HBD, Smagik!

Six years ago I created this blog as an exercise to find beauty in the everyday. It was a dreary, February day and I needed a self induced push and reason to get off the couch. By creating the goal of finding or eating or going to or doing something beautiful, delicious, fun, and joyful everyday, my life began to take on these same qualities. Small, everyday, easy to take for granted moments took on a new significance simply by being noticed and appreciated.

Thank you for joining me on the journey! And here’s to many more years of Adventure, Joy, Connection, and to finding the beauty in all of our everydays!

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@smagikstudio

Holidaze’ Backwards Gaze.

IMG_9707Another year almost complete, cookies everywhere I look, twinkle lights, car accidents within feet of each other near the mall, the frenzy is upon us! How to stay present, sane, and joyful in the midst of traffic, lines, and expectations (most often self imposed)? It’s time to practice all that we’ve begun throughout the year, returning to morning routines, meditation, slowing down to breath and to laugh. And making lists helps too.

2018! What a bizarre year. How was yours?

One year ago I was preparing for a trip to India, finishing my improv and writing classes in LA, packing my car to drive East on I-40 for my Christmas trip home and the idea that I would soon move back to New Mexico permanently was nowhere on the horizon. Already that life seems like a dream. I recently hung my California license plate on the wall in my studio after finally re-registering my car in NM, as proof that it did happen, but the dreamlike quality remains.

After the initial chaos of the move back, life is finding a groove and I once again feel in the flow. 11:11 repeatedly appears, the perfect opportunities come from nowhere, old friends resurface, and only now does the level to which I was forcing things in LA seem clear. Not that it was bad. Great jobs came along, I met wonderful people, took classes, lived in a cute apartment, and overall had little to complain about, but the flow was missing. My  life felt manhandled and like something to figure out and to solve, rather than to simply be in.

But, it is also clear that it was something I had to do. I now know without any doubt that “wherever you go, there you are.” There is never anything out there (a job, a relationship, a city) that can magically create joy and contentment if it doesn’t already exist inside. We always come back to ourselves whether we like it or not.

I’m currently mulling over words for 2019. As most of you know, I intuitively choose one for each year and invariably they set the tone for the coming year. Love was my word for 2018 and when I chose it, just over one year ago, I had an inkling that though I would have loved for it to herald the arrival of an amazing new romantic relationship, it might end up being more about the self-love kind. Bingo.

And here I am, with two weeks to go before a new year begins, feeling so full of gratitude, contentment, joy, and cookies I could burst. All that I took for granted prior to moving (like my washing machine and driveway), all that I discovered and experienced while in LA (improv, storytelling, being on location for two months in sublime Northern California) and all that I want to create (an integrated life) are coming together and aligning beautifully. And I don’t take any of it for granted.

Scattered around my kitchen table, along with cookie recipes, shopping lists, and wrapping paper, are lists of words… Alignment. Commitment. Fun. Flow… I’m waiting for the 2019 winner to rise to the surface.

What’s your word for the upcoming year? What do you want to create?

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Zero Sum, blah blah

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zero-sum, noun

: of, relating to, or being a situation (such as a game or relationship) in which a gain for one side entails a corresponding loss for the other side.

win-win, adjective

: advantageous or satisfactory to all parties involved.

Wowza!!! September.

I arrived back in New Mexico on Friday night, amid a fantastic electric thunder storm that lit up the night sky as we drove west on I-40. The smell of desert rain came through the vent as NPR played in the background. After not having slept well for about a month, and almost not at all for a week, I was on autopilot, willing myself to drive and arrive safely and to think about what comes next, later.

Everything felt completely familiar and totally different.

Listening to our President speak on NPR, I was almost jealous of his ignorant black and white view of the world. Jealous is the wrong word, but how nice it must be to live in a fabricated world of certainty where there is right and wrong and winners and losers, good/bad and never any grey or complication.

