insanity · prosperity · trying

An Open Letter

6.14.18.jpgSince my now-ex moved out a bit ago, I’ve been composing letters to him in my head.  Things I would normally text throughout the day, the funny or coincidental, the discoveries or challenges.  But, I know these are not to be shared with him right now.

So, I’m going to share them with you!  Ha!  It’s what my “It’s called a Breakup cuz it’s Broken” book would suggest about calling a friend instead, at least for a little while.

All those things you would share throughout and at the end of the day.  The daily download over dinner, how this or that came out… That’s what feels most difficult: the loss of my closest friend.

It has brought to the fore that my dependence upon that relationship has been a bit lopsided to the neglect of my other relationships.  And so I have reached out to several folks, had a few lady dates, and will need to continue to do so.

But in the meantime, since no particular person I know would want to hear about all of the following, I give them to you, the interweb, a diffuse and “It’s your own choice to click this!” readership.  I here allow all my pent-up updating to be relieved without harm, to him, or to me.

So, Dear Friend, who cares about my minutiae:

  • Since J took back the Wusthof knife he brought to the relationship—and I learned what a 4real improvement a good knife can make—I went online and they were having a sale.  I now have THREE(!) new knives, and practically fainted from the ease with which I sliced my daily bread.
  • I went to 4th Street in Berkeley after graduation last Wednesday and bought: those knives, Kiehl’s eye cream (the men’s version bc it’s cheaper and the clerk says it’s just as good!), and two awesome dessert plates at Anthropologie (since the plates I had at home were freebies that don’t go at all and I’m using the new absence of J’s stuff to question what kind of a home I want for myself).
  • I’m doing research for the month + week I’ll be gone this summer (a month at my professional development in Amherst, MA, a week with my mom in Amsterdam and Copenhagen) about reusable items I’ll need (launderable cotton rounds, cloth coffee filters, collapsable silicon coffee maker and travel mug) and using the gift cards from school parents to pay for them.
  • I emailed school to ask about their covering the cost of the night I have to spend in Boston before my PD starts.  They said of course, so I booked the awesomest (&not crazy pricey) boutique hotel in Beacon Hill… and THEY APPROVED IT!  Omigod.  I’m such a fanatic for these cool, boutique hotels now.  Absolutely a result of being with J and going to several with him.
  • Speaking of, did you know there’s one place in Boston where in order to just attempt to get a reservation THEY HAVE TO CONFIRM HOW MANY INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS YOU HAVE?!?!!?  Dude, I love strong design, but … sheesh.  (And no, I did not fill out their “application” form!)
  • OH!  AND, I was at the library reading “O” magazine and there was a photo spread that took place AT PALIHOUSE… IN THE SAME ROOM I stayed with J.  a month ago.  IN THE SAME BED.  So that didn’t make me sad at all…
  • My best friend from NJ and I confirmed we’ll meet in Boston in July for a girl’s weekend, and I’ve been absolutely bananas about searching for a place for us: how much to spend or not spend to spend or not spend to spe– … and then went to a meeting!
  • Speaking of financial insanity:  I spoke about trying to save for a house right now and a woman approached me with a referral for a real estate agent who works particularly with women, which led to:  a flurry of emails… deranged Redfin stalking… talking to a mortgage broker… learning I’d have to pay HALF my income to pay for a mortgage… running my numbers obsessively… not leaving the house so I could run more numbers… composing texts to my mom and brother about going in together… deleting said texts… talking to a trusted friend… and, finally, being reminded that this chaos is not the droid I’m looking for.  This chaos is something called “avoiding feelings.”  Weird.
  • Then I started meditating again.  >.<

So, yeah, that’s how these 10 days have gone for me!  HOW ARE YOU?!?! BWHAHAHA.

Health and illness, courage and fear, community and isolation, abundance and constriction.

Frankly, it all sounds about right.  For now.

Yours in evolution,  M.

 

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abundance · ambition · deprivation · doubt · god · spirituality · trying

Tuning by Ear.

