connection · courage · loneliness

Meeting Ewoks

10.15.18.jpgThere’s always that portion in the hero’s journey when they’re out in the wilderness — alone.  In these moments, we notice the fierce determination of our hero begins to wilt.  They become prey to creeping doubts: “Is this the right path? Should I turn back? Did I make the wrong choice?

“This is so lonely.”

It’s generally accepted plotting that at this moment a friend or guide, boon or spirit materializes to boost our hero’s flagging spirits and help her to double-down on her belief in her path toward fulfillment.

One of the fears I carry most closely is that by taking steps into the new unknown, I will be alone.  A strikingly converse idea I also hold as truth is that by not being alone (by attaching myself to other people), I will never be able to attain fulfillment.

What I give myself here is a classic Catch-22:  if I move into the wilderness of “actualization” — or whatever hippie term you want to call “growing up”! — I will be alone on the journey.  Conversely, if I align myself with a partner, I will be driven off my own course by their needs, and thereby never live the fulfillment I desire.

So now what, then??

Well: Ewoks, in a word.

What I’m looking for in this world is companions who are also dragon-riders (to mix  fictional worlds).  Judgment expert that I am, I’m desperately afraid that if I align myself with a person who I deem or fear is not a dragon rider, I can’t soar myself.  That I can only have one or the other, connection or attainment.  I cannot have both.

The great part about uncovering this is that I can see that it is just a THOUGHT.  My fears and judgments love to parade around as full-fledged reality, a grotesquerie of fright and illusion.

But what a silly thought to have, no?  That I cannot be fulfilled, for any reason whatever!, is total and utter bunk.  Conjuring up a reason that strikes at the heart of my most innate fear—being alone—I am and have been tricked into thinking that it is true, because the resonance and deep-seat of that fear is so primal.

But.  Just because I believe something does not mean it is true.

Further, just because I fear something doesn’t mean it has any substance at all.

There is such vile lusciousness in the voice of the demon that says I can have only one, love or power.  (“Choose wisely.”)  Born of my greatest fears, it knows where to strike, to needle, to whisper in the dark hours.

Luckily, I have come far enough on my hero’s journey to know that thoughts can be overcome and released.  I don’t yet know how to untangle this nest, but maybe soon, I’ll run into some Ewoks who’ll ease my troubled mind, offer comfort, and fortify my courage by their companionship.

They’ll remind me that my journey — of releasing that which does not serve me, embracing the love of those whom I do, and owning the power that I am developing — is wholly, critically, and delightfully worthy.



dreams · faith · fantasy · fear · hope · loneliness · love · reality · scarcity · vision

Mystery Man.




