demons · fortitude · self-love

Don’t Sleep in the Poppies.

2 26 18 wizard_of_oz3

What is it the voices say to you?  How do they impede your path, and trip at your ankles?

What mistruths do you hear when you’ve tried something new, or have desired to?

How much do you believe them?

 

In the whispering of these voices, what else can you hear?  Like now, the rain on the windowsill.  What realities attempt to counterbalance the hatred that sparks up when you move into new areas?

What real truths can you find?

 

In the work I continue to do to expand my life (and love and prosperity and connection and forgiveness), I have come upon a trove of voices —grizzled witches and scribbled orbs— that sometimes whisper, sometimes holler ideas that I know intellectually are untruths, but which can cut so deeply so as to sound true or at least make me question — which is indeed their purpose.

To encourage me to question my power, my desires, my strengths, and my vision.  These voices may have been born of a long-outdated need to stay small so as to stay safe, but have calcified into demons that belabor my efforts, like driving with the e-brake on.

To know of them, to meet them on my path, to look them in their maleficent, fiery eyes, and feel the wrathlike fire of their untruths, is to become able to undo them.  “Know thine enemy.”

Uncovering what it is that makes me question and doubt and falter and hide, feels uncomfortable, mournful, desultory.  But if I should only stop there, in the quagmire of falsehoods and demons, I cannot be where G-d, Fate, Truth demand I stand.

Despite the poppy field of self-hatred, I am called to find the energy to root out each bulb –perhaps discovering they are rot, perhaps discovering they are the dark side of a necessary coin I am to carry with me.  And in this work, I am most especially called to expand my self-love with elemental and primal force.

 

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faith · fear · fortitude · fulfillment

All Around the Mulberry Bush

may pole 8 10 17

It would be easy to imagine that after a decade of dancing around the May Pole of inner work that I would somehow have this thing figured out, dialed in.  And yet, as the streamers untangle, they reveal even more knotted, rotting coils beneath, ones that may have held their breath for years so as not to be detected, shaking with silent laughter, like a child at Hide and Seek.

And wouldn’t you know, all these years on, that I am still surprised at what bastardized hilarities still exist.  Hilarities that hinder, hamper, and hamstring.  (How’s that for alliteration!)  For example, this doozy:  I must choose between my own happiness and others’ — there is no room for both.  Which leads to this juicy bit: Family Life is a death sentence for the Soul.  Geez, dude.

I’ve been unraveling these desiccated bandages of my psyche lately for a purpose I never had before:  To attempt to become willing to create a family.  Some people call this, Falling in Love, Growing Up, or simply checking off the boxes of Life.

I call it Hanoi.

And so it is my job now to engage with those doubts and fears that tell me a life with others is a life of burden and sublimation.  I am to call to the dining table the ashy projection I’ve been worried is my future … and ask her to be willing to see things differently.  To introduce her to the parts of me and of the Universe (yes, that one) that are here expressly to help her hold her autonomy and verve and dreams alive, to blow breath into them, to guide her to a new vision of what Fulfillment can look like.

I do not want to be alone as I do my dream work, nor do I want to exchange it for listlessness.

There is another model, another way.  And I am sure, without doubt, this new way lies beneath the next layer of ancient, colored crepe.

determination · fortitude · health · life · recovery · spirituality · surrender

Snookered.

See, the thing about being saved is that it’s not an
absolution.  You aren’t swept back from
the cliff’s edge and wrapped in a cosmic swaddling, rocked into unseeing bliss.  What you are is placed back firmly onto a
path.  A long one.  Back from the edge, back from the place of
giving up on the work of this lifetime, you are nudged—not so gently, but not
without compassion—onto a path that will require of you work for the rest of
your lifetime.
The cliff’s edge, the leap from it, the ultimate sacrifice
as it might be called is the choice to give up all the work that will ever be
asked of you.  It is to say, Forget it,
too hard, too much, there’s no help, no hope. 
To be placed back onto the path you had made some kind of decision—by
omission or commission—to leave means that you are now responsible to take up
the work you’d abandoned.  It is to look
up from your crumpled knees and see winding before you the path of your
lifetime, the work that will surely be needed to accomplish it, and the
knowledge that to be alive is to do that work.
To be alive is to agree. 
To be alive is to sign an agreement daily that you will, however
falteringly, place one foot before the other. 
To be alive is to agree that you yourself and your life are more
worthwhile than eliminating all the possibilities it holds, all the better and
all the worse. 

