goals · pride · self-love

“And reward achievements.”

3.15.18

This is the latter part of a sentence that begins, “We set goals for ourselves…”

Like most, I’ve never been great at acknowledging, let alone rewarding, achievement.  My mother has the famous story about bringing home her “99” test score to her father and him replying, “Where’s the other point?”  And while I’ve never been that exacting with myself over tests, I’ve certainly been exacting over other efforts of mine.

Theater, singing, writing, artwork.  (Strangely, though, not musical instruments… perhaps to the dismay of my bandmates!);)

And, of course, I’ve been exacting with myself over my time and my goals.  I have not at all been able to stick to the 30-minutes-of-reading-per-day limit that I set for myself about a month ago.  In fact, I have swung the pendulum crazy far in the other direction reading the Game of Thrones series, as the set was gifted to me by a colleague for my classroom, but deemed too violent for middle schoolers!

That all said…

As part of the structure of my weekly Goals Group call on Sundays, we’re each required to share about our achievements from the past week.  And while I can’t yet point to a balanced relationship with couch+sunlight+novel, I can boast about many other achievements.

I come to reflect on this today as our Goals Group will be coming to a close this Sunday, at nearly the exact 6-month mark.  Together, myself and two other ladies have spoken about our vision and goals for our lives in all areas, fears and illusions that impede our efforts, and tiny little markers of movement that we set out for ourselves that week to report upon the next.

In this way, I have been able to write a weekly list of accomplishments in my pocket calendar (yes, paper), and I gotta tell ya, I love it!  I love writing in the notebook, “Accomplishments,” and following that luscious word with a dozen actions I’ve taken.

Many have been related to this blog redux, some with flying an airplane, writing my Allegory, or using my time well at work by taking breaks.  Ice skating, vitamin-taking, meditating…

I get to write a list each week of things I feel proud of!  So if, honestly, nothing at all came from the larger goals I’ve been setting before myself, if I didn’t scrape the surface of a single dream, the mere habit of writing, sharing, and honoring all that I’ve done in one week will have been success enough.  (Dayenu!)

But… my dirty little secret is… I do have to keep reminding myself of that each and every week.

 

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fear · pride · self-support

Whose Idea was this Anyway?

3.2.18

Yesterday, we had our Purim carnival at school, each classroom decorated and hosting a games booth hand-made by students.  Children could wander from room to room, trying out the brainteasers, fortune tellers, and human whack-a-mole (super cute video of a kindergartner bopping 6th graders’ exposed noggins).  Music blared in the hallways, the chatter of kids egging each other on or roasting each others’ missed foozball shots.

And I sat in the center of it all with a large mug of tea, a gorgeous view out my classroom window, and the sounds of water-drippy spa meditation music.  Assorted pillows lined the back cabinets where students whispered gently or just reclined with eyes closed, others sat at desks coloring the mandalas I’d printed out, or softly played a game of cards.

I had called, “The Quiet Room.”

At my last school, I had learned the hard way that carnival days can be really frying for my nervous system.  I fall directly between intro- and extro-vert on most personality scales, and while I love a good carnival, amusement park, or festival, I learned that 2 hours of hyper-stimulation can wear me down to the bone — and I don’t bounce back quickly.

Therefore, last year, in my second year at that school, I volunteered to help out in The Quiet Room.  This room was an established zone staffed by a long-time teacher who’d earned, through her 30+year tenure, the right to staff The Quiet Room on chaos days.  Buuut, couldn’t she use a helper, in case she wanted to take a break, go to the bathroom…?

And thus, I inserted myself into the Quiet Room and my 2nd Purim carnival day was even as a still pond.

When it came time this year to volunteer to man different booths or rooms or stands… I knew it was my chance.  They didn’t have a Quiet Room at my new school!  The staff meeting was continuing on, I didn’t have a role yet, I raised my hand.

“What about having a quiet room for students who need a break?”

“Sure, that’s a great idea.”

And then, wouldn’t you know, all the other teachers began shouting, Ha! I’ll run the quiet room!  Yeah, sounds great — can I do it?

I pounced back.  Facetious or not, no one was taking this room from me!  “It was my idea!  I get to man it!” I shouted them down.  And so it was sealed.

When yesterday morning, during the melee, the big boss strode into my classroom to see what The Quiet Room was all about and sat nearby to make whispered conversation with me, she asked, “This was your idea?”

