community · progress · receiving

Healthy Help.

6.29.18_2I had a strange occurrence this week: I received help.

Novel, I know.  But as you may have read here, I have a complicated (read: vitriolic) relationship with giving and receiving help, which is informed by my reticence to give and receive goodness to and from my own self.

Therefore, as I sat on two phone calls this week, shared my situation and my questions, was offered guidance, suggestions, encouragement, and a path forward, I felt different.  And that difference is a keystone toward my future.

Because I met with two friends/lay-people last week to discuss my financial situation, one of them offered me the name of a certified financial planner.  It is beginning to look like I truly need professional help when looking at my finances, instead of continuing to wing it or to attempt to wrest all the pennies out of my paycheck and into my savings—an express ticket to Deprivation Land.

Listening to Money: Master the Game by Tony Robbins earlier this year, he too suggested that we talk with someone to get a more realistic and educated sense of how to proceed.  But it’s not like I had any clue who or how to find someone, therefore this “to do” item fell down the pages of my calendar for months.

And lo: here I was across a cafe table last week and the gentleman says, “You have to talk to this guy; he’s a success machine.”  Uhh, yes, please!

So I talk to said guy and his associate on Monday.  We have an hour-long free call where I describe my current situation and mushy outlines of my future goals.  Firstly, he is so kind!  They are generous with their questions, their listening, their suggestions.  They listen with a warmth that belies the fact that they would never take my business!

Because their fees are precipitous, they’re not the right group for me and they later suggest a woman who may be.  Nonetheless, despite knowing my financial situation within the first 5 minutes of our call, they talk to me anyway.  Even now, I feel a pressure ease in my chest when I recall it.  (I’d later describe them as “warm, juicy” feelings!)

There is something about help freely given that feels entirely new to me.

Surely, I’ve previously been offered what I’m presently calling “Healthy Help,” but perhaps I was not in a place to become aware of it, or in a place to receive it.

We had our lovely, gentle, informative, equanimous call and they invited me to check in down the line.  I followed their referral immediately, and the next afternoon spoke with a woman whose fees and experience seem just what I’m looking for.

Again, she listened.  She heard, she parsed, she reflected.  And it just felt SO DAMN CALM!  I don’t know what it is about the “calmness” of these phone calls that strikes me as so phenomenal, but it does.  (By contrast, I can point to two weeks earlier when I spoke with a real estate agent and a mortgage broker, and I can assure you that however kind in their being they may be, their help sure didn’t feel “calm.”  It felt pushy, greedy, and patronizing.)

Clearly, I am attracting a different manner of help — or I am finally in a place to receive Healthy Help.  It feels marvelous, expansive, laden with possibility and hope.  And it speaks to an opening in my realm for more.

 

 

Advertisements
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?

 

anger · community · isolation · recovery · trauma · truth · uncertainty

The Look-Good.

