action · addiction · clarity · commitment · community · fear · fortitude · procrastination · progress · recovery · self-esteem · self-love · self-pity · self-support

Forte. Più Forte. (Loud. More Loud.)

It’s come into my awareness again this week the fallacy of
perfection, and its venomous tendrils. The three “p”s: Perfection,
Procrastination, Paralyzation.
I’ve also read that procrastination is simply another way
for us to prolong feeling crappy about ourselves, and to delay feeing proud of
ourselves.
This week, after a conversation with some people of
authority at work last week about my position, my ambition, my vision of “Where
I’d like to be;” after I was given the feedback that, great, sure, put it in
writing and we can talk more… I stalled and dragged my feet.
It wasn’t acres of time, this time; it was only from Friday until
Tuesday evening, when I finally wrote what I needed to
write. But I could see those tendrils curling up around me, waiting to choke my
ambition and self-esteem from me. The tendrils of hopelessness (What the use
anyway), uncertainty (What about acting, my art, moving), and simple
perfectionism (If it’s not perfect, they’ll reject it, and then I’ll be stuck
answering phones the rest of my life, anyway, so f* it, I’ll just watch some
more Once Upon a Time).
It was so helpful to hear other people talk about how this
weed of perfectionism crops up in their lives, marring their attempts at a full
life—it reminds me that I’m not alone, and mostly, as I heard people talk about
their struggle with perfectionism, I sat
there in that chair and decided (for the hundredth time) to go home afterward
and do the write-up I needed to hand in to my superiors.
I heard them battling the beast, I heard them being flayed
by it, and I decided I wasn’t going to let that be me, if only for an evening.
I cannot tell you how many times I make this declaration to
myself. And then, simply do come home
and watch Netflix, or surf Facebook. I wonder if the advent of television and
internet has created in us a generation of procrastinators, but I certainly
know that I am none too helped by it! (in binges, especially)
But for whatever reason (and I won’t call it exasperation,
because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been exasperated, and still done
nothing), I came home on Tuesday night, wrote what I needed to write, emailed
it to a few friends for feedback, and handed it in yesterday.
And here’s the/a reward for overcoming perfectionism: It may not go the way you wanted anyway. I may hear, “Thanks, Molly, but we’re not
in a position to… We’ll think about it for some undetermined date… This just
isn’t in our vision or budget… We just need someone (you) to stay doing what
you are doing indefinitely, or at least through the next year or more.” I may
hear things I don’t want to hear in response to my action on behalf of myself
and my ambition, BUT, the reward is that I get to hear something at all,
instead of sitting, spinning, resenting, foaming, fuming, and … watching
Netflix.
The reward for overcoming perfectionism (and it’s
paralyzation) in just this one moment is that, no matter the results, no matter
the response, I am actually moving
forward, internally, for sure. What this does is tell me that, See Molly,
once you did something. One time you took action on your
own behalf, and instead of delaying your good, instead of languishing in a sea
of self-pity, you get to feel proud, pro-active, like a leader. You get to feel
like yourself, instead of like the skin of mutating fear that creeps up yours
and mimics you out in the world.
I don’t know the result of the action I took, externally, at
least. However, having put things in writing and gotten clarity around my
vision and desire, if I don’t get the result I “want” here, in this environs,
then I get to take that information and that knowledge and shop it around
elsewhere. Because I took the action that I did, suddenly, I have a beginning
instead of what my brain and that malevolent skin tells me is an end, a sorry, pathetic end.
Finally, I’ll repeat something I heard a long time ago,
which I’ve agreed with and disagreed with over the years: We ask “god” for what
we want; “he” gives us what we need; and in the end, it’s what we wanted
anyway.
I know that what I wanted anyway was clarity and
self-esteem, so, Team: Mission Accomplished. 

