authenticity · career · generosity · love · work

God Shot

I suppose this could have been summarized as a facebook update, but I thought to write it instead. (On, yes, my very new [refurbished] MacBook Air, so generously given to me as a Chanukah gift from several contributors.
Yes, it’s materialistic [Ooh, shiny!], but yes, too, there are things that I couldn’t do with my old dinosaur that might come in handy — like if I wanted to work from home, Facetime my mom, or watch Netflix on something other than my cellphone!)
Yesterday, I had the day off from my retail job. I didn’t put this on Fbk either, but I had to take 3 days off last week after hobbling from my job mid-Tuesday to my chiropractor, my right ankle swollen and awful. The retail job is hard. The store itself is as large as a city block, and you’re standing most of the time, walking the length of the store others, and there’s no sitting. 
Now, I know when I quit my regular desk job, I said I didn’t want to sit at a desk 40 hours a week, but maybe something in the middle, eh?
And it was with this experience and knowledge, my feet still hurting, but apparently getting used to it, as my coworkers and dr said I would, that I went yesterday morning to a cafe to continue working on my holiday collage cards. 
I wanted to get out of the house, and I didn’t know if I’d get kicked out of the cafe as I spread cardstock, magazines, scissors and a glue stick out on the table. But, I wanted the human connection, too. 
And, lo, I did not get kicked out. I sat there at the large “handicap accessible” table (don’t worry, no wheelchairs rolled in), and I continued cutting and glueing, pasting and maneuvering images. Even used the alphabet letter stamps I’d bought 2 years ago and the ink I’d been given when I was sick. 
I sat there, content, enjoying, a little self-conscious and waiting to be scolded when a family with two daughters (I’d overheard) home from college for the winter break sat down next to me. One of the daughters tapped her family and looked over at what I was doing, and remarked, “Isn’t that cool?”
It was a sweet thing. I finished the card I was making and put it to the side of my over-large table, knowing I would hand that one to her when I left the cafe. 
A few minutes later, her mother turned and asked me what I was doing, if these were for sale or what? I replied, No, these are just holiday cards, my presents to my friends. For fun. And then I handed her the one set aside and said, “This is for your daughter.” 
She took it, surprised and grateful, and we exchanged names and shook hands. And I smiled at her daughter who’d admired my work. (“No one will ever believe I made this,” I heard the daughter say to her sister, amused.)
I smiled. I was glad to give her something. I was gratified that she’d admired something I consider so elementary and basic and fun for me. 
And then, as the family packed up on their way out of the cafe, the mom turned to me again and handed me an envelope with the words Happy Holidays written on the front. I thanked her, and wished them all well, and they left. 
In the envelope was a holiday card in which she’d written, “Thank you for your kindness to my daughter. Happy holidays.” And there was a twenty dollar bill. 
It was one generosity inspiring another. But it was more than that to me. 
I have felt so unmoored during this “job transition” time. Especially since I’ve taken on this retail job and can barely make it through a day with a breath to myself. I come home late, exhausted, and fall into bed. Chores are undone. Dishes unwashed. Groceries unbought. 
I cried Monday morning on the floor of my closet as I got ready for the day, exhausted from the long Sunday hours. I have felt so alien to myself with so little “me” time, so little time to think about or explore what could or should be next. 
I have felt lost, and a bit hopeless on the career/job horizon. 
And yesterday morning, I sat in a cafe, doing something I love to do because it’s fun and creative and easy and whimsical. Because I know people will enjoy them, if even for only a few weeks on their mantle. 
I sat there, and I was seen. My work was seen. And it was appreciated. 
I was an artist and I was rewarded, if that’s the word for it. I was in the world and I was given a “god shot” — a moment of, Moll, you’re on a path, we promise. This, arting, is one of them. Being in the world is one of them. 
Go out. Be seen. Create. Give. 
We see you. The Universe and those in it see me. 
It was one moment. One interaction. One family. But it meant more to me than they knew. As lost as I feel, it was a reminder that I’m not a total fool for not toeing the party line. 

