adventure · fulfillment · fun

Who’s Next?

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The woman who attracted my last several partners was a procrastinator.  A couch-sitting dreamer.  The woman who attracted my last boyfriends is one who has desires galore for a larger, more engaged life, but puts off actions toward those goals.

Now before you all jump on me and say, “Hey, you’ve done a ton of stuff, lady!” (for which I’m grateful to have you in my corner), I will tell you that, Yes, I have.

And it’s not a fraction of what it could be.

One analogy that has been sticking with me lately is the idea of driving with the emergency brake on: in order to go farther or faster, you don’t have to push the pedal down further, you don’t need to work “harder” — you simply have to take the brake off, and you find yourself careening along the roadway.

What does it mean, then, to take the e-brake off my internal car?

Well, I’m struck this morning by my Time Plan.  A time plan is a tool I use when I have loose unstructured time, such as this Spring Break.  A person like me is liable to lay on the couch with Netflix, peanut-butter stuffed pretzels, and gorge away the week.  I know this about myself (though it doesn’t mean I’ve not stacked time for such indulgences into my plan!) so I have gained a tool over the years to help combat this lethargy.

But, in writing my time plan for this morning, I realize that it looks nearly identical to the one I wrote for Sunday and for Monday this week:  Wake up, do morning practice stuff, do some school worky-work, rest, clean, run, eat dinner, read Game of Thrones.

There’s not one thing “wrong” with this plan… except that it’s BORRRRING!!!!!

WHERE IS THE FUN???  Here I am, a lively woman in my mid-30s in one of the most dynamic urban areas of the world, and even the trail I run is the SAME??

I am a woman who can ride on the fumes of fulfillment and fun.  Would it surprise you to imagine that running on fumes creates a feedback loop that desires sitting on the couch with pretzel crumbs in your bra?

This is not the woman I want to be.  I already know I don’t want to be bra-crumb lady, but nor do I want to be Queen of the Lord’s most boring Spring Break.

So this morning, where I’d already written 2 hours of worky-work, I stole one of those back for the honor of Fun:  Piano.

I’ll haul my keyboard down from the long-neglected art studio upstairs, set it up where J’s desk will be vacating, and start practicing the Christmas carol it’s my goal to learn by Christmas.

It’s not “skydive” or “gallery walk,” but it’s a start (and I’ve already planned gallery walk for tomorrow).

The person I need to be next cannot be boring—and she cannot put off her desires, life, or loves.  I deserve more, and better, and so do the people I’m on the road to meet.

 

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deprivation · fulfillment · truth

What are you hungry for?

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This month marks 5 years from my final chemo treatment for Leukemia, meaning this month also marks the 1st month when I can stop counting months!  To explain, the general thinking around cancer survivorship is that if you last for 5 years after treatment without a recurrence, then you become as healthy as the next person (assuming that person is healthy).  The Sword of Damacles that hangs above the survivor’s head begins to fade and vanish (assuming you let it).

But what strikes me today is the following question: What am I doing with the life that I fought so incredibly hard to keep living?

A brush with death (or a defensive line-backer’s full-frontal gory smash-up with death) will bring anyone to question what it is they want out of life.  And so, when I am now listening to Oprah and Deepak’s new 21-day meditation challenge about “Hunger,” and they ask me what am I truly hungering for … well, I better have a good answer!

While I am extremely lucky enough to not have a (permanently) unbalanced relationship with overeating (or undereating), I do have an unhealthy relationship with my couch.  It’s the lover I can’t leave, the fuzziest, comfiest and thread-bariest socks I still wear, it’s the oblivion I crave.  I love my couch.  I love the sunshine streaming over it in the afternoons after work, I love the smooshy feeling of cuddling beneath the blankets, and especially the rich middle of a book I like.  (I like the middle best.)

But.  I’ve fought the demons of Hell and my own blood cells to earn the right to lay on that couch — is this truly what I fought for?  Well, no.  Somewhat, but not entirely.

Oprah asks, What am I really hungry for?  What is it that I’m trying to attain by saturating myself with words?  What comfort or distraction?

Several years ago, near about the time I moved to San Francisco from New Jersey, I was laboring on some inner work that was raising extreme discomfort within me.  I was renting a room in a house owned by a lady who worked for a hotel chain, and she would bring home any leftovers from the “continental breakfast” they served there.  This included fruit, yogurt… and muffins.  Hordes of muffins.

I would huddle in my room, writing for 20 minutes, then step out into the hallway, pad down to the fridge, and grab a muffin.  Just one.  I’d pad back to my room and keep writing.  20 minutes later, I’d open my bedroom door again.  The fridge door again.  And on, until all the muffins were gone.  Just one more.

I was so uncomfortable.  When I recounted this discomfiting activity to my therapist at the time, she wisely asked, “If you weren’t eating, what would you be doing?”  I immediately replied, “Crying,” and thusly broke down into wracking sobs.

The writing piece ended soon enough, and so did the compulsive muffin-eating, but the question remains here:  If I weren’t reading, what would I be doing? 

Adventuring.

