aspiration · dissatisfaction · dreams · mortality · spirituality

Near – Far. Near – Far.

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Anyone else remember those segments on Sesame Street?
Well, I recall it this morning around desire. Around the
idea that if we’re not happy with what we have right now, why would we expect
something more would make us happy later? If we’re not content in the “near,”
how can we expect to be happy in the “far””
That said, I don’t know that I completely agree with this concept. I do “get” that it is
important to recognize the gifts around us. Especially at this time of year,
it’s easier to get that reminder to “give thanks.” It’s what I’m teaching my
4th graders lately, about gratitude, being happy with what’s around us,
noticing what we have, and how lucky we are. By nature of our birth, we’ve
landed in a circumstance where we’re healthy, educated, and pretty well off. In
many ways, we’ve hit the lottery in comparison to the 8 million other souls on
this planet.
I can count my blessings, though they are innumerable.
And yet.
What about the phrase, “It helps to envision our spiritual
objective before we try to move toward it”? Isn’t that implicitly saying that
we can want more, and we have to clarify what that is so we can get there?
Isn’t there an inherent longing or dissatisfaction? A seeking?
So, today, I sit with the duality of … reality (sorry!): I
am content with my life, and I want more for it.
A friend once said to me when I was in a lot of pain around
a previous job, “Just stand at the copy machine and be grateful you are.”
Included in that idea is being grateful for: being alive, healthy, employed.
And yes, of fucking
course I am and was. But does that mean, Don’t dream beyond that?
Does that mean the longings of a soul are symptoms of being
ungrateful? Hmm….
Happiness breeds happiness. Contentment seems to attract more
of itself. I am a “law of attraction”
kind of believer. I comprehend that living in where I am with adulation and
appreciation and awe is crucial.
But. …
How do you truly sit with that frisson?
In the immediate present, in the “near,” I am going tonight
to perform in a community theater production. A good community theater, at that. For years, I’d been
dabbling at acting, and only at the start of the year did I make a conscious
commitment toward it.
I am adamantly grateful, and also, this was all borne of
restless desire and dissatisfaction.
I don’t know. I don’t think I can “figure it out,” and maybe
I don’t have to. But, I will always find it difficult to “sit” in gratitude for
things that make me feel I’m wasting my life. I have too much respect
for the time we’re given to simply “be” in where I’m at when that feels deadening.
And maybe that perspective is “wrong,” and it perpetuates my dissatisfaction. Maybe this longing and seeking
keep me from feeling fulfilled, but for today at least – however off-balance
it may make me – I do have one foot in
the near, and one firmly planted in the far.
Because, sorry Ekhart Tolle: I believe in the Power of Then. 

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aspiration · career · death · fear · scarcity

master of none.

There is enough time, he said.

B- B- But, my mind sputtered. What about …

science?

what about math

you know my father is an engineer, my brother a physicist, that i scored higher on all standardized math tests, despite an advanced degree in english

what about the books on einstein, by feynman, hawking that line my shelf, half read, each, without someone to guide me through. 

what about advanced placement calculus?

what about the people who question where quarks go and think the slingshot of apollo 13 was beatific.

i can and could and might toil in the exile and ecstasy of “art,”

b- but,

what about…

everything else?

aspiration · authenticity · consistency · courage · death · fear · life · procrastination · responsibility · self-abandonment · writing

