commitment · faith · fear · scarcity · stagnating · work

oh, that again.

So, I’ve restarted my work on relationships with a new mentor, someone who shares the lineage of the woman I’d been working with, which means that this morning, I got to read aloud my entire sad history of relationships and sex. Again.
Good. Times. 
Interestingly enough, though, I was struck this morning about how my avoidance of or aversion to commitment in relationships parallels my aversion to commitment in my career and work-life. 
I’ve said and heard it a thousand times: Romance and Finance are two sides of the same coin. And I knew that working on one would bring about change or awareness in the other. 
But, somehow rereading my pattern — of splitting when things get weird, or choosing partners I don’t want, or not being open to those men who are into me — highlighted what is happening for me in career-land. 
A friend said to me last week that it sounds like it’s time for me to choose a career path. Not a job. But something I can follow through on. 
Eek. I hate that. I’ve always hated the idea of having to choose one thing. But I recounted this all to my mom and told her that it’s similar to how I had to choose theater over music. I miss music. And it’s not like I’ll never play again, but I had to choose to put my creative efforts into theater if I wanted to get anywhere with it. 
I hated that. I hate that I can do and be so many things, and I have “so much potential,” and so many varied interests, that choosing one is incredibly frightening for me. Like I’ll choose poorly, to quote Indiana Jones. What if by choosing theater, I’m turning my back on a fate in music or painting? What about all the other roads my life could take?
And yet. By not choosing one, I take no roads, or follow a little of each, and I feel stymied and frozen. 
Commitment leads to freedom in that way. 
And when it’s going to come to career, I’m going to have to choose. Sure, I could easily and very successfully be: A teacher, a writer, a psychologist, a mediator, a community engagement executive. 
I could be any of these things. Hell, I could even be a doctor or a lawyer or a spaceman if I wanted. 
Well, maybe not a spaceman
But I haven’t wanted to choose. Because what.if.I’m.wrong
What if I choose something and it doesn’t turn out well? What if I fail at finding “my calling” this lifetime? What if NONE of those things listed above actually make me want to get up and go to work?


What if I put my trust and faith in the wrong career, or — to parallel — in the wrong man?
Well, sorry, lady, you gotta eat. 
And you gotta choose. 
Sure, people change careers throughout their lives, but I’ve changed mine so many times before age 30 that I think I’ve played that card out. 
Therefore. One of these things is going to have to be it. Whether it makes my heart sing or not. No, I didn’t want to “give up” music. But I did, and the theater thing I love, even if it’s slowed down for now. 
None of the above professions makes my heart sing, per se. There’s no glow surrounding any of them saying, Pick me Pick me. But each inspires me to help bring others together, to inspire others to heal, to bring unity into the world. 
So, no. I don’t know, still, what I want to be when I grow up. But I am warming up to the idea of choosing one path. And actually moving forward on it. 
Advertisements
adulthood · change · dreams · fear · fun · growth · reality · stagnating · theater

Baking a Life Worth Living.

