On December 31st, 2012, I filled out a worksheet that a friend emailed me. It asked me to look back on the previous year and forward to the next, answering questions and making lists about where I was and where I wanted to be. About half way through, it asked me to choose a word for 2013 and to think of what my word for 2012 would have been. Happiness, Confidence, Adventure, Love, Balance, and Fun all came to mind for both. 2012 had been one of the more amazing years of my life, full of weddings, a home renovation, new friends, a job that took me to five states in nine months, and a confidence I hadn’t felt in years. I looked towards 2013 with excitement and anticipation, but also slight trepidation because I really had no idea where it might take me. After some thought, I decided my word for 2012 was Confidence and, after much deliberation, settled on Centered for 2013. It didn’t sound exotic, but I realized that it could encapsulate all those more exciting sounding words within it. What I really wanted when it came down to it, was to feel grounded in my life but the keep the spontaneity I had become so comfortable with in 2012. I wanted happiness that couldn’t be taken when outside conditions changed. I yearned to feel the lightness I’d felt as a gypsy without the weight of not knowing when I would next be able to open my mail. I wanted to let go of the parts of myself I’d only just realized were outgrown and to feel solid in what remained. It has been over two months since I chose Centered as my new word and once again I am reminded to be careful what you ask for. You will without a doubt be given situations in which to practice that which you say you want. Nothing has gone how I thought it would as I sat writing my list on New Year’s Eve, but at the same time I know, without a doubt, that I am exactly where I need to be. We’ll see where I am on December 31st, 2013, before deciding if it was the appropriate word choice for the year.
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
Ever since Happiness heard your name, it has been running through the streets trying to find you.
I’ve loved this quote from the first time I saw it hanging on my sister’s refrigerator. The idea of happiness as a living thing, searching for you, wanting to be with you, waiting until you pop around a corner and then wham, slamming right into you. Something to be cherished when it happens. And when it does, don’t waste time by worrying that it might be short lived or that you don’t deserve such joy. No, simply enjoy it and be present. As you become comfortable with it, happiness will find you more often and it will become normal. Still not something to take for granted and always something to cherish, but not unusual or frightening, as it may have been in the beginning.
Since my last movie ended, while waiting for the next to begin in March, I’ve had time to fall into a natural daily rhythm, of which writing these posts is now a part. Without work as an anchor, I try to keep to a schedule of sorts, albeit a loose one that involves afternoon walks, writing, and tea drinking. Trying to fill these empty days in a way that is meaningful and doesn’t just skip over them as the time between jobs, is something I’ve spent the past ten years figuring out.
I wake, make my way downstairs, and turn on the kettle. I open the curtain on the large, south facing, kitchen window and even on the rare cloudy day, light fills the main room of my house. With my tea and my most recent gluten free (more on that to come) breakfast discovery, I sit at the kitchen table, turn on the computer, and after first clicking on The New York Times to make sure the world hasn’t ended (sad but true), I end up on wordpress. I think for a few minutes of what I feel like writing and, more often than not, go with the first idea that pops into my head.
After posting my latest ponderings, I think of a plan for the rest of the day. Small tasks left over from my remodel kept me busy for most of January and February and recently I’ve turned my sights on my yard. It is still too cold to do much outside, but I’m coming up with a plan with the help of pinterest, books, and daily walks through the neighborhood, for what to do once spring arrives.
In addition to checking home projects and basic life organization off my list, I try to concentrate on things that I miss and have no time to do when working 80 hours a week on a movie. I cook, I baby my plants, I ride my bike around the neighborhood, I drink too much wine with friends on weeknights, I read until late, and I allow myself to be lazy. I get great joy out of organizing my life, whether perfecting a new filing system or decorating my house, knowing that these things will be my anchor once the days are too busy to think or deal with anything other than work and sleep.
It’s a strange, imbalanced life and has taken me years to figure out. At some point, when I was younger and new to the film industry, I realized that I was counting down the days in my life; I was either on a film waiting for it to wrap or between films, waiting for a new one to begin. I was never really present. This was a startling realization and one that I worked very hard to reverse and change. I now try to do small things while working that keep me involved in my life, whether it is a yoga mat on the floor of my hotel room, weekly dates with friends, or simply remembering to be present at work, realizing what a bizarre job I have and appreciating it, even when I’m tired. And, when I am off, I try to appreciate that time, taking care of business, going on trips, spending time with friends and family and taking time in the morning to talk to my plants.
By continuously counting down the days, always feeling like it should have been different than it was, or that happiness and contentment were things that would simply appear in my life when the outside circumstances were perfect, I spent years of my life unhappy and not really living. It was only when I became truly present, whether working or off or home or away, that I began to see the opportunities and beauty that were all around.
I’ve loved watching the Oscars for as long as I can remember, but who doesn’t? I know there are those who say it’s nothing but a bunch of lucky, attractive, wealthy people who make up imaginary lives and worlds and then pat themselves on the back once a year and pick a winner. But, I love the escape of going to the movies, watching one in my living room, or picking a favorite dress on the red carpet. For years it was a fascination with the fantasy of celebrity, wealth, beauty, and the city that spawned it all, LA, that drew me to watch the Oscars. But, after working in the industry for the past ten years, I now love to watch the metamorphosis of people I have actually worked with as they turn into beautiful, intriguing butterflies for one night. With some exceptions, they are often quite normal, likable, interesting people who are not only great at what they do but who, for that year, were part of a project that came together in the perfect way to showcase their talent. People always ask me if I can tell whether something will be good or bad when I am working on it and my answer is no. I have been shocked too many times when something I thought would be great wasn’t, and vice versa. My favorite categories are those not related to acting. Not that I don’t respect the actors, but it’s my fellow crew members who I really love to see getting the recognition they deserve. Only after seeing how many people it really takes to make a movie, how much stress, sleepless nights, and grand vision is involved, did I really begin to appreciate the achievement this award measured. Tonight I’ll be not only watching the red carpet and admiring the stars, but I’ll be cheering for the unfamiliar faces in the crowd, the ones not many people will recognize, but who helped the movie become what it did. Go Seamus McGarvey and Jose Anotonio Garcia!
Ballots are printed, pizzas are being prepped, and wine awaits. But, since I forgot to mention for everyone to bring some cash, and if my friends are like me and never carry any, the winner may have to be satisfied with this Toblerone…