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 with an ex 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!

Chaos

 

IMG_7396My life is currently in boxes, covered in bubble wrap, and running on caffeine and meditation. The show I’ve been working on since March is coming to a close and, along with my apartment, is being packed, boxed, and moved. Though I don’t have to actually move until the end of the month, I find it easier to just do it now, little by little on my weekends, so that my brain has one less reason to wake at 3 a.m.

I am not a good procrastinator. Once I make a decision, I just want to get on with it already.

I recently read a great book entitled “first, we make the beast beautiful” by Sarah Wilson. IMG_7606

In it, she takes us through her struggles with anxiety and, though mine differ from hers in several ways, I found myself having “aha moments” throughout and passing the book along to several friends. Though there were too many such moments to mention here, and you really should just read the book if any of this sounds familiar, the ones that  stood out were about the need for a non negotiable morning routine, how not making decisions can increase our anxiety rather than the other way around, and the idea that anxiety can not survive in the present moment; thus when people find themselves in real legit crises, when one might think their anxiety would spike, instead it ceases completely.

Having a morning routine is a certainty anchor with really sturdy stakes….once the certainty anchors are in place, the day starts and all kinds of chaotic decision-making can then ensue. (p 217-218)

I know my morning routine has not only gotten me through the past few months, but has helped me to be kinder and more patient, with myself and others, as well. I wake 1.5-2 hours before I need to leave (that can be really early when working on a film set) which  this gives me enough time to stretch for 10 minutes, meditate for 20, make my lunch, and get ready. I use the ‘Insight Timer’ app on my phone for guided meditations or as a meditation timer and, as of this morning, it told me that I have meditated for 96 consecutive days. I remember the day I began meditating after a long break; it was right after I returned from a month of working in Monterey County, in May.  I woke one morning, looked around my apartment, panicked and knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be, physically, spiritually, or emotionally. Meditation helped me to get clear about the direction I wanted to go.

The funny thing is that behavior studies show that we think making a decision is more anxiety-riddled than not making a decision. But, in fact, the opposite is true…when we decide to do something and it turns out badly, it mostly doesn’t haunt us down the track…failing to act on a decision, however, will haunt us. The infinite possibilities of what might have been get us into all kinds of anxious messes. (p 223)

Once I made the decision to move back to NM, even though it temporarily threw my life into chaos, I felt an overwhelming calm. In the past, I have been known to passively make decisions by not making decisions (fyi, it’s still a decision and the consequences I was hoping to avoid by not making a decision in the first place were still mine to deal with in the end). And, I have also been known to make decisions and then feel trapped by that decision, forgetting momentarily that I am always free to simply make another decision, to choose differently, and to change my mind.

Los Angeles was a choice I made that I knew would haunt me on some level if I didn’t give it another try. I am glad I did. Moving back to NM is a choice that feels good right now, but who knows? Will it in a year? We will never know the answer to these questions so, just take the next right step and see where it leads. Trying to figure it out ahead of time is a guaranteed anxiety producer!

You can’t be anxious and be in the present. And you can’t be anxious and attend to genuine fear or catastrophes. And you can’t be anxious and walk mindfully or breathe deeply. (p 230)

I should be anxious right now, but I’m not. Anytime I wake up in the middle of the night, wondering what I am doing, I just breathe and remind myself that it is all an adventure.  People move, change careers, get dogs, and come up with the plan as they go, all of the time. But, “first, we make the beast beautiful,” and therefor less scary.

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Weekend

Wet legs. Sandy feet. Salty hair. Unplug. Drive west. Breathe deep. Get burned. Sit in traffic. $20 to park. Watch the longboard competition. Calm down. Another deep breath. 83 degrees. Cool breeze, salty air. Sunday. Enjoy. If you enjoy these posts, please follow Smagik.com and please comment and share.