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abundance · adulthood · affirmations · change · community · isolation · self-esteem · self-support · spirituality

Easy

“Pain carves out a place in us that allows us to feel more
deeply and be more usefully whole.”
Bullshit.
This is the kind of thing you tell someone who’s had to go
through shit and needs something to hold onto as a reason why. And I’m not
going to tell you it’s not true or that I don’t believe it to be true, because,
maddeningly, I do think it is.
But what about all the people who don’t have pain carve out a place in them? What about
those of us who haven’t have the razor of life cut into our quick? What about
those who have lived what some might call “normal” lives?
Are they not as valuable as human beings? Of course not. Are
they not as deep in thought or artistry? Well… that’s really hard to answer.
There is a pervasive ideal of the martyr in our society
(and, again, I’m not the first to write about this). There is also the
thick idolatry of those who are young, innocent, unscathed, “beautiful.”
So, we have for ourselves, as a society, a conundrum: We
both want desperately that kind of luxury and ease that calls to us from the
pages of Sunset or Dwell or GQ, but we disdain those whose lives
closely resemble them, condemning them for “having it easy.”
So, what do we really want? Do we want the life of ease, or
do we want to tear down those who actually have a life of ease? And if the
latter is true,… why, then, would we
ever want to be a person of ease, and be the object of disdain and
envy-laced judgment?
There is an affirmation in my repertoire: Life is easy for
me.
How nice is that?
“Life is easy for
me.”
What would that be like?
Life is easy for me.
I just smiled. 
Ease. Flow. Calm. Centered. Guided. Held. Easy.
Why should it not be?
An affirmation is something you tell yourself until you live
and believe it, according to my own understanding. So this isn’t something that I
can tell you today with assurance is accurate. But I can tell you that it is something that I would like to believe and live with assurance.
“Life is easy for me.”
Pain may have carved out a place in me that enables me to
help other people who have been there. But there is a downside to identifying
with others on the commonality of pain: What happens when one of you doesn’t
want to identify with their own pain anymore?
A friend of mine inherited a sum of money
a few years ago, after the death of her mother. She, my friend, is one of the
pain-carved women. She is shorn and built and pyred from pain – she is one of
the strongest and most admired women I know.
And yet. After the inheritance, she, on her own, bought a
vacation home—she bought a second home, just because she could. She has a
husband, and two kids, and this was what she wanted to do, and could do with
that money.
It was only after the fact of the purchase, however, that we
began to hear about it. She had to “confess” to us that she had this boon, this
exciting news, this abundance. And she’d been avoiding telling people,
precisely because of that envy-laced judgment.
However, she realized that not talking about her success was just as dangerous to her well-being as
not talking about troubles, and that by isolating and hiding her good fortune,
she would certainly falter.
Not talking about success, about “what’s going on,” is just
as precarious as not talking about challenge. However, because we are a culture
that feeds off mutual exchange of stories of strife, because all of our
literature is based on triumph over adversity, or simply is an account of
adversity, we do not share about it.
We are ashamed of our success. We are ashamed of our good
fortune. We are ashamed to admit that life is easy for us—and so we couch it in
“humility”: Oh, it’s only because of the inheritance from a death; Oh, but I had to overcome such hardship to get
here; Oh, but it’s really only this one time that I’m getting a boon in my life
– I promise the rest of my life is a shit show!
SO WHAT if my life were easy? What does it impede on you?
(is a question I pose to myself as well.) What are the merits of slogging
through a desperate existence, to live to possibly be honored post-humously as
a great writer, as a Baudelaire (and the
list is endless)?
A while back, I wrote you about a poem of mine whose only line went,
            Otherwise,
who would eat the blackened one?
And I told you how I’ve come to see that the answer, which
had so long been, “No one, so I better eat it first so you won’t have to,” has
become, “No one. Period.” I’ve told you that I no longer feel as fated or
compelled to be a martyr.
It seems the other side of that action is to embrace what
our culture feels so aggressively conflicted about: Allowing my life to be easy.
Perhaps my “meta” affirmation, then, would be: It is easy to
allow my life to be easy. 

action · adulthood · beauty · courage · fear · self-esteem

Isn’t It Ironic, Don’tcha Think?