There is a conceit that we can only have in our lives that which we can imagine. As the saying goes, “If you dream it, you can do it.”
But, what if you can’t dream it? What if your ability to
dream is hampered, and you can only see the smallest of your dreams, the tiny
parts of a big picture?
Because there’s also the phrase, “Beyond your wildest dreams.” So if something is beyond what we can conceive for ourselves, then the entire
point is that we can’t dream it. Right?
Yes, we’re getting a little metaphysical this morning.
Because, maybe a year ago, a friend sent me a link to the
Oprah and Deepak free 21-day meditation challenge. I’d seen others “sharing” it on
Facebook, and I thought, what the hell.
Since then, I’ve done these “challenges” on and off, and I
also continue to receive little “gift” meditations in my email here and there, like I did yesterday.
So, yesterday, I sat with one, and today, I searched back through my email to
find a different one to do, and I clicked on the one entitled, “Intentional
We are asked to envision one of our dreams, in vivid
Technicolor, fleshing it out. I’ve written here before about this one I have of
me in a white kitchen, I’m like 50, there’s an art/music studio detached in the
back. It’s an open floor plan kind of place, that you can see the kitchen from
the living room.
What happened for me this morning was that I added an
11-year old boy to the picture. After yesterday’s birthday party for a friend’s
11-year old, I felt that desire. (In fact, I’ve been feeling more clearly a desire to spawn my own offspring, which surprises me as much as it worries me.) But, – I love boys that age. They’re feisty, but
still sort of willing to listen to authority. They’re not too pubescent to be
very unsure of themselves and therefore super defensive. They’re funny, sarcastic, and full of energy. I love
spending time with kids that age. In fact, I’d taught kids that age a few years ago at
Sunday school.
So, into my vision of my “dream” for myself, now there’s a
boy, a son, perhaps, perhopes.
And then I tried to envision the partner, because I do want that. My partner, my
husband, my beloved (gag). And I have a really hard time doing this. It was like a person flickering in my vision: sort of there, sort of not. I begin to remember my Dad and
my parents and how so very awkward their own interactions were. So forced and
I can’t keep a solid image of a man in the kitchen to help
me as I chop some vegetable at the center island. I can’t believe in a vision of a partner
for myself. Even in a daydream.
So, I have to wonder: Can I hold an intention for myself
that I can’t really see?
Or is there work to be done to allow myself to have that
kind of love and joy even in the confines of my brain?
Which I suppose, the answer is Yes.
I have very few models of happy married life, but I have two
that I thought hard about this morning, trying to see if I had any at all.
There was the family I babysat for down the block growing up. A married couple
who were symphony musicians, and their three sons. They seemed happy. Who
knows, but to me they arise as a model for familial contentment.
I mean, even last year, when I went with my brother to visit
our old house in New Jersey, there was the dad, older and grayer, but with the
same winning smile and generous spirit, installing a flower box via a
jerry-rigged pulley system with his youngest son. Who was about to go off to
college that Fall. I remember taking care of him when he was 6-weeks old.
But here they were. I heard about the other two, and this
one, about to go to school for musical theater in Texas. It was pleasant, this
whole scene. It felt nice and right, and they live in a small house on a
tree-shaded block in one of the most pleasant areas of the state.
The wife wasn’t there, because she was in New York, playing
with the Philharmonic. But his eyes told me they were happy, they were
satisfied with how their life was turning out. This was their vision.
The second couple are my mom’s friends from my growing up.
They’re sort of like my second parents in some ways, and we’ve become closer
the older I’ve become. Their life hasn’t been easy, but it has been happy on
the whole. And they love one another like … well, like we all hope to be loved.
So, I suppose I do have models for what I want for myself.
And it will be about remembering them fiercely in the face of “I don’t know,”
and “Not for me,” and “How can I?” that come up. In the face of scarcity and fear and
deprivation, I am going to have to be diligent about calling on these models
for hope and health and change.
Because I have some vegetables to chop, a partner to laugh
with, and a son to make faces at. 

change · childhood · despair · empathy · family · father · fear · forgiveness · loneliness · love · recovery · sorrow

1 + 1 = Forgiveness?




Because he was an electrical engineer and adept with numbers, it was always my father I went to with math homework.
This near-nightly escapade always took the same tired route:
My dad trying to explain to me a concept that was assumed, understood, and so
ingrained for him by now that he couldn’t
explain it properly, and his getting frustrated when I couldn’t understand what
for him was plain and evident.
I would get frustrated at his impatience, and the fact that
I had to do this homework so I had to sit with him. And eventually, we’d become locked
in a battle of wills so contentious, we’d end up screaming at each other.
We call this 4th grade.
My brother told me a little more than a year ago, when I was
going through chemo treatment and my dad was unable to show up for me, that
what I was asking my dad to do (show up emotionally) was like asking a crippled
person to walk: It’s impossible. It’s unfair, and it’s presumptive.
The same assumption that my dad had about teaching me math
concepts, the ease and obviousness and facility he had with numbers, I have about emotional matters. I simply assume that because this is something so damned simple and easy for me, even
when it’s painful, that
should be able to do this.
I am making the exact same mistake he did with me: I am
shaming someone for something they are not able to do.
So, when I contemplate following up my dad’s return
voicemail from Father’s Day, I have found that I want to do what I always want
to do: Hash it out. EXPLAIN to him what
is so obvious to me: I needed you to show up for me, and you didn’t. In fact,
you blamed me for not being attentive to your needs. And you threw in my face every time
I’ve failed in my life as if that would manipulate me into realizing, once
again, you’re the savior and I’m the fuck-up.
I want to tell him this, of course, in a gentle, loving way,
because then, of course, he’ll be able to hear it and understand it.
If I explain it really  s l o w l y  as if to a child, my dad can’t possibly not
understand that his behavior across the years has been abominable at many times,
and that I don’t like to be in touch with him because of it. That I don’t trust
him because of it.
However. I’m simply expecting what he expected of me back
then: Comprehension.
No Comprende, Mamasita. He don’t get it. He won’t get it. And you can sit with as many graphing
calculators and pie charts of his behavior and your feelings of hurt and
betrayal as you choose. You can even make a PowerPoint presentation about how
his increased anger and violence was inversely proportionate to your trust of
However. I’d be wasting my breath. And do people even use
Powerpoint anymore?
I still remember concepts my dad taught me about math. I
used the one to figure out a percentage this morning. Somewhere between the
yelling and the tears and the slammed books and doors, I did learn something.
But what was the price of that education?
My dad was not a teacher. And my dad is not an empathetic
person. It just is. Just as a paraplegic, my asking him to do what he is
mentally, emotionally, and spiritually unable to do is unfair of me. My expectations on him won’t make him walk.
I hate relearning this lesson. It too ends in tears most
times. But, today, I do have a choice between struggling to opening his mind, or to simply let him be a cripple and relate to him as such. Because it seems like the person who
needs to learn something is not my dad (someone I have no control over). The
person who needs to learn empathy here, soy yo. 