This experience doesn’t point me in a direction, but it is a welcome dose of hope when I very much needed to know that what I can give to the world is indeed greater. 
Advertisements
authenticity · community · growth · love · recovery · theater

Spiritual Echolocation

Normal
0
0
1
576
3285
27
6
4034
11.1287

0

0
0

I am not the best
judge of my progress or my abilities. But, even though I can’t rightly see myself, I’m beginning to notice that I am hearing
it from others.
And this in itself feels like progress: At least I’m hearing
it.
There was a time when I described compliments as one of those
bug zapper lamps people hang on their porch. The bugs merely get within range
of the lamp and they get zapped dead. Same with compliments for me: Anything positive that was said would get deflected before it even got close to
touching me. None of that here, pew! pew!
I’d said that you can’t receive a compliment if there’s no
complementary place within you to receive it. If there’s nowhere it fits
within your own understanding of yourself, then there’s no way that it can be
accepted. There’s no ring of truth, because you don’t believe it yourself.
Time passed, and I’ve become more able to receive positive
feedback about certain things, because I have begun to hone and cultivate the
place within me that is receptive, the place within me that believes you
because I believe it myself.
That said, there’s room for growth.
This week, I’ve had several experiences where I’ve been told
about my progress and abilities, and even though I can’t quite feel this, I’m beginning
to recognize that I believe them, I
believe others are seeing this, even if I’m not myself.
Hence, spiritual echolocation. I can’t see it myself, but I
believe in the feedback I’m receiving – so there must be something to it.
I know that feeding off external validation is not the
way to walk about the world, but what it’s doing for me is giving me hope that
one day I can see it. There is an
existence of a cave wall. Others are telling me so. If that is truth, there is
hope that I will see it, too.
On Friday night, after the first act of our opening night of
To Kill a Mockingbird, the director came
backstage. He was beaming. He was so glad and proud of the work I was doing
on-stage.
I was dubious. But I thought Wednesday’s preview night
went much better; it felt better
.
He told me he was the only rightly judge of my performance,
and Friday night, I was better.
Whether I felt it or not.
On Saturday morning, I went for my semi-regular voice
lesson. And at the end of a phrase I’d sung, my teacher applauded and cheered –
he even gave me a high five.
“Did you hear that?” he asked, delighted.
No, I didn’t. I can’t hear myself.
The noise and buffer between what is and what I perceive is
loud and thick.
“We’re going to have to record you more then,” he said. “You
have to get used to hearing yourself.”
This morning, I was on the phone with my mentor, and I
reported these incidents to her, as I begin to parse out these places where I’m
being told one thing, but I’m hearing and sensing another.
She, too, had told me that I’m farther along than I can
feel. And she gave me a metaphor (because we all know I love those!):
She told me I am a tree creating deep, deep roots. A solid
foundation. And you can’t always see that growth above ground, but it’s
happening.
We were talking (again) about my questioning of where and
who I am this lifetime and where I’m going. And she said, some people have
really gorgeous foliage, and weak roots.
We’re doing the work now — early, some might say — that others
come to in mid and later life. Creating a root system, carving out the rot,
cleaning the wounds.
Like a field of asparagus, you don’t see its heroic work
until one morning you turn, and the whole field has sprouted green, fully
formed, like Athena.
I am not used to
hearing or seeing myself clearly. I’m not adequately armed with the ability to
track my own progress. And thank god for other people, then!
But I do feel the promise and the hope of their reflection.
I am beginning to hear what they’re saying instead of zapping it, because I’m beginning to uncover the place within me that believes it myself.
I’m starting to open to a truth that’s been, and is, hard
for me to swallow:
I am worthy. 

adulthood · authenticity · inspiration · letting go · poetry · transformation · uncertainty · vision

Who’s Next?

