Connection vs. Consumption

img_0017I am currently in the midst of that classic first Monday in January activity…sorting last year’s receipts. In a strange trip down memory lane, my desk is covered with piles of small white pieces of paper which recount all of the groceries, car repairs, restaurant meals, home improvements, dates, shopping trips, hairstyles, and donations made in 2018. Looking at the piles, as I tally up totals, I can’t help but realize how much of the money was spent out of a desire for connection rather than for whatever it was I was purchasing.

Upon my return to LA from India at the end of January, I began what would become a year of work, jumping from one film set to another, with little time for anything else. As my 60, 70, 80 hour weeks and wages increased, so did my spending. As my sleep dwindled, so did my energy and with it my desire to cook, to make, and to create. Consumption filled the void. I ate out more, shopped more, and generally spent more money as I looked for anything to fill the hole left by not having time to blog, to sleep, to exercise, and to be.

These realizations lead me to look towards 2019 with a new set of goals and resolutions. Connection! To keep that word and all that it entails at the forefront of each decision, job offer, and purchase I make. The reality is that when I am connected to my life, I probably need about half as much money as when I am not.  I sleep well and exercise so therefor don’t need to go to the doctor. I rotate my closet through a network of consignment shops which quickly turns into a fun hobby/treasure hunt. I am able to stay up to date with maintenance of car and electronics which keeps them from being neglected and therefor needing more repairs. I eat out less because I have the time and energy to cook. And I am around for when a friend calls and wants to get together, which leads to what I really want. Connection.

And, for those purchases that do still need to be made in 2019, I plan to

  1. Buy the best version, thereby hopefully having it forever. Think heirloom quality.
  2. Buy only what can be recycled and accepted back into the earth.
  3. Avoid plastic. Buy the cardboard, glass, wood, aluminum alternative whenever possible.
  4. Buy with cash, not credit.
  5. Fix, mend, tend, and repair whenever possible.

So far, 2019 is off to a fantastic start. As I look toward the future, I pledge to stop going to the hardware store for milk, as the saying goes. Rather than seek connection through consumption, I will show up where it can actually be found; in personal and professional relationships, laughter, eye contact, nature, kitchens, dancing, travels, gardens, exercise, dinner parties, hikes, couches, kisses, and creativity.

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To Live Whole

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Every year, my mom gives me a Redstone Diary Calendar for Christmas. They choose a word or a theme for the coming year, as I do, and without fail, our words tend to blend bizarrely well. Out of fear of ever being audited, I keep past calendars in discarded black shoe boxes, taken from costume departments, filled with a year’s worth of receipts.

2016 Faith/ Therapeutic

2017 Adventure/Time

2018 Love/Play

2019…

2016 was all about going deep and having faith that I’d be ok with whatever I found. 2017 asked me to let go of the timeline in my head and to see it all as an adventure.    2018 opened my heart and asked me to play. I love that for 2019 they chose the word Home. I have decided on the word Integrate.

2019 Integrate/ Home

integrate

verb

in·​te·​grate | \ˈin-tə-ˌgrāt \
integrated; integrating

Definition of integrate 

transitive verb

1: to form, coordinate, or blend into a functioning or unified whole : UNITE

whole

adjective

\ˈhōl \

Definition of whole 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a(1): free of wound or injury : UNHURT

(2): recovered from a wound or injury : RESTORED

b: free of defect or impairment : INTACT

c: physically sound and healthy : free of disease or deformity

d: mentally or emotionally sound

2: having all its proper parts or components : COMPLETE

4a: constituting an undivided unit : UNBROKEN, UNCUTa whole roast suckling pig

integrity

noun

in·​teg·​ri·​ty | \in-ˈte-grə-tē \

Definition of integrity 

1: firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : INCORRUPTIBILITY

2: an unimpaired condition : SOUNDNESS

3: the quality or state of being complete or undivided : COMPLETENESS

home

noun

\ˈhōm \

Definition of home 

(Entry 1 of 6)

1a: one’s place of residence : DOMICILEhas been away from home for two weeks a place to call home

3a: a familiar or usual setting : congenial environmentalso : the focus of one’s domestic attention home is where the heart is

at home

1: relaxed and comfortable : at ease felt completely at home on the stage

2: in harmony with the surroundings

To be an integrated whole, to live a life of integrity, and to be a person at home in her body, self, and life.  A willingness to let go of control and a desire to stop compartmentalizing. A plan for my hobbies, jobs, relationships, friendships, family to combine into a whole and to mix with all of the juicy messiness that might bring. And the ability to remember that it is in this juice, this mix, that the flavor lies.