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…

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Why aren’t you writing for a living?
Because it’s just a hobby, an escape.
Why aren’t you writing for a living?
Because it’s too hard and I’m not good enough.
Why aren’t you writing for a living?
Because I don’t know how to show up consistently.
Any of these types of questions ever cross your mind? Any of these questions
and immediate quashings?
This morning, that question came to me. I always dismiss my writing becoming a means or an ends.
I don’t make the time; I haven’t touched the essay my aunt said I should submit to
the New York Times’ Modern Love section. I haven’t crafted anything for the The
Sun
, a magazine at least 3 people have
suggested I submit my work to.
It’s just me
being me. How is that worthy or interesting or enough?
Because I saw someone else had clicked on it, I just re-read a blog I wrote in January, Remember What the Redwoods Told You, about being “told”
by the trees that I was going to live through my cancer. And as I read through
the end of it, about being given the chance to
be in my life, to make this time worthy, I think about
all the procrastination and fear I still let grab hold of my ankles.
This is not a self-flagellation blog; as you can read in
italics above, I already have plenty of those thoughts. But, they are just
thoughts, not facts. And thoughts can be changed. Through action.
“Act your way into right thinking,” the phrase goes.
I’ve “thought” for a while about waking up earlier (yes,
even earlier) to do some “real” writing.
It hasn’t happened yet, and that’s okay, but I know that I work better in the
morning, when my brain cells still have some anima.
And as I was finding this question arise in my meditation
this morning, goading me to find a legitimate reason for postponing my good, I
thought of a perfect resource friend I can reach out to about this, and
actually get something into action. And maybe deadline.
Because, as my acting friend told me earlier this week when
I asked her how she “makes” herself learn monologues, she answered, Deadlines.
She sets up deadlines by signing up for auditions, and makes sure she has a
back pocket filled with current monologues.
To paraphrase, Our growth can come as much from our actively
seeking it, as it can from being forced.
But, it helps to be pushed a little.
That’s what registering for these auditions is for me, a
push to get back into it, to not let another month and another month slide off
the calendar. To make this year “worthwhile,” to me means to actually do those things that I think are for other people,
people with talent or time or resources. Bull.
The only difference between them and me is action. Nothing
more.
A rallying, warrior cry sounds every day for me. It is my
choice to heed its call or to roll over and hit Snooze.
And yet, it is also my choice to condemn myself or not on the days
I do hit Snooze. As I wrote yesterday, there’s no use in beating myself
up for not being where I want to be – that doesn’t actually get me there
quicker.
What helps with all of this is accountability, which a
deadline is, but also what friends can be. I’ve been toying with the idea
(thinking, again!) recently of getting an “Action Buddy,” or “Accountability
Partner” whatever you want to call it.
I know this is a system that works for many people, and I
believe it could work for me. So, with all irony, I’m going to add “Get an
Accountability Buddy” to my list of personal actions… and see if I can hold
myself accountable to that!
Because there is no reason I’m not writing that is valid. I
know there’s grist here; I know there’s “enough” talent. I would love to take
actions that reflect that knowledge. Because, if you haven’t noticed, I seem to
think that Time is our most precious natural resource of all.

abundance · aspiration · change · ease · energy · possibility · self-care · self-love

Fulcrum

(No, sorry, this has nothing to with the group of evil spies on the t.v. show Chuck.)

Ever since I listened to this podcast on the development of energy efficiency, I’ve been thinking about developing a process to create more while expending less.

In “olden times,” the podcast said, a day’s work could earn you an hour, maybe, of candlelight. Imagine having to work an entire day, just to get one hour of power to your iPhone, let alone your refrigerator or car.

In contrast, through scientific achievement we now, through a day’s work, earn a whole lot more power through our effort.

… I can’t remember how many days it reported precisely, but to give perspective to it: I pay on average $12 a month for my PG&E bill. (Granted I have most of my stuff attached to power strips I turn off before I leave, and never leave things plugged in that I don’t have to.) But, if I earn more than that per hour of my work, I’ve earned myself over a month of power in 60 minutes.

The point is, science has created a system whereby we work less to produce more. Our efforts are magnified through efficiency — we don’t have to work as much or as hard to get what we need. Science created a fulcrum, a point on which we can pivot our efforts to enhance them exponentially.

In my life, I am in a process and a pattern where I work a lot, like most of us, and what I earn from that pay supports a life that is getting by. I’m not saving much. I’m not spending much. I’m pretty much working to get by.

And I’ve decided I’d like a fulcrum.