Because I’ve begun a round of work with a new mentor recently, we’re talking a lot about “god.”
Specifically, this past Saturday, I read to her my current conception of this ineffable “power”:
“My Higher Power is in all things.  It lives & comes from a place inside me where I’ve never been scared & where there is always calm wisdom.  This place doesn’t give me instructions or guidance, it simply can reinforce or reassure my own decisions.  (Though I wish it did give guidance & instructions!)
This force is impersonal in some ways, because it belongs to everybody, and because it also doesn’t act out of reward or punishment because it is not human or personified.  But the force works toward health & wholeness.  It is the source of wholeness & would be satisfied for all to connect to it & recognize it.  This power is one of divine flow and order; it is unrushed.  It is often seen in nature, because it is in the natural cycle of life & death, but it is bigger than that. 
When I feel in touch with this power, I feel calm, energized/alive, unrushed, wise & accepting — accepting of myself & of the outside world & circumstances.  When I feel in touch with this power, I feel a stable ground to stand on, and I don’t have racing questions about my life.  I feel at peace. 
I sometimes get impatient with this power because it is so slow/calm & not clear w/instructions or answers to my questions.”
My friend/mentor listened to this. I anticipated we’ve move on but she said gently that it sounded like there was a bit of conflict there. Did I agree? Hell yes! It makes me mad that I can’t get answers, but I don’t believe that I’m supposed to. That’s not what this power is about. 
Then she sagely suggested something: “You have a belief that makes you unhappy.”
But, what can I do about that, I asked? Am I supposed to reconceive my higher power, or just come to accept that I don’t get answers? I like this conception of a higher power. 
She agreed it’s a good one, but … she has an alternate belief, which I don’t have to subscribe to, but she wanted to propose her own experience: She does get answers. She believes she does get information and guidance and instructions. (Not like, crazy woo-woo hearing voices.)
As we spoke, I posed my own question: Is it possible that I am receiving answers, but I’m simply not hearing them? My ear isn’t attuned to them? 
She said she doesn’t believe in a working toward whatever is “God’s will” kind of spiritual world, but rather toward whatever is for the “Highest Good.” Which makes a lot more sense to me. Because this whole “God’s will” vs. my will thing is a real bitch to suss out. 
And then she said something radical for folks among my kind: The Highest Good often is what I want. Where I get f’ed up is where I believe that “G-d” doesn’t want me to have what I want. 
She said that our desires and impulses and intuitions are often calls and pulls from that deepest place within us. (Surely, that doesn’t mean Ice Cream for Dinner, but you get the point, I hope!)
So, I gave myself the assignment this week of trying to attune my ear to hear the guidance that I feel I’ve been deprived of. 
And this morning, I had an odd experience of noticing. 
I’ve been doing the Deepak/Oprah 21-day meditation challenge, as I tend to do when they come around. 20 minutes, free, a good start to the day (no matter what may be happening in the news about them personally, thank you).
This morning, the “centering thought” was: “I receive the wisdom of life.”
So I tried out my friend’s theory. A bit frustrated and tangled up in my own thoughts: “Alright, “God,” Should I try to go to school this Fall or not?”
I’ve been waffling on whether to go to grad school for my teaching certificate without having the proper knowledge foundation at the moment. There are 3 more exams to be certified, 2 to get entry into the grad program. One of these tests, I believe I can pass; one will need a LOT of studying; and the third, I’ve signed up for a summer Physics course at the local city college, because I need all the help I can get. 
Do I float another year? Do I try to push myself to do it this year? There’s still room in the program, and my acceptance is contingent on passing the 1st two tests before school begins. 
What do I do? 
What happened this morning (in aggro-meditation!) was this: I had a simple thought that sounded exactly like all my other thoughts do: “You can try for anything you want, Molly.”
There was no magic bell or deep baritone indicating whether this was the “Voice Of The Universe;” it sounded like most of my other swirling thoughts. But it held my attention differently, because this is not a thought that I usually have. 
I do not usually believe that I can have or try for anything I want. I am usually talking myself out of things. Flaking on social engagements. Procrastinating with Netflix. I am used to believing that the road to abundance is a scrappy struggle against myself, where I wind up exhausted and often, not having even left my apartment!
You can try for anything you want, Molly.
But it sounds so impulsive to just “try”! It sounds to ungrounded, and I don’t want to take developmentally unrealistic steps and then simply get disheartened. I don’t want to charge into something half-cocked and half-prepared because I want to stop waiting on my life!
But I believe the point of what that thought was saying was that I can try, and I can fail. I can try, and not fail. I can wait for next year. Or not. 
Seems like it’s back to my original idea of not getting clear instructions, doesn’t it???
Yes. And. 
I think what I heard was that the road of life is less narrow and forsaking than I imagine it to be. That the road is wide, and forgiving, and will get me where I want to go. 
The point is to make a decision. To try, however falteringly, to believe that I can have what I want. That the road will be there to support me. That abundance is for me, too. 
I don’t know what I will do yet. This is all very new, as of about 30 minutes ago. But, I’d kinda like to try — and see what happens. 
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. 
art · fulfillment · money · self-esteem · trying

