awareness · connection · fear · growth · love · parenting · risk · self-derision · self-love · vulnerability

parental advice

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Brene Brown talks a lot in her book Daring Greatly about parenting, about how to “dare greatly” in
parenting, which often means allowing yourself to feel, with all uncertainty and unpredictability, the full extent of your love. She talks about
the split-second after noticing her full love for her children the flood of constricting
and panicking thoughts about loss and impermanence and a terrible desire to control. To allow herself to
notice and accept her love so deeply, she’s also acutely aware of how tenuous
life is, and how she cannot protect her offspring from the world.
In the moment of greatest love is the moment of greatest
vulnerability.
She talks about trying to withstand and stand in that moment
of love as long as possible without giving in to the fear of the things we
cannot control.
The kinds of thoughts that enter immediately after hearing,
“You got the role.” God, I hope I don’t fuck it up. Or after “I love you.” Don’t betray me. Or “You’re a great friend.” Am
I doing enough?
Moments of connection are severed by fear when we insulate back inside ourselves around the thought: How can I control this?
We can’t.
In every effort we put forth to expand ourselves, we risk.
In every effort we make to control, we risk those
relationships that have brought us joy, including the one with ourselves. See:
I’ve gained some muscle working out, I better make sure I get to the gym even
more.
I hiked for an hour this week, I really should do that three times a
week.
I loved that novel I read, I should really be reading something
“worthwhile.”
Brown has written that we siphon off the top layer of risk and
innovation and spontaneity when we attach our interpretation of our efforts to
how they’ll be received – I believe this includes the efforts and risks we make
that are private, like those above: How are they received by ourselves?
Are the efforts we put toward joy, spontaneity, pushing our
own envelope supported internally, or hampered by voices of not good enough?
Sometimes both. Sometimes it depends on the minute of the
day.
I can experience the duplicity of knowing my acting is up to
par for this show, but my singing is not.
What I cannot hold is the self-derision that follows that
awareness.
As always, action is the antidote to anxiety and worry.
Voice lessons, music drills. Learning, learning learning.
This is a challenge. A challenge to show up authentically,
even if I don’t like or approve of what that sounds like at the moment. There is
vulnerability in showing up, but if, as happens frequently, I step on my own
efforts and try to hide the greatest risks, I won’t learn, I won’t grow, nor will I have any fun.
There’s a self-reparenting that is happening for me right now.
A re-training. In fact, several days this week, as I’ve sat up out of
bed, voices already chiding me for being sick and not being able to sing, for
not being as good as the others actors – I’ve literally had to stop myself and
insert a new voice, saying aloud – Yes, Moll, I know, and you’re working on it.
You’re doing the best you know how right now, and you are enough.
There is risk in allowing myself the “lenience” of
self-approval. There is the risk of abandoning control and constriction and self-flagellation. There is the risk that things won’t turn out “how I want,” how I want things to be, how
I want myself to be – Can’t you be better at something you’ve never done
before, the voice chides incessantly.
But I want a different reality. A different parenting. I
want to be able to look at myself and my efforts fully, with the full ache of
unknowing and the full pride of risk-taking.
I want to begin modeling this completely uncertain,
vulnerable, pulsating, spark-of-life parental love for myself, because I have
hope that one day I’ll need to employ it with children of my own.
And you can’t give to others what you can’t give yourself. 

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acting · action · avoidance · community · fear · perseverance · self-compassion · self-derision · theater

How to Eat an Elephant.

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Thank you, to whoever read my blog Perseverance yesterday, which encouraged me to read it, which I’m
sure I haven’t done since I wrote it in November 2012. Particularly appropriate
today is the following:
With each creative endeavor, as you
know by now, I pull back at some point. Painting, acting, writing, singing. I
will spend a few months active in pursuance of these interests, and then wane.
I will talk myself back from it, in any number of ways, and move back into my
mediocrity.
Yesterday, I showed up for two theater auditions. At the
first, I sang a bit of a song (“Whatever Lola Wants,” from Damn Yankees) and a bit of a monologue (Sherry Johnson, from The
Laramie Project
).
It was the first time I’ve auditioned for a musical since
high school; I only just heard the whole song on Monday; and I’d never
practiced it with an accompanist before. Let’s just say, I could have done
better!
(However, I’m “lucky” enough to have already had several
auditions where I really bombed, where I
said, “I’m so sorry can I start again…” three times! So I know what
really bombing is! And I survived.)
At the second audition yesterday, for… The Addams Family,
A Musical
(HAHAH!!!), I was to prepare only
a song, and I sang the same one, this time a little better. But.
There’s a moment in the song, where it hits a high note.
It’s one that this whole week I’ve been nervous about hitting, not because I
can’t, but because I can’t when I’m holding back. It’s not an unattainable
note at all: it’s one I can’t reach when I’m nervous about it, scared I can’t hit it,
and am psyching myself out, even as I come to that line.
Then I can’t hit that
note. And that’s precisely what happened at yesterday’s audition.
And the paragraph from my blog Perseverance is achingly on point. “I talk myself back from it.”
That’s exactly what happened.
Now, granted, I’m pretty proud of how I handled everything
yesterday, too.
After my first audition, I immediately called a member of
Team Molly, and laughed really hard
about how I bombed it. The silence of the auditors, the awkwardness, the sad
case of the whole thing – I
laughed.
Because, really, what else can you do? It’s over, it’s done. I can get all
butthurt and self-flagellating, or I can ask myself what I learned from the
experience.
Which is what I did. I asked it aloud, so as not to give in to
the brain gremlins on my drive home: What did I learn?
Well, I learned that I need to practice my songs with accompaniment. I learned that I need to know my songs much better and stronger than one week. And I learned that I really do need to
take classes or lessons, if I’m serious about doing this. Which I am.
As with the “real” headshots I finally got done early this year, if
I’m really serious about making a go of this, then I have to literally put my
money (and energy) where my mouth is. I have to invest in myself.
It’s all well and good to show up partly prepared to these
things, and see what kind of results I get. Sure. That’s totally one way to do
this. But. That’s not at all what I want. I don’t want to feel I gave it a
mediocre chance.
No matter what the results, I really do want to try my best, and this is not at all my best.
This is lip service.
Nonetheless. As the first line of my morning pages said this
morning, “I did really well because I showed up anyway!!”
I also supported myself throughout the day, instead of falling into despair or
hopelessness, which would be really easy. And which would look like coming home
to a pint of ice cream and 8 hours of Netflix.
Instead, I drove back to the Bay, went grocery shopping, and went to meet
up with friends for an hour to hear their brain dump, and share a little of
mine.
And then I went to the second audition.
After which, I created plans for myself so that I didn’t
come home and isolate. I made plans with a friend to get out of both our comfort
zones and go to this poetry open mic thing that happens monthly nearby. Neither
of us were going to read, but just to go to check it out. Try something new.
And not be alone in our heads.
It totally worked. I set up for myself stop-gaps for my racing
thoughts, for my “not good enough” thoughts. I got into the day and out of
myself. And what all of this does is allows me to show up again next time.
Because who wants to show up again for something that you tell yourself you
sucked at?
Instead, I showed up again, and I will endeavor to support
myself with a steadfast vision by taking classes and making sure that I don’t
have to feel so psyched out and unprepared next time.
And, just so’s you know. I got called back to the Addam’s
Family audition, anyway. 😉 Wish me luck!… No, forget luck. Wish me love.