To be specific, I’d like to work less and earn more. (Wouldn’t we all? But yes, isn’t that the point — perhaps we can.)

I did some calculating this weekend, and I can earn what I’d like to be earning (more than a “getting by” amount) by working half the time, 20 hours a week, if I triple my hourly wage. Sounds far fetched perhaps. But stranger things have happened. And the rate I’d need to earn isn’t outrageous. It’s actually pretty attainable for a skilled service.

The question now is, what will the service, my fulcrum, be?

At various times, I’ve teased the idea of throwing caution and (my own) morality to the wind and thought of prostitution. I’m sure I could earn there, but at what other cost? Result: rejected.

Other thoughts:
Consulting — in what?
Counseling — perhaps — more schooling then?
Coaching — maybe — more schooling, too.

But, we’re back to the point of the fulcrum — I can expend energy now in creating my fulcrum. It’ll likely take time and effort, but boy howdy! The results!

I don’t know yet what the outcome of this line of thinking will produce, but I like that I’m thinking this way, out of the box of where I usually look. Instead of looking again at the job sites I always look at to get a higher paying job but work the same number of hours, I’m realizing I need a different way.

Because I need to be available to the projects that ignite me, and I have to give myself the time and space to do that. … Without being a starving artist — I simply refuse to struggle more than I have to. It’s not fair to me anymore, when I know there can be another way.

So, if I can find a kind of steady-ish, scheduled-ish vocation that allows me to produce more while expending less, … well, as Archimedes said when demonstrating the lever:

“Give me the place to stand, and I shall move the earth.”

abundance · aspiration · community · fear · fun · synchronicity · truth · trying

In case you weren’t sure, I was the one dancing.

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Last night, I got an email reply to my inquiry about volunteering for a day-long community social action project in the Fall. The
call was for artists of all types, and if I’m anything, I am an artist of all
types!
The email came back: YES! We’d love to have you; here are
some painting projects: Create a mural; touch-up-paint a building; paint a wall; help kids decorate bags for food that will be donated.
If you read my blog, Men at Work, about circumstances that have come to
fruition since being put in my “G-d box,” you may remember (as I do, since it’s
now tacked to my fridge) that in that box was a list of things I wanted to do,
accomplish, or participate in. The second on the list, just after “being in a band,” is painting a mural.
At the time I was writing my blog about it, the mural didn’t
seem so important anymore. In fact, I reflected, “Sure that’d still be totally
rad!”
but that doing a mural doesn’t feel as
prioritized as some of the other items on the list, like finding a creative job
I enjoy, or being in a musical.
And yet. Here’s an opportunity I would never have thought
would come to be an opportunity!
The email said the mural would be in collaboration, and
there’s more info that I’d gather from the committee members, so I wouldn’t be
doing this in isolation at all.
However, I notice, too, that my typical/habitual reaction is to say, “I’m not an artist on that scale or level, so I’ll take the job of helping the
kids decorate lunch bags.”
I know that’s my automatic response. I know that’s my fear
response. But, I also know that there’s validity in saying, I’ve never done
this before, and I would love to help, but I’d also need help.
And, so, that’s likely what I’ll say. I’ll be honest with
where my talents are, but also where my aspiration is. I mean, if I never, ever
step out of what my comfort zone is, how will I ever know what I am capable of,
hm?
That doesn’t mean taking risks at the detriment of a
community project just to say, “Of course I can do it.” It’s detrimental to me (and to them) if I take steps that are developmentally inappropriate out of fear or pride. That doesn’t mean not to stretch out of my comfort zone (which, FYI participating a mural at all is!!), but it does mean that I start with a 5 mile hike, not 10.

This all feels very parallel to the job of the lead role in the play I was offered. I know it’s a stretch of my talents. I know I’ve never done it before, but unlike the play, the mural is something I’d really love to do. I appreciate the organization, their mission, and think it would be a lot of fun.