The Writing on the Walls.

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After yesterday’s heaviness, let’s talk about something
lighter: gratitude.
You know, there are a lot of things as I look around that I
have to be grateful for. It is always easiest for me to start with my
apartment, because, small though it is, and however much I’d love for my bed to
not be the main prominence of my studio apartment, I love it here. “Warm” is
consistently the response I get from friends and visitors who come in. It feels
warm here.
Someone just said it recently, and it’s precisely the phrase
I heard from a friend when he left one of my parties in my San Francisco
apartment: I felt warm when I left. How many parties does one leave feeling
that way? It was a thrill, and what I love to hear. Inviting, warm, cozy,
artful.
The art has been culled over a few years, and recently, in
the re-organization of my closet, I pulled out the enormous oil pastel lips
with flower, created for one of my Pre-Val Hearts & Stars parties in SF. I
think I’ll put it up again, but even if I don’t, it reminds me of what I can
accomplish when I set my mind to it.
I’d started with an idea. I made some sample studies, small
two-inch colored pencil drawings, and then I asked my artist friend if she had
any super large butcher-size paper. In fact, she did. And I stood with a pencil hovering over this
expanse of 5 foot wide and 4 feet tall paper laid on the floor of my apartment,
white, untouched, and daunting.

How do you start, where do you make a first mark? What if
it’s wrong, and you’ve ruined this enormous (and only) page you have?
I remember that moment, the taking of a deep
breath, and the creation of the first mark. And wherever it was on the page is now well-blended into the rest of the drawing, and you’d never know where
it began with a brave and tentative mark.
You drew that? Yep.
I’ve been drawing since I was a kid. I’ve stopped often. I thought I couldn’t
anymore, as a 40 oz went hand-in-hand with my art for a while. I
also tried again and so out of practice, was not so great, and put it away,
saying this wasn’t for me anymore.
Then, the parties began, and they were the impetus to draw
again, to paint, and make art again. With an aim and purpose, with people to
create an environment for, it was simple. It was enlivening, and it wasn’t
perfect. Yet it was fun.

I spoke the other week to my property manager about the
upstairs abandoned 4th floor room with the two work sinks, northern light, and
great ventilation. They’re happy to rent that space out to me for 25 bucks a
month. … Once I settle my account.
When I was sick, my landlord said about my rent, “Don’t
worry about it.” Which I thought meant, We’ll waive it. I found out later,
several months of not paying rent later, that in fact, what he meant was, “Pay
it when you can, and we’ll be counting every cent.”
So, I became over $4,000 in debt to my landlord, and even
though it was great that they held my rent for a while, it sucks that it wasn’t
clear that’s what was happening, as maybe I’d have begun paying sooner. But, it
wasn’t. I didn’t. And I’ve been paying $50 over my rent each month for over a
year now to help pay down the debt, because that’s truly what I can afford.
I have more than $3,000 left to pay back. Before I can
rent that art space. FOR TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS!! God, I want that space! But, first things first, I suppose.
In the meantime, maybe I do unroll those lips and put them
up, proof and inspiration once again that I can do what I fear, that I don’t
have to be perfect, that I love producing things, and that I have talent when I
focus.
Who doesn’t need a reminder like that?

