career · change · despair · faith · fear · hope

Rock Saves.

As you may have noticed by now, I’ve been in a bit of a maudlin mood since attaining a job in retail. Since that time, in the last week alone, my sponsor had to let me go in order to focus on her own healing work, I got a traffic ticket while on my way to visit a pregnant friend, and my four stalwart neighboring trees were torn down. 
Plus, I slammed my pinkie in a drawer. 
It’s been a No good very bad day, and you can call me Alexander. 
It’s been pretty bad, and even before the tree massacre, I was on the phone with a friend saying that it felt like a series of trap doors: just when you think it can’t get worse, it does. I wouldn’t be surprised for “The Big One” to hit, or my car to break down. 
That said, yesterday, in a funk over the trees (read: hysterically crying over the loss of everything solid in my life — yes, perspective is a lost art), I drove my car in to work instead of taking public transportation. On came the NPR, because it’s what I usually listen to in the car. 
But it wasn’t right. Sure, it’s informative and I enjoy it in a way, but it’s not fun. It’s not uplifting. Unless it’s A Prarie Home Companion. 
And so I put on a CD of one of my favorite bands, playing one of their most famous live sets. 
I immediately pressed through to one of my favorite songs, one I can count on as an uplifter, and as the song progressed, I turned the volume louder. And louder. 
As I sat in that toll bridge traffic, I began to sing along. I began to smile. 
I played a series of 4 songs, the last one on repeat as I climbed the circular parking garage. And I felt better. 
I have this kind of amnesia when it comes to music: I forget that Rock Saves. 
I can go for weeks without music, maybe a few songs on the radio here and there, but not volume up to 40, ear-ringing, loud singing, smile-inducing music. 
I felt transformed by the end of my trip from Oakland to San Francisco. If there were another trap door opening beneath me, I felt as though the music was giving me upper body strength to cling to the sides of the trap, and hoist myself out. 
The trap may be open beneath me, and it is always an option to fall in, but somehow I felt like I was climbing out of that one. That, for that morning, that previously sob-fest morning, I was not going to continue on like that. 
I parked my car and walked toward my job with an actual jaunt in my step, and a bit of that subversive, “I’ve been listening to music really loud,” half-grin on my face. A cute 20-something said hi to me as I jaunted down the sidewalk. 
I’ve been walking to work looking solely down at the sidewalk, internally commenting the awful smell of human waste. 
Yesterday was a different morning. 
Sometimes I feel like I could be diagnosed with manic-depression, the way I can swing from despair to hope! But, perhaps it’s normal. And I’ll never really know, honestly. 
When things are going well enough, I never feel the need for anti-depressants, and even when they’re not going well, it’s always temporary, and not debilitating. 
So, maybe, simply, Rock Saves. 
Maybe, simply, I have a fount of resiliency that I only seem to find in desolate moments. 
Yesterday, as I drove to work, I drove through a portal of grace. 
Things are not different. All the externals remain the same. 
But I have that grin on my face. And I’ve been singing in my car. 
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action · art · awe · community · faith · friendship · love · miracle

The Miracle of 12 – 13 – 14

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“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. 

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

action · community · faith · perseverance · recovery · self-care · spirituality · writing

Don’t Freak Out: A How-To.