Normal
0
0
1
654
3732
31
7
4583
11.1287

0

0
0

“Creativity requires the courage to let go of
certainties.” ― Erich Fromm
This is the quote of the day relating to the daily
meditation I’m doing through the Oprah/Deepak 21-day challenge.
Strangely or not, it’s what I was writing about in my
morning pages before I logged into the meditation. The idea of uncertainty, of
letting go of what’s known. And how very close to that I feel right now.
I found out yesterday I didn’t get the job I was in several
rounds of interviews and mock sessions for during the last two weeks. And all
for the better, I think. In fact, I’d reached out to an old schoolmate I’d seen
on LinkedIn had worked there to ask her thoughts. And when I wrote back that
they didn’t hire me, she wrote: You are better off. That place is a shit hole.
So there’s that!
But, this morning as I reflected on where I am, with the one
avenue I was pursuing more actively than others cut short, I find myself
without an exact destination. Which is where in fact I’ve been, but I’ve been
distracted with the possibility of this employment.
What brought me to considering the question of Who’s Next
was my bringing out an old reader packet of poems from an undergrad course I
took. I’d brought it down a few days ago; I was 22 when I took the class,
finishing up from the lost semester when I’d been otherwise engaged in a padded
room.
The day after I brought the packet down, a friend of mine
mentioned teaching again, putting together a C.V. (a teacher’s resume) and
syllabus. I went online to higheredjobs.com yesterday to poke around and see.
And again, I sort of went all blank about it. I see titles like Professor of
18th and 19th Century Romanticism or of Rhetoric, and I call myself
uninterested and unqualified.
And then after a while of poking around online anyway, my
computer overheated and shut down on me, which was probably for the best!
But, today I opened that packet labeled Twentieth Century
Poetry II, and I read the names and poems of Robert Bly, Gwendolyn Brooks, yes, even the
ubiquitous Plath. I read my margin notes, and was amused to see that my
handwriting looked as it does now.
I was interested in the poems, but I wasn’t sparked. These were the
dreams and longings of a different person. The person who ate these poems up,
who devoured and analyzed and waxed prosaic marginalia.
I remember the classroom I was in when we read Spenser’s
Faerie Queene. I remember being the one student who was really intrigued by his
epic traitorous, political poem hidden in monarch-approved meter. I remember the classroom where the professor
told us stories of the poets’ lives, who’d met who and exchanged letters, the
relationships behind their lyrics.
I remember the room for my make-up semester, on a different
campus, since my cohort had graduated. The computer lab where I wrote short
stories and saved them onto the new smaller, square floppy disks that were
actually hard.
This morning I reread the same works that meant so much to
me then, a woman who felt she had no voice, and poetry was a quiet art that
could conjure hurricanes, that could release those that were teeming in my
body.
But, I don’t feel it in the same way now. I of course want
new generations of students to hear tales of those smoky rooms where creativity
was incubated and smile in camaraderie at Spenser’s thinly veiled subversion.
But, I don’t know. Is it me? Is it me now?
There’s a quote from a Yogi tea bag I have taped over my
kitchen sink, along with all the others I felt necessary to collect. It reads:
Empty yourself and let the Universe fill you.
I haven’t ever really known what that meant, or how to do
it. I haven’t known how to let go of all I know, of all my plans, of labeling
what I know and feel and have done as relevant or useless. I haven’t been able
to answer the call of that tea quote until today.
I do feel emptied. I
feel emptied of direction, of specific ambition, of perspective on myself. But it’s not a negative
feeling.
I feel like a student in a new class, but one I don’t know
the course title to. I don’t know which of my skills will be useful in this new
class, what of my knowledge will be relevant.
I don’t know if I’ll need a paintbrush or a calculator, what I’ll grow to learn, or who will be my teachers. I don’t know who else I’ll meet in class, and who I’ll
never see again. I don’t know the iteration of myself who will be called upon to
show up here, or who will be created from being here.
I only know that this nameless class is the only one on my course schedule
for the foreseeable future, and that perhaps at the end of it, I may be able to
answer what iteration of Molly is next.

authenticity · change · hope · work

To Infinity and Beyond!

