I was just trying to write something here for the first time in several days, but a wedding passed by the hotel, so I had to go and watch. And so it goes.

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Words, or at least the ones I know, seem an inadequate form for India. I want to touch it, wear it, hear it, eat it, smell it, and live it.

The compassion. Curry. Textiles. People. And the, literally, totally rocking Temples. Everyone I’ve met, from people on the street, to shop keepers, to drivers, discuss vibration, energy, and the Gods as if discussing restaurants or the weather. Spirituality is so interwoven with life, it seems impossible to separate the two.

And, why would we want to?

This morning, while eating breakfast, I watched as a wild pig, two cows, several dogs with pups, monkeys, chipmunks, birds, and people went about their morning routine, together. None with any more right to be there, in the intersection, than the other.

The fields surrounding town are full of mustard plants, blooming with yellow flowers. Our driver told us it will be harvested at the beginning of March and then it will get hot, very hot, through October.

Right now it is beautiful outside. Warm in the day and cool at night.

If you’d like a silver pendant shaped like a mango and filled with perfume, look for Mangoman’s shop in Bundi.

 

All photos taken in Bundi, Rajasthan.

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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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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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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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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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fontcandyBut, shouldn’t I be farther by now? I thought it would look different.  I’m hot. Where’s the water? This isn’t what I expected.  Isn’t there a faster way?  I’m hungry.  I can’t find the map. Maybe I was supposed to take the left back there.  I think this is the wrong road.  Is that a mirage up ahead? I am really hungry.  I should have bought the fancy trail mix with macadamia nuts. I hope they have coconut water when I get there…Wow, look at that little yellow flower growing through the pavement.  I think my legs are actually getting stronger. My legs are going to look so good.  I wonder if there are any swimming holes nearby. Wow, that breeze feels great. I think that’s the same bird that I saw a few miles back. Is he following me? That cloud totally looks like an elephant. Whoa, that one looks like a palm tree. It smells like rain. That smells so good. I think I’ll sit by that tree for a minute. It is so beautiful out here.

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IMG_2120.JPGOur deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. -Marianne Williamson

I have always loved this quote and over the years I would read it, tape it to various bathroom mirrors, and re-read it.  But, it wasn’t until this past week, during the Advanced Course at MITT (mittraining.com), that I realized just how many years I have spent shrinking and hiding from my brilliance, creativity, beauty, courage, power, height, and worth, in some bizarre attempt to keep others from feeling insecure, but really because it scared the crap out of me. “Who am I to be so much?” I whispered.

I built a persona based not on shining authentically, but on being nice, responsible, not rocking the boat, and basically taking up as little space as possible, believing in some way that would benefit myself and others the most. The ironic part is that in trying so hard not to appear selfish and ego driven, I was exactly that, believing deep down that my loved ones, and the world,  were so little they wouldn’t be able to handle my biggest self. I didn’t think of it in those words but, same difference.  “I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable, ever, including myself, so we can all just survive, get through, wait, wish, and see what comes our way. It’ll be fine.”

But, I am done with fine.  I’m done with anything less than risky, courageous, vulnerable, joyful, fun, authentic, gigantic living. I, and everyone I know, happened to win the lottery in this go around at life and to then turn our backs on those gifts seems like a big, old slap in the Universe’s face.  What do you want to do? What makes you happy? Why aren’t you doing it? When did you stop doing it? What did you want to do when you were a child? It is possible to get back to when the answers felt clear and there was no hesitation when asked.

Yesterday, as I was driving home from LA, I heard the news that Prince had passed away.  Another authentic, creative, beautiful soul taken too early and all I could think was Thank You. Thank You for rocking us to our cores and for showing us how gigantic and fearless we are capable of being, before heading back to party in the stars.

Prince’s sudden passing was just one more reminder that life is short and oh, so precious.  I am committed to speaking up, showing up, playing big, and just f***ing owning my beauty, power, and worth as a leader. And, lucky you! You get to do the same, starting now.

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