Moving back to New Mexico didn’t make LA any less cool in my mind. It didn’t make the things that worked for me there any less great, nor did it mean I’d never return.  Coming back to the beauty, familiarity, and ease of my home state, didn’t mean that the things that had previously annoyed me or felt small here would suddenly cease to do so. My love and annoyance with each could and would exist simultaneously.

paradox, noun

: a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded and true.

In her book “You are a Badass. How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life,” author Jen Sincero writes about the idea of just seeing what you can get away with. Because that book, which I love (and which you will too), is still packed away with all of my other books, I’ll paraphrase; we are our own worst enemies in that we limit ourselves before giving ourselves a chance to even begin, by thinking of the ways in which something probably won’t work, so therefor why bother?

You want to work as little as possible and live as well as possible and travel and create things and do all of the stuff you want to do, when you want to do it? You basically want it all? Good luck!

Why thank you, yes. I do want it all. I want to be healthy and alive and vibrant and in so doing, inspire others to do/be the same, the way others have inspired me. I want to live where I want to live, work where/when I want to work, and stop believing that somehow this is asking too much.

My hairstylist in LA just moved to Oakland to become a baker. Several friends are going back to school. My neighbor in Albuquerque refuses debt of any sort and pays cash for everything; it’s taken him 15 years to fix up his 150 year old adobe home, but now it’s beautiful and he did it on his terms.

Who says that to have this, you can’t have that? Or to do this, you can’t do that? Bosses, teachers, advertisers, parents, banks, co-workers, and so many other voices that are not actually ours, or true, weasel their way into our brains and come out sounding like practical logic. Based on what? Other people’s fears or a company’s desire to sell you something?

I am going back to looking at the adventure of it all and asking Why Not when an idea pops into my mind. I refuse to believe that for this to work, that can’t work, or that win-win situations, in which we all come out ahead, are too idealistic. Let’s just see what we can get away with!

Photo taken on I-40 West, near Holbrook, AZ.

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Weekend

Wet legs. Sandy feet. Salty hair. Unplug. Drive west. Breathe deep. Get burned. Sit in traffic. $20 to park. Watch the longboard competition. Calm down. Another deep breath. 83 degrees. Cool breeze, salty air. Sunday. Enjoy. If you enjoy these posts, please follow Smagik.com and please comment and share.

Dilemma/2017

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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.

**

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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Saturday

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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A Creative Life.

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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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Money/Distraction

I had an aha moment this week while sitting in the wardrobe trailer, in the middle of the night, shopping for expensive sneakers online… The more hours per week I work and the more money I make, the more I spend and look for distraction and satisfaction in things and stuff. 

Since October I have been working just enough to pay the bills and keep “it” all going, with plenty of time to cook at home, eat well, exercise, write, take classes, and create things, but without enough money to buy a lot of extras. And I feel absolutely no lack or scarcity, only abundance and the freedom to do as I wish with my time. Like when I was in college, I’ve returned to shopping at consignment shops, furninshing my house with treasures found at flea markets, and making stuff; things I always enjoy doing, but which fall by the wayside out of laziness when money is plentiful and time is scarce. 

For the past two weeks, I’ve been on location, working 70-80 hours a week, eating junky food because I’m tired, not sleeping enough, not exercising and, incidentally, shopping online. Why??!!  Because I am bored, uninspired, not feeling connected to my life, and looking for any kind of satisfaction. Chocolate and shoes fit the bill. 

I lived years of my life in this kind of circle until I finally realized what was happening. Time, Freedom, Health, Fun, Travel, Friends and Family, Community.. these are the only things I really care about anymore or that help me to truly feel satisfied. What else could I use that fancy sneaker money for? Don’t get me wrong, every once in a while there is a pair of sneakers capable of bringing joy! But, overall, when I find myself shopping online at two in the morning, eating chocolate, I am usually looking for distraction and satisfaction that should be coming from other sources. 