community · expansion · growth · love · theater · trying

B’reishit: In the Beginning…

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This week in the Jewish calendar, having unscrolled and read
the whole Torah throughout the year, we come again to rewrap it all the way back to
the beginning to read the very first word: B’reishit, “In the
beginning.”
We’ve come to the end of something, and we wind it back to the beginning to start again.
I can’t think of a more appropriate coincidence and parallel
for my own life.
Yesterday afternoon, Addams Family The Musical closed to a
full house, once again. We said our final jokes, we emphasized things a little
more. We cried at that one “Happy/Sad” song that reminds us that most things in
life are a little of both. And when the final bows were over and the final
patrons thanked, we came back to the dressing room for the last time, finally
and pleasingly and thank god-ingly taking off our sweat-soaked costumes. The
last time getting someone to help me un-pin the dress, the last time taking off
the long and elaborate and hot wig, the
last time returning my mic pack to the sound designer.
And when this was all done, and most of the makeup had been
removed from our faces…
We began tearing down the set. The set that only a handful
of weeks ago we’d built, and painted, and staged, and seen evolve right before
our eyes. The same stage that only a few weeks before that, we’d all stood on
for auditions in the remnants of the set from the previous show.
And now, here we were, making this, our set “the remnants of a previous show.”
Because To Kill a Mockingbird opens in 4 weeks.
I asked some of the old-timers if they got a little wistful
breaking down something that was like another character in the show, if it was
sad to have put it all up, just to take it all down? And each of them said, No.
It’s part of the gig. They’re used to it. To the turn-over, to the letting go.
I’m not, yet! It was happy/sad for sure. It will be strange
tonight to come to the theater for Mockingbird rehearsal and see the bones of our Addams set on the stage, picked clean of the character we’d
built. And yet, if this isn’t a great lesson in the constant ebb and flow,
creation and destruction, then I don’t know what is.
In the beginning, we were tentative and perhaps shy,
getting used to one another’s personalities, contributions, moods.
In the beginning, we created something out of nothing, out
of a few words and notes on a page, sitting in a small room with a piano,
laughing a little, tense a little.
In the beginning, we didn’t know about the tech problems or
the extra rehearsals. We didn’t know the petty arguments we’d have, or the
number of times we’d have to control rolling our eyes.
In the beginning, we didn’t know the kind of joy and
laughter we’d create on-stage or back-stage. We didn’t know the relationships
we’d form, and the singular role each member of the cast and crew would take.
We didn’t know that we’d come to love each other.
And now that we’ve unscrolled to the end, and we’re about to
bring it all back to the beginning again, I am sure that we have learned
something, something critical to the nature of life and love and joy and
experience, that we didn’t know we would and that will carry us forward as we
start once more with new words and notes and castmates.
In the beginning, we were strangers. We’ll never be that way
again. 

community · fear · joy · love · performance · self-doubt · self-esteem · theater · trying

So, How’s the play?