And for an instant, I froze inside.  I felt a little embarrassed, a little shy, to own my idea, especially knowing it was a good one.  My heartrate quickened as thoughts of hedging leapt forward to reply something like, “Well, the other teachers thought it was a good idea” or “Yeah, kinda.”

Yet, I didn’t respond that way.  I didn’t diminish my accomplishment; I didn’t allow myself to shy away from the spotlight of my boss’ opinion.

I rested calmly with my enormous mug warming my hands, took half a breath, and replied, “Yes.”

acting · authenticity · commitment · dating · falsehoods · fear · insecurity · pride · self-abandonment · self-worth · truth

Note: In this evening’s performance, the role of Pride will be replaced by Truth.

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She held up her fingers:
“One: Is it a theater company or director you really want to work with?” No, not really.
“Two: Are they paying you really well?” No, zilch.
“Three: Is it a play you are excited about and really want to do?” No,
not at all. It’s awful
.
“Then don’t do
it,” she concluded.
But I auditioned for him three times.
“So, what? Say that something else came up and you’re really
sorry. The thing is, that’s a huge commitment for somewhere you don’t want to
be. You’d be wasting time that you could use honing your craft, going on other
auditions, taking classes, and finding something you really
want to do.”
But it’d be my first lead
role.
“Yeah, in a play where the actors outnumber the audience for a play you don’t want to be in. That sucks; take it from me.”
* * *
This was the conversation I had last night with my friend
who’s a semi-professional actress when I told her I was having doubts about the play in which I’m cast. She said these were the 3 golden questions
her acting teacher said the actor had to answer for himself. The instructor,
being at a higher level, said that for him, he has to answer Yes to all three
of those questions. For my friend, mid-tier, she was told, No more crap jobs:
She has to answer Yes to at least two of those questions.
And for me, beginner, I have to answer Yes to at least one of those questions.
Otherwise, what the hell am I doing with my time? What am I
saying my time means to me?
I am very much associating all this with my job/career
search. If a guy continues to get promoted up through the ranks at a company he
doesn’t enjoy, doing work he hates, but is paid really well, is that enough? I can’t say.
If we’re not getting
paid well, doing work we love or working with people we enjoy… well, what are
we doing?
If we can’t answer Yes to any of these questions in regards
to career, why are we there? Why are we wasting any days of this short life?
I don’t yet know if I’m going to bow out of the play in
which I’ve been cast. When I told her again that I auditioned for him 3 times — meaning, I feel that he’s already put such time and effort into me and my performance I’d feel guilty dropping out  she
replied, “Take care of yourself, not them.” … Oh… right.
Because the reality is that I will be in rehearsals for 3
hours nearly every day of the week for two months… for a really awful play. It’s really awful, folks. Not like, passable,
manageable, I’m just being picky 
 It’s really awful. It’s terribly written. I’d walk out, if I were an audience member.
Because it wouldn’t have been worth my time.
No matter how great I am or am not in the play, my heart
wouldn’t be in it – and if it’s not, then that’ll show up, too. I roll my eyes
every time I read the script. I say aloud to my cat, “This is a really awful
play,” each time I start to rehearse it.
I don’t know yet. It’s a hard judgment call, you know? I
asked my friend, What about having to work your way up the ladder, and take
shitty jobs at first? She pointed me back to those three questions. Where are my values?
Is my hesitation to drop out about my having a lead role, so I can feel pride? Pride over a notation on my resume? Pride
over something that I’m not proud of? Is it about status? Is it about feeling this proves that I’m worthy; that I’m good?
How can you feel worthy about something you’re not proud of?
That doesn’t compute.
I’m meeting with another actor friend of mine tomorrow to
run lines for this play. I’m hoping to get insight in conversation with him –
if it’s really as awful as I think it is.
But, I already know it is.
What my friend told me was that I should audition for
everything, but don’t go to callbacks if it’s a terrible play!
I’m reminded, once again, of the dating/job interview
corollary: It’s great to say Yes to the first date or interview. But after
that, you’ve garnered enough information to know if you want to try it out again
or not. I don’t have to show up a second time, if I’m really sure this is not a fit.
So, yes, it would be really great to say that I’m the Queen
of the Amazons. It makes me feel worthy and proud and like I’m not making a huge mistake in going after this dream. But isn’t the mistake not respecting what really want, and settling for (way) less, just so I can say I have a lead? Isn’t the mistake I’ve been loathe to make in relationships settling for less than I want, just so I can say I have a partner? 
Wouldn’t I rather be somewhere where I’m excited and learning
something, instead of just clocking time? 

abundance · clarity · connection · pride · prosperity · self-esteem · vision

If you glue it, they will come.

