kindness · progress · stagnation

It’s okay, boo.

8.15.18In finishing Pamela Druckerman’s new book, There Are No Grown-Ups, I’ve been reflecting on her discussion and research of Widsom.  (Yes! There is scientific inquiry into “wisdom” and what makes someone wise.)  Wisdom, as my summer plane-read tells it, is the combination of experience and reflection with an ability to extrapolate that information forward.

As I take in the state of my physical home and body since I arrived back from my 5 weeks away, I notice several things that are not unusual:  a sinkful of dishes, full-to-burst recycling, and an absolute absence of physical exercise.

What is unusual is that I know that this is temporary.  

I have tended in the past to make such “horrors” mean something about me, and to mean something about the condition of my future.  I extrapolate this state of chaos and sedentariness to be a permanent stagnation that will forever impact the rest of my beating life!

Luckily, today I know that this is not the case.  I know that my physical states reach low periods during transitions or hard emotional times, and I have seen them change!

When several months ago, as my relationship was in devolution and my boyfriend was still living here, I drove home from work, sat on the couch, and read Game of Thrones for 4 hours.  Every day.  For weeks.

I didn’t “want” to be spending my time that way.  I kicked myself for “wasting my life.”  I feared this meant I would never have ambition, never make progress in my life.  But in retrospect, I know that it was my way of coping with the circumstances, and I saw it change very quickly once the parting was imminent.

I have had periods of time where I binge on baking shows, novels, pinterest.  I have also had periods when I walk every afternoon, go to the gym, run regularly…or even do art.  I have even had times when I wash my dishes every evening and arise to a clean kitchen every morning.

So, what I know, and what is bringing me relief at the moment, is that my physical chaos/stagnation is just a blip.  It’s just a manner of self-soothing.  And I get to be kind to it today.  I get to say, “Hey guy, you’re clearly having a lot of feelings right now, but don’t worry, they will pass.”  My home will again be clean, my body will again feel strong.  And my life is and will again feel one of progress, I promise.

I’m so grateful for the chance to use my wisdom—experience, reflection, extrapolation—to offer kindness to myself.  Because I have never once nagged or bad-mouthed myself into or out of a damn thing anyway.

 

 

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community · progress · receiving

Healthy Help.

6.29.18_2I had a strange occurrence this week: I received help.

Novel, I know.  But as you may have read here, I have a complicated (read: vitriolic) relationship with giving and receiving help, which is informed by my reticence to give and receive goodness to and from my own self.

Therefore, as I sat on two phone calls this week, shared my situation and my questions, was offered guidance, suggestions, encouragement, and a path forward, I felt different.  And that difference is a keystone toward my future.

Because I met with two friends/lay-people last week to discuss my financial situation, one of them offered me the name of a certified financial planner.  It is beginning to look like I truly need professional help when looking at my finances, instead of continuing to wing it or to attempt to wrest all the pennies out of my paycheck and into my savings—an express ticket to Deprivation Land.

Listening to Money: Master the Game by Tony Robbins earlier this year, he too suggested that we talk with someone to get a more realistic and educated sense of how to proceed.  But it’s not like I had any clue who or how to find someone, therefore this “to do” item fell down the pages of my calendar for months.

And lo: here I was across a cafe table last week and the gentleman says, “You have to talk to this guy; he’s a success machine.”  Uhh, yes, please!

So I talk to said guy and his associate on Monday.  We have an hour-long free call where I describe my current situation and mushy outlines of my future goals.  Firstly, he is so kind!  They are generous with their questions, their listening, their suggestions.  They listen with a warmth that belies the fact that they would never take my business!

Because their fees are precipitous, they’re not the right group for me and they later suggest a woman who may be.  Nonetheless, despite knowing my financial situation within the first 5 minutes of our call, they talk to me anyway.  Even now, I feel a pressure ease in my chest when I recall it.  (I’d later describe them as “warm, juicy” feelings!)

There is something about help freely given that feels entirely new to me.