Normal
0
0
1
267
1524
12
3
1871
11.1287

0

0
0

True to form, I’m running late for work. With today’s direct
deposit pay-out, I was reconciling my financial situation before getting
started for the day.
Seems like if I can manage to gain steady employment by
December, I don’t have to touch my savings. If not, I have until January. But,
who wants to touch their savings, especially if it’s modest?
I have a third interview with the private high school in
Walnut Creek on Monday, to be their Homework Tutor/Student Mentor. Seems like a
good sign, but I’m not counting chickens; I’m still looking around for sure.
But, I gotta say, not having a full-time job as of tomorrow,
I feel like I’ll have more time to look – but also to focus. To get clarity and
not just fire off resumes willy-nilly.
I won’t write a maudlin blog about how much my place of work
has meant to me over the past 2 years – I’m going to see most of my coworkers
frequently, as I’ll still be teaching there on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.
There was a nice send-off snack at our staff meeting on Wednesday with my
favorite snacks. And my boss wrote a really warm blurb about my departure for
our weekly e-newsletter.
There have been more hugs this week than before, mostly from
members of the synagogue, who I won’t see as often. But I do feel like I’ve
become a part of the community, not just worked in an office. And for that I’m
grateful, and it’s something that won’t change. I’ll still be there at our big
events, probably.
But, I’m also immensely
grateful that I won’t be sitting at that desk come Monday morning.
I won’t leave my newbie replacement alone too long this
morning, so I’ll sign off now. Perhaps there’ll be another more sentimental
missive about the place with time and distance, but, for now. It’s just a
change. And, right now, change is good.
Trick or Treat, muthafuckas!

action · authenticity · faith · fear · uncertainty · vulnerability

Someone will be with you shortly.

Normal
0
0
1
542
3093
25
6
3798
11.1287

0

0
0

In the absence of more information, we fall back on the
marching orders we know: Chop Wood, Carry Water. The Golden Rule. Look up,
around, and away from yourself.
This morning, in an attempt to cull more information from
the universe about where I should be focusing my energies with regard to career and income, I went into a meditation via a shamanic journey.
I didn’t get much. I asked other questions that I got some
answers or insight to, but as to What on earth should I be doing next, who
should I talk to, where should I focus, I got a whole lot of nothing.
And, in my own experience of meditation, the absence of
information is itself information.
Stop trying to force yourself into a path, into action. It
will be available when it’s supposed to be. The whole, “God is slow but never
late,” adage comes to mind. – One that galls me most of the time.
Because, often in my experience, slow but never late
translates as “the last minute,” which really means, when you’ve given up all your
plans and designs and have thrown your arms down, and said, okay,
god/universe/soul/fate, whatever. Just whatever. I’m here, I’m done. I’m here.
It’s usually in these moments of surrender that I find
information, that opportunities open up, that more is revealed.
Funny, as I think of it now, the play I’m in right now is a
result of that “Whatever, here goes nothing” tack. The second audition of a
day, after I’d pretty badly bombed the first, I decided, Whatever, I’m going to
pull out (most of) the stops, and just throw it all out there, be as funny and
into it as I can be because I have nothing to lose. I tried my controlled, “I
want it to be this way” way, I tried working from the place of true terror and
fear about what others would think of me, and that didn’t work out so great.
So, whatever, god, whatever you want. And lookie-loo what
happened. It’s not to say don’t take action, it’s just to say, let go of my
hold of the way I think things – me, mostly – should be.
And, with regard to other information I got in my meditation
this morning, one of my questions was how I can stop stifling myself onstage?
Because I do. I’m nervous and judging myself, and I want the audience to like
me and my peers to esteem me, and I want to do a “really good job.” And in that
attempt, I’m so in my head that I’m not in my body, in my heart, in the moment, in
the fun. And it doesn’t turn out how I want it.
It seems to me that the answer to most of this is, Be where
you are, be who you are, and let it happen how it is.
That is so hard for me.
And for most people, I imagine.
I want to know what to do next. I want a simple path from A
to B. Or even a map to a complex path – I don’t care, just give me some
coordinates! This, “be where you are and love yourself in and through it” thing
is amorphous and feels ungrounded.
And yet, basing my actions on what I think I should be is as
ungrounded as anything, because it’s not grounded in reality or the truth.
It is obvious to me when I reflect that taking actions out
of fear, out of imagined people-pleasing, out of a panicked desire to “do the
right thing” cause me more harm than good. And take up more time than it’s
worth.
So, I will wait until more is revealed, as people often says
it is. I will remember that there are no mistakes, only misinterpretations. I
will try to embody the … no, I will try to let loose the confidence I know is
stifled beneath the surface of my posturing and planning, and I will see what
comes of it.
This whole transition for me is about embracing and sharing who I really am. It doesn’t work if I keep on
trussing this person up in the shackles of my own expectations and a habit of
low self-image.
Hello, Seattle, I’m listening. 

