Zero Sum, blah blah

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zero-sum, noun

: of, relating to, or being a situation (such as a game or relationship) in which a gain for one side entails a corresponding loss for the other side.

win-win, adjective

: advantageous or satisfactory to all parties involved.

Wowza!!! September.

I arrived back in New Mexico on Friday night, amid a fantastic electric thunder storm that lit up the night sky as we drove west on I-40. The smell of desert rain came through the vent as NPR played in the background. After not having slept well for about a month, and almost not at all for a week, I was on autopilot, willing myself to drive and arrive safely and to think about what comes next, later.

Everything felt completely familiar and totally different.

Listening to our President speak on NPR, I was almost jealous of his ignorant black and white view of the world. Jealous is the wrong word, but how nice it must be to live in a fabricated world of certainty where there is right and wrong and winners and losers, good/bad and never any grey or complication.

Moving back to New Mexico didn’t make LA any less cool in my mind. It didn’t make the things that worked for me there any less great, nor did it mean I’d never return.  Coming back to the beauty, familiarity, and ease of my home state, didn’t mean that the things that had previously annoyed me or felt small here would suddenly cease to do so. My love and annoyance with each could and would exist simultaneously.

paradox, noun

: a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded and true.

In her book “You are a Badass. How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life,” author Jen Sincero writes about the idea of just seeing what you can get away with. Because that book, which I love (and which you will too), is still packed away with all of my other books, I’ll paraphrase; we are our own worst enemies in that we limit ourselves before giving ourselves a chance to even begin, by thinking of the ways in which something probably won’t work, so therefor why bother?

You want to work as little as possible and live as well as possible and travel and create things and do all of the stuff you want to do, when you want to do it? You basically want it all? Good luck!

Why thank you, yes. I do want it all. I want to be healthy and alive and vibrant and in so doing, inspire others to do/be the same, the way others have inspired me. I want to live where I want to live, work where/when I want to work, and stop believing that somehow this is asking too much.

My hairstylist in LA just moved to Oakland to become a baker. Several friends are going back to school. My neighbor in Albuquerque refuses debt of any sort and pays cash for everything; it’s taken him 15 years to fix up his 150 year old adobe home, but now it’s beautiful and he did it on his terms.

Who says that to have this, you can’t have that? Or to do this, you can’t do that? Bosses, teachers, advertisers, parents, banks, co-workers, and so many other voices that are not actually ours, or true, weasel their way into our brains and come out sounding like practical logic. Based on what? Other people’s fears or a company’s desire to sell you something?

I am going back to looking at the adventure of it all and asking Why Not when an idea pops into my mind. I refuse to believe that for this to work, that can’t work, or that win-win situations, in which we all come out ahead, are too idealistic. Let’s just see what we can get away with!

Photo taken on I-40 West, near Holbrook, AZ.

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Living the Dream

I’m sitting in Happy Girl Kitchen in Pacific Grove, California, because it’s as close as I can get to my kitchen at the moment. Three weeks into my four week stay and all I want is tea, toast, to write, and listen to music on Saturday mornings and, though some of that is possible from my room at the Hyatt, I prefer the long wooden tables decorated with mason jars of peonies, along with a dirty chai, at Happy Girl.

The boats, whales, and otters of Monterey Bay are just a few blocks away, visible past rows of pristine Craftsman and Victorian houses and a fresh, fishy smell of ocean permeates.

I am up early after dropping an actress’s dry cleaning, needed for Monday, at the cleaners.

The espresso mixed in my chai has yet to kick in and I’m groggy after a long week.

Later today I will go to the grocery store and stock up on my last week’s supply of daily salad ingredients and morning yogurt accessories, berries and such, to stuff in my mini fridge. There is a method to fitting one week’s food into such a small space and it has taken me fifteen years to figure it out. I also remembered the knife, fork, spoon, and sponge this time around.

“You bring your lunch every day?” co- workers ask. “You wash your dishes in the bathroom? I’d be too grossed out,” one replied. “How do you find the time?” others wonder.

“I have to,” I reply. It connects me.

For the first week of my current month on location, the anxiety that somehow the life I love had been erased, yet again, and replaced with nothing but work and a hotel room consumed me.

How to integrate the lives we live, to always feel connected, no matter the circumstances?

I wake early to chop veggies and make hot water with lemon. It is my meditation. Along with my other meditation, preparing food, writing, taking walks, pulling my daily tarot cards, and documenting it all with a camera are the ways I connect back with myself when it seems that my periodically all consuming costuming career will suck me in and forget to spit me back out.

When I remember to connect to myself in these small ways, the anxiety subsides and I am present, able to enjoy whatever may be around me, wherever I may be. And lately I just happen to be in some of the most beautiful places on earth.

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Integration

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Two weeks into my first full time job since August and the black hole that is a film set has yet to totally suck me in and, if I have my way, this one never will.

I went to the dentist recently and she asked how I was sleeping. Well, I replied, I’ve been sleeping well. I can tell, she said. You haven’t been gritting your teeth.

Am I finally learning to balance it all?

