Archives for category: Life

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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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Leaving my Storytelling and Spirituality Class (the best way to spend Saturdays), I head to Grand Central Market for my favorite fancy coffee at G&B Coffee. As I wait at a red light, a car pulls out of its spot just ahead of me. I will the spot to stay empty until the light turns green. It does. There is over an hour left on the meter. This is going well! I cross the street and head into Grand Central Market. Though it's been a fixture in DTLA since 1917, I only recently discovered it. Full of stalls serving everything from bagels, to burritos, falafels, and pizza, it has not only great food but better people watching. I take a seat on a stool at G&B and order my favorite drink, the "Business and Pleasure," (it comes in three parts, because why wouldn't it?!) and a cornmeal and cheddar waffle. I sit, drinking, eating, watching people and think about what a perfect Saturday I am taking part in.
How is yours? Go do something fun, something that makes you smile! If you already are or did, bravo! Life is short, eat the waffle.

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Yesterday I had nothing to do. No errands, appointments, work, nothing. So, I packed a bag with water, a few weird protein and granola bars I had taken from craft service, Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird,” and, after putting the mix CD the director of my last show made for the whole crew in my car’s CD player, headed north on the 101.

Knowing the bars wouldn’t get me through the day, I stopped at my new favorite place, The Topanga Table in Topanga Canyon. I love this restaurant! Nestled just off the road, it smells like camping when you sit on the patio. I had the breakfast burrito but could have ordered anything on the menu and will be back for their biscuits and jam. Like, maybe today.

After lunch I continued south on Topanga until I dead ended at the Pacific Ocean/Pacific Coast Highway, where I turned right and headed north.

The CD was a mix of dark Americana and eventually I switched to my own combo of Cat Stevens, Bob Marley, and The Head and the Heart.

I drove until I hit a fog bank somewhere towards Ventura County and turned around to go to my second favorite place, Neptune’s Net.

Though not yet hungry for fish and chips, I parked and watched the surfers below, before driving back towards Zuma to walk its length as the sun set. The tide was out, making for an extra wide path.

I arrived home with sandy feet, sunburnt legs, and so much gratitude for my life, my day, the ocean, our planet, great food, birds, music, and that little voice inside of us that, if we listen, will remind us how to nourish and care for ourselves.
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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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