Archives for posts with tag: presence

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October 2017 is almost over. Wow.  With two months left in which, as the previous ten have demonstrated, anything can happen, give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far, for taking a minute to sit and read a blog post, and for continuously doing the best you can.

I recently spoke with a few friends and loved ones who each seem to be asking the same questions, their own versions of the ones I’ve spent the past two months pondering at 2:14 in the morning, instead of sleeping.  What am I doing? Does there need to be an end goal or is this enough? Will the dots ever connect?

Because of my nervous system and brain’s penchant for insomnia and pondering instead of REMs, I have been writing and blogging less than I’d like.  As anyone who doesn’t sleep well knows, the dull, dream like state left behind after a night of tossing about, does not lend itself to creativity. I have had no choice but to turn it into another lesson in acceptance. Acceptance of what is. I can do what I can to try to sleep, but in the end it is out of my control and no matter that I-  1.turn lights off at dusk,  2. take melatonin, 3. meditate, 4. exercise, 5. don’t look at any blue lights (phone, computer, TV) before bed- sometimes I sleep like a baby and other nights I literally never fall asleep. It is what it is. But, letting go of the idea that there is more I can do or that I am doing something wrong, that somehow I can control it, is not easy.

But, as with all lessons we don’t choose but which choose us, they come bearing hidden blessings. My life has become shockingly present. I can almost not see past the end of the month, which is only next week! I am planning a trip to India for this January and you would think it was for the year 2090 by the way I have been unable to wrap my head around the idea of just three months from now. My work schedule changes week by week, I have an improv class starting on Saturdays and a writing class on Wednesdays. And that is it. As scheduled and planned as I can be right now. I’ve tried buying concert tickets or plane tickets to visit friends, only to give them away or end up with a credit for future travel, because in the course of two weeks everything changes.

At least for now, I’ve given up on planning more than a week in advance and concentrate on steering my thoughts and actions in small, beneficial directions. What should I cook today? Today I will call my friends and check in, go for a walk,  write something or finish reading that book, be kind to my grumpy and tired coworkers who are just as sleep deprived as I am,  let that person merge into my lane, try that recipe, do my morning stretches, meditate, turn off the news and turn on music, and do what I can to keep my side of the street clean,  thereby being of service to the world and to myself.  Even as I write this, I laugh at how unambitious and yet totally ambitious that list is. What a paradox that the most basic things we do for ourselves can also be the most difficult to do regularly, for simple does not mean easy.  If anything, it’s often easier to make elaborate, future based plans in an effort to avoid the present, with it’s frequent discomfort.

In a recent email from a friend, she mentioned that amidst huge upheaval in her life and lots of unanswered questions, she is happy that she lives near an open air market with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables for sale. Another friend told me that her afternoon plans involved going home to lie in the grass in an effort to calm down and enjoy the fall afternoon. Yet another was excited because she had absolutely no plans for the weekend.   It seems that if 2017 has been good for something, it has helped us get back to the basics. What do we value? What kind of lives do we want to live? What makes us laugh or what calms us down in the midst of chaos? How can we benefit our communities on a small, human scale? What would we take if a wildfire or flood gave us less than one minute to grab our most important item and run? How do we listen to news of possible nuclear war, global warming, sexual predators, and political ineptitude and keep on smiling? How do we stay present?

These are the questions that run through my head when it is dark and the palm frond shadows dance against the window and I can hear my downstairs neighbor’s snores through the floorboards. It is only by becoming totally present, listening to those snores and to my own breath, that life seems manageable once again. What CAN I control tomorrow? Eating toast and drinking tea in the morning, while listening to my favorite radio show, and then taking a walk? Ok, cool, I’ll do that.

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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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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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Tis the season to overfill schedules, eat too many sweets, purchase out of obligation, and basically lose all sense of what the season is truly about. A sense of wonder is too often replaced with one of anxiety this time of year. As I drove through an overflowing mall parking lot recently, I realized it was the last place I wanted to be and asked myself “why are you here?” The voices of obligation and frenzy had taken over when I wasn’t paying attention.

I began to look at the season as a metaphor for life, quickly realizing that unless I remained vigilant in my desire to be present and enjoy it, it would pass in a blur and, come January, I’d be left broke, chubby, and wondering when did 2015 slip through the door?

2014 has been a surprisingly happy year for me and I attribute that entirely to being more present and to letting go of an expectation for how it should be, therefor letting it be what it is. Instead of feeling that my life was living me, I made choices and decisions and could tell you exactly how I’d ended up where I was. That hadn’t been the case for many years prior.