acting · career · connection · fun · isolation · laughter · loneliness · love · perseverance

“Just about the time you’re rotting with seriousness or serious boredom, something happens or else you’d die.” ~ Lorine Niedecker, poet




“The thing about grief,” she told me, “is that something is
broken, but you’re not – and you’ve got to keep going.”
Years ago she told me this, and I reflect on it in so many
Yesterday, after writing that blog that tore me up a bit, I
had to go assist at a work event, and then head to an audition for a play. I
really wasn’t feeling it.
It’s been two months now since I’ve auditioned, as I’d been cast in a play (yay!), and then turned down for other parts that allowed me the
time to go on vacation. In the meantime, I did go on vacation, and had
elaborate experience and processing about relationships, values, love. I also
got clearer about my career goals, and implemented some action around them at work,
which not surprisingly, I was told last week were great ideas but probably
aren’t going to happen “within the next year,” if at all. So, there’s been
processing around that, too.
In all, it’s been kinda heavy around here. Making
check-points of where I am, where I want to be personally and professionally.
And so I showed up to that audition, late and lost in the hills of Berkeley, with
little more than the feet I was standing on.
But, most times, that’s enough.
God, it was fun. I
really had forgotten that I love this stuff. I’d forgotten the titillation and
excitement, and the nervous sizing-up from the other auditioners, and the
frantic reading of sides before your name is called, wondering if you’re
supposed to do an accent or not.
It was great. It’s less than 20 minutes of life, but it
pulled me back to center, away from the future-gazing, away from the
grief-feeling. I still feel off today, and that’s alright, but for a few
minutes yesterday, I got to do something I love doing, simply for the effort of
trying it. I got to meet other women trying it too, and have a coffee date to
pick one’s brain on the whole “Bay Area Theater Biz.”
It’s strange to get back to this again, this thing that I
just want to do because it’s fun and not because my life or income or goals
depend on it. It’s strange to just have the fun thing simply because it’s
fun. There’s no stepping stone here, no ladder, no life plan founded on it.
It’s an extraneous, avocational, extra-curricular dalliance, and isn’t that so needed right now?
I told you I’ve been thinking about getting back into
band-ing again, playing bass again. Simply for the same reason. I forgot what
it’s like to have fun. To do the things I find fun.
In this time that I’ve been “figuring out” my life and my
strategies and my goals, it’s been satisfying and reinforcing and relieving,
but it hasn’t been fun. In fact, it’s been hella lonely in some ways I don’t
All work and no play, and all that.
But, without really intending to, every single day this past week, I spent time with women friends, mostly
long-established, report-having friends. It, too, reinforced something – that
combination of history and laughter and understanding and ease. It, too, brought me back to a sense of myself, a
little lost in the myopia of “life planning.”
I saw a friend’s post this morning that read, “There’s got
to be more to life than this.”
I replied aloud, “There is.”

abundance · aspiration · change · clarity · community · debt · despair · finances · loneliness · love · recovery · stability