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When I was sick, I became extremely diligent about my
spiritual practice.
Despite, or perhaps including, the conversations I had with
a few select friends about the nature, existence, purpose, and questionable
benevolence of a Higher Power, I knew that my safest and surest course through
all that uncertainty, fear, and buzzing activity around me was to touch base
with my center.
It really was only after the first month, though, that I was
able to write. I found my first journal entry in a notebook friends had brought
me in the hospital just days after I was diagnosed. It begins Saturday, September 29, 2012.
There’s one on the 30th, and then it stops. Until after my month of chemo and
recovery in the hospital.
But, thereafter, I made it a huge part of my practice to
journal, meditate, and eventually write my near-daily blog. I even made the
nurse put a sign on my hospital room door that read, “Meditation in progress;
Come back in 20 minutes.” (I personally loved that this meant people would
continually be turned away without a firm time listed, and I could have some
solitude in that busy and anxious place!)
But, I think about this practice now (journal, meditate, blog), one that was common
for me before I was sick, one that was essential to me during my treatments, and one that still needs to be a part of my
daily life.
Meetings, Movement, and Meditation are my recipe for sanity.
And most recently, with all the hubbub, I’m lucky to get even one in there.
But I know very specifically and with assurance that it not
only works, it also helps to light my way through.
I am in another place of uncertainty, fear, and buzzing activity. And my only way through is to have the anchors of my
practice.
There’s a phrase I’ve heard, “Most days I meditate for
thirty minutes, but on really busy days, I meditate for an hour.” Not that I’m doing that! But the intention is there; the intention to give myself even more time and space to coalesce, to touch down, to get
grounded, and to listen.
I have less trouble listening as I do heeding. It’s all well
and good to listen, and I can do that, and sometimes get answers or guidance;
but if I’m not following through or up on the information I receive, what’s the
point? Then I simply know what I’m not
doing and get to beat myself up for it!
And, I guess that’s not the point either.
I get to remember this morning that I have been in more dire
straits than the one I’m currently in: Job ending Friday; uncertain income
sources; uncertain path toward fulfillment. I get to remember that I’ve been
here before with previous job changes, and I’ve emotionally been here before
because of cancer. Nothing puts things in perspective like cancer!
And if I could have gotten through what I did, using the
recipe I know works every single time, then I am bidden to use it again. Journal,
meditate, blog. Meetings, movement, meditation. Heed the information I’m given.
Rest.
This career shift is all about buying myself time to see myself more
clearly, to see my future more clearly, and to create the space and time in
which to build toward those goals. This isn’t about busy work, or a brain
fogged with anxiety. This isn’t about despair or hopelessness.
This isn’t even about simply “getting through” this time.
This time is important; being in this
transition space is
important.
It’s not simply, Batten down the hatches til the storm passes. This isn’t about
ostriching my head into the sand. It will be important for me to be aware
through all of this time, to listen through it, and to be aware.
To not hide from my own change, because then I won’t know
where I’m going or what I’m doing. I have to stay present with this change. I
have to acknowledge that I’m uncomfortable, and that I’m taking positive steps.
I have to acknowledge where I’m neglecting myself and acting out my anxiety in less than healthy ways. And in order to know any of
these things, I have to be present.
And that’s ultimately what each of these “recipes” does for
me – they help me get and stay present.
So, yesterday I did
cancel that modeling gig. I went to meet up with folks I hadn’t seen in a
while. I got my vacuum cleaner fixed, went to the farmer’s market, put that bookshelf into my closet. I
bought dish soap.
The more I engage in my recipes, the better I feel. The
better I feel, the more able I am to take care of myself and to take actions
that support me. The more I take action, the better I feel.
It’s a continuous positive feedback loop that has carried me
through the most atrocious and trying of circumstances. With grace.  


And if I can remember that — I am voraciously confident, it can carry me through this. 

change · faith · recovery · self-care · spirituality · work

A word, if you don’t mind?

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Dear Molly,
First of all, congratulations on closing the Addams Family.
I heard it was a fantastic run to packed houses nearly every night. And brava
on finally getting that one song that was giving you trouble. Fist pumping is
highly appropriate!
But, I’m moved to write to you today because I want to make
sure you realize how many irons you have blazing right now, and ensure that
you’re taking the proper time for yourself. (Although, I must say, I wouldn’t
be writing if I thought you were!)
As soon as the show closed, you began a new one the next day, yes?
Rehearsing almost daily with a dozen monologues to memorize by next Friday? You’ve been
searching for a new job or jobs, as well as having interviews or coffee dates with folks several times a week. You’ve been sitting on weekend
mornings for a portrait artist in order to make some cash, and you’ve begun
teaching on two weekday afternoons after work and before rehearsal.
Forget about your dishes, we’re way beyond them now! Have
you seen your car? Your apartment? Where is the calm space you so crave at
home? How about that outstanding parking ticket you need to dispute at the
Berkeley parking office? And the fellowship meetings you are barely attending and
the crispy, crackling nature of your office interactions right now?
Is it fair to say that you’ve got a few things on your
plate… AND that you’re not taking the normal care of yourself that’s necessary
for your health? Is it true that you’ve been feeling tired and coming down with
something?
Something’s got to give, my friend, and I don’t want it to
be you.
Yes, I know this is an uncertain and shifting time, and your
home is always a reflection of your mental state. I know it feels like there’s
no time for meetings, but doesn’t there have to be? It’s terribly uncomfortable for you and those around you when
you’re this wound up.
However, I do want to come back to say, I am writing all
this because I am in support of you. I
want you to achieve your best in all you do. I just want to remind you to set
first things first. Weekends, which have been your farmers market and cooking-for-the-week days, as well as nesting and organizing days, have been robbed by
all this new work.
Maybe — and I’m just throwing this out there — you tell the
artist you can’t sit with him until after your show opens? I mean, the worst he
can say is no, right? Maybe you ask a friend to help you with the enormous
bookcase you inherited from your upstairs neighbor that’s been standing, disassembled, in the
center of your apartment for a week? Maybe you really schedule that time to go
to the parking office, and don’t blow it off this time because you’re running
late for work?
Look, the bottom line is you’re in a huge amount of
transition right now. You’re taking a leap of faith that you’ll land somewhere
new and different than where you’ve been. You’re doing this to support your
art, and to support the idea that you have more to give to the world than a
well-crafted spreadsheet. I am in awe of you for taking the risk.
In truth, both ways are risky: to stay is a risk to sanity,
to leave is a risk to livelihood. But, I do have faith that things will turn
out well for you (Yesterday’s interview was promising & the second interview is set.). You are doing all the right things… you’re just not leaving
time for the rest of the “right things,” and that’s where I’m concerned.
So, take a minute to consider my suggestions. See if you can
come up with your own solutions, and talk to your friends to help you through
this quite chaotic but exciting time.
As a friend once said, The only difference between anxiety
and excitement is breathing.
So, breathe, Molly. And I’ll see you when you land, safely.
Yours, 

