commitment · community · self-support

Act our way into right thinking.

10.25.18.jpgBecause of the change in my commute status (insert gif of woman doing backflips), I no longer have to slog through an hour of bridge traffic anymore, but I also don’t get to participate in the morning phone call with like-minded folks I’d been calling in to for 2 months either.  So, I’ve had to make some adjustments.

On Monday, and once since then, I called in to a new phone line geared toward Artists.  It’s the same overarching community, but this daily call is intended to focus on the particular challenges artists and writers may face as they attempt to get out from under their own thumb.

I hadn’t intended to, but I piped up during the “3 minutes each” sharing time and at the end of the call, during the “phone number exchange,” a woman requested my number and reached out to me the next day.

We spoke by phone last night (she’s in Chicago) and just having the call helped me to see that maybe I’m not stalling out in my personal work and progression — and maybe (just maybe!!) I’m not going to.

I had my Goals Group call on Tuesday and admitted to them too that I was afraid of not “doing much” after the highlights of the article publication and two performances this month.  So, yesterday, I emailed my piano player friend to talk this weekend and brainstorm what was next.  After Tuesday’s goals call, I also spoke with one of the women on the line to ask how on earth to find an easy way to email out these blogs (just through WordPress without having to go through extra steps — if you know, please message me!!!).

With the addition of the woman who called yesterday (we set up an “action phone call” for Sunday to support each other in our personal progress writing), I realize that there are several barriers around my visions work that are now set in place.  Even if I want to flake off, hide, retreat, sloth away my time, I kind of can’t get far!

My hems and frames now include: action partner whom I text daily (sometimes it’s a list of things I don’t do! but sometimes I really do!) and speak with weekly; a weekly Goals Group call (that includes women who are “watching,” as one of them put it, to ensure I don’t dissolve into the relationship); a mentor with whom I’m completing personal progress work (but seeing as I haven’t been doing that writing, I now will have…); a weekly writing action partner to carve out and sanctify this writing time.

Many of these hems were not in place when last J and I were in relationship.  Nor did I then open the discussion with him, as I did last week, about ensuring that I have my morning practice held in trust (morning pages, meditation, blogging).

I can point to the places where “I’m not doing anything” or “not working hard enough” or “not fast enough” — I really, really can (and sometimes do!) — but I am so heartened to be able to point today to places where I’ve created and invited in structures that will not allow me to flake or stray too far.

For a person like me, these structures are vital—in the literal, life-sustaining meaning.  Without visions, goals, writing, meditating, speaking with fellow travelers, or taking mini-actions, I lose hope, momentum, self-esteem, and eventually I threaten my existence.  I know this about myself.

So, here I am today, 6:53am, 3rd cup of coffee on the table, telling you how much I want to live.

 

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commitment · community · growth

Bird by Bird

I’ve registered for a homeownership course given by the city, the one required for anyone applying to “below market rate” housing.  I also went to the open house for that 1-bedroom condo on Lake Street yesterday … and it needs a lot of work.  But!  Just one foot before the other.  “This or something better,” is how I’ve heard it put.

As my now-partner becomes my then-partner, my rent bill will increase to previously-held levels come April 1, but luckily I haven’t changed much in my expenses.  It was certainly nice to put more into retirement, savings, and self-care categories, but as I plot April’s budget, it’s only made me realize that said previously-held levels don’t have a lot of breathing room.  It continues to highlight that an increase in income will be necessary at some point soon.

Last Sunday, I finished the 6-month “Goals Group” I was participating in weekly with 2 ladies, and we’ll be restarting another round of it in a few weeks with slightly different faces (or voices, since it’s a phone call!).  One of the ladies in the last group began working on a book at the start of the call, and by April 1 will have her book completed, ready for Amazon!

As I begin to prep for the next Goals Group, what goal am I looking to accomplish?  Where do I need structure and support and accountability?  What does my life want of me next?  And how much more breathing room can I attract into it?

 

cats · commitment · relationships

Committed.

cat 1.jpg

The first true commitment I made as a grown-up was to adopt my cat.

I know, I know.  But for many years, I’d considered “commitment” close to a prison sentence.  I watched how my mother went to the same therapist for over 30 years (and didn’t appear to get any better), and I figured therapy was a life-time commitment.  I watched how she and my father remained in a marriage that had eroded from the inside (if there was ever much to hold it besides momentum), and I considered marriage a commitment to lethargy and despair.

My own youthful relationships had been bright fire-work explosions, replete with the optical afterimage of what was when that was not true any longer.  They were short-lived, intense, and unstable.

And so, when it came time to move across the cavernous, yawning bay from SF to Oakland for graduate school, my amour of the time suggested I, like he, adopt a cat.  I’d considered owning a cat for a long time, but my considerations had always been followed by this disturbing thought: But then I’m going to have to watch it die.