So, the past two weeks have been a good reminder of what my life used to be like versus what it’s like now. And, I’m grateful to fill the coffers a bit. But, how can that money serve me and help me get the things I truly value rather than a bunch of stuff? That’s the question to remember and to answer. 

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The Pink Resistance 

I am writing once again from a cruising altitude of 30,000+ feet, on my way back to LA from Washington D.C.  How to sum up the electric energy of the past weekend? Well… it felt truly amazing and inspiring, creative and cooperative, loving and inclusive. I feel incredibly blessed to have been a part of the Women’s March on January 21st and to have seen our nation’s capital at its most capitally by arriving the night before the Inaguration. 

Exiting the deserted Metro on January 20th, just after noon, we were greeted by an onslaught of red hats. But, the sea dissipated quickly and the National Mall was actually quite empty. 

The next morning was anything but. 


Thinking we had given ourselves plenty of time by starting for the Metro at 8:30, hoards of men, women, and children were already packed into full cars and stations. As we rose to ground level, a sea of pink hats stretched as far as we could see. 

And so began nine hours of camaraderie, sharing, walking, not drinking water so we wouldn’t have to use the nonexistent bathrooms, people watching, and marching. 

Tiny hands, tiny feet, all you do is tweet, tweet, tweet. 


So, now what? 

Back home, how do we turn enthusiasm into sustained action, rather than curling up in a ball as everything we love about this country is dismantled before our eyes? 

Make it fun, somehow. Four years is a long time and if resisting starts to feel like drudgery, it won’t sustain. Find a community, create beauty and use humor, take breaks, and use the slow and steady approach. The signs at the women’s march were amazing, clever, and funny. Hundreds of thousands of people sat at their kitchen tables in the days leading up to the march with glue, markers, and paper and created signs which are now being sent to museums around the world. Many thousands of others sat in yarn shops knitting pink pussy hats. Use your hands to ground you. 

Resist, resist, resist. 

I stand with healthcare for all, reproductive rights, LGBT equality, Black Lives Matter, immigrants of all faiths and nationalities, Earth, science, art, children, Standing Rock, the rogue national park’s service, beauty, love, creativity, The National Endowment for the Arts, journalists, generosity, intellect, curiosity, joy, fun, NPR and PBS, books, the world, and love. It will always trump fear. Even if it doesn’t look like it at the moment. 

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2015. So far. 

  
My life is present to a crazy degree at the moment. Bring the plants inside, it might freeze tonight. Put away the Dia de Los Muertos decorations and altar. Make something delicious and healthy to eat for dinner. I have no plan past the end of the week. No future trips, no jobs lined up, several creative projects floating in my mind, but none begun yet. 

A few weeks ago, while waiting for the subway in NYC, I sat on a bench and thought about my 2015 so far. At the end of 2014, I chose joy as my word for the year. I wanted fun, spontaneity, adventure, and to go with the flow. And, it came to pass. Somewhere along the way, I made an agreement with myself that, in exchange for control, I would say yes instead of no. I let go of preconceived notions of how it would be,  chose love over fear, adventure over safety, and time off over money. 

And, what a wacky ride it’s been. 2015 has repeatedly taken me by surprise and is a hard one to sum up in words. I have managed to (repeatedly) surprise myself, which might be the biggest relief and joy of all; Hip hop dancing, 12 second long videos, jewelry design, cliff jumping, a beak dancing class, new friends you feel you’ve known forever, Room 617, TSA security to enter the hotel, loading a wardrobe trailer in Times Square, loving Tayolr Swift’s latest album, feeling ready to go back on location if the opportunity arises, cizing it up at lunch, discovering pot helps me sleep, and a hammock.. None of these were anywhere on my radar back in January. 

With a little under two months to go, God only knows what is to come or how this one will end. But, if it’s anything like the first ten months, there’s nothing to worry about, as long as I continue to choose adventure over control, love over fear, and say yes. 

PS, I thought the plant in the picture was dying when actually all it needed was to be put outside against a south facing wall for the summer. Rain, sun, fresh air. It’s very much alive.