I was with a group of close friends on Friday night, celebrating one of their “not getting drunk and sleeping with strangers” anniversaries. These are women I’ve known for nearly my whole 8 years of not doing the same, and who know me and have seen me through my best and worst. 
And I couldn’t tell them the truth. 
It wasn’t until the assembled group was about to close that I got up, walked to the podium at the front of the room and said, “This is the place you’re supposed to tell the hard things. And, things are really bad.”
I began to sob. I eeked out that 5 months ago, I burned my life down, and I’m exhausted and isolated. I told the group that I realized I had to say something when, tonight, I couldn’t hold eye contact with my friends over our dinner. That the closest women I have in my life, I couldn’t look at for too long, because if I did… they would see… and I would break down crying. 
And I didn’t want to do that. 
Because it doesn’t feel like there’s anything to do. So, why talk about it?
I told them about being an expert at looking good on the outside, and feeling like dog shit on the inside. Now, the thing about the “look good” is that, sure, who doesn’t want to look good? Especially when you are feeling crappy, sometimes it’s nice to say, Well, at least I can still pull myself together. At least I can assemble an outfit, put on a little makeup, and … look good. 
However, the other thing about the “look good” is that generally, if you look good, people assume you feel good. And that’s part of the guise of it, of course; that’s part of its purpose… is to fool people. Because if no one asks, you don’t have to tell. 
It’s a pretty little prison we wrap ourselves up in, in an effort to try to do it alone. Because, again, what else is there to do?
In my case, I’m going on interviews, auditions, tours of school, taking tests, ordering physics books. I’m going about the wildest flurry of activity, the other day, I called it a blizzard. 
All this manic pushing to get out of my current situation that I feel ashamed I got into again. Molly, quitting another job without a plan. Molly, struggling to find work, again. Molly looking into a hundred different career paths, and feeling like a strung-out shell of a person through it all. 
Because, as I said earlier: Things are really bad. 
There’s a lot of crying, a lot of hopelessness, a lot of just trying to make it through these extended, exhausting retail days. 
A co-worker I’ve been sharing some of my, “Someone get me out of here” activities with said yesterday that shouldn’t this (the retail job) feel laughable in comparison to what I’ve been through? (She knows about the cancer.) And I said, No. 
Instead, it feels like, “Haven’t I been through enough that I shouldn’t have to deal with this fucking bullshit?” That’s how it feels. 
It feels like I push and try and explore and push and try and explore, and nothing moves. 
I feel like the hamster on the wheel, working so fucking hard, and getting no where. 
I will say that this new idea to pursue teaching feels like the first thing that makes real and doable sense in all my career lily-pad hopping. So, that feels like a win, and progress, and hope. 
And in the center of that remains the fact that my feet and legs ache, right now, I’m earning half what I did when I was at my office job, I have a dwindling savings account that was really fucking hard-earned, and I have no back-up.
So. What? Why do you talk to anyone about that anyway? No one really has anything to tell you of use, except, “We love you and you’ll get through this.” … And take that to the bank. 
But, no. It’s fabulous that I have people around me, and I know there’s something to telling the truth, and so I did. When I realized I couldn’t look my best friends in the eye for fear they might see the truth of what’s happening beyond the “look good,” it was time to say something. (Though, perhaps earlier could have been better, too.)
Did they particularly have anything that shorn through the bleakness in which I find myself, again? Not really. No magic bullets. No words of enlightenment. Just simple suggestions like, Go to a meeting everyday with people who actually know you, and share about this. 
And so, I am. 
I hate it. I feel vulnerable, and I want everybody to not talk to me about it afterward — but there’s no controlling people. 
Because here’s the undercurrent of all this surface nonsense, all this struggle to stay and get afloat and to try to believe that things will change and get better if I keep doing “the next right thing,” that life will even out, that I’ll be okay…: 


The undercurrent is: I. Don’t. Know. That. (None of us do, surely.)


But, specifically, I’m talking cancer. I have a lot of cancer grief to go through, and I don’t know how. 
Partly I don’t talk about it because I feel it’s so dramatic to talk about, because I’m scared people will roll their eyes, and think, “Sheesh, enough with the cancer already; you lived, didn’t you? Move on!” 
I don’t know how to share with people about how angry, betrayed, and every day still terrified — with every cough, or sleepless night, or strange headache — about a recurrence I feel. 
I don’t know how to begin to put faith back into a universe and a universal law that arbitrarily may decide to kill you “just cuz.” How to “come to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to wholeness” when everything solid was ripped from under me in an instant. 
And that’s what I’m being asked to do. I’m at the point, again, where I’m supposed to contemplate my idea of a “higher power,” and I want everybody to take their, “It’s the cycle of life and death,” it’s love, it’s community, and shove it with red hot poker down their own throats. 
Because: Fuck. You. (non-cancer having people, she mumbles mentally.)
I am going at all this activity pretty much on my own, without the guidance and space of meditation, without a wisp of a belief in the goodness of the world, or in the belief that efforts bring results. 
And it’s really hurting me. 
There’s a lot of work I’m going to have to do on this, and I feel SO TIRED. I’m so tired. Have you fought cancer and then had to go about the daily business of living, getting parking tickets and paying bills you can’t afford? And are you now being asked to reconcile that traumatizing experience with a belief in goodness or constancy in the universe in order to stay sober and not kill yourself?
Few of us have. And I don’t know how to do it, because I don’t know who to turn to. 
And so, I’m doing this — or have been trying to do this — all alone, in many ways. Sure, I’m reaching out, and the shell of isolation is cracking, and I imagine “good” things will come of it. But for now, I’m just so tired. 
So that’s what’s beyond the “Look-Good,” friends. It’s not pretty, or happy, or palatable for many, including myself. It’s sad and raw and real and really fucking painful to be where I am right now. 
And… if one of you tells me “this too shall pass” or “everybody dies sometime,” i’ll shove an iron through your cranium.