action · clarity · faith · purpose · recovery · vision

“Just What I Needed.”

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I was just telling my co-worker that nearly every item in my
apartment came off the street or handed down. What typically happens for me is
I notice a need in the apartment, say, I want a new waste-paper basket for my
bathroom. And, more often than not, within a week or so, I’ll pass the perfect
one on the street.
Most of the items in my house happened this way. Including
the new kitchen table I just acquired and am typing on today. Because as point
of fact, I’d just been saying and thinking how I want a new, less rickety
kitchen table. And lo, yesterday, I ran into an upstairs neighbor who is moving
and getting rid of things, and I asked to see what she had left, and there’s
that Ikea table I’d admired but didn’t want to buy. And now, it’s here, in my
home.
The reason I bring it up today is that I have recognized
that when I have clarity of vision, I tend to get what it is I want. The
perfect semi-matching bedside table, the pull-out couch that nestles perfectly
in the alcove, a set of new colorful bowls and plates to replace the staid gray
ones I’d bought at Goodwill.
Each of these I envisioned before they appeared. And so, I
feel, will the job.
I do know how I want to structure and spend my day. I do
know the kind of routine I want and the kind of impact I want to have.
And yet. It’s the waiting, the focusing, the action, the
getting there, the pause.
With each newly acquired piece in my home, I am reinforcing
the belief and faith and trust that if I dream it, it will come. If I am
particular and specific, it will come.
It’s time once again to write a job ideal, and perhaps a
relationship ideal while I’m at it, as I continue to release relationships that
don’t serve me.
In fact, I’ve noticed as I look at my list of relationships
to amend (people I’ve fallen out of touch with for self-preservation [but feel guilty about it], men I
intrigue with even though there’s no possibility or desire for more, and the
third category, my job that I haven’t wanted that’s been the same one dressed
in different clothes for decades), each of these categories can be boiled down
to: Molly staying in relationships she doesn’t want to be in.
Molly staying for the crumbs, the guilt, the fear of
emptiness. Molly staying because it’s the “right” and “good” thing to do. Molly
staying because she believes she can’t have what she really wants.
Each of these amends boils down to believing I’m worth
attaining what I really want.
It’s so easy to believe and reinforce this when it comes to
kitchen furniture! it’s harder to believe I can have what I want when it comes
to people.
It is a sad and lonely habit to continue to hang on to
relationships that don’t work, that aren’t fulfilling, that aren’t meeting my
needs because of a belief that something is better than nothing.
It’s funny. My voice teacher had me practice “As long as he
needs me” from Oliver the other week.
Did I know the song, he asked? Yes. Yes, I know the song. I live the song.
I will stay on as long as he, she, they, it needs me. No
matter how it’s hurting because “if you’ve been lonely, then you will know,
when someone needs you, you love them so.”
So, I guess I should correct it to say I have lived the song. But I don’t really anymore, or I don’t
want to anymore. I don’t want to settle, I don’t want to stay small, I don’t
want to be scared of what may or may not come to me.
I want to believe, that just as I knew my kitchen table
would arrive when it was supposed to, that my job and my healthy relationship
will as well.
With a little visioning, of course. And perhaps a new theme song.

action · authenticity · faith · fear · uncertainty · vulnerability

Someone will be with you shortly.

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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.