Normal
0
0
1
670
3822
31
7
4693
11.1287

0

0
0

“It was the fantasy made so real that I teared up a few
times, wanted to pinch myself, and thought over and over and over, how is it
that I am here?
How did this happen?
And I can trace the arc of it and still be amazed to be
this woman[…]”
This is a quote from my friend Carmen’s blog today, or last
night actually, the woman who began inspiring me to write a blog at all, and
then a blog-a-day (or, almost a day. Self-care [aka sleep!] comes first during this month, sorry
avid readers!).
Our paths have been divergent but so parallel over these few
years, I once proposed we co-share a book based on our blogs: Her adventures in
Paris, having moved there for her 40th birthday, and her triumphs and struggles
there; My adventures in Cancer-land happening at the same time, as I turned 31, and the
strangely similar triumphs and struggles.
Today, was no different: She was visiting New York City for
the first time. I am in a musical for the first time as an adult.
Her words make me reflect and become present once again with
the amaze-ball nature of where my life and energies currently are.
But, I also was very keen when I first found out I was cast
about the words I used. I made sure to not say, “I can’t believe it.”
Sure, I couldn’t believe it! But, I wasn’t going to say
that. I believe in the Law of Attraction-style woo-woo stuff, and in my
readings on it, when you say things like, “I can’t believe this is happening to
me” or “This is impossible!” or “This can’t be happening” – even though they’re
amazing things – it’s my belief that the “Universe” hears that, that you hear that, and if that’s really your belief, then
they can fade or change to support your belief that these amazing things aren’t
actually happening.
Who knows? I don’t. But I’d rather be on the safer side of
things!
So, when I told my mom, I said simply, “I’m so excited. I’m so grateful.”
I do have to stop saying, “I’m so nervous.” SURE, I am nervous. I
had another voice lesson yesterday, and it’s helping me feel more comfortable
in the lower register of my voice, but I won’t yet say I’m confident. It still
feels like straining and yelling. But I’m getting more used to that
discomfort…which I guess is another way of saying, “Getting comfortable”!
I am astonished by and pleased with the woman I am and have become. And I also know the places where I strive to grow
and build and commit, and lay foundations for an even more “me” life.
I know progress is slow. My voice teacher said that it’s
about first finding a place to build the house, before you even begin to think
about what it looks like or furnishing it. You have to find the firm ground to
stand on before you can build anything on it.
And, I’m doing that, slowly.
It’s strange sometimes to be the age I’m at. About to be 33
next month, and feeling so much older than some, and so much younger than
others. Explaining to the 11-year old Pugsley what a revelation the cordless
phone was when I was a teen. Even my new co-worker, age 22, fresh out of
college, and so bristling with energy.
And then, there’s most of my friends, who are older than me,
who hear me talk about the brevity of life and how there’s so much more I want
to do, and give me the “You’re so young, you have so much time” face.
I get the feeling that this is the center (or the beginning
of the center) of adulthood. When you know you’re not a child, really learning
the world and who/how you want to be in it; and neither are you a middle-aged
person, knowing that you are pretty well set in your personhood for the rest of
your days.
It’s a period of final gelling that I feel. (Though I know
learning and growing and changing is a lifelong process.)
But I sort of feel like all the ingredients have been
gathered, have been mixed, and we’re waiting to see if what I’ve assembled is a
sourdough or cupcake batter.
I do hope it’s cupcakes.
I am the woman who knows she eats 90 eggs a month (yes, really). Who knows she
buys only Ultra Soft toilet paper, but the super eco-friendly paper towels. Who
knows how to pay her bills on time, and knows she still won’t do her dishes
until pressed by her own revulsion!
The woman I am looks for the hope, even in the desperate
times. She relies on friendships built during the “ingredient assemblage” time,
and knows they are in fact ingredients of this current and future life.
The woman I am struggles with self-doubt, and celebrates her
moments of self-encouragement. Falls short of ideals, and laughs about it when
she can, and shares about it when she can’t.
“How did this happen? How am I here?”
I don’t have to pinch myself. I don’t think this is a dream.
I do have to remind myself it’s a nuanced, challenging, changing, and ultimately
precious reality. 
And the woman I am looks eagerly forward to licking the icing. 

ambition · community · courage · encouragement · fear · perfectionism · perseverance · self-love · stagnating · trying · vulnerability

Perfection is the enemy of the done.