And so, pulled back from the edge, “saved” as it were, you
walk with a grim humor, knowing that somewhere you have chosen this.

ambition · faith · fortitude · gratitude · joy · life · participation

Third Star to the Right…

Call me a navel-gazer, but as the Jewish High Holidays approach, I get reflective.

At work, I’m neck deep in preparation for them, and acutely aware of their significance on the calendar than I ever was: Two years ago, at the end of September, I was diagnosed with Leukemia on the evening of Yom Kippur, our “day of atonement,” the day on which we are either “sealed into the book of life” for another year … or not. It’s a pretty significant day on the Jewish calendar, and I have come to hate it.

I hate what it “means,” about being sealed or not into the book of life. I hate how much changed in an instant, with one sentence told to me by a doctor. I hate remembering the sore throat that began the whole prelude to my ER visit, which kept me working from home, and feeling so badly about it since it was a brand new job.

But, what remembering this day also does for me is cause me to reflect on what has changed, and what has happened in the two years hence. I have endeavored to create “a life worth living” for myself against all the internal railing and nay-saying, against all my own self-sabotage, against all the foot-dragging and self-immolation I had previously submitted to.

In the last two years, I have dragged myself kicking and screaming into a life I consider worth living.

This isn’t to say that I’d done nothing beforehand, but here’s a list of experiences I’ve had & actions I’ve taken in the last two years, post-cancer:

  • Hosted my Creativity and Spirituality Workshop
  • Began blogging daily again
  • Went to Hawaii for the first time
  • Got a bedframe for the first time since childhood
  • Sang at a café with friends
  • Joined their band on bass
  • Played shows out, nearly once a month
  • Started ushering at Music shows for free & have seen,
    among others:
     – Paul McCartney (about to see him again next week)

– Red Hot Chili Peppers

– Doors guitarist Robby Krieger play “People Are Strange” with Warren Haynes…!

– About to see Dave Matthews

  • Bought a car
  • Celebrated July 4th near my old hometown with my mom and
    brother
  • Busked on the streets of Oakland and SF singing Christmas
    caroles
  • Got real headshots
  • Auditioned for plays and musicals
  • Got cast in 4 shows
  • Modeled for friends
  • Submitted photos to modeling agencies
  • Visited Seattle for the first time
  • Visited Boston to try out a new relationship experience
  • Dated with craziness
  • Dated with less craziness
  • Got laid well
  • Got laid poorly
  • Visited a best friend and her newborn baby for a week
  • Hiked Tilden & Marin
  • Took accredited acting classes
  • Took voice lessons
  • Flew a plane(!) — and landed it 😉

Any of these things could have happened beforehand (and some were indeed happening, with less gusto, determination & regularity), but most of the activities on this list are new to me.

I was talking with a friend a few months ago, another cancer survivor, and she said that she feels complete with the world – that if she died today, she’d be okay with that. I noticed how not okay I’d have been with that; virulently not okay. Granted, she’s about 10 years older than me, has a daughter, teaches in a way she loves, is married.

And I think those are key differences. Having created your own family, having a career you feel impassioned about. Those are items that are not yet on my above list, and I want them to be before I expire, thank you.

I do however, write this list to reflect to myself that there are things that I’ve done that are miraculous, fun, and inspiring for anyone to have done, let alone l’il ole me. I forget this, frequently.

It’s hard to admit this here, and it’s not precisely the entire truth, but if I were to expire sooner than later… Well, I won’t say, “If I died today, I’d be okay with that,” but that I am exponentially grateful for this role I’ve recently landed. To play in a musical, comedic role at a community theater is the cat’s pajamas. (If I have to go soon, I hope it’s after we open!)

When I returned from teaching English in South Korea almost 10 years ago, I said I was coming home to “break onto Broadway.” Then instead, I got sober!

And now, 8 years since then, I’m taking steps that are developmentally appropriate to that dream. It’s in the right direction, even if I never get there. It’s my impassioned avocation, even if it’s not a vocation.

I do not wish to expire soon. I have more experiences I want to add to that list, and more sanity and evenness I wish to accrue. But I feel more comfortable now than I had been even a few months ago in noticing that I am accumulating the experiences that, to me, express a full and well-lived life.

I wouldn’t have as many regrets if it were to happen soon. I have a few regrets of things I’ve done & ways I’ve re/acted in the last two years, sure. It’s not as if I’m a saint, and sometimes I still choose experiences I know are more damaging than useful.

But instead of waiting to be “inscribed in the book of life” by some entity or religion or benchmarks of success otherwise prescribed to me by my childhood, my faith, my inner critic…

Instead I am coming to believe that I am following my own North Star: I may never get there, but I’m headed in the “right direction.”