authenticity · faith · fear · intimacy · letting go · recovery · sex

Icarus at the Bus Station

Normal
0
0
1
628
3582
29
7
4398
11.1287

0

0
0

There is an adage I’ve heard: A new bus can’t pull into the
station if there’s one already there.
The point being, unless you let something go, you can’t grab
hold of something new.
This often comes up when people are talking about relationships,
but it can be sagely advised around anything. Today, though, it does mean
relationships.
There’s a second category of folks that I need to amend my
relationships with, after those who I’ve fallen out of touch with for
self-preservation. This is a category entitled: Men I intrigue with but don’t
want a relationship with. (“with whom I
don’t want a relationship,” yeah, I know.)
But. This list, when written earlier this year comprised of
6 or 7 names. Now, there are only two left outstanding. The rest have fallen by
the wayside as I’ve changed the electrically charged way I interact with them or have
expressly stated I want to change the nature of our lovely, but ambiguous
flirtation.
It’s exciting to
flirt. It’s exciting to know that with a few taps on my phone, I can spark the
interest of someone. It’s a boost to the ego — and it’s totally unfair to us both. It’s a lie, really.
Sure, it’s fun, and I’m not saying that it’s wrong; it’s
just not truthful for me, when I know that these are men who I don’t want to
date or pursue a relationship with. For whatever reason.
Some, I just “don’t feel it.” We were never more than
friends, to either of us, but there’s something nice about that extra “like” on
your status update or the comment posted somewhere down your page, where you
know they’ve had to dig to find it. Yes, most of these “intrigue”
relationships (meaning, flirtatiously undertoned interactions) are acted out virtually,
and that enhances their ease, their prevalence and the reluctance to “break
them off,” since, who are we really hurting? Everyone “pokes” each other,
right?
But, for me, I know it’s not right anymore. It’s distracting
from what I really want, and using someone else as a tool to bolster my
self-esteem. Neither of which get me to the healthful relationship (with myself
or with someone else) that I’d like.
Some of the men on my list are simply fucked up and/or
unavailable, and strangely(?), the last two remaining are in this subset.
It’s not that they’re just my friends who I flirt with; it’s
not as innocent as a few extra “likes;” these two are possibilities in
relationship-land, except that they’re not. At all.
And these are so hard to let go of, because they’re the most ambiguous, the most possible, and the most delicious. Delicious Evil: the curl of the lip when you think about them,
your flirtation with them, what you’ve done with them,
because these are not Rated G acquaintanceships you have had.
You like the thrill, the quickening of the pulse, and the
slight tensing of your thighs.
Who.Wouldn’t?
But.
Here is where my current work comes in. I don’t want to stop
these flirtations/more than flirtations, but I know this bus is not going to
get me where I want to go. These are not available people. And despite the
purring coo my body radiates when I consider them, my brain and heart can’t
really take it.
I do want a relationship, with someone available to me. It’s
nice to get the milk for free, but I’m ready to invest in a cow.
I’ve spoken to a friend of mine who has similar patterns
with men and relationships, and I asked her honestly if there was the same kind
of Icarus-style pull in her marriage. If there was that same forbidden, lustful
quickening. If there was that, We’re going to blot out the sun with the heat of
our passion. 
And, she told me, Honestly, No. It’s different.
You’re not going to get a cocaine high when you’re sober.
That doesn’t mean it’s not worth being sober; it just means, No, there are some
experiences that won’t be replicated in a healthy relationship.
Sure, it’s just one woman’s opinion, but I trust her, and I
understand her analogy.
No, you won’t blot out the sun, but you won’t go down in
flames either.
It’s up to me to decide which life I’d rather live, and
which course I’d rather take. I know where this current “intriguey” bus leads –
right back here, again.
So, I’m going to have to make a choice to be brave, and let
this bus drive on without me, and trust that if I do, there will be a different
one coming. (pun intended.)