(Because it is small comfort, even though it’s true.)
acting · community · connection · intimacy · love · theater

"It’s not about the applause."

I’m doing it again. This “auditioning” thing. 
It makes me nervous, giddy, excited, daunted, and happy, underneath all the neurosis. Seems I’m the perfect image of an actor, then, eh?!
But really. I was thinking about it when I was in To Kill A Mockingbird recently, about tweaking the title of Lance Armstrong’s memoir, “It’s not about the bike”: It’s not about the applause. 
At the end of the show, the performance, onstage, when I come out for my bow, I don’t really hear it. Adrenaline in my ears, it’s part of a wall of sound crossed with Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice: Wah Wah Wah. It’s the briefest moment. Shorter than an orgasm. It can’t be why you do it. 
It’s not about the applause. 
Because in the moment that the audience is able to reflect on what they’ve seen and pass judgement positive or negative, they’re already out of the moment — and that’s not what this acting thing is about for me. 
Not that I have much experience! But from that which I do, I realize that it’s more about what’s happening in the moment of performance with the audience, the experience created with them in real time. Whether that’s engagement, boredom, emotional stirring. 
For me, those moments of connection are what it’s about. To create a space and an environment for others to have an emotional experience they otherwise might not have had that evening. 
For me, it’s always been about that. From poems written years ago that highlight my desire to incite a revolution or evolution in people through performance. 
You can hear it from the stage. Whether the audience is holding their breath, gasping at a sudden revelation. Or crying, you can hear the sniffling. Or laughing, or that one person in the audience who laughs harder than others, or is trying not to laugh because no one else is. 
It’s this petrie dish of human experience. How will they respond, react, be moved, if at all?
I love it. I love being a part of it. I love having a small hand in moving people, of allowing them the moments of anonymity in the dark theater to be moved. That intimacy, even though I will never see their faces. That authenticity they get to experience, even though they paid for it. 
Isn’t that what Aristotle spoke of when he said theater was a catalyst of mass catharsis?
So in those few moments when I’m timing when to step out and down to the apron of the stage, and for a moment be Molly instead of character, it’s like stepping out as the man behind the curtain in Oz. Like seeing how a magic trick works. 
It’s lovely and I won’t fein that it isn’t bolstering to get applause, but I rush that part in my head, braced against it somehow, not really hearing it, just trying to bow and let the next person have theirs. 
Sure, it’s gratifying as we, the whole cast, stand there hands clasped over our heads, knowing that this sound is a show of appreciation and gratitude and approval. 
And I won’t say I don’t like it or hope for it. But. 

It’s not about the applause. 
action · art · awe · community · faith · friendship · love · miracle