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Oh, you mean that surprise piece of happenstance that’s underscored how unhappy I was at work by how happy I am in rehearsal and
performance?
That sudden flurry of activity that challenges me to quiet my inner
critic and do what I’ve written here I’ve always wanted to do: perform and
sing?
This universe of actor grumbling and sweaty mic packs and not
enough room at the backstage table and no air conditioning and that railing
that was never put in right and voice cracking and line flubbing and lighting failures?
Well, it’s fantastic!!
The buoyant aura of hard work and camaraderie, laughter and
support. Even when we’re elbowing for room at the table, or need to ask someone
for the hundredth time to hold your wig while you comb the bejeezus out of it –
you know you’re doing it in the service of something larger than you.
To be in performance
is so much more fueling than in rehearsal – like when they described
Sex
and the City
, they said “the City” was the 5th main
character. In a live performance, the audience is also a character, a member of
the staged community. “It’s a great audience tonight.” “They’re not really
laughing.” “They’re so into it.” You measure your performance not necessarily
by how much they laugh or applaud, but by what they give you and what you give
them back. And sometimes what you get is bolstering, and sometimes it’s not, but it’s always present. 
Creating something that never was and will never be again.
Flubbed it tonight? Live theater! Try it again tomorrow. Got your ridiculously long
wig stuck on a screw during an entrance? Have your co-actor unhook you and get
on with it. Didn’t get a laugh on that line tonight? Do it again tomorrow
anyway, because
you think it’s
funny. Try it differently. “Let’s get crazy,” to quote a line from the show.
In addition to all this, I’ve loved the backstage buzz.
People are talking about auditions and other musicals, and arguing about their
favorite. People are going over their next audition monologues and kibitzing
about where they’ll audition next and who the casting director is and if you
saw that one last play, and Boy Howdy what a success/disaster.
It’s thrilling to me!
Someone so new to this world, it’s like drinking from an oasis. People are
actually
talking about theater,
about acting, about what they’ll do next. And it’s inspiring me to continue
trying.
I know it would be very easy for me to not do anything for a
while, because of my upcoming job transition.
But, this play is part of the reason why
I’m changing career avenues. And much of the point of the changing avenue is to
change my schedule to accommodate
being in productions.
Hearing all the dressing room chatter about upcoming
auditions, I find I want to do more. And, like I wrote yesterday, it could be
easy for me to let this thread drop when it’s over – I know how to have a
flurry of activity followed by inaction. But being in the belly of the action,
hearing words fly back and forth and the encouragement and the excitement
shared by the other actors… I’m demanding from myself that I make these
outreach emails and audition calls now, before the play is through.
So, how’s the play? It’s changed and is changing my life.
It’s hard, and I feel inadequate, and I judge myself against
more experienced singers. I dread these two lyrics in the whole show and
challenge myself to not dread them, to be present and let it be what it’ll be
because it’s not the all of who I am or what I’m giving.
The show is fun and takes effort and requires me to be
present and accommodating and kind.
In short, the show requires me to live. And live bravely.
Amen. 

courage · fear · singing · trauma · trying

127 Hours

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From my blog on Friday, March 29, 2013:

These are the words that close Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection. The last
“guidepost” to what she calls Wholehearted Living is “Laughter, Song, and
Dance.”
It’s funny; she spends a lot of time saying how most
people feel really vulnerable when dancing, concerned with what people think of
how they look, or scared they’ll be told to “dial it down.” That’s not my
experience of dancing; it’s my experience of singing.
Yesterday, I had another voice lesson, this time with
someone in the cast who’s also a professional voice teacher. We’re working on
my “belt” range, where I need to be to sing for this role, and also the range
that, when done correctly, feels to me like yelling.
Shouting.
Being Loud.
Being Heard.
And where I begin to pull back. Close my throat, muffle the
sound. Close off. Shut down. Shine down. Diminish. Dull. Deflate.
I am so achingly terrified of being loud. Because deep in my
history is the terror of being hit.
If you make noise, you are noticed. If you are noticed, you
are a target.
This terrible defense mechanism I’ve built that stifles me.
Stifles me from the thing I am most passionate about. I don’t think this is
coincidental.
(I believe) We are pushed into the places of most discomfort in order to
heal from and emerge from them.
The years spent avoiding singing. The years spent writing
quietly. The moments when I do try, the self-doubt that pounces on me, that
shushes me.
I am walking right into the center of one of my greatest
fears. And I am emotional. Scared. And also, trying.
I am trying so hard. I want to do this so badly because I love it. Because I feel it’s beautiful, and transporting,
and transforming. Because I believe that song is one channel my soul wants to
shine through. Because it makes me happy, gleeful, expansive, collaborative,
alive.
I have one foot in a bear-trap. Constructed practically
in utero. It is rusted, craggy, and defunct. What this feels like is chewing
off my own limb to free myself. Painful. Awful. And completely necessary.
I don’t know what the outcome will be by the time the show
opens in 3 weeks. I don’t know if I’ll power through the “shouting” that I
think I’m doing, but exactly what my teacher yesterday applauded. I don’t know if I’ll
pull back. I might. It might still be too frightening to be truly heard, and to
truly give what I know I can.
And no matter the outcome, or what I perceive as the outcome (since apparently, I can’t hear
myself very well through all my shushing and evaluating and mishegas), I must
also know and acknowledge, that whatever the result, I am indeed trying to
dismantle this old trap.
Which is something I wasn’t willing to do before.