As I look at the faces of children, and adults, in checkout lines and mall parking lots, it seems so obvious that all any of us truly want for Christmas is the presence of those around us and to feel present in our lives.

I truly adore this time of year and don’t want to miss one moment of tamale filling, house decorating, tree trimming, cookie decorating, gift making, fire building, or friend and family visiting time by not being present. There is so much beauty to be found, but only when we remember to look.

Have a Happy and Peaceful Holiday Season!

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I am happy. I realized that recently, as I drove down a nondescript street doing nondescript errands. It was an ordinary day and it was good. The air felt soft because of recent rains, I had just eaten lunch with a dear friend, laughed at her stories of recent African movie set adventures, and I was beginning to plan my own overseas adventures for the fall.
It was somewhat startling to realize that I had achieved my New Year’s resolution, maybe the first ever.

Along with that realization came the feeling that I was in my life, I was present, here, now, and was living it rather than vice versa. I was making choices based on how they might lead towards the life I envisioned for myself. Happiness is an abstract term and differs for everyone, but I am becoming clearer on what it means for me. It means being home more often and on the road less, at least for now. It means feeling like I am part of a community, it means having time to be creative, to travel, get out of debt, cook healthy food in my own kitchen, harvest veggies from my garden, and be in town long enough to make new friends. It is about presence and making choices, rather than going along, making the choice not to make choices, always feeling there will be time to be happy. Later.

‘Happiness’ was my word for 2014 and ‘congruence’ the word for age 35. Keeping both at the center of all decisions I make has made it easier and clearer to figure out what works and what doesn’t. The second guessing, what ifs, and desires of the ego have been replaced with a clarity. Not that they’re gone; they’re simply easier to recognize and to ignore.

So, as I check in with myself, more than half way through the year, I am happy to report it feels like August. I can account for the first seven months of the year because, though some were difficult, I was there. There have been years of my life when, like someone driving a well known route, I didn’t know how I’d gotten there and couldn’t believe another year was half way over. But, not 2014. I have been present and as I move forward I see how intertwined the ideas of presence, happiness, honesty, and congruence all really are.

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.

Since my last movie ended, while waiting for the next to begin in March, I’ve had time to fall into a natural daily rhythm, of which writing these posts is now a part.  Without work as an anchor, I try to keep to a schedule of sorts, albeit a loose one that involves afternoon walks, writing, and tea drinking.  Trying to fill these empty days in a way that is meaningful and doesn’t just skip over them as the time between jobs, is something I’ve spent the past ten years figuring out.

I wake, make my way downstairs, and turn on the kettle.  I open the curtain on the large, south facing, kitchen window and even on the rare cloudy day, light fills the main room of my house.  With my tea and my most recent gluten free (more on that to come) breakfast discovery, I sit at the kitchen table, turn on the computer, and after first clicking on The New York Times to make sure the world hasn’t ended (sad but true), I end up on wordpress.  I think for a few minutes of what I feel like writing and, more often than not, go with the first idea that pops into my head.

After posting my latest ponderings, I think of a plan for the rest of the day. Small tasks left over from my remodel kept me busy for most of January and February and recently I’ve turned my sights on my yard. It is still too cold to do much outside, but I’m coming up with a plan with the help of pinterest, books, and daily walks through the neighborhood, for what to do once spring arrives.

In addition to checking home projects and basic life organization off my list, I try to concentrate on things that I miss and have no time to do when working 80 hours a week on a movie. I cook, I baby my plants, I ride my bike around the neighborhood, I drink too much wine with friends on weeknights, I read until late, and I allow myself to be lazy.  I get great joy out of organizing my life, whether perfecting a new filing system or decorating my house, knowing that these things will be my anchor once the days are too busy to think or deal with anything other than work and sleep.

It’s a strange, imbalanced life and has taken me years to figure out.  At some point, when I was younger and new to the film industry, I realized that I was counting down the days in my life; I was either on a film waiting for it to wrap or between films, waiting for a new one to begin. I was never really present. This was a startling realization and one that I worked very hard to reverse and change.  I now try to do small things while working that keep me involved in my life, whether it is a yoga mat on the floor of my hotel room, weekly dates with friends, or simply remembering to be present at work, realizing what a bizarre job I have and appreciating it, even when I’m tired.  And, when I am off, I try to appreciate that time, taking care of business, going on trips, spending time with friends and family and taking time in the morning to talk to my plants.

By continuously counting down the days, always feeling like it should have been different than it was, or that happiness and contentment were things that would simply appear in my life when the outside circumstances were perfect, I spent years of my life unhappy and not really living. It was only when I became truly present, whether working or off or home or away, that I began to see the opportunities and beauty that were all around.