That’s what I want for 2019!

What about you?!

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Soul Circles (or Mazes).

IMG_8388Last night I leaned against the railing of the Belasco Theater’s mezzanine in DTLA and watched as two friends from high school played to a packed house, with their band “Minus the Bear”.  And, as I watched and listened, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that everyone I know, myself included, is nailing it. “It” being living.  This “creating a life that makes you happy and feeds your soul and makes it seem like there’s a point to all of the absurdity” thing. The often self imposed angst, confusion, and pressure I so frequently felt and saw mirrored in those I love for the past twenty or so years, seems to be lifting. Not that anything has been figured out necessarily, but, speaking for myself, there just came a point when the choice to be happy and joyful had to be made. Or not.

After the show, one of my friends showed me a picture he’d recently come across of us taking our final Thespian Club bow at the end of our Senior production of Titus Andronicus. The world lay at our feet and all we had to do was be brave enough to catch it and run.  He was meant to play music on stage. I had spent my high school years on stage, in art classes, and studying German and had no idea where those interests would lead me, but trusted it would be somewhere good.

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And then life happened.  Things that sparked my creative light took a backseat and I tortured myself frequently about needing to figure it all out.  And I let enough time pass that I actually started to forget the high of being on stage, rehearsing, improving, writing, collaborating, and creating. Instead, I helped others bring their visions to fruition, made a decent living, and ended up with a career I wasn’t in love with.

But, as they say, the Soul will have its way.  And the quicker we learn to accept that truth, listen, and follow, the less we will suffer.

In my friend’s lives and my own, I see the beginning of that acceptance  and the magic that acceptance then creates.  In some ways it feels like I’ve taken a twenty year detour to get back to my 1997 self, albeit now a more confident, experienced, and (hopefully) wiser version.  And I don’t regret any of the strange and sometimes dark paths I periodically chose, for it all helped me to appreciate and have immense gratitude for the clarity and homecoming I now feel.

Standing in the mezzanine last night, it was as if I could hear our eighteen year old selves rooting us on, proud of the choices their older selves would eventually make, guiding us to more amazing lives than we ever could have imagined back then.

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Once the door cracks open…

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I have been given a beautiful reminder that once the door of change cracks open and the light seeps in, there really is no going back.  I am about to begin week four on my current movie and, as far a being a set costumer on a feature film is concerned, really can not complain.  I am working with friends, the cast and crew are lovely, we are shooting almost entirely in continuity order (That Never Happens!!), and I get to spend my summer in some of the most spectacular locations in the western United States. And all I can think about is that I would rather be writing, somewhere near the ocean, helping others to find and appreciate the beauty in their lives, and implementing the changes in my life that I have recently decided need to be made.

I accepted this most recent job because it was both an opportunity to work with old friends I’ve done many movies with and a chance to replenish the coffers after almost nine months of only working part time.  And I don’t regret the decision.  But, it has also solidified the realization that once there has been an internal shift, there is no going back to how it was before.  I am comfortable on a movie set, I pride myself on doing my job well, and I am grateful for that,  but I am no longer satisfied with being comfortable and knowing something “like the back of my hand.”

So, what to do when my mind and energy are somewhere other than where my body and attention are? Is it possible to keep these two sides of myself balanced and content for two more months, without feeling like I am split down the middle, never present, and wishing away my summer?  Can I come up with a plan for my future while having gratitude for where I am right now, allowing the present to help solidify the future? I think so.