anger · authenticity · faith · forgiveness · grief · growth · Jewish · possibility · spirituality

T’shuvah

(In my vague and limited Jewish knowledge) T’shuvah refers to the time in the Jewish calendar between Rosh Hashanah—the Jewish New Year—and Yom Kippur—when our names are sealed in the “Book of Life” by G-d for the next year.

T’shuvah literally means to return, but most interpretations take it to mean a time of repentance. A time of atoning for our “sins,” and to acknowledge where we’ve “missed the mark” of our own moral target.

I’m not one for “sins,” or for “atoning,” or for asking forgiveness from a spiritual entity. In my own spiritual practice, there is a habit of taking note of where we’ve been wrong and amending that behavior, whether through direct conversation with someone we’ve harmed or through choosing to act differently in the future.

But, the idea of asking a “higher power” to forgive me for anything at all has never sat well with me. I simply don’t think that anything that has the power to create life and death and change and love would need my asking. I believe that whatever “G-d” is, “it” is much too loving or non-personified to ever require me to ask it to forgive my behavior.

As I said, I still think the process of taking stock of my behavior and righting my own wrongs is very important to my emotional wellbeing and my personal relationships. But on the spiritual plane, G-d would never need me to ask for forgiveness. There’s nothing to forgive – there’s only love, acceptance, and a desire for me to be my best self.

That said, I have been reflecting that this week of t’shuvah has certainly been one of returning. I feel that my actions are those of a woman returning to herself and her values; returning to my true nature, and returning to ideas and hopes that were feared or abandoned.

I am in a musical. I’ve returned to that dream of acting and singing, despite the fears and self-judgments it still brings up in me.

I have officially announced this week that I am moving on from my office job. Again, a return to my true desires, my internal compass. I have stopped hitting the Snooze button on my instincts and drives.

No matter what comes of it, disaster or “success,” I am trying something brand new for me. And that is certainly a return to curiosity, innocence, hope, and creation.

I told my coworker that I boycott Yom Kippur these days. The fasting and the communal atoning of sins. I shun this day and its activities because the idea is that by atoning for our sins, we will be “inscribed in the Book of Life” for another year.

According to the Jewish calendar, in 2012 the evening closing Yom Kippur was the moment of my Leukemia diagnosis. I spent the day of Yom Kippur in an ER. And closed the chapter of that day with cancer. I was 30 years old.

I have done a lot of work around turning that diagnosis into the seeds of a new life. But I will never deny that I have a few wheelbarrows full of anger and grief that still need … sorting or composting or alleviation. Or simply time to feel them, and then to let them go, perhaps, if that’s what happens.

But for me, the idea that on one of the most holy days of the Jewish year, on the day when a person is either granted another year of life or is not, I cannot hold the tragedy of being told half my blood was cancer on that same day.

And, I imagine, my feelings toward all of this will transform, lessen, or evolve. But, for now, I boycott Yom Kippur.

I have used this week of T’shuvah to take stock of where I am desirous to return to and acknowledge and rejoice in the truth of my soul, and to note where I already am. I have used this week to affirm that life can be new and different and fulfilling.

I will never need the forgiveness of an entity that is either made of benevolence or simply is the indifferent force of Life itself.

My week of T’shuvah is and has returned me to a place of excitement and possibility. I don’t need a communal atonement to reward me for how exceptional that is.

That said. Shanah Tovah u’Metukah — May you have a good (tovah) and sweet (metukah) year, friends. And may we write our own Books of Life.