Surely, I’ve previously been offered what I’m presently calling “Healthy Help,” but perhaps I was not in a place to become aware of it, or in a place to receive it.

We had our lovely, gentle, informative, equanimous call and they invited me to check in down the line.  I followed their referral immediately, and the next afternoon spoke with a woman whose fees and experience seem just what I’m looking for.

Again, she listened.  She heard, she parsed, she reflected.  And it just felt SO DAMN CALM!  I don’t know what it is about the “calmness” of these phone calls that strikes me as so phenomenal, but it does.  (By contrast, I can point to two weeks earlier when I spoke with a real estate agent and a mortgage broker, and I can assure you that however kind in their being they may be, their help sure didn’t feel “calm.”  It felt pushy, greedy, and patronizing.)

Clearly, I am attracting a different manner of help — or I am finally in a place to receive Healthy Help.  It feels marvelous, expansive, laden with possibility and hope.  And it speaks to an opening in my realm for more.

 

 

balance · progress · time

Even Elizabeth Gilbert took a Break.

4.23.18

The epilogue to Eat, Pray, Love, if I recall (maybe it was an interview) included author Elizabeth Gilbert admitting that in coming back to her regular daily life, she did loosen her adherence to her hours’ long daily meditation.  The demands of everyday life, I believe she wrote, necessitated that she create a new balance that allowed for her present needs and reality.

I take comfort in this idea—not as justification for my own procrastination or avoidance of eaten frogs, but that even “great spiritual masters” (though I’m sure she would never consider herself such!) have to consistently reapportion in and out, effort and rest, play and focus.  I take comfort because it means that I can, too.

As you read in Saturday’s blog, the concept of “Time” is foremost in my mind and plans and creation of my days lately.  In that blog, I shared Dr. Dan Siegel’s 7 types of time one should account for in one’s day, and that did include play time.

I remember when I was healing from cancer treatment, I questioned (rather unceasingly) whether I was still allowed to watch Ben Stiller movies.  (You know, like Zoolander.)  Meaning, with everything that had changed and happened, was it “wasting my life” to take 2 hours to watch something that was funny but shallow?  What was the value of humor?  Of frivolity?

Indeed, that question of allotting time for mental candy plagued me and can still rear its snarky head.  But, I’ve come to the other side of it.

My own answer, at least, is YES.  Yes, frivolity.  Yes, silliness.  Yes, “stupidity.”  Because it’s FUN.

And truly, what is the purpose, ultimately, of life if we’re not having any fun?

Now.  I can go too far, as you’ve seen me lament here, too, spending copious hours clicking next episode or reading the next chapter.  And therefore, balance is required among the rest of those 7 time allotments so that I can feel at ease engaging in play because I’ve engaged in work or connection or physicality.

The more I grow, the more I realize that balance in all things (though not necessarily equality) is the essence of contentment, self-esteem, and joy.

 

action · avoidance · progress

Eating Frogs.

4.21.18

(I was sick yesterday, so this is Friday’s blog!)  

With the last meditation challenge complete, I’m re-listening to the 21-day audio meditation Manifesting True Success from Oprah and Deepak.  Yesterday’s was focused on “T” in the acronym SMART: Time.

On the phone with my new goals group this past Sunday, I told them that, while my larger goal is to write a book (details emerging), my relationship with Time must needs be my other focal point for our 6 months together.

“I cram,” I told the ladies.  In the last goals group, I would do all the writing the hour before the call and felt like I didn’t get out of the group all I might have.  Perhaps by writing a little throughout the week, I could have more time to reflect and therefore more time to evolve.

And, wouldn’t you know, the meditation this week was, “Timing for Success.”

I really liked the reference Deepak made to this categorizing of our daily lives:

  • Sleep time: Getting a full night’s restful sleep
  • Physical time: Time to move and let my body be active
  • Focus time: Being alone for a while to concentrate on what matters to me
  • Time in: Time for meditation, prayer, self-reflection
  • Time out: Time to simply be here, and rest into existence (How do you like that phrase?!)
  • Play time: Time to have fun and enjoy myself
  • Connecting time: Intimate private time between me and those I care about.