One of the things that have entered through the light of that cracked door is my current obsession with Tarot and with learning this ancient art.  In his book “Voyager Tarot- The Oracular Way,” author James Wanless writes that “Living the moment is the best guarantee of the future. Knowing ourselves in the present creates the energies and situations that take us on to our next lesson and opportunity.” It is my impatience for those future lessons and opportunities that has me itching at the moment, rather than enjoying where I am and trusting in right timing and that all is (always) as it should be.  I can begin planning now, even if the implementation stage is a little ways off.  Research. Who is doing what I want to do? Who is my market? Where do I want to rent an apartment when I move to LA? What is the best way to rent out my house in Albuquerque? What can I do daily to stay engaged with my creativity and joy?

I don’t know exactly what comes next.  But, what I see when I sit on the prairie daydreaming, while they set up the next shot, is that I want to write/design a book, I want to help others make books, I want to sell limited numbers of treasures I find while traveling, I want to create beauty in the world, I want to help others to find beauty in their lives and create more of it, I want to wear clean, nice clothing to work (sorry REI, but all of your UV protective clothing I will spend the next eight weeks in doesn’t count), I want to live near the ocean, I want to create a community of creative, brave, fun people, and I want to use and expand on the talents and creativity I have kept hidden for years.

So, I am grateful to this movie for pushing me in a new direction as gently and kindly as it possibly can.

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Madam Secretary. 

 Last week I heard the title “Secretary of the Future” while listening to Marketplace on NPR and I fell in love with the idea. In a country with a Secretary of Defense and one of State, why not have one whose purpose it is to look forward to where current policies and strategies may lead? 

I thought of one of my posts from the end of 2014, in which I’d described the type of Empire I wished to preside over, after reading a horoscope which urged me to do just that. The official color would be gold, the official texture would be sand between the toes, and so on. It was all very official. 

So now I will become my own Secretary of the Future. While staying present and open to what life presents, how can I look forward to goals I want to achieve and keep myself on a path towards them? How can I make choices that lead in that direction and away from distraction? 

The part I find difficult is that balance between having goals and also leaving space for the universe to work its magic. There is a lack of specifics in most of my goals that could worry me, but instead gives me a sense of peace, trusting both that whatever is meant to be will be, but that it is still up to me to point my life in the direction I want to go. My imagination can only conjure what it knows about and there could be bigger and better solution to each of my goals than I could ever fathom. 

The future I envision is one full of adventure, travel, creative expression, love, joy, fun, community, health, and serenity. To achieve it demands vigilance in my current decision making process and congruence between what I say I want and what I actually do. I must be honest with myself about why I am doing what I am and remember that different outcomes need different routes than those previously chosen. The paradox is that by planning for the life I want to have, I am more present in the only one I will ever actually live, here in the present. 

Even without many specifics, I like the vibe of my future and can feel the energy I gain when I make decisions that move me closer to it. I also like calling myself Madam Secretary. 

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. 

Looking Back

Life is funny and seems to have an unending need to keep us on our toes. Recently looking back on some old posts, I came across “When is the time?” from July 23rd, 2013. Ten weeks ago I came up with a plan for my autumn, based on a job I committed to for the winter and spring and the desire to take time off before my life was once again consumed by a movie set. Looking back at the list, I was shocked that I’ve actually accomplished, or am about to accomplish, almost every item I wrote down. There have been many days that I’ve felt completely aimless and like I had no plan, and it’s only looking back that I realize I’ve actually-

Booked a trip to surf camp in El Salvador with my sister and her family, where I’ll also be able to practice Spanish.
Written (almost) every day.
Discovered a swing dancing venue with weekly dancing.
Read many, many of the unread books on my shelf.
Cooked every day. (Reheating is cooking!)
Spent time with family.

Seems the only two things on the list I won’t be doing this fall are returning to Mexico or taking a German class. In addition, I started submitting stories to magazines, completed two writing classes, joined a book/wine/supper club, and began to build some form of the creative and social life I’ve been missing when each of my film jobs wrap.

The ironic part is that the job I was counting on, that gave me the guts to go through with my plan and not worry about the lack of finances, ended up falling through. That isn’t uncommon in the film industry and I just have to trust that another will come along at the perfect time (November!) I know I wouldn’t have been brave enough to turn down several jobs in the last few months, in order to complete my list, if I didn’t think I had that big job coming. But, oh well! I’m glad I took this time and have to believe it’s all going exactly as it should.

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