I’m going to get attached, then I’m going to have to part.  This is life, this is death, this is inevitable.  Why would I ever intentionally knock over a domino that would lead me toward suffering?

Why would I make a commitment, a 15- or 20-year commitment, to love and care for and cherish and laugh with and snuggle with and bat away from my water glass, if I’m only going to have to bring a now-underweight being to the vet and tell them, “Take her”?

So, yes, it was phenomenal, miraculous growth for me when I adopted my cat (Stella Meowenstein — “So she knows she’s Jewish,” my then-bf would laughingly suggest.  Though, I think she looks like a shiksa).  Stella was here in my studio apartment with me as I began grad school and slowed the number of times I could reasonably cross the bridge back into SF (where my real friends were).  She was here when my car got stolen and it was even less reasonable to cross back in.  Stella was here as I healed from my break-up from that boyfriend and tearfully read, It’s Called a Break-up Cuz it’s Broken on the Kindle he’d given me for Chanukah.

My cat has been with me for 8 years, and I will have to say goodbye to her.  I will one day have to help her to exit the world, and I will weep precipitously.

But my commitment to her has also meant oodles of love that I have received and given.  My commitment to her has meant that I have consistency, permanence (for its time), and companionship.  In short, my commitment to her has been a highlight of my life (and I hope of hers).

Clearly, my relationship with a domestic short-hair has altered my ideas of commitment as a prison sentence.  And yet, on occasion, the lines still feel blurred.

 

 

commitment · faith · fear · scarcity · stagnating · work

oh, that again.

So, I’ve restarted my work on relationships with a new mentor, someone who shares the lineage of the woman I’d been working with, which means that this morning, I got to read aloud my entire sad history of relationships and sex. Again.
Good. Times. 
Interestingly enough, though, I was struck this morning about how my avoidance of or aversion to commitment in relationships parallels my aversion to commitment in my career and work-life. 
I’ve said and heard it a thousand times: Romance and Finance are two sides of the same coin. And I knew that working on one would bring about change or awareness in the other. 
But, somehow rereading my pattern — of splitting when things get weird, or choosing partners I don’t want, or not being open to those men who are into me — highlighted what is happening for me in career-land. 
A friend said to me last week that it sounds like it’s time for me to choose a career path. Not a job. But something I can follow through on. 
Eek. I hate that. I’ve always hated the idea of having to choose one thing. But I recounted this all to my mom and told her that it’s similar to how I had to choose theater over music. I miss music. And it’s not like I’ll never play again, but I had to choose to put my creative efforts into theater if I wanted to get anywhere with it. 
I hated that. I hate that I can do and be so many things, and I have “so much potential,” and so many varied interests, that choosing one is incredibly frightening for me. Like I’ll choose poorly, to quote Indiana Jones. What if by choosing theater, I’m turning my back on a fate in music or painting? What about all the other roads my life could take?
And yet. By not choosing one, I take no roads, or follow a little of each, and I feel stymied and frozen. 
Commitment leads to freedom in that way. 
And when it’s going to come to career, I’m going to have to choose. Sure, I could easily and very successfully be: A teacher, a writer, a psychologist, a mediator, a community engagement executive. 
I could be any of these things. Hell, I could even be a doctor or a lawyer or a spaceman if I wanted. 
Well, maybe not a spaceman
But I haven’t wanted to choose. Because what.if.I’m.wrong
What if I choose something and it doesn’t turn out well? What if I fail at finding “my calling” this lifetime? What if NONE of those things listed above actually make me want to get up and go to work?


What if I put my trust and faith in the wrong career, or — to parallel — in the wrong man?
Well, sorry, lady, you gotta eat. 
And you gotta choose. 
Sure, people change careers throughout their lives, but I’ve changed mine so many times before age 30 that I think I’ve played that card out. 
Therefore. One of these things is going to have to be it. Whether it makes my heart sing or not. No, I didn’t want to “give up” music. But I did, and the theater thing I love, even if it’s slowed down for now. 
None of the above professions makes my heart sing, per se. There’s no glow surrounding any of them saying, Pick me Pick me. But each inspires me to help bring others together, to inspire others to heal, to bring unity into the world. 
So, no. I don’t know, still, what I want to be when I grow up. But I am warming up to the idea of choosing one path. And actually moving forward on it. 
career · commitment · faith · fear · work

From Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving.