What strikes me immediately, and pointed out by my therapist many months ago, is that I make little time for Play.  What happens in that structure is that I avoid or procrastinate Focus time (and Physical time) because I feel deprived:

If I haven’t done anything fun or creative, I have less in the well.  If I have less in the well, large tasks become insurmountable.  And so the cycle continues.

“Fun leads to productivity” seems like a strange concept, but for the deprivation addict that I am/have been, it’s key.  Because the reverse is true, too: “Productivity leads to fun.”  If I don’t put off what must be done, then I don’t feel guilty doing something fun.

When I feel guilty, I procrastinate even my fun!  It’s a terrible cycle.  So I have to shift to feeding all the parts of my day, and therefore myself.  If I want to focus more, I have to play more.  If I want to play more, I actually have to focus!

“Eat the frog first,” as they say.

With the new goals group, I hope to have a bit more accountability for my time—for my play time and therefore my accomplishy time.

progress · self-doubt · vision · work

Living Out Cliches

Last Friday morning, I received a phone call from the temp agency I’d been working with, telling me, in excited “what a great gig is this” tones, about a possible receptionist job.

On Saturday morning, as is not unusual for Bay Area Rapid Transit, I got onto a train car with a homeless man sprawled out in a blanket by the doorway, and turned right to walk through to the next car.  There, I was pleasantly surprised to see a former co-worker (the only one I really befriended) from my retail job this past winter and I sat down next to her.

I got to tell the temp agency and my former coworker the same thing: “I just accepted a teaching job for the upcoming school year.”

It felt as though The Spirit of Jobs Past had come to call on me, showing me how my life could have been.  I get a call for a crummy temp job–that only days before I would have actually had to consider–just 24 hours after accepting a position teaching 3rd grade at a local Jewish private school.  And only a day after that, I run into someone who holds up a vision into what my winter was and what my present still could be:  long, hard, meaningless, monetarily and spiritually rewardless hours.

This morning I pulled out my “morning pages” notebook thinking to write about what’s happening now, and I flipped it open.  It fell open to a page from February, when I was still at that retail job, and I had just decided I was going to be a school teacher.  I have all these “law of attraction”-style invocations written down over that month:

  • I’ve made a decision.  I am going to teach physics.  And math.  In high schools. & later college(?)
  • I’ve decided: I’ll get a private school job & they’ll sponsor my credential program.
  • The future. My legacy.  Middle schoolers, I love them! Real holidays.  Real breaks. Stable. Stability First.
  • I want a job like Jess’s or Chris’s – a cush public or a great private.
  • I need a regular job. I need a regular, benefitted, well-paying job.
  • I wanna fly a plane for tourists.
There were all the questions, too:

  • This will take a lot of work & more schooling.  How is this gonna work?
  • Will I be able to do a normal job AND the acting thing? Dreams change, right?
  • How the heck to I teach this stuff?
  • How is this gonna work at all??
  • Where do you (inner core) need me? What needs to happen to get there?

I also wrote about the other things that I was struggling with:

  • I broke down yesterday – I shared & cried & said how it really is for me right now. I feel ancient, I feel tired, and – not lost actually – just temporarily very, very stuck.
  • I am a mess, and I need help to clean and slow things down.  I can’t do it all at once and I’m trying to.
And finally:

  • 2015, the year I taught at a private school, was in a musical & play, learned calculus and physics.  Right? Oh, and got counseling for cancer. Oh right, that.  I need help on that.  This isn’t okay.  I wanna hear from cancer survivors.

It was the entry after the day I “broke down” to my friends and let them know how much that winter was weighing on me…  How broken and tired and hopeless and directionless I felt…  The day after I admitted that what it looks like on the outside can kill you if you don’t admit what it feels like on the inside…

It was after that entry, the very next one, that I received the call that I’d gotten the temp job as an executive assistant and would be leaving my retail floor behind me.