More will be revealed. I will let them know my truth, and be willing to say, “I
don’t know if I can take the lead on this project, but I would love to be ‘second in command’ or co-chair of it — truly involved in its creation and completion.”
Instead of playing it safe with the colored bags (something I know I can land easily, have fun with but not be learning much), I think the way to “dare greatly” here is
to offer to help out on the mural however I can, and learn a whole lot on the
way. Then maybe next time, I can confidently say Yes to taking the lead.
Here’s to being willing to cross more items off that list! (And here’s to my “daring greatly” in the first place by writing to them that I wanted to be involved at all.) 

action · ambition · aspiration · band · commitment · despair · faith · fear · self-abandonment · self-worth · singing · spirituality · truth · uncertainty · vulnerability

Yeah, But…*

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Here’s something nobody knows about me: When I access
something very truth-y in my morning journaling, my handwriting becomes
miniscule.
Written like those boardwalk booths that used to write your
name on a grain of rice, I find myself getting really tiny with my words – and that’s when I know I’ve struck
something important. Shh, don’t say it too loud or it might whisk off the page.
Let’s back up a little though.
Yesterday, I got to see my therapist (the Rosen Method
therapist I’m still seeing. Despite my doubts before every time I go, I always
leave laughing that I doubted). We hadn’t seen one another for about a month
due to schedules, so I had a lot to catch her up on.
Last time we spoke, I told her I felt like I didn’t have any
options available to me in dating land. Like Goldilocks, I’d experienced the
too hot, the too cold, but have yet to find the “just right.” I mentioned this
yesterday because I was talking about my job search. I told her that as I was
driving over last night, I realized that it’s not that I don’t have any options
available to me in job land – it’s that I refuse to commit to one path.
She challenged me on this a little, and asked if it was
“refused” or something else. And, surely, it is fear and paralyzation.
Because here is the secret, sacred truth: I do know what I want to do.
I told her that I see my job options like a scene from Sliding
Doors
. If you haven’t seen the movie, the
premise is based on Gwenyth Paltrow in one version of her life catching a
subway train before the doors shut; in another version, she misses that train.
At that point in the movie, we follow both these lives and their divergent challenges and
successes (and haircuts). 
I told her I see three options of my job life for myself:
One: Be a Jewish professional, or a community professional,
a leader, an organizer, a bringer-together-er.
Two: Do something counsel-y and social work-y, working
directly one-on-one with the populations I want to serve, particularly youth.
And three.
And this is where I began to cry.
Be an artist.
I laughed through the tears, and said, “Well if tears are
any indication of truth, then the third one’s the charm.”
The third one is also the hardest. Requires the most work,
the most vulnerability, the most action, the most fortitude, and… the most uncertainty.
I told her I’m not willing to be a starving artist. But
perhaps there’s another way.
As a note, by “artist,” I mean in all disciplines, starting
with performance, starting with that Yoshi’s singer I mentioned yesterday.
Starting with that dream.
I think I’ve mentioned here before that I’ve been told I
don’t let myself dream. It came up a few times yesterday when I had to correct
my “Yeah, But”s to “Yes, AND”s.
Every time I even begin to think about following this path,
I get buried under a mountain of “Yeah, But”s. I don’t think I need to list
them for you, since I’m sure you have your own bevy that attack your own
dreams.
So, we/I were careful to reframe them. I told her at the end
of the session that I feel like my whole life has been an exercise in “Yeah,
But.” And she told me that that is changing; that I am changing it.
And it was in my morning pages today that I recorded
something I thought of after I came home yesterday that actually knocked the wind out of me. What I wrote
in the miniscule, micro-truth script:
When we are in alignment with our highest good, the Universe
will rearrange itself to help us.
I don’t have to know how to do this. Because I don’t. What struck me so suddenly and
viscerally were the words I’ve heard repeated for years: When we take one step
toward (G-d / Fate / the Universe / our Highest Good), it takes a thousand
toward us.
I will be carried. I
will be helped. I won’t have to do this alone, because, “When the student is
ready, the teacher appears.”
I was floored by this revelation. I was floored that I
actually heard and felt and believed it. It was a moment of belief.
I take care of the What and G-d takes care of the How. I’ve
heard this for years.
What I have needed to do is admit and commit to the What.
I have “Yeah, But”s coming up as I write this. About money,
and too late, and this is for other people and other lives, and what are you
thinking of me right now as you read this and are you doubting me and rolling
your eyes, and how, and how and how.
Yes, I have doubts and fears. AND. I only have to hold onto
the “What.” I only have to hold on to my dream. That’s my only job right now –
to not go back to sleep, to not abandon my dream, again. To not continue to break promises to myself. To not
drown myself in those fears and doubts. Because
I am trying to live
my truth
. And all this wisdom says that’s
all I need to do.
(You know, along with reaching out, asking for help, seeking
people in these professions, gathering intel, honing my vision, practicing and
learning the fuck out of it AND remembering that the pain of avoiding all this
is SO MUCH GREATER than the pain of trying to do it.)
Molly, you want to be a singer in a band? You want to
perform onstage in dive bars? And at Yoshi’s? And be a lounge singer? You want
to feel proud and full and felt and heard?
All you have to do is say, “Yes.”
*(Thanks, Joel Landmine, for the title grab. See: Yeah, Well…)