Two days until my 39th birthday; well timed to fall on Good Friday, a union holiday.

The lessons keep coming- Let it be. Be present. Communicate. Create daily, even when I don’t have time or energy to “be creative”. Cook on Sundays so I have healthy, home cooked food to eat throughout the week. Write even when I don’t know what to say, like today. Have gratitude for this amazing little life I’ve been given. Take it day by day. Enjoy. Lighten up.

And don’t forget the CBD! Ha, I am not kidding. I began trying different kinds of CBD products in October and have felt a profound shift in my body and mind over the past six months (google it, I am not expert, but it works!!!!!!) Because it helped lower my overall anxiety, my sleep, and therefor my health, has dramatically improved, giving me more energy for all of those previously mentioned lessons.

And, as I look towards 39, I choose Integration as my new word. For 2018 I chose Love and now I will combine the two… Creativity/Love/Work/Friends/Food/Exercise/Travel/Fun/Service/Action/Relaxation…

These are the days and I want it all mushed together into one big, awesome life package.

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Update

It’s been busy, ya’ll!

A brief glimpse…

It’s October, 90 degrees out, maybe cooler today, there is smoke in the air, people up north recently lost everything, stopped listening to the news to help with current insomnia (it’s helping), began a writing class last night (seems it will be great), reading six books, the man next to me is talking about rats in his apartment, I want to wear sweaters, fingers crossed for the Cubs tonight (dad has tickets for Game 6 if they do), good people keep appearing in my life, time is passing, so many great musicians coming through town, good dates/bad dates, baked a pie, make more time, patriarchy continues to crumble in all of its ugliness, fall road trip plans postponed, miss my friends when get too busy, to buy: food, clean out closet (again), write every day, woke up at 7, crawled back into bed at 8, back asleep until 11, should I become Cali resident (?), cool breeze blowing, going to beach tomorrow, need coffee, all is good. More soon.

Oh, and yesterday morning I saw three coyotes stalking the streets of LA as I walked to my car in the pre dawn dark.

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A Creative Life.

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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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Home

I’m sitting in an airport for the third time this month, reading my horoscope. Home, home, home. My fourth house is all lit up, hitting the domestic vibes/homefront notes for the next month, just in time to be outside of Atlanta, for work, living in a hotel.  So, how to avoid going crazy and give myself those homey vibes, while on the road? What does home mean? Where is my home? 

I recently had a reassuring realization while in Northern California for a couple of weeks, again for work and again living in a hotel. I missed LA. Having only lived there for six months, after repeatedly trying  to adapt for ten years and but always eventually fleeing for the clean air and calm of my previous home, New Mexico, this was a huge shift. And a welcome one. I missed the assortment of healthy food, the mass of stuff to do on weekends, the hipster adventuror spirit which can be both annoying and awesome,  my classes, friends, apartment, stuff and my morning routine. I was officially homesick for my new city. So, that’s a good thing! 

But, what to do to create home when away? My yoga mat, many books, music, a big bag of food and tea, journal, and tarot cards are traveling with. I’m heading out with an open attitude and belief that seeing different parts of the country and world will give me some good stories to tell and a greater appreciation of my own city when I return next month. 

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Feet aka Heart

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“I have one foot out the  door, but he doesn’t know where he’s going,” a co-worker told me last week, over a cup of coffee and a donut from the craft service table, as we stood, backs to a cold wind that whipped dust in our scarf and goggle covered faces, waiting for the director and cinematographer to set up a shot.  I laughed. At the moment my feet were cold, even inside winter boots, and I wondered if they had led me to that moment, or had merely followed along. “Where or when did we get the idea that a job in an office was such a bad thing?” I wondered. Later that night I sat on a cooler, next to a different co-worker, and again we waited for a shot to be set and again a dusty, cold wind whipped our faces.  And again I wondered how I’d come to view this as normal.

But, then, what is normal? I’ve spent the better part of thirteen years on movie sets, waiting for shots to be set, in the wind, and for a long time it felt very normal.  I became used to intense periods of work followed by equally intense periods of existential wandering. It is only recently, since I have been taking more time off, pursuing different goals, making different choices, and following my heart, aka feet, that my previous normal is up for examination. My new version involves sleeping well, writing, wandering with a purpose, taking care of myself physically, and making decisions based on how my overall wellbeing will be effected.

As I sat in the wind, I realized that my former and current normals had one thing in common; my desire for freedom. Somewhere along the way, I’d convinced myself that offices equalled cages, commitments equalled obligations and then resentments, and that there was no way to intertwine finances with my own creativity.  I loved to show up in the morning on a new set, to know that no job ever lasted more than a few months, and that I could save money while working because I had no time to spend it, or do anything really, other than work and sleep.  I was willing to overlook the lack of free time, the weather, and the adrenal depleting high, that was actually quite addictive.

But now, as I spend less time on set and more in the office I designed in my home, I realize my feet are leading me in a different direction than the one I am so familiar with. And I don’t actually know where we are going. I figure we haven’t gotten lost yet, so I’ll just continue to follow.