Only a few days into my three week trip to India and already I am in love and in awe.

“My insatiable love of mankind.” That love for not only mankind but also animals leads to a seeming order within the chaos; one which stems from kindness, compassion, and faith and which is noticeable in all facets of life.

A driver, Amit, sent by our hotel to retrieve us from the airport, quickly becomes our friend and guide, touring us around and explaining with pride how his country works.

Namaste. Traffic flows to a symphonic conversation of horns and beeps, one big merge that puts traffic in Los Angeles to shame. We see the movie “Tiger Zenda Ha” at the local theater and people stand with pride as the National Anthem is played on screen before it begins. Vegetarianism is the norm. God is One. Karma.

I haven’t been here for long enough to even begin to sum it all up but those are some of my takeaways so far.

A country liberated by a man who taught that love is always the answer and that an eye for an eye will leave the whole world blind.

Watching my own country from half a world away, with its severe lack of compassion, I am struck by the kindness which has greeted us throughout our stay. As I sit on my hotel room bed listening to the morning call to prayer from a mosque not far away, the sun is just rising.

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IMG_1759I keep thinking about one year ago and am so happy it is now and not then! Not that it was bad, but… I pulled into LA with a car load of stuff last NYE, unloaded my car, went to dinner with friends, and returned to my empty apartment afterwards. It was foggy out and smelled unfamiliar. I woke on New Year’s Day, 2017, and assembled my bed so I’d have somewhere to sit.

Today, one year later, I went for a walk on the beach, after making breakfast and waking up late. I returned to that same apartment, now very lived in and full of furniture, and thought about 2017.

What a wacky year! Both personally and for the world. I told a story on stage to a bunch of strangers, took several classes, made new friends, performed improv on stage for an audience, and continuously felt like I was coming home to myself after taking a twenty year detour. I recommend that feeling!

As I look forward towards 2018 and backwards to where I have been, I see that each year’s chosen word has built upon the last and helped to get me to where I am right now.

2017 Adventure

2016 Faith

2015 Joy

2014 Happiness/Congruence

2013 Centered

2012 Confidence

And, while I continue to use each of these as a foundation, I choose LOVE for 2018! Love as the antidote to fear, just as adventure is the flip side of fear’s coin too. Love that can only be given and received once one has the confidence to know they are worthy of it. Love that comes from a centered place rather than one of neediness. Love that springs forth when one is happy and making congruent choices in their life. Love that is joyous and generous. Love that is given away with a faith that no matter what happens with it, the giver will be fine and that there is always more to give. Love that is entered into with the spirit of Adventure and Fearlessness.

As we look towards the future, with all of its possibilities, good and bad, Love is the only route I see. 7.6 Billion people on a tiny planet; so many differences, assumptions, misunderstandings, fears, traditions, religions, commonalities, languages, stories, songs, cuisines, views, and families. How can we look towards each other instead of away? How can we be of service and benefit one another? How can we open instead of close? It all begins with Love. We can do this. I can do this.

What is your word for 2018?

Happy New Year!

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While standing in front of my closet, throwing clothing onto the bed, I realized I was having my most perfect 2017 dilemma. What to wear when performing in an improv show and then going to a “festive attire” Christmas party after?

Improv-

Must be comfortable. Skirts and Dresses are out- One never knows what to expect onstage, especially when audience suggestions make up a good portion of the evening, and, should I happen to find myself a snake slithering across the ground or a summersault instructor at summer camp, I don’t want to be concerned that everyone is staring at my ass. Must not show underarm perspiration, brought on by onslaught of adrenaline, not temperature. Must hide vomit, should my nerves get the best of me. Must help me feel good so not to be preoccupied with “why did I wear this?” instead of answering “yes, and.” Hmmm- black tops, pants, comfy shoes. Ok.

Festive Attire Christmas Party-

Sparkles, skirts, dresses, and heels seem like the way to go. A costume change may be the only solution. Good thing I’m a costumer in my spare time.

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The fact that this is the major dilemma of my day makes me laugh. In improv, one always responds with “yes, and” as a way to move the skit forward in ways that only become clear in the moment, as suggestions and fellow improvers’ ideas are flying at you. It is the perfect way to get out of your head, away from any preconceived notions of how things will go, or how witty you will be. It is all about being present, listening, and then responding.

