40

I have to say, at least I still make myself laugh! Like that time I moved to LA in large part because I saw 40 approaching and was totally freaked out that it would arrive to find me in the same house, city, and career I’d been in since my mid twenties. Or that time I moved back from LA into that same house, city, and career and breathed a sigh of relief that they were all still there, two years later, patiently waiting for me to realize that none of those outward things had anything to do with inner peace, contentment, or joy.

Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them.

-Leo Tolstoy

And now 40 is here, today, and that makes me laugh too. I was so worried about this particular birthday and all of the arbitrary meaning imposed upon it. If anything, I now feel excited to begin a new decade in the same way I felt excited to begin 2019; a clean slate upon which to design a life I love. img_0331

My twenties and thirties were weird! Good parts, bad parts, and a lot of heavy, confused, conflicted parts. I am happy to say that by the time my late thirties rolled around, I’d become better at having fun and at seeing it all as an adventure, which eased much of that self imposed pressure.

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Am I evolving backwards? I wonder. I was a serious child, teen, and young adult. When my peers listened to pop, I preferred Leonard Coen, Bob Dylan, and any cowboy poet crooning over love and loss. I would draw and design my “fashion books” for hours at the dining room table and fall asleep to Italian lessons on tape at night. An odd duck.

Now, I just want to dance. And laugh. And write and draw and relearn the languages I studied as a child, but have mostly let go dormant.

Spirals coming back around. Never the same lesson but one that takes me just a bit deeper.

Life is short.

Are the 40’s the decade in which the self finds a groove, some clarity, and answers appear? Maybe.

Or maybe we will always feel like our five year old selves inside, amazed when the world bestows the word adult upon us? It seems that little girl understood herself pretty clearly and that ever since I have simply been coming home, back to her.

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39

Love after Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

-Derek Walcott

IMG_3963I’ve loved this poem since the first time I heard it, years ago. That idea of coming home to yourself and saying “oh, hello there, look at all of this awesomeness I have been too preoccupied to notice. Hello life, hello self, hello world, hello beauty, hello late night moments of contentment, morning stretches, new songs, old recipes, friends…

Today is my birthday and all I can say is thank you for the clarity that grows a bit stronger every year….the idea of time as a spiral rather than a straight line, a journey that can be mistaken for going in circles until one realizes the lessons lead us around until learned, but always go deeper, never really repeating…the certainty that my intuition is always right, even when I choose to ignore it… the realization that my four/ten/eighteen year old selves knew what they wanted and I am simply coming back to that certainty now…the soul will have its way.

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39.

Soundtrack… Boxer Rebellion-Ghost Alive

Diet…Waffles

Exercise…Dance, Laughter

Destinations…Biarritz, Portugal, Bruges

Goals…Love, Draping, Embroidery, Dog, Patternmaking, Presence, Gratitude

Color…Pink

Currency… Abundant Prosperity

Tarot Card…Queen of Wands

Advice…Let Go

Muah!

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Integration

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Two weeks into my first full time job since August and the black hole that is a film set has yet to totally suck me in and, if I have my way, this one never will.

I went to the dentist recently and she asked how I was sleeping. Well, I replied, I’ve been sleeping well. I can tell, she said. You haven’t been gritting your teeth.

Am I finally learning to balance it all?

Two days until my 39th birthday; well timed to fall on Good Friday, a union holiday.

The lessons keep coming- Let it be. Be present. Communicate. Create daily, even when I don’t have time or energy to “be creative”. Cook on Sundays so I have healthy, home cooked food to eat throughout the week. Write even when I don’t know what to say, like today. Have gratitude for this amazing little life I’ve been given. Take it day by day. Enjoy. Lighten up.

And don’t forget the CBD! Ha, I am not kidding. I began trying different kinds of CBD products in October and have felt a profound shift in my body and mind over the past six months (google it, I am not expert, but it works!!!!!!) Because it helped lower my overall anxiety, my sleep, and therefor my health, has dramatically improved, giving me more energy for all of those previously mentioned lessons.

And, as I look towards 39, I choose Integration as my new word. For 2018 I chose Love and now I will combine the two… Creativity/Love/Work/Friends/Food/Exercise/Travel/Fun/Service/Action/Relaxation…

These are the days and I want it all mushed together into one big, awesome life package.

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Camp

I decided to send myself to camp for my 37th birthday.  Not really camp, but sort of.

“Are you going to have to sit in a circle naked?” my coworker asked last week, after I told him why I would be out of town for two weeks.

“I don’t think so.” I said, though I was actually not sure.  “It’s in a hotel conference room. But…”

I’ve taken to calling it Fear Camp, only because I don’t really know what to call it or how to describe it. A week long program built around breaking old patterns and living life deliberately. Or, at least that’s what I’ve gathered from my friend who went and raved about it and from their website.