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Last Tuesday night as I sat at a rainy Oakland BART waiting for
the shuttle to take me within walking distance of my apartment, my friend
called.
She’d remembered that it was my first day of training for my
department store sales job and wanted to know how it went. I told her, Good. A
lot of corporate training-style stuff. Different department managers
introducing themselves. Lots of powerpoint presentations about the history and
brand of the company. And there were to be 3 days of this.
I told her I was most nervous (I told her I was trying to
call it “curious”) about what would happen when I actually got onto the sales
floor the following Saturday.
I haven’t worked retail since high school.
She told me we were both having “first day” experiences.
She’d just this afternoon signed a contract with a small graphic design firm to
be a partner with them, and she, too, was “curious” as to how it would all work
out.
She told me that morning, she’d read this story about a guy
who’s mentor suggested that he make a decision to not worry for one year. That
whenever he got nervous, or tried to “figure things out,” or was anxious about
an outcome, he made the commitment that he would simply not worry, that he
would trust in the “universe,” and understand that he didn’t have to know the
outcome. He just had to do what was in front of him and take small actions.
Needless to say, he had a great year.
As I huffed into the phone on Tuesday night, walking through
the dark blocks toward my house, I asked my friend if she wanted to make a pact
with each other. That for one year we wouldn’t worry.
And so, we did. We each announced to each other our
commitment (middle names and everything) not to “not worry,” but to catch ourselves as quickly as we
could, and to remember to “let it go,” and, for me, to have faith in the
benevolence of the universe and the unfolding of my path.
When I’m scared of not making my sales numbers, and this
whole retail thing doesn’t really work if you don’t. When I’m worried that
retail hours and theater hours are the same and how will I be able to do both.
When I am concerned that I quit a full-time time to have time to engage in
creative project, to find a “fulcrum” job (more pay, fewer hours), and I’ve
ended up in another full-time job…
I’ve been telling myself this past week, “From
Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving.” Because that’s a year for my friend and me. One year of not worrying. Of trusting that it’ll not only be okay, but that it’ll
be great.
To trust that if I simply do what’s next, make that next
phone call to a friend, hang up that next sweater, show up to that next
audition, the world will have a way of working out.
Sure, I’ve been nervous this week — making calculations,
staring wide-eyed at rehearsal schedules, wondering if this position will be
temporary or not — but I’ve been remembering that catch phrase, whispering it
aloud, and it’s helped.
Today will be my second day on the sales floor. I am scheduled with them through the start of January with an option to extend. I have an audition set up for late January for a great musical. And I have COBRA payments to starting this month.

But I’m not going to worry one bit. ;P

acting · action · commitment · community · fear · help · isolation · perseverance · scarcity · self-doubt · self-support · singing · trying

Doing Sh*t

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On my way into my first audition last Saturday, a good
friend texted me support, saying:
“You’re DOING SHIT!”
This is in stark (pfft, get it?) contrast to one of my most
read blogs, Magical Accidental Orgasm (and I can tell from the stats list that
many people find it by searching “Accidental Orgasm” on Google!). The blog was
about my realization that I was waiting for someone to come along and prescribe for me my life, my bliss, my path without me doing much of anything. I was waiting for someone to (metaphorically!) “give me orgasms,” as I cribbed from The Vagina Monologues.
But today, two years later, I am no longer waiting. Today, I am doing shit.

This morning I woke up and practiced
the bass line for the set my band is playing on Saturday.
Tomorrow, I’m going to take my first voice lesson from someone who comes with
great recommendations. And Sunday, I will start rehearsal for Addam’s
Family: The Musical
(which still just gets
such the kick out of me!).

(Side-bar: Coincidentally, when I was in 4th or 5th grade, I dressed as
Wednesday Addams for Halloween. So I guess it’s appropriate that 20 years
later, I play her mother!)
Doing shit. Despite my thinking – always
despite my thinking – I continue to put good things in my path. I honestly don’t
remember how I found that audition call.
But, I do remember finally having coffee with a
friend/acting mentor last Sunday to help me in my newbie, greenness. She is the
one who suggested the song I sang for my auditions, and who recommended this voice
teacher. She invited me to come over last Wednesday and practice my monologue in front of her.
And last Friday, I invited a woman to coffee who is making a
go of the “life as singer” life to ask her how I could get out of my bubble
of not being seen. She had many great suggestions, just to get me out and
singing. Like choruses, and meet-ups, and this piano bar I didn’t know about
that’s here in the East Bay.
I don’t want to do
shit. Doing shit is
scary!! But I
also don’t want to wait for someone else to press play on my life, because that
person is not coming. I don’t want to wait for the trumpet blast or starting gun or treasure map or even Ed McMahon, because they’re not coming.
This doesn’t mean that I move any quicker, but despite my fears,
doubts, self-derision, scarcity mind, I continue to ask for help and put myself
in the path of … shit.
That’s how all these things have happened. I ran
into a friend and jokingly said if you need a second bassist, and in fact, he
was just trying to put back together this side project, but thought I wasn’t
doing music anymore. Well, now! Yes, please! And so, here we are, about to play
a show.
I like the responsibility and accountability it gives me to
myself and to my dreams, not to mention to others. Having to show up with other
people means that I can’t flake out. I have to wake up and practice, or I’ll be
disappointed and disappointing. I have to make audition dates, or I’ll languish
in “someday” and “wouldn’t it be nice.” I have to take voice lessons, show up
at piano bars, take suggestions, or I will continue to say, “Not good enough,
not really, not me.”
If wishes were horses… Apparently, I’d ride. 