I began taking classes last winter, two weeks after moving to LA and into my apartment. And, it is only now that I see how that idea of yes/and and presence has permeated my 2017 and my life and, for that, I am grateful. I have no idea how tonight will go, but, I am already laughing and that is the point.

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It’s been just over a year since I signed the lease on my apartment in LA and just under one since I first saw it empty, before it had been painted or cleaned, on December 1st. I started to cry when I entered the sad looking kitchen to pick up the keys and wondered “what on earth have I done?” One week earlier I had seen potential; good windows with a lot of light, dark wood floors, high ceilings, and a killer location. My gut told me it was a good landing pad and had enough of what I was looking for to jump in and commit. Now, holding the keys, I wasn’t so sure.

My gut was right.

And it’s already been a year. Wow!

The parrot who whistles in an oddly human way and lives downstairs is now part of my soundtrack. The neighbors next door let me pick pomegranates from their tree. I walk in the Silver Lake hills for cardio. I made new friends, as an adult, living in LA!

Over the past year I have kept the “what on earth are you doing?” voices at bay by answering with a simple “it’s all an adventure.” There is no big plan, no grand vision that I will check off a list and be done with. But, rather, there are many small visions that continuously guide me in one direction, periodically overlapping and mingling. If there is a grand plan it is happiness and presence and authenticity, to feel that I am actively participating in and creating my life with each of my decisions and no longer passively coasting.

While talking to a friend about my interests in tarot and improv and writing, I said “I’m just getting weirder and weirder,” to which she replied, “no, you’re just getting you-er and you-er.”

I was so afraid to let go of my comfortable life in New Mexico but knew on a gut level that comfort was not my friend, at least not now, maybe not ever. I needed to know what I was capable of and to push myself. The ironic and unforeseen part was that when I chose to uproot and take myself away from that external comfort, a new internal one took its place. I have confidence in myself, my gut, my voice, and in my ability to make a home wherever I am, that I didn’t have before.

What I could never have predicted was that, at the same time I chose adventure over fear, the world was asked to choose as well. It is fascinating to watch how that choice, the way in which we all view change, has split our country and our world over the past year.  Will it be expansion, love, trust, and progress, as we move forward into an unknown? Or fear and constriction as we futilely cling to what once was?

May you live in interesting times.  – Chinese curse.

It has been interesting! Exhausting. Fascinating.

And, the truth is that, for all of us, there is no going back. There is no “oh I’ll just go have a little revolution, personal or otherwise, and then fit nicely back into this hole I have been in!” Nope. We are in it now and all we can do is continue to move in the direction of love and faith, always choosing to see the adventure side of the coin.

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October 2017 is almost over. Wow.  With two months left in which, as the previous ten have demonstrated, anything can happen, give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far, for taking a minute to sit and read a blog post, and for continuously doing the best you can.

I recently spoke with a few friends and loved ones who each seem to be asking the same questions, their own versions of the ones I’ve spent the past two months pondering at 2:14 in the morning, instead of sleeping.  What am I doing? Does there need to be an end goal or is this enough? Will the dots ever connect?

Because of my nervous system and brain’s penchant for insomnia and pondering instead of REMs, I have been writing and blogging less than I’d like.  As anyone who doesn’t sleep well knows, the dull, dream like state left behind after a night of tossing about, does not lend itself to creativity. I have had no choice but to turn it into another lesson in acceptance. Acceptance of what is. I can do what I can to try to sleep, but in the end it is out of my control and no matter that I-  1.turn lights off at dusk,  2. take melatonin, 3. meditate, 4. exercise, 5. don’t look at any blue lights (phone, computer, TV) before bed- sometimes I sleep like a baby and other nights I literally never fall asleep. It is what it is. But, letting go of the idea that there is more I can do or that I am doing something wrong, that somehow I can control it, is not easy.

But, as with all lessons we don’t choose but which choose us, they come bearing hidden blessings. My life has become shockingly present. I can almost not see past the end of the month, which is only next week! I am planning a trip to India for this January and you would think it was for the year 2090 by the way I have been unable to wrap my head around the idea of just three months from now. My work schedule changes week by week, I have an improv class starting on Saturdays and a writing class on Wednesdays. And that is it. As scheduled and planned as I can be right now. I’ve tried buying concert tickets or plane tickets to visit friends, only to give them away or end up with a credit for future travel, because in the course of two weeks everything changes.