And for the first time ever, I deeply feel that.

 

action · addiction · clarity · commitment · community · fear · fortitude · procrastination · progress · recovery · self-esteem · self-love · self-pity · self-support

Forte. Più Forte. (Loud. More Loud.)

It’s come into my awareness again this week the fallacy of
perfection, and its venomous tendrils. The three “p”s: Perfection,
Procrastination, Paralyzation.
I’ve also read that procrastination is simply another way
for us to prolong feeling crappy about ourselves, and to delay feeing proud of
ourselves.
This week, after a conversation with some people of
authority at work last week about my position, my ambition, my vision of “Where
I’d like to be;” after I was given the feedback that, great, sure, put it in
writing and we can talk more… I stalled and dragged my feet.
It wasn’t acres of time, this time; it was only from Friday until
Tuesday evening, when I finally wrote what I needed to
write. But I could see those tendrils curling up around me, waiting to choke my
ambition and self-esteem from me. The tendrils of hopelessness (What the use
anyway), uncertainty (What about acting, my art, moving), and simple
perfectionism (If it’s not perfect, they’ll reject it, and then I’ll be stuck
answering phones the rest of my life, anyway, so f* it, I’ll just watch some
more Once Upon a Time).
It was so helpful to hear other people talk about how this
weed of perfectionism crops up in their lives, marring their attempts at a full
life—it reminds me that I’m not alone, and mostly, as I heard people talk about
their struggle with perfectionism, I sat
there in that chair and decided (for the hundredth time) to go home afterward
and do the write-up I needed to hand in to my superiors.
I heard them battling the beast, I heard them being flayed
by it, and I decided I wasn’t going to let that be me, if only for an evening.
I cannot tell you how many times I make this declaration to
myself. And then, simply do come home
and watch Netflix, or surf Facebook. I wonder if the advent of television and
internet has created in us a generation of procrastinators, but I certainly
know that I am none too helped by it! (in binges, especially)
But for whatever reason (and I won’t call it exasperation,
because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been exasperated, and still done
nothing), I came home on Tuesday night, wrote what I needed to write, emailed
it to a few friends for feedback, and handed it in yesterday.
And here’s the/a reward for overcoming perfectionism: It may not go the way you wanted anyway. I may hear, “Thanks, Molly, but we’re not
in a position to… We’ll think about it for some undetermined date… This just
isn’t in our vision or budget… We just need someone (you) to stay doing what
you are doing indefinitely, or at least through the next year or more.” I may
hear things I don’t want to hear in response to my action on behalf of myself
and my ambition, BUT, the reward is that I get to hear something at all,
instead of sitting, spinning, resenting, foaming, fuming, and … watching
Netflix.
The reward for overcoming perfectionism (and it’s
paralyzation) in just this one moment is that, no matter the results, no matter
the response, I am actually moving
forward, internally, for sure. What this does is tell me that, See Molly,
once you did something. One time you took action on your
own behalf, and instead of delaying your good, instead of languishing in a sea
of self-pity, you get to feel proud, pro-active, like a leader. You get to feel
like yourself, instead of like the skin of mutating fear that creeps up yours
and mimics you out in the world.
I don’t know the result of the action I took, externally, at
least. However, having put things in writing and gotten clarity around my
vision and desire, if I don’t get the result I “want” here, in this environs,
then I get to take that information and that knowledge and shop it around
elsewhere. Because I took the action that I did, suddenly, I have a beginning
instead of what my brain and that malevolent skin tells me is an end, a sorry, pathetic end.
Finally, I’ll repeat something I heard a long time ago,
which I’ve agreed with and disagreed with over the years: We ask “god” for what
we want; “he” gives us what we need; and in the end, it’s what we wanted
anyway.
I know that what I wanted anyway was clarity and
self-esteem, so, Team: Mission Accomplished. 