The Miracle of 12 – 13 – 14

Normal
0
0
1
422
2407
20
4
2955
11.1287

0

0
0

“I’m getting married on 12/13/14,” I half-joked to my
coworker early this year.
I just love the order, the numbers, the unique fact that
consecutive dates like that won’t happen again until 2103 (1/2/03).
My favorite time of day? 12:34.
Although “5:55” is another favorite, because my brother and I
used to stand in front of the microwave (the only digital clock in the house
then), look at the time and announce, “Five fifty-five!” and then lean over
sideways, our heads upside-down, and announce, “Fifty-five five!” and then stand up straight and do
it again: 5:55!! 55:5!!
I love that kind of order and ease, palindromes, sequences.
THREE POINT ONE FOUR ONE FIVE NINE – I THINK PI IS MIGHTY
FINE!, is one our mother taught to us.
And so, when early this year, I looked at the calendar and
saw that one of these special dates was coming up, I declared to my coworker
that would be my wedding anniversary date.
Now, this was, say June, maybe? No boyfriend. No prospects. It would be a short
engagement! But I figured, What the hell, it’s always good to declare things to
the Universe. Why not?
And 6 months later, yesterday, it hit. December 13th, 2014.
No, I did not get married. Alas.
But I did get something else. An outpouring of love that
rivals the strongest romantic connection:
Yesterday, you all erased my cancer debt. In 36 hours. Less than two
days. Poof! Gone. Done. Finished. Eliminated.
FREE.
Yesterday evening, I became free. Because of the love and
generosity of you, my friends, your friends, and even people I barely know.
One of the donors is a woman I helped at my sales job this
week. A brand new woman I hit it off with, and happened to mention the launch
of the campaign on Friday.
“Send me the link,” she said. And she donated, too.
Over 60 people contributed to the campaign, not to mention
the shares and “likes” and “We’re with you” emails and messages.
In 36 hours. It’s done. Something that has harangued me since I got sick is over. Something I put in every monthly budget and calculate how long it will take, and that I can never move from my apartment with that debt. Something I was shackled to. 
Until yesterday. 
Now, I have to wait for the campaign to officially close in January,
and for the crowdfunding site to take their cut and then send me the donations.
But then, I get to write a check to my landlord. And I get
to say, Yes, it’s time to clean out that janitor room–cum art studio, unstick
the windows, clean out the dried cat poop, put a lock on the door, and hand me a key. 
And then I get to move my art supplies up. Out of my closet.
Out of random drawers.
The half-started art projects, the oil paint, acrylics, and embossing gun, the colored pencils, and easel, and oil pastels, collage magazines, glue
sticks, stamps and stickers, brushes and sketchpads and canvases, exact-o knives and glitter.
All of this. All of this hidden away in my studio apartment
closet. All of this out. Up. Lit. Alive. With me, available to me. Creation
incarnate.
I get to m o v e 
o n.
12 13 14.
I didn’t get married yesterday. But what is a wedding except
a display of love, commitment, hope, cherishment?
On 12/13/14, I absolutely received that. Your love, your
hope, your belief in me.
Wow.
And: Thanks. 

community · debt · healing · vulnerability

A Kick Start.

Normal
0
0
1
604
3443
28
6
4228
11.1287

0

0
0

Well, folks. Tomorrow I will publish my indiegogo campaign
to help me pay the back-rent accrued when I was in chemo.
It’s been a short, strange, and amazing process.
About 2 weeks ago, I was sitting with a friend in a café, both of us
“applicationing,” online searching, looking for work, looking for authenticity.
I said to him, “You know my favorite thing I ever did? I
hosted this group art show in SF.”
I showed him the LocalArtists Productions page, practically
defunct and way out-dated. I told him how successful it was, people came,
people who didn’t know they could sell their art sold their art. I even sold some!
People laughed, ate, met, mingled. It was divine.
I then told my friend that I haven’t painted much since then. That I can’t really in my small apartment with a cat who likes to
walk over wet paint. I told him about this art studio I found while exploring
the 4th floor of my apartment building, and how I’d inquired to my landlord
about it, and how he’d said, yes, I can rent it for $25 a month(!!!), if I pay off my back rent.
Almost $4000 now. Out of work for 6 months, only working
part time after that. I racked up quite the debt. And have been slowly paying
it back. But…
Here’s where lightning struck. My friend said to me,
“You should do a Kickstarter. This is exactly the kind of thing people use
crowdfunding for.”
I looked at him, stunned, quizzical, a little vague. I tilted my head, trying to process what was just
said, offered, opened up before me.
I replied, incredulous, “I guess people would donate to a cancer survivor who wanted to make art
again, wouldn’t they?”
And so it was, 2 weeks ago we started something new.
Planning meetings, a few video shoots, a lot of “omigod, I’m
not even wearing any make-up, I wish I’d smile, I look awful” moments. And it’s
done. It’s being polished, and tomorrow morning, I will push this campaign out
into the world in the hopes that others will actually feel something from it.
In the hopes that I can stop writing “back-rent” in my
monthly budget. In the hopes that I can sever that weight of debt from that
time in my life.
As I sat with my friend going over the language in the
campaign, we have been talking a lot about “closing the cancer chapter.” And I
turned to him and said, “This isn’t closing it,
you know? This doesn’t make it ‘over.’
There is no “closed” when it comes to cancer. I’m in
remission. I’m 2 years into the 5 year “almost as healthy as normal people”
period. But it’s never closed. It can be moved on from in many ways, but the
simple existence of the campaign itself is proof that I’m willing to move into
the world in a way I wasn’t before
cancer.
Everything I do is in reaction to it.
I told my friend, tearfully, that this campaign is
important. It’s helpful. But it isn’t the end. The “closing the chapter” is a
great sound-byte, and I’m using it. But it was important for me to say to him,
“Not quite.”
For better or worse.
I am proud of the
strides I’ve made since being sick. I’m proud of the advancements and actions I’ve
taken – being in a band, singing, being in plays, a musical, going to Hawaii,
Boston, Seattle, trying dating again, flying a goddamned plane! – and I’m
overwhelmed by the support I have gotten.
But, it’s so hard to sit with the reality that I am who I am
because of what I went through.
I still get nervous when I get a sore throat, cuz that’s how
I was diagnosed. I still have to keep extra tabs on my health insurance. I still have
a butterfly-shaped scar on my chest where the chemo tube went.
And last week I put on a sweater I hadn’t worn in a while,
and pulled a strand of hair caught in it. The hair, my hair, was long, past
shoulder length. It was from before I was sick. Before my hair fell out.
It was like seeing a unicorn. Evidence of a mythical time. A
time called, “Before.”
It existed. I existed.
The cancer chapter isn’t closed. I don’t know if it ever
does.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t take action and strides and
make use of the persistent lesson to live.
I am proud of the
woman I have become and continue to evolve into. I know she exists now. And
maybe she always did. 

