Archives for posts with tag: Life

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.

It always takes a good crash to realize how high and ungrounded one is. A nice long nosedive back to earth.
My recent landing left me looking around, asking myself what I really want and how did I get so far from the things that I know help to bring me balance and happiness.
For the past few months, my method for living has been all about keeping busy and high, jumping from jobs to trips to plans for the future, anything to keep from really being present and looking at where I am right now. I knew somewhere in my gut that this was what I was doing, but didn’t care, happy to postpone the inevitable crash a bit longer.
Now, as I try to answer the question “what do I really want?”, the answer is the same as it always is. I want to be happy in a way that comes from within me, not dependent on outside circumstances and therefor not at the whim or able to be taken away by those either.
I’ve had glimpses of that happiness at times and there is a stillness that comes with it and an acceptance of what is, rather than what I think should be. And the times that I’ve experienced this feeling were always the same times that I was truly taking care of myself. Doing my stretches in the morning, meditating, eating well and cooking, exercising, and connecting with friends. These are all the exact things that I let lapse in my hyper, adrenaline infused quest to stay high, hoping the answers to all of my questions lay in the relationship, the job, the city, and so on, rather than in me.
I believe that all any of us truly want is to be happy but that it is too easy to look for that happiness everywhere but within. So, as I try to reset my internal compass and be truly present in my life, I will also try to be extra compassionate towards not only myself but others, realizing we are all on the same mission.