aspiration · community · fear · healing · health · recovery · self-care · self-love

I think I might be…healthy.

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It’s been surprising to notice how nice I’ve been to myself
this week as I crawl out of the hopeless, “what am I doing with my life,”
place.
Without real conscious intention about it, while I’ve been
wading through the mire of job postings and life meaning, I also allowed myself
to buy a silly book, read it in the sun, and then go see a funny movie. I went
to a community party, even though I still don’t feel “cool” enough to be a
member of that community. Surprise! I know people who were there, so I guess I
must be. I mean, I knew several people, wasn’t lonely, had many conversations,
so I guess I belonged, right?
I made another nice meal for myself after therapy last
night. I painted my nails for my job interview, and I’m awake again early to go
to the gym to feel strong and proud and accomplished. 
I participated in a staged reading Tuesday night, my first. And I had the
insight and perspective, as I sat in that empty stagehouse, to notice that I
was doing what I told myself I wanted to do while going through my chemo. I
could realize I was accomplishing my
dreams. Following them. They sure don’t
feel accomplishy (yet) in the dim lighting of a poor cast
and poor audience. But, it’s a case of feelings aren’t facts.
I’ve had several long phone calls with good girl friends.
Went out to coffee with a co-worker and sat in the community garden nearby,
plucking a strawberry off its vine. I stood on a dock swaying in the Berkeley marina one day after work.
I showered.
Despite going through what feels like a dark time, a lost
time, I realize that I have an impulse toward self-care I didn’t know I
had.
Two friends texted me yesterday to reach out for support in
their own journeys. To ask me to remind them that life is abundant and fear is
an asshole. Which I gladly did. And it reminds me to remind myself of these
things too, but moreso, it reminds me that those are core pieces of myself,
pieces that friends see in me, and reach out to me for: I’m an uplifter. Not
always, I’m not Pollyanna or inhuman. But, I am someone who more often than not
is there to remind my friends that what we’re doing is not impotent. That life
is worth living.
I’ve been prefacing my sentences this week with, “Despite
the fact that the planet is dying…”! Despite the fact that the planet is dying,
I want to leave an imprint in it; I want my life to count; I want to move the needle of human progress forward. Despite the fact
that the planet is dying, we continue to bring children into this world because
every generation has had its reasons not
to. Despite the fact that the planet is dying, I will go to the gym today; meet
with a former theater collaborator to who reached out to me about a book she
wants to write; I will go to the farmer’s market and eat a plum off a tiny
toothpick.
My habit toward self-care, toward health, has become
something so natural in me that it’s unnatural. And if such things as this can
make seismic shifts, I guess I can remember that life is abundant and fear is
an asshole.