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The curvature of our lives is funny, isn’t it?
Like most people, I was an acne-riddled, ugly-glasses
wearing teen with unruly hair and a limited rotation of ill-fitting clothing. I
remember when I was 16, I was at a retreat for Jewish teens, and we were sitting
around in a circle on some Saturday night, singing the service that ends
Shabbat. All us nervous, hormone-addled teens in one place! And there started a
“kissing chain” around the circle–on the cheek, modest-style. The boy sitting
next to me had to kiss me two times as the chain came around twice, and I remember hearing him “whisper” to his
friend that he tried to kiss a spot that didn’t have a zit on it, but he
couldn’t find one.
Kids are mean, sure. But, there is a thick stripe of “Ugly
Duckling” syndrome down the center of my story.
Once, in middle school, in a stroke of self-esteem beyond
that of usual, I answered a modeling casting call at Nordstrom. My mom
supported me and came with me, and I just filed behind some other girls in a
line in front of some auditors, hoping, Kate Moss-like, that someone would
pluck me out of my angsty teen life and whisk me away to something fabulous and
without blemish. (You can assume that didn’t happen.)
What happened instead is I got to live the angsty life I was
handed, and nearly 20 years after that cattle-call, be asked to do it again.
I still haven’t sent in those photos to the real-people
modeling agents. But, (maybe) I’m closer. The only time I was ever approached to
be a model was when I’d shaved my head when I was 21 and was wandering around
Manhattan looking for a savior. A man approached and said he was an agent for
bald models, and his business card did actually have a bald model on it.
(Instead I went to the asylum, but I digress.)
This Christmas, while busking in Union square, I was
approached by another modeling agent, and I followed up with a call, and was
told to submit my photos. To send them by print. There’s so much resistance to
this! Is it the Ugly Duckling saying they’re only conning you? The girl with
the acne no one will look past? Or just the ennui and hopelessness of a woman
engaged in a professional life that saps her energy and enthusiasm?
In whatever case, and whatever resistance, it’s not up to
me, is it?
I had a mentor once tell me, G-d will either fulfill your
desires, or take them away. I sort of believe that. The urges and wishes and
ideals and fantasies that we have; either they’ll morph into something else;
they’ll fade; or they’ll be met. How many of us desperately wanted that X Y or
Z, and having not gotten it, later exclaim, jeez, I can’t believe I really wanted
that!
What I’ve really been thinking about though, is the irony of
having become someone people consider beautiful, which has necessitated the
desire to be seen for more than my
beauty. I find it a cosmic raspberry that after so many years of being the
awkward, painfully shy, unseen thing, I now
want people to stop seeing me for my exterior
alone.
I think your soul is sexy, he wrote me.
Followed surely by a nice bought of sexting. But, Still.
What a curvature of life, eh? To become the beauty you
always wanted to be, but then want people to look past it? It’s odd; I dunno, I
don’t have a more well-thought out way to put it.
But, I also know that part of what makes my soul sexy is that
I do things that scare me, like submit photos to agencies. I do things that I
don’t feel worthy of, and hope the self-worth follows by the esteem of doing
them. Right actions lead to right thinking, and all that.
I would like to list this check-box on my list of life
participations; just for the fact of trying. Like the acting; just for the act
of trying. I hear the screaming teen inside me saying This is WEIRD, but that’s okay. I can drag my feet and do it
anyway. 