Normal
0
0
1
468
2672
22
5
3281
11.1287

0

0
0

Well, if I haven’t told you yet, I’ll tell you now: I’m
reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly.
She’s a researcher on the topics of shame and vulnerability, and how the first can
keep you from embracing the second, and thereby keep you from “daring
greatly.”
Particularly, I’m (*air quotes*) “enjoying” the part when she’s quoting
from some of her interviewees. This mantra, cribbed from Voltaire, is my favorite so far: “Perfectionism
is the enemy of the done.”
There is always one more thing to do. There is always one
more spot to scrub, one more hair to fix, one more jiggly arm skin to poke, one
more class to take, one more edit to make.
In the pursuit of perfection, nothing is ever finished, and
satisfaction and contentment are perpetually elusive.
My aunt sent me an email a few weeks ago in response to one
of my blogs. She reflected that she always admires my writing, but this one in
particular should be submitted. To the New York Times.
She’s a life-long professor of English, a stellar mind and
woman. And she would be someone to know what she’s talking about.
So, I’ve sat with this idea since she sent me the prod. I
looked up the submission guidelines, and promptly forgot them.
Until I read that quote about perfection and the done. So,
this morning, I printed out the blog, and edited it. Then went back online to
see the guidelines: 1500 words. Mine is currently 700. I need to double
my article!
BUT. It’s out. It’s printed on actual paper. I can carry it
around with me to read and make notes of what parts I’ll focus in on to expand
the essay.
When I decided to finally join a band last year, it was
precisely this perfection that cracked. I was no better or worse than I’d been
for years. I had no more or less experience than I’d had before. What cracked
was my commitment to perfection. “When I practice, then I can play. When I’m
better then I can reach out to them. When I get lessons. When I …”
A few years ago, I put together an art project whose purpose
was entirely to eschew perfection. I
used paint on paper…without sketching it out first. There were no “mistakes,”
even though the lines aren’t perfect. There was no starting over, even though I
wished I could. My entire purpose was to put something down on paper, and to be
done with it. I’d had the idea of this art piece for quite some time, and I was
finally willing to do it imperfectly. And it hangs up on my wall, with lines I still fantasize about perfecting, my idol to “done.”
The same will have to be true for my essay/article. It’s
taken these few weeks to look back at it, because I have those gremlin thoughts
that say, “The NEW YORK TIMES?! Are you out of your MIND?! Who do you think you
are??” That say, What’s the use, it’ll never be used. That say, If you don’t do
it perfectly, you’ll always be a secretary.
Yesterday morning, after my phone encounter with my dad the
day before, I reached for a coffee mug. I dug behind the enormous ones I
usually use, to find a modest sized one with something printed on it.
I HEART ME. (Could be “I heart Maine,” but that works, too!)
In the sprawl of brain chompings and perfectionism. In the
shadow of habits that draw me back into being small or angry or disconnected.
In the face of a choice to let myself be seen, as imperfect but good enough as I am, I reaffirm something preciously true: I
Heart Me. 

aspiration · consistency · direction · faith · fallibility · fear · perseverance · progress · stagnating · work

Once More unto the Breach, Sorta Kinda.

Normal
0
0
1
539
3076
25
6
3777
11.1287

0

0
0

Despite having gotten the “message” or “more information”
about where I think my career path is supposed to, or rather, for the first
time, where I want it to go… the
hard(er) part is taking action to actually go there.
Although I’ve submitted my own promotion to my job, and
would love to do this work there, it is unclear whether they’re in a place to
support that work. And so, it’s up to me to put more eggs in more baskets.
I spent some time on Saturday updating my resume and cover
letter. I had to go visit a baby(!!) so I still have some final work to do
before I submit this particular one. And that’s where the stall-out happens.
Any of you know this one? Heard this one before?
I’ve got this pretty particular set of things to do, in an
order, in order to go where I think I want to go, in order to get what I
think I want to get. … buuuuut. Well, there’s only 3 more episodes of this show
I’m watching on Netflix (on my phone, I should add), so I’ll do it… later.
Gift and curse of cancer or any other mortality insisting
event, or simply the past experience of soul-crushing procrastination, is you know that “later” may not be there when you are.
I’m reminded of a meditation I did once.
It was probably around another time when I was demanding from fate and god and
the universe that I get answers about what the f’ I’m supposed to do with my
life. But, I thought about this turtle that I sometimes meet in my meditations.
And I thought about him walking to get toward this grass to get a bite to eat.
He is a turtle. He walks as a turtle walks, slowly,
thoughtfully, without haste. When the f’ was he gonna get there?? And I realized my fear was that the
grass wouldn’t be there when he/I got there. If I move at a pace that is
consistent, thoughtful, persistent,
what if the
grass simply isn’t there by the time I get there??
What the turtle had that I didn’t is faith. A true belief in
knowing that the grass will be there when he gets there. That as long as he
keeps on in the direction he thinks is best, care-fully and consistently,
whatever he needs will be provided along the way.
Wise turtle.
I don’t know that I have, or had, the same faith.
I can’t tell you, truthfully, that watching more t.v. is a
way of simply agreeing that abundance in the universe exists and I can lolligag
all I want because of it. I can tell you that I have fear of where my efforts
take me; that I have a streak of entitlement; that I want the outcome known
before I walk anywhere at any pace.
But, I do want an outcome. As I’ve been writing, I’m tired
of standing at the crossroad of my life, waiting for a lift that will never
come.
There’s a phrase I hear around now: There is no ship.
If we’re all waiting for our ship to come in… sorry, bub, no
ship.
That could be horrifyingly depressing. WHAT AM I DOING THIS FOR, THEN? If there’s no ship?? But,
as I’m beginning to understand it, this phrase simply means that there is no
skipping over the work, there is no lottery that dumps in your lap; that, like
the turtle, you have to keep moving forward, and then maybe you build your own
ship.
The idea is that there’s no white knight. That fantasy
time is over. That we are our own white knight, if we are so brave and also
disillusioned to be one.
So, unto the breach I go. Haltingly, uncertain of what I’ll
find when I get there. But, if I have been given (finally, gladly, luckily, FINALLY, again) more intel on where it is I think I want
to arrive, then I must get up and walk in that direction.
I must submit resumes, continue to clear the gunk
from my soul, and write to you of how uncomfortable it feels to endeavor
on my own behalf. 