 

faith · fear · fortitude · fulfillment

All Around the Mulberry Bush

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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.

addiction · career · fulfillment · humor · procrastination

"Admitted we were powerless over Netflix, and our lives had become unmanageable"…

There is a great proportional equation in my life: The more
fearful I am, the more Netflix I watch. 
Perhaps you have a similar equation?
As Summer School draws to a close — both my morning job
teaching it and my evenings learning from it — I begin to feel more anxious.  I begin to poke around job sites, as half-heartedly as I have been for weeks since this summer school job began,
but more fretfully as the job nears completion… tomorrow.
As I look at teacher jobs, I am reminded that, honestly, I
feel out of my depth to put together full-time lesson plans, learning arcs, and
curricula.  Hence my desire to earn a
teaching credential, aka more schooling, aka not til next Fall if that
happens.  There’s plenty of “go get ‘em”
attitude in me that says, “Meh, who needs it, you’ve taught, you’ll be fiiine.”  But there’s a great dose of reality that
reminds me that as someone who’s never taught full-time it’s not fair to me or my students to simply “wing it,” to
throw something together — and to throw myself into the deep end.
And it’s unclear to me which of these voices is more
valid.  So, I poke half-heartedly.
In the meantime, as I have come home these 6 weeks from my morning gig
teaching a creative writing elective to middle schoolers (which, yes, I love more
than any job I’ve had), I have a few hours before my evening physics class at a
nearby city college.  In those hours, I
could: study for the physics final, which is this evening; I could look for
work; I could reach out for help; I could learn my monologue for Sunday’s
audition; or… I could watch Netflix.
Oh!, you great and terrible time-suck!
And cowing under the realization that I am unable to
moderate my time spent … wasted … whiled … and lost in front of the pixelated
numbness, last week I began to try to find ways to moderate.
Oh, it’s not like I haven’t tried to reign
myself in before.  There’s my “Anything
more than two hours is avoidance and isolation” awareness.  There’s the “Never after 10pm” rule.  There’s the “Just one more episode” mantra
that somehow repeats unto the depths of my pockets of time.
And so, I decided, Enough! 
I looked into suspending my account (at least until I’ve found a job),
but you can’t do that.  I even enacted
parental controls to restrict my access to the website, even by a few
steps, but instead I managed to prevent myself from even accessing my
email.  I found a way around
those restrictions (since I still can’t figure out how to undo them), and Lo! found
myself right back in front of the “Continue Watching” button.
Finally, with a deep mood of disgust, regret, and
resignation, last week I cancelled my Netflix account.
And began rereading all the Harry Potter books.
courage · dreams · fear · fulfillment · hope · scarcity · self-denial

Life: Whether you Like it or Not.

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For many years, I’ve considered my personal and professional
stagnation as though I were a traveler sitting at the base of a crossroad. The
sign pointing in many directions reads any manner of options, but I sit there,
gazing at the sign for eons, waiting for one of the arrows to light up, to
indicate, This, here, Molly, is the way to go. This is the path to your
destiny. This is the path to fulfillment, release, energy and passion. It may
be cloudy at parts, but we promise, this is the way toward your highest good.
Yet, signposts have an annoying way of being inanimate, and this revelation has never happened.
But as I sit today, I recognize something new. Beyond the
fork in the road, I’m beginning to see another path that I hadn’t identified
before. It’s the path of my true desires.
I have sat waiting for the gods to tell me a or b, but
secretly, I’ve always wanted c, and refused to see that as an option. “It’s
hard for your to let yourself dream,” a therapist opined recently.
And it is.
To speak aloud what you truly want is to invite criticism
and disappointment. Better to keep the dreams locked tight, even to the
detriment of myself, because it’s “easier” than going after what I really
want.
The problem with that pattern is that it means you don’t
develop a history and a catalogue of places where you have moved beyond those
doubts and spoken up, acted up, been seen. And so you continue to assume what
you really want is not something you can have.
The history of denying what I want is long. It is best to be
quiet, unheard, unseen, have few needs, because the lower you set the bar the
easier it is to meet the meagerness.
I reflected yesterday on the way to our preview night of the
play how you can always set yourself up to “succeed” when you place the bar
achingly low. When you paint over your dreams with “realistic expectations,” you’re never called to reach out of your comfort zone. You can sit on the couch
watching Netflix until the end of time, eating peanut butter out of a jar, and
quietly erode all sense of the divine spark within you.
Not that I’ve done that. (wink)
But the divine has a way of being omnipresent, no matter
what you do to ignore, dismiss, or erode its guidance and encouragement.
I haven’t a clue what experiences I’m opening up to as I watch this
third path unfurl before me. Recognizing foremost that I’ve denied myself the
ability to see what I’ve always wanted is a start. Recognizing that I’ve
refused to acknowledge that I can have what I want, that my needs don’t have to
be pauperistic, that it is safe in the reality of today to express myself is a
start.
I’ve written many times before about the emerging option of
being safe and seen. Safe doesn’t mean “not bold,” or setting the bar low,
here. It means that I am not going to be punished for wanting what I want this
lifetime.
This is a hard concept for me to integrate. But, more slowly
than I would really love, I’m accepting that the sanest, safest, and surest way toward
fulfillment is actually believing it’s available. Whenever I’m good and ready
to set down the peanut butter and walk toward it. 

abundance · desire · finances · fulfillment · growth · vision · work

a short note, just to let you know I’m not dead.