Risky Business




There’s a funny little book I picked up a few years ago
entitled, Steal Like An Artist. One of
the tips in the book is, If you find yourself to be the smartest person in the
room, go to another room.
I’ve been considering this sentiment as applied to
satisfaction, success, self-love, financial security. At the risk of sounding
like a self-aggrandizing schmuck, I think I’ve been heading to another room for
a good little while.
But, I’m hesitant. I’m hesitant to leave those who I’ve met
in this room, and all the rooms before it. I’m hesitant to let those friendships go, when I notice that how I’ve been ordering and focusing my life is not
really aligned with how they are anymore. I don’t want to leave, but I kinda
already have, simply by the efforts I’ve been making in the past few years.
It sounds like an asshole thing to say. It “sounds” judgey
and materialistic and conceited. But, I don’t think it is. I think it’s one of the
most honest things I’ve said about where and who I am in my
life now.
To find a parallel that is perhaps less alienating, let’s
look at alcohol. In two weeks, it’ll be 8 years since my last drink. Since that
time, the folks who are in my life tend to also be people who don’t drink, or simply people who don’t drink alcoholically. I began to hang out with
people who behaved in ways I did or I wanted to, and in the process, those who I
used to spend time with began to fade. This wasn’t a judgment on them; it was
simply an acknowledgment of what we now had or didn’t have in common. I’d
simply moved to another room.
If you can hang with the non-judgment of that move, nearly 3
years ago, I began to spend time with people who didn’t accrue unsecured debt,
who tracked their income and expenses, who were attempting to live a full life
without bouncing along the disheartening bottom of “paycheck to paycheck,” “I can’t hang out
because I’m broke,” “I eat popcorn for dinner,” and “I have holes in my socks.” (Each something I’d said…repeatedly, for years.)
As with alcohol, I had simply come to the end
of my rope by how small and anxious and exhausting my life was. And, since
then, I’ve been endeavoring to live differently.
In that difference, I’ve begun to notice that many of the
folks whose room I’ve shared are still, in some manner, living a pinching,
struggling life. And I’ve begun to notice that we don’t talk as much, that I
have less to share about, that I don’t really relate or want to relate anymore.
Just like I don’t really have much to say if you share about your drunken
escapades, I don’t really have much to say about how you don’t know how you’ll
pay rent next month.
All I really do have to say about that is, I GET IT. I have completely been there. I have, many times in
my “adulthood,” had less than $3 in my bank account, and NO JOB. I KNOW what it
feels like to have a life so small because you can’t afford the bus to see friends, or the $8 for the movie they’re seeing, or just the $2 coffee chat. I
know what it’s like to despair that you’ll never get out of the hole. What
it’s like to assume that you’ll eek out a living … and then die. I know what
it’s like to think about killing yourself because you can’t see any other end
to the horrible cycle of constriction.
I know what it’s like to live small and afraid. And I know, now, what
it’s like to find a way out.
I can talk to you about that. I can tell you I’ve found a
way that works for me, and I can help or hope you find it, too. But,
ultimately, that’s all that I can do.
And in that knowledge and acceptance of where and who I’ve
become, a non-drinker who is attempting to live a larger life, it should only
make sense that I would want to be among others who are living the same. Simply
so I can learn. So I can hear, model, get hope, get help for myself. Because I am that person who was begging for help before, and now
I want to be around those who can help me. Who have moved into a different room
and found help themselves.
It feels so fucking lonely, right now. It feels judgmental
and abandoning and selfish and crass. It feels like I’m waving a hand over a
community that has loved me, and I’m declaring that world, “Not enough.”
But, in truth, it isn’t. For me.
I want to live larger, freer, more boldly. In the end, it’s not actually about money at all. I simply want financial stability because it allows me to dream bigger, or dream at all, since I’m not agonizing over how I’ll feed my cat this month. Stability leads me to ease, and ease leads me to dream.
Today’s sentiments may sour in the mouths of someone reading
this. I may have backs turned to me. There is a loneliness that happens when
you’re transitioning to a new phase of yourself. But, perhaps in my
acknowledgment that I want to be in that next room, I can help myself to get
there. Perhaps in simply stating I love you and I have to leave you, I am
offering more love than I had. I don’t want to be lonely; it’s part of why I do
all this work, man. I don’t want to leave you, but our conversation has flagged. And it is/I am worth the risk of saying, Thank you, and maybe I’ll see you over there.