves would eventually make, guiding us to more amazing lives than we ever could have imagined back then.

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After a crazy autumn and winter full of action, movement, and change, the past month has been eerily peaceful.  I’ve been sleeping well, have felt bizarrely uncreative, content to go to the semi full time part time job I manifested on a TV show with a crew I love working with, and have felt overall catatonic, foggy, and also calm and happy.  As dust settles after a tiny tornado blows through, my new life is falling into place and, like a spectator, I am watching it,  amazed at the ease with which things can happen when they are meant to and when one gets out of their own way.

Yesterday I attended a storytelling workshop at The Museum of Broken Relationships. First of all, you should go to this museum, in the heart of Hollywood, if you are able. Full of items sent in by people from all over the world, each one is accompanied by a story and I haven’t been that moved by an exhibit in a long time. From sweaters to tickets to bellybutton lint, each of us is made of the heartbreak and beauty of life and living and none would be where or who we are without the previous joy and pain that got us there. Second of all, storytelling, gratitude, and finding beauty within the mundane seem to be the common and recurring threads weaving my current interests together. I am being repeatedly led to the next right person, class, workshop, and idea at the perfect moment and, while I have no idea where it is all leading, I can feel the fog lifting.  There is something in the writing, improv, and stories that is working its way out, percolating and, as my nervous system calms and life settles, slowly finding its voice and path.

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