At my meditation retreat in January, we made a collage of
our “intention” for ourselves for the year, as we do each year.
As I do each year, I tear out probably over 50 images and
phrases at the sewing-circle tables, and then walk over to a corner of
the floor, plop down, and, in solitude, spread out everything I’ve got for editing and
culling.
This year, a few specific messages came out of my collage, all of which are in process of fruition.
The first of the images to note is a pair of immense, daring eyes.
Just eyes, some mascara ad surely. But, the single-minded clarity and focus on
one thing, this is what I cut that image out for. Whatever this image was meant
to convey, to me it spelled, Clarity of Vision—Focus. Which, if you’ve been
reading, is something I’ve been aiming toward, especially with my whittling
down of my creative endeavors toward theater alone.
Next of note, is an image from an old 1964 Life magazine. It’s a large black-and-white photo of a woman in a tennis
outfit mid-air, jumping, with her fists curved tight, elbows up, her face
scrunched in emotion—she’d just won Wimbleton, after a
bout with a fatal illness. T
he caption quotes her: “I made it.”
This, for me, does not speak only to my own triumph over
cancer, but also the image of someone celebrating their victory. She is unabashedly celebrating herself, and her
accomplishment. She is
proud of
herself, and
acknowledging it.
How many of us do that, regularly? Not me. It is not an ingrained habit to feel
proud over things I’ve done.
And, again, if you’ve been reading, you know that each time
I’ve shown up to a theater audition recently, the emotion I feel most afterward is pride. Is a
clap-on-the-back feeling of, Damn straight, Molly, you did it. You showed up
for yourself. You made it.
Another strong image in the collage I created caused me the
most difficulty.
I’d cut out a photo of two people, who happened to be in ski
gear walking away from the camera into the snow town, holding hands. With this
couple, I’d placed the words, “Let’s Connect.”
I sat the longest with these images. Placing them on, taking
them off. Placing them on, Yes, Molly, Let’s Connect. Shit, no, I don’t know if
I want to commit to this idea. – Even on a stupid collage.
“Let’s Connect.” I don’t know about this. That sounds
hardest of them all. Do I really want this? Do I really want to connect with someone else? Well, yes… But I’m
scared.
In the end, I’m pleased (and proud) to say, I took my glue
stick and fixed the image of the couple and the intention to connect onto my
collage. … In the corner, tucked away. But still, There. And as you have seen, I have been attempting to connect, however inexpertly, with another human being.
Lastly, and this is what prompted me to write this today,
the last images I’ll describe to you are of a fancy dinner party. An event. At this event, a man and woman dressed to kill–a couple–are
looking at a case housing artful jewelry. The party has soft colored lights, fancy
centerpieces–whatever you think of when you think fancy, like Hollywood fancy,
dinner party.
I pasted this on, because I want to be a fancy person who does
fancy things. That’s how I described it to my peers on the retreat as we all
shared our collages and their meanings to us. I have been a little ashamed to
say I want fancy things, I want to be a fancy person, I want to wear fancy
clothes, because I’ve been afraid that makes me superficial. That others will think this “want fancy things” means I think money buys happiness, but that’s not what my meaning is.
Because, another thing you’ve seen me write about here is the
ownership of my true self, including the externals. That has meant upgrading my
wardrobe, buying gold shoes, having a cleaning company come to help upgrade the
aesthetics of my apartment.
I have always been a woman of externals, too. I have an
internal landscape that rivals Ansel Adams, and I have a desire to express on
the outside how I feel on the inside.
And I would like to feel fancy.
Sure, not all the time—I sit here in cotton pajamas, an
Oakland sweatshirt, fuzzy socks, with a well-worn (second hand) Vera Wang
knitted robe knotted tight around me.
But I want to not feel ashamed of wanting to be a fancy
person. Who does fancy things and goes fancy places. Who needs to have fancy things in my closet, because it is not
unheard of that I get invited to fancy events.
THUS. This evening, I am attending a fancy event. A gala.
And I will be wearing a fancy dress suitable for the evening.
However, I will be attending the gala for my job–our annual fundraiser–and thus I
am not a guest, as much as an employee, put to work, for sure.
So, this morning, I was more specific in my morning pages
about my intention to be a fancy person – I would like to be an invited
guest
to fancy things.
Because, apparently the Universe is listening: all the
things I’d pasted on my collage are happening. Therefore, I’d better be intentional with
my intentions.