It was at that temp job that I made a friend who ended up gifting me funds so that I could afford to accept the part-time summer school job at the cushy private school (and take a physics class at night).

It was the experience and resume-fodder of that private school job that enabled me to speak with recent enthusiasm to the cushy private school interviewers where I got hired last week.

And, true to the last bullet point above, I have, in 2015, taught at a private school, been in a musical, learned physics, and gotten counseling for cancer & discovered a community of young adult cancer survivors whom I cherish.

Oh, and I flew in a plane with a friend and was able to take the wheel for a while.

So, what?  What is the take-away from all of this “what it was like & what’s it’s like now” reflection?

Firstly, and I believe most importantly, I admitted the truth to my friends about how broken I was feeling – and I will not be exaggerating here when I say things were as black as they can get for a person like me, a person who will actively hide behind her shiny exterior while gently suggesting suicide to myself like a lover whispering nothings in my ear.

This was not okay. And I didn’t know how to change or fix it.  I put on the armor of the Look-Good every day.  Until finally, one very lucky day for me indeed, I told the truth to people who could hear it, and, importantly, help me change it.

It was because of this admission of my truth that I got help: I began to work in earnest on my recovery.  I “happened to” read the back panel of the Cancer Support Community newsletter, where they offered free one-on-one counseling for cancer patients and survivors. I was accepted into a climbing trip with survivors like me where I was able to tell them the truth about how much I missed them in my life without knowing what it was that I’d been missing — like breathing fresh oxygen when you’ve lived in LA your whole life with a 100lb pack on your back.

So, I suppose the take away is mainly for me to say that.  To say that this was a hard fucking year.  It was a hard fucking winter and it nearly killed me “for realz.” And so, all these cash and prizes now, all the fulfillment of these “manifestations,” all the rewards that seem to be piling in on me now and making me spin with their accuracy of help… they have not been granted by a fairy godmother, magically and suddenly.  They have been fought for with the truth, with action, and yes, with the childish hope that what dreams I put out into the world might actually come true.

My coworker asked me on the train car last Saturday, “When did you quit?”  “February.”  She thought for a moment, and replied, “So six months.  You’ve done what you said you were going to do in six months.”

Indeed.

And wow.

And thanks.
action · career · progress · reality · theater

In the meantime, the in-between time…

I have an interview with a temp agency tomorrow. A resume out to a job working with Jewish kids I’d really love. I had a call with a mediator to ask his experience and will be following up some leads before I follow down that path. A call on Thursday with a grad school back east that I probably won’t take up, but, again, good for me to find out more. 
An appointment with a talent agent next week. A “we’re still making decisions” email from the musical I auditioned for last week. And plans to start rehearsing for another musical audition. 
I have an email from my landlord saying the work on the laundry room-cum-art studio should be done by March 1. A weekend wedding retreat for a dear friend coming up. 
Oh, and did I mention I’m ushering at the Billy Idol show later this month?
For someone who spends so much time languishing on her couch and in her head, I sure do a lot! (except, of course, for my dishes.)
Divine restlessness. Creative unrest. Cosmic dissatisfaction. !
But really, I just wanted to touch base to say, Yes, I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up, but I have to remember that doesn’t mean that I’m not doing anything in the present. I tend to flagellate myself for my lack of action — then I actually write down what I’m doing!
It’s hard to acknowledge these points of progress or action in the midst of existential questioning, but I really must if I want to keep any perspective. 
So that’s what I’m giving myself today. I got up at 5am to do a work-trade shift at my gym to keep those free classes that I’m only using once a week at the moment. But, today, I worked out. 
I paid my COBRA bill, so I can go to Kaiser tomorrow on my day off and check out how my blood is doing and get that vague gnawing off my mind. 
Today, I’m taking public transit into work instead of driving, because I have the luxury of time when I wake up at 5am. 