adulthood · ambition · connection · death · direction · life · mortality · stagnating

Caution: Lifeguard on Duty

Normal
0
0
1
620
3537
29
7
4343
11.1287

0

0
0

Today, I think of Death as the figure of the Grim Reaper
lounging by a public pool, a lifeguard. Watching, waiting for the people to
tire, and when they do, reaching in his scythe, and hoisting them out of the
water.
Over the last week, I spent my time with several people I adore who are all in their 30s and 40s and in phases of change in their lives. I
got to witness how they’re handling, adjusting, chafing, and, sometimes, enjoying their lives. And if
I’m honest, I got to witness a good deal of loneliness. (“If you spot it, you got it,” the saying goes.)
Because this isn’t only my story, I will be courteous to allow others their story and their privacy, but it inspired in me a great deal of reflection
over the week about my own life, my own story.
Early in the week, I heard a woman, a stranger, say, “At some
point, we have to give up all hope of our past being different.” There’s a lot
of standing in two worlds–past & present, present & future–that I got to witness this week, and see reflected in
myself. I had a line from Fiona Apple repeating to me on the plane home yesterday:
The child is gone.
I got to see that there is a pivot point in life; that adulthood is more than an age, or bank account, or relationship. It’s a
marrow-deep understanding that the time that was is over. We’re no longer looking toward the top of the mountain and how to get there: it’s now a horizon we are looking toward. There is a plateau in the middle of the ‘natural’
course of life between the climax of our lives to come (if we
get to it), and its decline.
Maybe it was all the True Detective we watched this week!
I don’t mean to be grim, I just mean to be realistic
with where I am standing in my own life. I simply saw the story arc. I heard
the restlessness, the ambition toward something not yet attained, and I
believed for the first time, despite all cancer-awareness and mortality-facing,
that the long life we have is shorter than I’ve known, that the center of that life is closer than I’ve known.
Mostly, I thought about my own ambition toward family and
career. Toward relationship and being “settled” and the timing of all that.
I’ve written before that being in a metropolitan area, I feel less inclined to
think “TICK TOCK” than some of my suburban friends. But, on the heels
of the new job proposal I handed into my work last week for myself, and the
idea that if I spend 7 or 8 years in that job, I’ll be 40, and then be poised
for a more senior management position. Seeing my professional future suddenly chopped up into finite chunks, seeing that I actually do want that kind of trajectory, having the ladder open up to me suddenly, and fucking taking a step onto it
– well… everything else seems to now be broken up into those same finite chunks.
I’ve never had a “five year plan” or a “ten year plan.” I’ve
never known enough about what I want to do to have any path whatsoever seem
like it makes sense to pursue in any certain direction.
There may be “many roads to the mountaintop” and “All roads
lead to Rome,” but I’ve been so stilted in knowing where the fuck Rome is, that
I’ve sat at the base of the mountain, stared at the nailed signpost with its
array of choices, and drawn figures in the dirt with a stick, waiting for one
of them to illuminate or something.
Well, honestly, one of them has, career-wise, and I see the
opening, and I feel myself– well, no, I actually did take a step in that direction at work. And in seeing
that there is suddenly a path that I’m actually on and actually taking, I see
that there are all these other 5 and 10 year plans that I kind of have to be aware of now… and I see what implication that has for life. For
romance, for family, for place.
I see that I’ve sat at that intersection for much too long,
or, simply for as long as I needed to, but now I feel like I have to race to
catch up to the toll of the clock.
I feel like the sense of timelessness in life has
disappeared. That, “eventually” and “some day” are not allowed anymore. And not
really that they’re “not allowed” or “not permitted,” but that there’s just no
room for them. The dreaming must be directionalized now.
This terrifies and goads me. I feel pushed in a way I haven’t.
I feel more certain of what I want in my life, and a bit of a manic thrall
toward doing it. – Sure, All things in time, and All things in balance, but: I have
begun to think that this might be what ambition is; and what it is for.