dating · fear · fortitude · integrity · love · uncertainty

Drowning in a sea of pearls

It is unclear if things have devolved in 25 y.o. land, but I
get the sense from his flirtatious texts that perhaps our intentions are not
aligned. It is unclear yet if I will bring up what mine are, ask him his, and
accept what comes of that. Sitting in the ambiguity is uncomfortable. It is
unclear whether sitting in the ambiguity is supposed to be my lesson, or a
lesson here. It is unclear if saying: 
“I don’t know yet if I like you but I
would be interested to find out. If that’s something you want to explore, then
it would be nice to go out again. If not, that’s okay too.” 
is too forward or
just right. Is it pushy, clear, honest, forthright, demanding, off-putting, or
too soon?
I get Goldilocks’ dilemma.
And I have a hard time letting go of the questions. Even
with my full life.
One of the things the male co-author writes in It’s Just a F***king Date is that not every date works out, and then
asks, did I get my heart broken? Sure, but not as much as I would have [if I
didn’t remember it’s just a date].
So, am I heartbroken? No. I don’t even know whether I should
be – what this is. Which, perhaps, is an answer. But I don’t like that
“perhaps” hanging out there like a scab of uncertainty. Am I sad? A little.
But, like above, not nearly as much as I could be. I mean, it was two dates. I
went a little bananas, as we all read, and then I came back to center,
remembered I’m awesome, and went about my awesome life. If this is someone who
wants to join me on my path of awesome, great; if not, as above, “That’s okay
too.” Cuz it really is.
I JUST WANNA KNOW.
Should I erase that name from my date book, or not?
I mean, I have read He’s Just Not That Into You. I do know that if someone isn’t asking you out,
that has a meaning. I do know that sexy texts (which I’m replying neutrally to) are not a pathway to romance. But
I want him to fucking say it. If that’s the truth, if you’re not into me, if
you just want to fuck me, then say that. It saves me a lot of headache. If,
because we had a very intense make-out session, I’m now relegated to the
“hook-up” file in your own date-book, that’s fine too. Just let’s me know, once
again, that the heavy necking should be better left to a time when its earned
itself.
There’s nothing wrong with heavy necking, making out, or
having sex. Don’t get me wrong. But, having recently been very clear with
someone what my casual intentions were, getting those casual needs met, and
closing the casual door behind him as he left, I got to see that although
I acted with integrity, asked for my needs to be met, felt proud of my behavior and was very happy with
the result, I also got to see that what I really want is someone who spends the
night. I want to be that person for you too.
So, hooking up is all well and good, and it is also not yet
decided that if the 25 y.o. says ‘I don’t want to date’ if I will go forward with
something casual, since the previews indicated a blockbuster movie. But, I want
to find out first if there’s an art film playing here, before I buy a ticket
for Bourne 17. 

change · fortitude · growth · love · self-love

Strike That; Reverse It

(*Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka [Sorry, Johnny, you ruined a classic])
In order to get ready to enter words that create and convey
feelings onto a screen that I upload to you, I have to do a little centering
first. Otherwise, you’d get — well, I don’t know – it just never felt right
to dive out of bed and onto the screen. Instead, I dive out of bed toward the
coffee pot, and then to the journal, the Morning Pages routine picked up many
years ago by working The Artist’s Way
with a group of varied and wonderful folks in Muddy Waters at 24th
street (you can have 16th street).
In fact, in order to prepare for you, for this, for reclaiming my daily blog, I began
writing them again because I knew I needed to skim the top layer off
my thoughts and onto a written page before addressing you. I haven’t been
consistent with the Morning Pages, but, pretty much so. I probably have a dozen notebooks since we began in, what, 2008? 2009?
After those (and I don’t always get 3 full long-hand pages,
especially when my Thursday night acting class keeps me in Berkeley til 10pm), I try to
meditate for even a few seconds, if I’m honest. I have varied the time of these
“sits,” even up to 20 minutes, but for now, it’s about 5 minutes, if I get that. If not that,
I do one fully present breath. Like really present, not what I’m going to
do after this breath
present. Because it’s
usually somewhere between and in concert of these two practices that I get the
kernel of what I want to say to you here.
I’ve written from monkey mind, I’ve quieted it (hopefully),
and from there, I can address you.
What I’ve found in a few of my most recent journalings is
that when I write the words, “I should…,” I’m stopping myself, crossing out
“should” and instead writing something like, “I encourage and support myself in
doing…”
I need to send those photos to that agency. STRIKE
I support and encourage myself in sending those photos.
I should go back to the gym today. STRIKE
I support and encourage myself in going to the gym.
What a difference of manner and direction that provides.
I’ve heard people use the phrase “Shoulding all over your
self;” and it’s true, you, we, I can shame and should myself all I want – but
remember the “more flies with honey than vinegar” thing? I think it works with ourselves, too. 
And while we’re on phrases; Shame, I’ve heard
it said, can be an acronym for Should Have Already Mastered Everything. ~ Back
to shoulding.
I’m liking that I’m catching myself and changing the
language to something more positive, even though I’m the only one who sees it,
and because I’m the only one who sees
it. I’m only retraining myself. Does it help? Did it make me—strike that—
encourage me to send the photos? Not yet. But I did go to the
gym.