At least for now, I’ve given up on planning more than a week in advance and concentrate on steering my thoughts and actions in small, beneficial directions. What should I cook today? Today I will call my friends and check in, go for a walk,  write something or finish reading that book, be kind to my grumpy and tired coworkers who are just as sleep deprived as I am,  let that person merge into my lane, try that recipe, do my morning stretches, meditate, turn off the news and turn on music, and do what I can to keep my side of the street clean,  thereby being of service to the world and to myself.  Even as I write this, I laugh at how unambitious and yet totally ambitious that list is. What a paradox that the most basic things we do for ourselves can also be the most difficult to do regularly, for simple does not mean easy.  If anything, it’s often easier to make elaborate, future based plans in an effort to avoid the present, with it’s frequent discomfort.

In a recent email from a friend, she mentioned that amidst huge upheaval in her life and lots of unanswered questions, she is happy that she lives near an open air market with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables for sale. Another friend told me that her afternoon plans involved going home to lie in the grass in an effort to calm down and enjoy the fall afternoon. Yet another was excited because she had absolutely no plans for the weekend.   It seems that if 2017 has been good for something, it has helped us get back to the basics. What do we value? What kind of lives do we want to live? What makes us laugh or what calms us down in the midst of chaos? How can we benefit our communities on a small, human scale? What would we take if a wildfire or flood gave us less than one minute to grab our most important item and run? How do we listen to news of possible nuclear war, global warming, sexual predators, and political ineptitude and keep on smiling? How do we stay present?

These are the questions that run through my head when it is dark and the palm frond shadows dance against the window and I can hear my downstairs neighbor’s snores through the floorboards. It is only by becoming totally present, listening to those snores and to my own breath, that life seems manageable once again. What CAN I control tomorrow? Eating toast and drinking tea in the morning, while listening to my favorite radio show, and then taking a walk? Ok, cool, I’ll do that.

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It’s been busy, ya’ll!

A brief glimpse…

It’s October, 90 degrees out, maybe cooler today, there is smoke in the air, people up north recently lost everything, stopped listening to the news to help with current insomnia (it’s helping), began a writing class last night (seems it will be great), reading six books, the man next to me is talking about rats in his apartment, I want to wear sweaters, fingers crossed for the Cubs tonight (dad has tickets for Game 6 if they do), good people keep appearing in my life, time is passing, so many great musicians coming through town, good dates/bad dates, baked a pie, make more time, patriarchy continues to crumble in all of its ugliness, fall road trip plans postponed, miss my friends when get too busy, to buy: food, clean out closet (again), write every day, woke up at 7, crawled back into bed at 8, back asleep until 11, should I become Cali resident (?), cool breeze blowing, going to beach tomorrow, need coffee, all is good. More soon.

Oh, and yesterday morning I saw three coyotes stalking the streets of LA as I walked to my car in the pre dawn dark.

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One year ago I was wrapping up a Western in the Rocky Mountains and all that has come to pass was yet to be. I didn’t yet take my LA view for granted or know that I would find an apartment with wood floors, make new friends, tell a story in front of an audience, work on a great project,  plan an international adventure, or survive  (at least so far) under a mentally unstable man-child President.

How can we know what the future holds? Thank God we don’t. Or, do we?  We play such an obvious role in creating that future, it’s a wonder we are as repeatedly surprised as we are. Where is our attention and energy and what are we creating by dwelling on things/places/situations and people, over and over and over?

One year ago, all that is real today, was an idea, a plan, or a fear. I was about to pack up my car and drive to California; to look for an apartment, classes, friends, jobs, a new life. I know that I helped manifest everything about the past year, including the election of our President, which truly shocked me.  I dwelled on him, thought of him and detested him, endlessly. But, I also saw myself on a stage, joyful, playing, living on a palm lined street in the hills, with wood floors, meeting cool, creative people. It has all come to pass.

When will I fully recognize this super power? How long until I stop playing dumb, wondering why certain areas of my life seem fuller than others? Everything we desire is always within our grasp, as is everything we fear. Choose wisely.

 

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