The Winding Road

We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

-Joseph Campbell

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Yesterday I stood on the edge of grassy cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and thought about Joseph Campbell’s words, as salty wind whipped my hair and wildflowers rustled my jeans. With my car parked on the shoulder of Highway 1, somewhere between Carmel and Big Sur, California, I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be but also wondered how I had gotten there. Thirty nine, no children, no pets, no husband, a career that won’t let me break up with it no matter how many times I try and for which I am grateful, a month on location in one of the most spectacular places on earth, a full weekend to myself, too may hobbies to count, and a mixture of gratitude, wonder, and uncertainty.

Is this it? Does everyone look around, at their life, and ask that question, not as one of lack, but out of curiosity?

Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.

-Mary Oliver

I am not actually sure what the life I planned looked like. I wanted to be everything from an actress, to a window dresser, linguist, and writer. I assumed marriage and children would just happen though I never thought too much about it. They still might. I don’t know where I saw myself living or what exactly I saw myself doing, I just assumed that one morning I would wake up, look around, and think “oh good, finally figured it out and now it all makes sense.” HAAA!

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On Friday I sat in the front seat of the car carrying a famous actress to a movie set. To my right the sun was beginning to set over the Pacific Ocean and, as we curved around the famous 17 Mile Drive, through Pacific Grove and into Carmel, news about President Trump’s decision to launch missiles into Syria played over the radio. Heaven and hell all in one surreal, twenty minute drive.

How do we let go of how we thought it would be, so we can be present and have gratitude for what is actually happening in our lives, moment by moment, and thereby be of service to ourselves and others?

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. And go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

-Howard Thurman

What makes me come alive? Getting in my car with my camera on an empty day with no agenda other than to drive, take pictures of what I see, listen to music as I go, and share the beauty that I find with others. Though finding beauty on California Highway 1 is actually unavoidable, I have as much fun doing the same in Georgia, LA, Colorado or wherever else my job and life take me. IMG_4329

I wake, whether in my LA apartment or any number of hotel rooms, knowing that I want to help make the world a more beautiful place and to help others find the beauty in their lives and I wake with a certainty that I can and will do this, though the specifics remain vague. As I let go of the hows, things fall into place and my life becomes a creative adventure that I, along with the universe, am creating one day and decision at at time.

Back of every creation, supporting it like an arch, is faith. Enthusiasm is nothing: it comes and goes. But if one believes, then miracles occur.

-Henry Miller

Faith. Faith that there is a plan bigger than anything my little imagination can conjure up. Faith that we are always being guided and presented with the next right choice, so long as we are present enough to see it. As I repeatedly let go of my ideas about how it should be and accept how it is, I wake more often feeling that I actually am figuring it out and being let in on the secret.

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.

-Rumi

Yesterday’s Theme Song- Astral Plane on Valerie June’s album The Order of Time. Snack- sweet potato corn chips, bought at a little camping supply grocery store in the redwoods of Big Sur. Smell- salty, woody, grassy air.

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The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.

Henry Miller

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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?

La Vida Bizarre

It must just be one of those nights where the world is seeming especially bizarre. Not in a bad way, just in a “what on earth are we all doing on the small round sphere, spinning through space, being happy, feeling sad, getting old, making movies, fleeing war, dying from Ebola, falling in love, building houses, meeting friends for tea, becoming obsessed with TV shows on Netflix, carving pumpkins, dressing up, electing officials, winning baseball games, listening to music, writing stories, escaping volcanoes” kind of way.

Tonight as I watched the news, there were stories about Hawaiian volcanoes, solar flares disrupting Earth’s technological infrastructure, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the upcoming elections, and ongoing tensions between Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Jerusalem. The newscaster felt it necessary to remind his audience that certain things, like solar flares and lava, can not be controlled. I laughed. What can be? I couldn’t help but feel that it all seemed a bit unreal and I watched as if in a dream, thinking periodically, “wow, this is life.”

Outside it was an absolutely gorgeous fall day, brisk turning to warm and back to brisk. As I contemplated upcoming work projects, story ideas, whether or not my plants need food, and what to make for dinner, others did the same. Watching the last episode of what surprisingly became my all time favorite TV show, (I thought I was too cool for teenagers, football, and Texas until “Friday Night Lights”), I cried and then simultaneously laughed at myself for crying. As I carved a pumpkin to match an emoticon, 😍, neighbors decorated their houses with cobwebs and skeletons.

And all I could think was, here we all are. What can be controlled? Our actions. Our thoughts (with practice). That’s about it. We do what we can, try to be happy, and let go of the rest. And periodically we come across places or projects or people that touch us in some way and help us make sense of the apparent random chaos. As I thought about it all, I kept coming back to the idea that it is, and we are, all simpler than we like to believe. Kindness, health, love, beauty, connection, food….

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Love Letter

Dear Amsterdam,
I know we haven’t known each other long, but I love you. No, don’t laugh. Don’t say it’s just infatuation or lust. I really love you. I love your bikes, your houseboats, your bookstores, your artists (past and present), your shutters, your canals, the way you mix history with the present, not feeling stagnant or precious. I love your bakeries, houses, beer, museums, trams, shops, and that if someone wants to get high or paid for sex, they can. I love watching older, conservative, American couples navigate your Red Light District and that I was able to figure out the tram system with only a little kindness of strangers. I love that your residents are actually still kind, considering the number of bumbling tourists, myself included. I love watching a mother ride her bike with three children in tow, holding an umbrella. I love your entire aesthetic. I know you think it’s a passing thing, that I say the same to Florence, Paris, and Rome, but, really, no, I don’t. There have been a couple in the past, cities that grabbed my heart and made me want to look at the real estate section instead of tourist attractions, but they were long ago and nothing for you to worry about. La Condesa in Mexico City and Austin while working on “True Grit,” but now I see even those were nothing, compared to you. I know you don’t believe me, but I’ll prove you wrong. Just wait. I’ll be back and I’ll prove that you’re the only one.
Love, me
Xo

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Hobbies Coming Home to Roost

Yesterday was a funny day. My hobbies, the things I do for fun, to keep my brain and creativity working and flowing, came home to roost.

Last year I took almost six months off from my job as a costumer. During that time I took several creative writing classes and began submitting work to various journals and publications. Yesterday I received a copy of the 2014 Santa Fe Literary Review and I am proud to have a story among the pages.

As I was flipping through the book, my phone buzzed to tell me that I had sold an apron on my Etsy site, fresastudio.etsy.com. I started this site years ago, as a way to justify my love of fabric and vintage table linens, but it has been sorely neglected for the past couple of years. It always shocks me when I sell something.

Sitting near me was an Italian dictionary and my guidebook to Amsterdam. Travel and the study of languages were favorite hobbies until, at some point in the past decade, I allowed them to take a backseat. In October I will be able to use both books when I cross the pond for the first time in four years.

It occurred to me that, for almost a decade, I allowed my film career to eclipse any unrelated interests as my life became a cycle of jobs and recovery. Upon realizing this last year, I counterbalanced by taking too many months off; too much time with too little structure. This year has been more balanced, with consistent, but short, jobs, most in town rather than on the road, and some free time to continue writing, making, exploring, and learning.

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