Archives for posts with tag: Life

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One year ago I was wrapping up a Western in the Rocky Mountains and all that has come to pass was yet to be. I didn’t yet take my LA view for granted or know that I would find an apartment with wood floors, make new friends, tell a story in front of an audience, work on a great project,  plan an international adventure, or survive  (at least so far) under a mentally unstable man-child President.

How can we know what the future holds? Thank God we don’t. Or, do we?  We play such an obvious role in creating that future, it’s a wonder we are as repeatedly surprised as we are. Where is our attention and energy and what are we creating by dwelling on things/places/situations and people, over and over and over?

One year ago, all that is real today, was an idea, a plan, or a fear. I was about to pack up my car and drive to California; to look for an apartment, classes, friends, jobs, a new life. I know that I helped manifest everything about the past year, including the election of our President, which truly shocked me.  I dwelled on him, thought of him and detested him, endlessly. But, I also saw myself on a stage, joyful, playing, living on a palm lined street in the hills, with wood floors, meeting cool, creative people. It has all come to pass.

When will I fully recognize this super power? How long until I stop playing dumb, wondering why certain areas of my life seem fuller than others? Everything we desire is always within our grasp, as is everything we fear. Choose wisely.

 

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What a week! What a month! It's like my nervous system, and those of everyone I know, are on constant high alert, waiting for the next twitter bomb, threat, shock, and proverbial shoe to drop.  I'd love to blame the eclipses, which we are in the middle of right now, but science and nature are getting enough flack lately, so I'll just blame us.

As I listened to our President threaten North Korea, I found myself thinking, hmm, this makes my already sparse earthquake survival kit seem even more lacking than it already is.  The Army Surplus store around the corner from my apartment advertises Survival Supplies, be they for an Earthquake, Burning Man, or Nuclear Attack and, curious to see what they had, I popped in. Food in sealed pouches guaranteed to last for a decade. Bullets. Gas masks. The list goes on and on. No, thank you. This is not the kind of stuff I want to buy or worry about. Nor is it the kind of world I care to live in or survive should the unthinkable come to pass.  I left the store without buying anything.

When I walked outside, it was a quintessential gorgeous LA day, 75 degrees and sunny.  A tree nearby was literally raining down purple blossoms.  Wow, I thought, this could all vanish with the push of a button.

Later that night, as I was laying in bed, I happened to feel one of my breasts through my T shirt and was startled to feel a strange bump. "WTF is that?" I thought. After finding a doctor who could see me quickly and getting my first mammogram, it turned out to be nothing serious, but for the second time that week I thought how quickly the lives we all take for granted can change forever. I also thought about how fortunate I am to have great health insurance and how unfair it is that so many in this country don't and that this will cost lives.

We take for granted that we will wake up in the morning and, still sleepy from the night before, drink our coffee and head to the jobs where that one guy will make us laugh and that other one will annoy us and then we will sit in traffic and eat dinner and not think twice about any of it.  We take for granted that Nazis are bad and that the President of the United States will have no problem saying so.  We take for granted that everyone wants to live and that in a war of mutually assured destruction, there will be no winners. We take all of this for granted because it is logical, fair, makes sense, known, etc.  But, then we remember that we are living in the era of alternative facts and this turns everything as we know it upside down. And the reality of the perilous tightrope walk we call life becomes more obvious than is comfortable to admit.

So, what to do? Radiate love in the face of fear and hate.  Value your health and take care of yourself in any way possible.  Help take care of your community.  Savor the beauty of being alive and create more of it.  Show up, speak up, stand up, and stop taking any of it (the fact that we are alive, on this planet, with each other, at this time) for granted.

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Hey, guess what?! No matter how excited you might be about something, be it a city, a job, a relationship, or anything really, eventually that thing will begin to feel normal and then, if you’re like me, possibly boring, and then maybe, you might start to think something is wrong. Where did the clarity, the sureness, and the excitement go? Isn’t it always supposed to be thrilling and amazing? Well, no, actually it’s not. 

This is where I’ve been lately. In my head, trying to “figure things out,” working, sleeping, grocery shopping, driving, eating, and basically living a beautiful, simple, and somewhat unexciting life. Eek, where did I go wrong? Um, nowhere. 