confidence · courage · fear · love · self-esteem

You Must Be This Tall…

I still haven’t submitted my photos to the “real people”
modeling agencies that my friend suggested to me after seeing some of my photos
from my October photo shoot with a friend. Or sent the hard copy photos to the
modeling scout who saw me while I was busking in Union Square on Black Friday.
This morning, I was querying why I haven’t done these
simple, low risk tasks, though they’ve been on my internal and external to-do
lists for months. The answer was simple: I’m afraid I’m not good enough.
When I first stopped drinking, I read this memoir by a guy
who’d also stopped drinking. In explaining why he drank the way he did, he writes,
and in explaining why I drank the way I did, I quote: “I always felt one
drink behind—One drink behind being funny enough; one drink behind being smart
enough, cool enough, attractive enough.” One drink behind being good enough, in
essence. So there always had to be one more drink, then; and after that,
oblivion.
It’s ridiculous, however, to think that I’m not “good enough”
somehow to submit photos to professional agencies of myself, I wrote to myself
this morning, because that’s like saying, I’m not tall enough to ride a roller
coaster. That I walk up to the measuring stick in front of the ride, and the
sign with the painted finger points to five feet tall. … I am 6 feet tall. But I tell myself, I
convince myself, that I’m not tall enough. I’m not yet enough to ride this
ride.
It’s absurd. But it’s the truth of how I (sometimes) interpret myself in
the world.
Many years ago, I wrote a poem that included the line: [Fear],
you Nancy Kerrigan my knees before I even stand up. (Or something like that.)
That fear takes me out before I even have a chance to try. I wrote that so many
years ago. And fear continues to pull a Tanya Harding on me.
I am pretty sure that the only cure for this, let’s
call it, personality dysmorphia (like anorexics have body dysmorphia – seeing
flaws and fat that aren’t at all there) – the only cure for this is
self-esteem, self-care, and just walking through the fears anyway.
To walk up to the measuring stick at the roller coaster, see
that this ride is actually accepting me,
and walk onto it. – The ride is Life, if you haven’t figured that out.
I am enough. I am healed enough, sane enough, funny enough, smart
enough, pretty enough, engaging enough, lovable enough to participate in life,
to have relationships, to have valuable friendships, to throw my photos into
the hat, to show up to auditions, to even show up to musical auditions. I am
enough to have this, to be this.
Because, I am six feet tall, by god! – And I want to ride. 

abundance · adventure · performance · self-esteem

Fortune cookie wisdom: Action is the key to success.

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I didn’t actually set my alarm last night, so you get an
abridged blog. I have an audition tonight in Marin, and I wanna make sure I
shower!
I spent some time last night after I got home from rehearsal
culling through the near 200 photos that the headshot photographer put in her
gallery from our shoot a few days ago –they look AMAZING. Not “me” per se,
though I don’t look half bad, but the style, the lighting, the cropping, the
angles, everything, I am SO glad I paid
for a professional shoot finally. As I’ve said, I love and appreciate how my
friends helped me with some before, but this woman shot Rainn Wilson from “The
Office,” and
he got work… so…! Off to perfect my snarky, sarcasm then.
I can’t wait to write her a Yelp review, which is how I
found her anyway. She used to work in LA, then was commuting to work here and
in LA, and now is just here – to be close to her man, Aw…
Out of 200 photos, I get to chose two that I want her to “basic
retouch,” and then I get all the rest by disc. Oh, the choices! But I’ve narrowed it down to half a dozen, with one
being my stand-out – like, wow, Molly you look like someone who actually does
this.
It’s again how I felt walking out of rehearsal at SF State
last night – I said aloud in my car, “I’m so proud of you, Molly.” It’s such a nice feeling to have about yourself.
I also, last minute, a.k.a. Monday, signed up for an audition
that’s being held this Thursday, and both tonight’s and tomorrow’s have very different
needs for audition pieces.
Luckily, for tomorrow’s I’ve reached back into what I’d
done when I was auditioning while I was a student at Mills, the piece I was
using in the Winter of 2011/2012. I didn’t know if I’d still remember it, and I
fell FLAT when I used it once then (“I’m
sorry, can I start again; I’m so sorry, can I try it one more time”) – oh the
poor auditors! I didn’t have it memorized.
But, as I went over it yesterday while driving to rehearsal,
I realized, I do actually remember it mostly, and I can hope to get it by
tomorrow evening (or just admit I don’t, and use a notes) – Luckily, tonight’s is a cold-read audition, which means I
don’t have to have anything memorized, I’ve just gone over the “sides” (the
pieces of the play) that they want us to read from. It’s going to be a group
audition, since all of the scenes have multiple characters in them. If I— I
was going to say, If I get this role… 
but I won’t, not from fear of jinxing it, but simply because I want to
remain true to my intention, which is to show up for myself to the best of my
ability, and leave the results up to whatever they will be.
I’ll still be using my old headshot that I got a year ago,
when I had like an inch of hair, but, I’m already in the door, the rest is up
to the “me in person.”
Break a leg, Moll. Break a leg. (OH! And BREATHE!) 