The Beauty

    Today I planned to write something about how, after the past week’s worth of insane news stories, I want to fight fascism by using every ounce of my energy and resources to find beauty in the everyday and to remind others to do the same. Those who can find beauty in life, don’t have time for hate.
    But, as I sat down to my computer to think of a thesis, a friend texted that there was an active shooter at the Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake, less than a mile from my home and where I spend roughly 94% of my Saturday afternoons. Today I was tired and it was hot and I didn’t feel like driving there. Customers and employees are currently escaping through a window at the back, down a ladder thrown up by LAPD, and are running away from the entrance. And instead of writing, I am watching this through a live feed on my computer.
    You think you know which way is up until, as you compare the price of Cheddar to Swiss, a car robbery gone wrong crashes in front of the store and a desperate man with a gun enters.
    You think you know which way is up, until the President if the United States takes the side of Vladimir Putin over that of his own Intelligence Agencies, then denies he did that, though you know you saw it and heard it yourself, and then denies that he denied it, until you don’t know what happened and begin to doubt your own sanity. Or you scream.
    I was shushed on set this week, something that doesn’t happen often. “You’re so quiet” is a comment I often hear, though maybe not when with my mother, sister, or a few choice friends. Normally I don’t get shushed. But, Helsinki made me scream. While reading the news on my phone in the dark coolness of a soundstage, I had to go outside, have a sip of water, and calm down before I ruined the take.
    I still hear helicopters circling outside. The sirens have subsided for now, though most of my neighborhood directly north is surrounded by LAPD.
    Another reminder that we never really know which way is up. I’m about to pick up a friend and go to a photography show. There might be food or wine. If there is, I will eat it and drink it. When I make eye contact with someone, I will smile. I will support the artists, the writers, the thinkers, the comedians, the journalists, and all those who seek beauty and truth.  I will continue to believe that there is more goodness than evil and more love than fear around us. And as the world spins and up is down and down is up, if there is music, I’ll dance.
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    Photo taken by me of a photo taken by Rebekah Potter.

Heat

It’s upwards of 110 degrees throughout much of Los Angeles county today and I have spent the day either in nearby businesses that have AC, reading in a bathtub of cold water, or in my apartment wearing a dress I keep wetting in the sink. The only solid foods I’ve eaten in two days are chips and guacamole, to go with my smoothies and ice cream; heat apparently turns me into a dietary child. I have at times had to work outside in similar temperatures and today I am grateful to be off but worried for all of the gardeners, construction, film, and road workers (among others) who are sweating it out outside. And, I can’t help but wonder, as each year gets hotter than the last and heat records continue to be shattered, how will we, as a species, cope? Already we are seeing mass migration due to war, violence, poverty, and climate change, but we are just at the beginning of the tipping point. Drought, wildfire, flooding, and famine will become more normal than they already are and the coming generations won’t know a time when they weren’t. Are these the good old days, the ones we are living in right now, at this moment? Are these the times we will reminisce about, back to when a 112 degree day made the news, because it was still abnormal? I think about my eight year old nephew and my friend’s three month old baby girl and wonder if they will experience and remember summer as a time for camping, slip and slides, and ice cream? Will there be snow to build snowmen or snowballs with in the winter? I wake in the middle of the night with a weight on my chest at the thought that these really could be the days we look back fondly upon. Where will billions of people go when their crops turn to dust or their neighborhoods disappear under several feet of water? The migration we see now will seem tiny in comparison, and as usual it will be those with the fewest resources who suffer the most and pay the biggest price. Today is Scott Pruitt’s (the pathetic head of the Environmental Protection Agency) last day and for now he will be replaced by the equally unqualified former energy lobbyist, Andrew Wheeler. How men who have children and grandchildren can deny climate change without giving it even the benefit of a doubt, I will never understand. Greed. Greed followed by willful ignorance. While visiting Amsterdam in 2014, I stumbled on a fantastic, huge, multi level bookstore of which almost one third seemed to be about, or in some way related to, climate change. With an average elevation of 2 meters, but with much of the city sitting below sea level, the Dutch are keenly aware of the precarious spot they occupy on earth. One might wonder why the people of New Orleans, Miami, and New York City don’t seem so worried, or why all Americans just seem to be going along, waiting, wondering if and when it will get worse. It’s overwhelming to realize that the beautiful planet that sustains and nourishes us on every level could cease to do so. And equally overwhelming to realize we have created this disaster and that our elected officials continue to perpetuate it. I don’t know what the answer is, other than to do what we can. Support local and small scale farmers, live in small, energy efficient homes, drive small gas efficient cars, resist the policies that take us closer to the tipping point of no return, support public transportation, bike, spend our dollars wisely, investigate, research, stop eating beef, support solar and wind energy, conserve water… it all makes a difference. I don’t want to look back on now as the good, old days. I want our kids and grandkids to have it even better than we did. I know you do too. Stay cool out there!If you enjoy these posts, please follow Smagik.com and please share and comment!