Life is life. As my wise mother likes to remind me, most of our life is lived in the hall. We go from event to event, room to room, but those are the exception. It’s the meals, drives, morning routines, walks, and daily chores that make up most of life, not necessarily knowing where we are going but trusting that another door or window will appear at the right time. For now, we are all just walking down the hall. 

And I don’t necessarily like the hall. I make lists and plans and think that I’ve done something terribly wrong if I am not crystal clear about every decision, all in an effort to control the unknown, calm the anxiety, and create excitement and the illusion of control. 

“Finding beauty in the everyday” is the tag line of this blog for a reason, because it is an exercise that I repeatedly need to practice. Somewhere along the way I began to equate calm with boring and then with wrong and when I find myself craving a hit of excitement, it is presence and gratitude that I am actually in need of. 

Life isn’t meant to be one constant, amazing thrill ride and, in reality, we probably couldn’t handle it if it was. But, ironically, as we become more present, we realize that even at its most mundane, somewhere on the plateau between the peak and valley, life is absolutely perfect, beautiful, and, actually, totally amazing. 

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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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IMG_8709What if we never figure it out? What if we never figure out whether a conversation we had with our dad at age twelve inadvertently influenced our future relationships with men or which grain is causing our skin to break out periodically? I was having a similar conversation recently with one of my dear friends, a fellow searcher and investigator of life, while sitting on bar stools at a Cajun restaurant in DTLA. What if we just have to be ok with never actually figuring any of it out?

I have a stack of self help, health, and relationship books that moves around my apartment. At times next to my bed, or on the couch, or periodically back on the bookshelf and, while the books themselves change, the stack somehow remains a fairly constant four books high.  Combine this stack with the journal that is always near, various classes, workshops, and self help groups, and much of my life has been dedicated to figuring it/me/us out. So, what if that is impossible?

I’m starting to realize that may be entirely beside the point of why we are here.  Thinking along those lines has repeatedly led me towards the idea that one day, down the road, I will get it, playing on the idea of destination as goal, rather than  journey.  It also begs the question, “So, you finally figure it all out, now what? Are you just a satisfied lump, content to sit on your couch ‘all figured out’ or a constantly evolving being that will simply move onto new and different questions once some are answered?”  If life has taught me anything, it’s that that destination centric thinking will lead to both suffering and missing out, whereas when we view “it” and ourselves as a constantly evolving adventure/creation/cosmic joke, one in which the journey is the point, then joy, creativity, and fun have room to flourish.

Fun! That word was nowhere to found on my to do/have lists until recently. And, though I do have to be healthy enough spiritually, emotionally, and physically to have it, it is just as important in keeping me healthy on those same levels as any of my diets, workshops or books. When I find myself taking “it” and myself too seriously, all I have to do is remember that we are literally spinning on a big round planet, through space. Why? Who knows?! So, take the day off, eat the cake, write the song, take the class, say yes, quit the job, buy the shoes, go on the trip, and let go of the lists, the rules, and the need to know. Because we may never figure it out. And that will just have to be ok.

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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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It’s Saturday morning and, after a very busy week, I am eating homemade rice pudding, drinking coffee, and finally sitting in front of my computer.  The Tarot book next to me is open to Chariot, the card I have pulled several days this week, it is a beautiful early spring day outside and I woke up without an alarm.  Life is good!

Two nights ago, a friend from New Mexico came over for a cup of tea and to hang out for a bit and while we were sitting on my couch, I had one of those strange moments where you look at your life and think “oh right, I created all of this and here I am.” (I can only imagine that parents must think that every few minutes when looking at their children!) Seeing my friend in LA and  out of our normal New Mexico context, allowed me to look at my new apartment, furniture, and city and see all of the changes that have happened over the past six months in a way that I have been too busy living lately to do.

But, more interesting than all of the differences were the similarities, because the truth is that, regardless of the size of changes life may undergo periodically, it does just go on! I grocery shop, listen to music, do laundry, drive to work (albeit in more traffic), clean my place, visit with friends, cook food, blog, etc., but then I go to the beach and an improv class and to a new downtown restaurant or to a museum and I remember why the changes were necessary.