acting · authenticity · commitment · dating · falsehoods · fear · insecurity · pride · self-abandonment · self-worth · truth

Note: In this evening’s performance, the role of Pride will be replaced by Truth.

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She held up her fingers:
“One: Is it a theater company or director you really want to work with?” No, not really.
“Two: Are they paying you really well?” No, zilch.
“Three: Is it a play you are excited about and really want to do?” No,
not at all. It’s awful
.
“Then don’t do
it,” she concluded.
But I auditioned for him three times.
“So, what? Say that something else came up and you’re really
sorry. The thing is, that’s a huge commitment for somewhere you don’t want to
be. You’d be wasting time that you could use honing your craft, going on other
auditions, taking classes, and finding something you really
want to do.”
But it’d be my first lead
role.
“Yeah, in a play where the actors outnumber the audience for a play you don’t want to be in. That sucks; take it from me.”
* * *
This was the conversation I had last night with my friend
who’s a semi-professional actress when I told her I was having doubts about the play in which I’m cast. She said these were the 3 golden questions
her acting teacher said the actor had to answer for himself. The instructor,
being at a higher level, said that for him, he has to answer Yes to all three
of those questions. For my friend, mid-tier, she was told, No more crap jobs:
She has to answer Yes to at least two of those questions.
And for me, beginner, I have to answer Yes to at least one of those questions.
Otherwise, what the hell am I doing with my time? What am I
saying my time means to me?
I am very much associating all this with my job/career
search. If a guy continues to get promoted up through the ranks at a company he
doesn’t enjoy, doing work he hates, but is paid really well, is that enough? I can’t say.
If we’re not getting
paid well, doing work we love or working with people we enjoy… well, what are
we doing?
If we can’t answer Yes to any of these questions in regards
to career, why are we there? Why are we wasting any days of this short life?
I don’t yet know if I’m going to bow out of the play in
which I’ve been cast. When I told her again that I auditioned for him 3 times — meaning, I feel that he’s already put such time and effort into me and my performance I’d feel guilty dropping out  she
replied, “Take care of yourself, not them.” … Oh… right.
Because the reality is that I will be in rehearsals for 3
hours nearly every day of the week for two months… for a really awful play. It’s really awful, folks. Not like, passable,
manageable, I’m just being picky 
 It’s really awful. It’s terribly written. I’d walk out, if I were an audience member.
Because it wouldn’t have been worth my time.
No matter how great I am or am not in the play, my heart
wouldn’t be in it – and if it’s not, then that’ll show up, too. I roll my eyes
every time I read the script. I say aloud to my cat, “This is a really awful
play,” each time I start to rehearse it.
I don’t know yet. It’s a hard judgment call, you know? I
asked my friend, What about having to work your way up the ladder, and take
shitty jobs at first? She pointed me back to those three questions. Where are my values?
Is my hesitation to drop out about my having a lead role, so I can feel pride? Pride over a notation on my resume? Pride
over something that I’m not proud of? Is it about status? Is it about feeling this proves that I’m worthy; that I’m good?
How can you feel worthy about something you’re not proud of?
That doesn’t compute.
I’m meeting with another actor friend of mine tomorrow to
run lines for this play. I’m hoping to get insight in conversation with him –
if it’s really as awful as I think it is.
But, I already know it is.
What my friend told me was that I should audition for
everything, but don’t go to callbacks if it’s a terrible play!
I’m reminded, once again, of the dating/job interview
corollary: It’s great to say Yes to the first date or interview. But after
that, you’ve garnered enough information to know if you want to try it out again
or not. I don’t have to show up a second time, if I’m really sure this is not a fit.
So, yes, it would be really great to say that I’m the Queen
of the Amazons. It makes me feel worthy and proud and like I’m not making a huge mistake in going after this dream. But isn’t the mistake not respecting what really want, and settling for (way) less, just so I can say I have a lead? Isn’t the mistake I’ve been loathe to make in relationships settling for less than I want, just so I can say I have a partner? 
Wouldn’t I rather be somewhere where I’m excited and learning
something, instead of just clocking time?