The truth is that I was intrigued by the concept, figured it wouldn’t hurt even if it wasn’t amazing, could potentially change my life and help clarify things I have been thinking about, was a good excuse to go on a road trip to LA, where I could visit friends, it would be an interesting way to turn 37, and why the hell not?

I packed my car with clothes, yoga mat, and my Mary Poppins style bag of essentials (tripod, selfie stick, licorice, iPad, books, journal, tarot cards (which I am determined to learn how to read), book about tarot cards, computer, cize exercise dvds, and a bag of lemons I didn’t use before leaving home). And here I am in a friend’s borrowed home in Pasadena, with a couple of days to hang out before the five day session begins.

What to expect? I don’t know.  The website is vague, as is my friend who is involved in the program.  It will be what it will be for each, no one will have the same experience.  Be present and see what presents itself. Watch your reactions. Be clear.  What do I want? What am I afraid to admit I want? What do I want to change? Or to move forward with? Certain themes keep popping up, everywhere.  Change, coming out of a shell, having the courage to really be seen and therefor vulnerable, saying no to things that are comfortable but unsatisfying, trust.

On the way home I hope to take the scenic route, I-10 through Joshua Tree and on to Bisbee, Arizona, somewhere I have always wanted to go, rather than the more direct, usual  I-40.  But, something tells me not to plan or think too far ahead.  I can feel curveballs in the air. It’s always an adventure but sometimes that is more obvious than others.

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A few of my favorite things.

Improvising Happiness

One week into my new year here on earth and I’ve honestly been too busy to think about much, other than my sore feet. But, as my recent jobs, working on shows that take place in both Ancient Egypt and the 1940’s, come to a close, I have some time to reflect.

I’ve always liked where my birthday falls within the year. With three months between it and New Years, I am usually a bit clearer about my wishes, hopes, and a word for the year. Three months ago, I chose “happiness” as my word for 2014, in an attempt to keep things simple.

Now, for age 35, I’m adding the word “congruence.” Hoping to stay on track with happiness, I am attempting to make sure my choices and decisions are in line with that desire. It’s taken years to finally figure out that I truly am the engineer, manifester, designer, or whatever you want to call it, of my life. Happiness is a choice and one that I want to make daily.

I’ve spent much of the past year really paying attention to the small things that repeatedly bring me joy and those that don’t. I’ve allowed things to change and evolve and accepted that things which used to do the trick, might not anymore. And I’ve had to realize that my life might end up looking very different than I once thought it would, but that if I’m staying on track with being happy, then it doesn’t matter and it’s all good.

Eight weeks ago, I signed up for an improv class on a whim. It was something I hadn’t done since college and that I hoped would go well with my creative writing classes; getting me out of my head, keeping me present, helping me to have fun and take myself less seriously. It achieved all of those and yesterday, after the last class, we were all given “World’s Best Improvisor” awards.

I had to laugh at how perfectly this fit into my life. I feel like the universe keeps asking me to replace outdated plans and agendas with improvisation and trust. By staying present, paying attention to what makes me happy, letting go of what doesn’t, and keeping my decisions in line with that happiness, I have more of it in my life every day.

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Another Year Done Gone

Another Year Done Gone

I woke a year older and started to think of birthdays past. Some feel like yesterday while I have no recollection of others.
Turning 4, I am at my grandmother’s house in Denver with my mom and my sister. There is a knock on the door and a man in a uniform delivers four red roses which, to my astonishment, are for me, from my dad.
Turning 5, I am on the swing set at recess with a friend, asking her if it feels different to play with me, now that I am a year older.
Turning 14, I am in London, with my British pen-pal, waiting in line for half price theater tickets in the rain.
Turning 18, I am in Germany, on a month long trip with my high school German class. It is Easter Sunday, I have the flu, and am sitting through a five hour long Wagner opera, wishing I was in bed.
Turning 22, I am depressed, realizing for the first time that the years will just keep coming and that it is up to me to make them good.
Turning 26, I am in a motel room, hitting a pinata with a sword. It was the first of several birthdays I would spend shooting a movie in Las Vegas, NM.
Turning 30, I am sad because a dear friend has recently passed away. But, I am also happy because he appears to me in a dream the night before my birthday and I know he and everything is ok.
Turning 31, I am on the set of “True Grit” and it is a rough day.
Turning 33, I am in Colby, a fake town in the desert, drinking a vodka tonic.
Turning 34, I wake to a beautiful day. It is a three day weekend and I have a few hours to get things done before the festivities begin. Before realizing that my birthday would fall on a Saturday, I was sure I would spend it standing in blowing dust on the set of yet another western, but instead I am home, clean, and well rested. I feel optimistic about the year ahead, happy that I seem to be evolving and retaining wisdom from lessons learned, becoming more and more comfortable in my own skin as the years pass.