The Chariot keeps appearing in my cards and this morning I opened my Voyager Tarot book to see what author James Wanless had to say about that. ” Movement brings change, and change brings new experience, learning, and growth- it leads to the achievement of your evolutionary destiny…As Cancer, the Charioteer carries the shell or home (self security) on his/her back and is at home wherever…Travel and test your sense of inner security… To be at home wherever you are is knowing yourself- being centered.”  Though this could mean that ones physical surroundings shouldn’t matter because it’s what is inside that keeps you grounded, I’ve long known that my physical home base was more important to me than to some. It is necessary for me to create a beautiful space from which to set out each morning and that is perhaps why a decade of tiptoeing in and out of LA, without first creating that, hadn’t worked for me.  For the first time, all of my personal items (clothing, books, Buddha statue, tea kettle, photos, wooden clogs form Amsterdam, sewing machine…) are here and because of that I feel grounded and able to keep moving into the adventure.  If you want to call sitting on a couch on a Thursday night and drinking tea an adventure! Seems like a good one to me.

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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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It must just be one of those nights where the world is seeming especially bizarre. Not in a bad way, just in a “what on earth are we all doing on the small round sphere, spinning through space, being happy, feeling sad, getting old, making movies, fleeing war, dying from Ebola, falling in love, building houses, meeting friends for tea, becoming obsessed with TV shows on Netflix, carving pumpkins, dressing up, electing officials, winning baseball games, listening to music, writing stories, escaping volcanoes” kind of way.

Tonight as I watched the news, there were stories about Hawaiian volcanoes, solar flares disrupting Earth’s technological infrastructure, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the upcoming elections, and ongoing tensions between Christians, Jews, and Muslims in Jerusalem. The newscaster felt it necessary to remind his audience that certain things, like solar flares and lava, can not be controlled. I laughed. What can be? I couldn’t help but feel that it all seemed a bit unreal and I watched as if in a dream, thinking periodically, “wow, this is life.”

Outside it was an absolutely gorgeous fall day, brisk turning to warm and back to brisk. As I contemplated upcoming work projects, story ideas, whether or not my plants need food, and what to make for dinner, others did the same. Watching the last episode of what surprisingly became my all time favorite TV show, (I thought I was too cool for teenagers, football, and Texas until “Friday Night Lights”), I cried and then simultaneously laughed at myself for crying. As I carved a pumpkin to match an emoticon, 😍, neighbors decorated their houses with cobwebs and skeletons.

And all I could think was, here we all are. What can be controlled? Our actions. Our thoughts (with practice). That’s about it. We do what we can, try to be happy, and let go of the rest. And periodically we come across places or projects or people that touch us in some way and help us make sense of the apparent random chaos. As I thought about it all, I kept coming back to the idea that it is, and we are, all simpler than we like to believe. Kindness, health, love, beauty, connection, food….

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There isn’t one. That’s the answer. The reality of this has been catching up with me lately in a way that it hasn’t for a while.
For the past several years, I have been completely at home and comfortable with the idea that all you can do is put one foot in front of the other and make decisions based on what you know and feel at that moment and time. With very little actual planning, I’ve watched my life unfold in ways I don’t think I could have conjured for myself. Through a combination of saying yes when opportunities presented themselves and having some vague idea of where I wanted to end up, my years twisted and turned, eventually bringing me to this moment in July, 2013.
I was recently talking with a friend about life, plans, and visions for the future, and I became acutely aware of how foggy my plans felt. The idea of a five year plan made my head want to explode, with one year not much better. Six months seemed barely manageable. Beyond just feeling unclear about where I saw myself, I actually felt uncomfortable trying to predict where I might be by then. One thing I did feel clear about was that the universe seemed to have bigger plans for me than anything I’d been able to imagine for myself and I didn’t want to get in the way.
This fogginess led me to wonder if there was ever a time that I remember seeing my future clearly. The answer was no. I have no memory of where, as a child, I pictured myself in my mid thirties.
And yet, somehow I have been able to manifest a beautiful life. I have a career, albeit a crazy one, that works for me on many levels, a newly renovated home, and friends and family who I adore. And I really couldn’t tell you how any of that came to be. It just did.
Without a map or an idea that A would lead to B and then to C, I’ve lived my life from some place in between faith and instinct. By staying present and making choices based on gut reactions, I find myself where I am. And, though I love the idea of an all knowing map, I’ll just have to trust that what I’ve been doing must be working.