LA

Ten years ago I packed my car and made the first of what would be dozens of drives from Albuquerque to Los Angeles, and back.

The 4th of July, 2008, and 119 degrees in the Mojave desert. I stopped outside of Needles, California, to get gas and a chocolate dipped cone at Dairy Queen and had to eat it in one bite to prevent vanilla from melting down my arm. That night I made it to my then boyfriend’s apartment, overlooking the lake in Echo Park, in time to watch East LA explode in an illegal frenzy of fireworks. Though I’d visited periodically in the year we’d been dating, I remember feeling like a country mouse in the city. That night I lay in bed as police helicopters circled the park outside the window, shining their searchlight inside, looking for someone. It was hot out. I didn’t sleep.

In the years that followed, I became comfortable in LA, joined their costumer’s union, and created a routine between the two cities, mixing slow and fast paced, laid back with competitive.

And then, two years ago, I became tired of that routine and wanted to shake it up, develop a new one, have an adventure, try something new. LA seemed the safest way to do that. The truth is that even in my need to break free I was practical and conservative.

Recently a friend asked me if I thought of myself as a romantic. Yes, I replied. Though a practical one. She laughed. I’m the same, she said.

I make lists but they go something like this-

Watch sunsets.

Learn to make bread and yogurt.

Get a dog. Name her Pearl. If a girl.

Dig in the dirt.

Open a little shop.

Etc.

You get the idea.

And then one day, a few months ago, one of my many lists became one of pros and cons. LA/NM. Uh oh. As soon as I started writing, I knew another move was in my future.

LA Pros-

Fun, exciting, interesting, creative, accessible, museums, concerts, stores, classes, friends, The Moth, live theater, earn more money, inspiring…

NM Pros-

My cute/inexpensive house, family, friends, quality of life, low overhead, dog yard is ready, garden, air quality, commute times, mountains, spend less money…

LA Cons-

Expensive, hate paying rent, need a roommate or boyfriend just to afford renting a house with a yard, much less ever buying one, traffic, air, have to work too much…

NM Cons…

Slow paced.

I groaned. Do I really have to move my stuff down 60 stairs again, less than two years after my dad helped me move it up in a blinding rainstorm with no electricity?

Yup.

A friend asked me today if I will miss LA? I love LA! I will miss it. But, the truth is that my ego will miss it more than my soul.

I also know that it is here, hopefully not falling into the ocean anytime soon, and I will return to work and play, just not to live.

And so the adventure continues. And, yet again, the only constant is change.

Stay tuned…

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Neighbors

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I recently watched the documentary “Won’t you be my neighbor?” about the life and work of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood’s Fred Rogers and, as the credits rolled, I sniffled quietly with much of the packed theater, as we collected ourselves before reemerging into the world.

“Love is at the root of everything, all learning, all relationships. Love or the lack of it.”

-Fred Rogers

I remember watching “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” with my sister in the 1980’s, on the rare occasions we were allowed to watch television. We felt that his questions were directed through the screen to us personally. As he hung his coat, changed his shoes, and zipped up his cardigan, we, and thousands of kids just like us, settled in for a half hour of this kind man’s undivided attention.

That’s still all any of us want, I thought, watching the documentary; to feel heard, seen, loved and to be told that we are enough, just the way we are; scared, curious, unsure, confused, and still totally lovable. We are those same kids at heart.

Emerging from the theater, back into the heat of a late June afternoon and into the news of family separation at the border, I couldn’t help but wonder about a young Donald Trump and how different the world might be if he, and all children, could have grown up aware of their intrinsic worth and with the knowledge that there is nothing needed externally in order to prove that worth or to be loved.

The greatest thing we can do is to let someone know they are loved and are capable of loving.

-Fred Rogers

How different might the world be if we remembered that all we are here to do is to love and that we are given these wacky pods called families with whom to practice? With nothing to prove, no perceived internal lack to make up for, how might we act?

My mother would say to me, ‘look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers-so many caring people in this world.

-Fred Rogers

While thousands of people around the country march today, to protest our government’s current policy of family separation at the border, I am with much of my family, together in Colorado for my cousin’s wedding. I can feel the presence of my beloved grandmother who would have been so happy to be here today. I think about all that families go through together, from death to divorce, elections, and illness and am beyond grateful to have been given my pod with whom to practice this thing called love.

Watercolor painting of me as a two year old, painted by my grandmother, Maryann Clarke.

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