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. 

abundance · acting · self-esteem · self-love · self-support · vision

…And all the men and women merely players

Audition Over. I feel exhausted. I am hoping that some day
soon, I can stop reporting my exhaustion to you, because I won’t be.
However, if I get into this play, which I realize is an SF
State Production, I think, then there are rehearsals there every evening and weekend
for 4 weeks. But, cart, horse, one bite at a time. (And, although that sounds
exhausting, I know it’s part of “building a resume” and a body of work; so, worth it.) I
won’t talk too much about this play, until I know I’ve gotten into it. To
paraphrase my new go-to book, It’s Just a F***ing Audition. So, now, I go back onto Theater Bay Area website,
follow-up on another message board the 25 y.o. told me about, and get another
audition lined up. And another monologue into my brain.
You know, this memorizing thing is work. It’s amazing to be able to keep so much information
in our heads. I remember words from plays I did years ago, when I click into
that gear.
And that’s the other thing I realized as I walked out of the
audition last night into the Sunset streets: I’ve done this before. I know how to do this, if still gelding-like. But this isn’t as foreign to me as I like to let my brain tell me
it is. I’ve stood in small rooms in front of strangers and performed words to them before. I’ve conversed awkwardly with auditors, having rehearsed so many lines for them, I forget how to just have a normal conversation. I’ve filled out audition sheets, and printed headshots, and doctored a resume. I’ve stood in hallways waiting my turn before. 
I left last night – just as I’d left the CCSF audition last month –
thrilled that I showed up. THAT’S the result that is most important to me. I
was just so glad that I let myself try. And I did “not bad,” in my own
estimation, which is like high, throwing-flowers-at-myself praise in my own
scale. “Not bad.” Ha. In fact, really, I think I did well. They’re students, it
seems, the auditors, and they gave some feedback that skewed positively.
I remember when my friend Melissa came to see me in The Vagina
Monologues
at Mills about 2 or 3 years ago,
now. She said afterward, and her sister is a director, so she’s seen her share
of plays and players—she said, I feel like I’ve finally seen you do what you
were born to do.
It was the best compliment I’ve ever received. Because I
knew she wasn’t a bullshitter, and because it resonated with me. And because it made
my insides do a happy dance. Like, SEE, MOLL! We told you you could do this!!
On Tuesday night, the 25 y.o. came over to help me practice
my monologue. He’s a director and an artistic director, so he’s seen his share
of actors. So, very nervously, I did my piece for him. And I begged him
afterward to be honest with me: if I was wasting my time, and someone just
really needed to be honest with me, tell me to move on to something else. I don’t want to be like that person on the American Idol audition tapes who no one ever told was horrible because they didn’t want to hurt their feelings, and so now all of America laughs at their idiocy. 
He told me, no, he wouldn’t say that at all. But, he also
told me that, like the bell-curve, I fall somewhere in the middle of the curve,
“if a little to the right of center,” he said.
I could be crushed by that. I could say, well, forget it, if
I’m not excellent, f*ck it. But, HELLO, even though I’ve done this somewhat,
I’m a TOTAL NEWBIE. And if as an untrained, total newbie, I’m average, then that’s AWESOME!
I mean, come on, man.
My bass teacher said the same thing to me when I was working
with him. That noting my incredible lack of training and beginner status, I was
much farther along than he’d seen.
I’m good at picking
things up. And I haven’t ever put
concerted effort behind this acting vision before. So… seems to me…
leads me to believe… it follows that… logic says…
I better keep doing it. Because I’ll only get better.
*INSERT CHEESY THIS-IS-AWESOME GRIN*
P.S. The 25 y.o. also told me there’s plenty of work in this
town for a start-of-career non-equity actor. And I told him, Tell your friends
– I’m happy to be in their crappy plays. 😉