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the end.
just kidding.
I have to leave to go meet up with some folks at 9am I
haven’t seen in a very long time. I had my dailey method shift yesterday at 530am, so I
didn’t write, and sunday mornings are my check-in with my mentor, and usually
lead to more emotion than can settle enough to show up here – which is good.
so, tuesday, it is!
i just wanted to reflect on something that occurred to me as
I sat in meditation this morning, back into another one of those deepak/oprah
21-day meditation challenges: I am living the schedule I wanted.
sure, it’s not perfect! but I’d wanted my days divided into
thirds: mornings in private work, working on art, or music, or writing;
afternoons working in the community somehow – how I didn’t know; and the
evenings spent in performance.
and here I sit today, my morning spent in meditation, a
little writing. this afternoon, I’ll head over to the synagogue to teach 4th
grade. and this evening, I’ll have rehearsal (well, we’re off tonight, but you
get the point!).
without intending to, I’ve come to the structure of the day
I’ve always wanted or thought i wanted. the one I didn’t think I could achieve until I was 50, and
had more going for me.
but, today, even though it doesn’t look perfect, even though
I am only earning about a third of my needed income through teaching two days a
week… this is what it will feel like. this is what it does feel like:
awesome. fulfilling. purposeful. open. creative. engaged.
important. 
thanks, universe, for this taste of what it will and what it
is like. i was right when i discovered that’s the day i want for myself. now,
help me achieve it sustainably. thanks. 

art · fulfillment · money · self-esteem · trying

The Writing on the Walls.

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After yesterday’s heaviness, let’s talk about something
lighter: gratitude.
You know, there are a lot of things as I look around that I
have to be grateful for. It is always easiest for me to start with my
apartment, because, small though it is, and however much I’d love for my bed to
not be the main prominence of my studio apartment, I love it here. “Warm” is
consistently the response I get from friends and visitors who come in. It feels
warm here.
Someone just said it recently, and it’s precisely the phrase
I heard from a friend when he left one of my parties in my San Francisco
apartment: I felt warm when I left. How many parties does one leave feeling
that way? It was a thrill, and what I love to hear. Inviting, warm, cozy,
artful.
The art has been culled over a few years, and recently, in
the re-organization of my closet, I pulled out the enormous oil pastel lips
with flower, created for one of my Pre-Val Hearts & Stars parties in SF. I
think I’ll put it up again, but even if I don’t, it reminds me of what I can
accomplish when I set my mind to it.
I’d started with an idea. I made some sample studies, small
two-inch colored pencil drawings, and then I asked my artist friend if she had
any super large butcher-size paper. In fact, she did. And I stood with a pencil hovering over this
expanse of 5 foot wide and 4 feet tall paper laid on the floor of my apartment,
white, untouched, and daunting.

How do you start, where do you make a first mark? What if
it’s wrong, and you’ve ruined this enormous (and only) page you have?
I remember that moment, the taking of a deep
breath, and the creation of the first mark. And wherever it was on the page is now well-blended into the rest of the drawing, and you’d never know where
it began with a brave and tentative mark.
You drew that? Yep.
I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. I’ve stopped often. I thought I couldn’t
anymore, as a 40 oz went hand-in-hand with my art for a while. I
also tried again and so out of practice, was not so great, and put it away,
saying this wasn’t for me anymore.
Then, the parties began, and they were the impetus to draw
again, to paint, and make art again. With an aim and purpose, with people to
create an environment for, it was simple. It was enlivening, and it wasn’t
perfect. Yet it was fun.

I spoke the other week to my property manager about the
upstairs abandoned 4th floor room with the two work sinks, northern light, and
great ventilation. They’re happy to rent that space out to me for 25 bucks a
month. … Once I settle my account.
When I was sick, my landlord said about my rent, “Don’t
worry about it.” Which I thought meant, We’ll waive it. I found out later,
several months of not paying rent later, that in fact, what he meant was, “Pay
it when you can, and we’ll be counting every cent.”
So, I became over $4,000 in debt to my landlord, and even
though it was great that they held my rent for a while, it sucks that it wasn’t
clear that’s what was happening, as maybe I’d have begun paying sooner. But, it
wasn’t. I didn’t. And I’ve been paying $50 over my rent each month for over a
year now to help pay down the debt, because that’s truly what I can afford.
I have more than $3,000 left to pay back. Before I can
rent that art space. FOR TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS!! God, I want that space! But, first things first, I suppose.
In the meantime, maybe I do unroll those lips and put them
up, proof and inspiration once again that I can do what I fear, that I don’t
have to be perfect, that I love producing things, and that I have talent when I
focus.
Who doesn’t need a reminder like that?