action · art · community · dreams · help · inspiration

Re-Ignition.

Normal
0
0
1
392
2237
18
4
2747
11.1287

0

0
0

Unstructured time isn’t the best for me, and yet I am
feeling a bit panicky about my upcoming full-time employment in sales starting
on Tuesday. What has been lovely about
this time, besides the “brain space” I spoke of the other day is that I’ve
gotten to take my long walks again, meet up with my folks again, play with my cat again.
I’ve enjoyed being unemployed, though I know it’s not
sustainable.
On that note, though, I’ve been meeting up to “co-work” at cafes with a friend
also looking for work and get some applicationing done.
This has led to conversations, which have led to ideas, which are leading to
action. Particularly around things that “light me up.”
Such as the long-lost “LocalArtists Productions” I started
a few years ago, which hosted a successful group art show, but in which I
put too much of my own money and ended up in a pickle. Since then, I’ve
sort of let that idea drift. But talking to my new friend about what lights me,
I said, “My favorite thing I’ve ever done? This group art show I put on.”

Even as I sat listening to my friend at her CD release party
the other week, I looked around the space. I came home and looked up the rental
costs for that space: this could be a great place to host another one.
I love bringing people
together, people who “normally would not mix.” I’ve met so many types of
artists on my path – poets, writers, painters, photographers, musicians, actors – that
it only makes
sense that I bring
them together. “Oh, you make jewelry, my friend does still photography, maybe
you can work together.” “You’re a painter, my friend just participated in an
open studios, maybe you can talk to her about getting your work out there.”
There are too many opportunities to learn from and
collaborate with each other. I don’t want us to miss any!
So, I may be starting a Kickstarter campaign soon. To pay
off my back rent (accrued when I was in chemo) so that I can rent out the art
studio space on the 4th floor of my apartment building. I said to my friend
over our laptops, “Yeah, people would be willing to donate to a cancer survivor
who wants to produce art again, wouldn’t they?”
They’re slightly different avenues I’m beginning to chase
down again: One is the studio space I want to rent so that I can start working again. The other is the creation
of a space for artists to get together, these events and gatherings that I
love to host.
I feel putting grease behind one will help with the grease
behind the other. And so, before I start my full-time work on Tuesday, my
friend and I are going to brainstorm about the video, and maybe even get to
making it.
Because time is ticking away and we all have art to make and
people to meet.