Sometimes I really gotta step back from my navel-gazing and notice that I still am engaging in the life I fought so hard to keep. 
auditioning · career · family · procrastination · progress · theater · trying · work · worry

Meet the New Year, (not quite the) Same as the Old Year.

there’s so much and little to tell you: 

i have to decide whether to ditch work and attend my annual women’s meditation retreat next weekend. how to tell my boss when I asked for that sunday off — originally for the retreat, but now for an audition — that I really do need that time. and I’m taking monday and tuesday off for my friend who’s visiting from canada. 
that the couple who were the subject of the “day before christmas” poem/blog came to visit me on tuesday, and took me out for sushi, and it feels like i have this sort of surrogate parental couple right now. even though they live in vancouver. we exchanged all our information, i got a happy new year email, and i’m going to talk to him about mediation. like, becoming a mediator, and what that would look like. another career goose chase maybe, but worth looking in to. 
that my mom is having trouble sleeping, and doesn’t want to change her work schedule even though she could. that she’s having health issues that she could address, but procrastinates on. 
that two years ago, right very now, I was waking up in lahaina, maui, hawaii. in the bed of a school boy whose parents graciously invited me to stay and kicked their son to the couch, so a bald and chemo-riddled me could have a vacation from a cancer. 
i have to call the student loan people so they don’t raise my payment from $67/month to over a thousand, but being my mother’s daughter, i haven’t yet. 
I am excitedly waiting for the indiegogo campaign to end and for the funds to be sent to me, so I can write this final check to my landlord for my back rent accrued while i was sick. and to watch that number in my budget line fall to zero. 
i am looking forward to my first real paycheck from the retail store, but as i’ve figured the numbers, amazingly, i’ll have earned the exact amount i would have if i were working at the desk job i quit in october. 
though i wouldn’t have that back-rent money, because that only came about as i was sitting in a cafe with a friend in november, looking for work, him too, and i mentioned the wanting to art again and the potential art studio upstairs, and the back rent. and he said, you should do a kickstarter. 
so, i wouldn’t have that, or at least not now, if not for being unemployed and sharing with a friend who was also spending a mid-day cafe work-search. 
i have a script to read and a song to rehearse for two auditions this month. 
the first is because a friend from mockingbird suggested i try out for this one company in town, and i said i wasn’t good enough, and he said i was and i should and made me promise. and so i did. you know, just a few weeks later!
it’s a classical play. i’m nervous, as i’ve never done one before. 
the second is another musical. and, i’m nervous! but. i’m excited for the role i’m auditioning for. it could be a lot of fun. 
they would run consecutive to each other, one closing, and a few weeks later, rehearsals for the other beginning. so it could work. but not with this sales job. i think. assume. project. worry about. 
but then, too, i have to remember the whole “from thanksgiving to thanksgiving” thing/blog: to not worry, to trust, to at least notice I’m worrying and begin to try to trust. 
i have all these collage cards i still want and need to make, holiday cards and thank you cards. but with the constraints of buses and bart and standing and … (*breathe*) from thanksgiving to thanksgiving. 
i flaked out on my NYE plans. i think i may have disappointed my friend by doing that. but it was a day off for me. i got loads of stuff done early, and by the late afternoon i was home and cozy, i didn’t want to leave. even though it’s a 9:00pm ball-drop! i had to work yesterday, and yadda yadda excuse excuse. i just didn’t feel like getting all dolled up. though i’m sure it would have been fun and my FOMO-meter ran high. 
instead i stayed home, and it was lovely. i know it won’t always be so quiet. but it was nice. 
i have a lot and same old happening right now. i don’t know if any of it is interesting to you, but today is more a state of the union address:
all is well, amorphous, covered and uncertain. 
i have friends and opportunities and procrastination habits and work issues. 
i have a warm home to leave and come back to. 

and two auditions to get ready for. 

Happy and Healthy New Year, Friends. You rule.