finance · goals · writing

Eyes on the Prize.

4.18.18Yesterday afternoon, I had the first call of my new Goals Group.  Like the last one I participated in, we’ll have a group phone call wherein we’ll walk through a series of weekly assigned questions—about our vision for our lives, our goals, a specific goal, what blocks us from this goal, how we can accept help to overcome these blocks, and how we will maintain these (generally spiritual) connections to ensure we continue actions toward fulfilling our vision.

PHEW!  That’s a mouthful, but does generally give you the scope of this work.  At the rate of a call a week (a question or two each week), we’ll end in about 6 months, as did my group that ended in February.

Additionally, we make commitments to actions for the upcoming week that may be in the vein of our goals or seemingly unrelated—e.g. grade papers, take a walk… no, those weren’t mine! … *shifty eyes*

A few things came out of the call for me last night: 1) I need to increase my income to support the philanthropic life I want to lead; 2) I’m going to have to write that book that’s been on my mind (damnit); 3) I need to adjust how I employ my time if I will achieve #s 1 and 2.

Therefore, I committed to my group the following non-committal action: “I commit to experimenting with blogging Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and use Tuesday/Thursday to do my other writing (book, goals pages).”

I commit to experimenting!  Ha!

Well, that’s the truth of it.  I love blogging regularly.  I love that a theme or title will come to me during the day that I’ll file away for tomorrow.  I love the calm and the energy that I receive when I write here—the connection, the humor, the reflection.  BUT, there are no blog police demanding I write daily (right??), and in fact I’d whittled down the frequency from 7 days a week to 5 not long ago.

Realistically, though, I’ve been dropping 1 of those 5 days lately and the hour I devote each morning drafting, editing, photo searching, and posting is an hour that can be spent in service of goals 1 & 2.

Blogging is a part of this vision, and I may indeed begin modifying the format and purpose of my blog to support the book (AKA I want your stories!), but for now my goal is to use all of my time efficiently and effectively, and in the service of my visions.

So, Dear Reader, firstly, THANK YOU.  I know a dozen (sometimes 2 or 3 dozen!) of you read my blog, and it’s a boon to my spirit when I receive a text or comment or facebook message that says my writing affected you—brought you to question circumstances in your own life, gave you a new tool, or allowed you to feel connected to me.  For this, I am so insanely grateful.  I am so glad you are here.

Secondly… I’ll see you on Friday, peeps!;)  Much love,  M.

 

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balance · money · relationships · writing

Early Bird and the Gimme Gimmes

libra 8 17 17

Today, I write you from the lounge in the building at my new school.  I wanted to see what traffic would be like if I tried to arrive on time for teaching, rather than on time for our faculty work day.

I wasn’t on time.

Even leaving before blogging, an hour in advance, I wasn’t on time for what will need to be my settling in and minor morning prep, particularly as Monday mornings will find me teaching from 8:02am to 12:20pm, with one 15-minute break.

… Oy.

In a continuation of the Efficiency and Effectiveness in the World theme, it is likely that I will change this from a daily blog to a weekly blog starting Sunday.  I don’t want to do this. I like the process of writing you everyday, but to touch on the relationship theme I’ve also been jamming on, it’s also got to work for me.

Part of the reason I want to continue writing daily is a grasping one: I want to make money.

What??

Stick with me here:  There are several people in the world who have established a name and a voice for themselves via their blog, and then published a successful (even moderately so) book in the world.  I’d like to be one of them.

I want to publish a book because, a) I feel like a book is supposed to happen (likely several, of different genres), and b) I want to make money.

Ha!  Oh, Molly, your grand schemes and designs.

There’s nothing at all wrong with wanting to make more money, but if I think that my creativity is obliged to bring that to me, I’m sorely mistaken.  If as a natural, ancillary byproduct of Reason A (to write because I need and want to write), I arrive at Reason B, grand.  But I cannot make them the other way around.

Which is sort of what my attachment to writing this daily would be (to court, sustain, and curry your devotion), particularly if that was to mean waking up at 4:30am, instead of the current 5:30am.  (Did I mention I already have sleep problems??!)

I want your eyes; I hunger for your revelations and communion.  And because of that desperation, I will lose myself and you, not necessarily in that order.

So, lovely readers, our relationship will have to morph and evolve as both our needs evolve. We’ll have to support each other as best as we can as we work to support our selves. Sounds healthy, no?

career · clarity · inspiration · love · spirituality · writing

I’ve started hearing voices again.

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I’ve started hearing voices again.
Now, before you call the padded-room brigade, this is a good thing.
In the time and space I’ve had since quitting my full-time
job at the end of October (despite the roar of negative thoughts and virulent
self-questioning), I have begun to find space behind the thinking. And it is
within this space that I’ve always germinated the seeds of my writing.
When I explain it in person, I raise my arm behind my
head, and wave my hand in the general direction of “back here.” I tell them
that it’s like there’s a room back behind my head, where the ideas start to
percolate. They marinate, germinate, ruminate, and when they’re ready — the indicator popping up like the thermometer in a slab of roasting turkey — I open
the door and chase them onto a page.
By the time the door opens, they’re pretty fully-formed. But
they need the time and space and freedom to sit back there, talking amongst
themselves, these ideas. I can hear them back there, murmuring. I begin to hear bits of
phrases. The sense of a topic, a genre.
My waking thoughts start to curve in that direction; they
start to gather information that all funnels to the same place. I collect these bits and feed them like coal into a furnace.
It’s partly, I know, the time and space that I have to
think, not crowded with the demands of a 40-hour job. But it’s also working on
“To Kill a Mockingbird,” reading the book at night, becoming immersed the language. (I used the word “rightly” twice in a recent blog; I become a sponge and a
regurgitant of what I feed my brain.) It’s also watching Netflix’s “Peaky Blinders,” and
being stunned by the cinematography, the bold and sweeping camera work
inspiring me, reminding me of the nuance and exaltation of art.
It’s listening to NPR, and a man’s purple report of bison grazing in Canada, when the song of birds “split the
silence like a candle,” and it became “the end of a day that started as a
morning.”
I begin to collect these images, words, sensations like a
magpie, not knowing what will be useful, but shoveling it all in anyway,
trusting my process of alchemy.
I’ve begun hearing voices again. And this brings me hope.

fate · life · possibility · writing

storytime

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In soft, rainy weather like this, you warm up a mug of cider, coffee, cocoa, cradling your palms around it for heat. You sink into the couch and watch vaguely out the window as everything gets welcomely
drenched.
Your mind begins to drift, out of plan-making, errand-plotting, and back into the story that’s always being told.
It’s the one you were told before you were born. About wood
nymphs, and magic, and the luminescence of play. It tells of quests and triumphs,
failures and wounds burdened. It reminds you of the goat you rescue and the
crow you chase out of the darkness. The lovers you are meant to kiss and those who trick you into it.
In the story that is always behind thought, you meld
with ancient heroes, you are the foes they vanquish, and the cities they lay
waste to. You are the sword of justice and of vengeance. Both the hag and lady of the lake. You are the
unquantified stem cell of protagonist.
In grey weather like this, you aren’t yourself any longer,
because you’ve gone back to what you’ve always been: everything. nothing. and
teeming with every ending ever conceived. 

action · community · faith · perseverance · recovery · self-care · spirituality · writing

Don’t Freak Out: A How-To.

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When I was sick, I became extremely diligent about my
spiritual practice.
Despite, or perhaps including, the conversations I had with
a few select friends about the nature, existence, purpose, and questionable
benevolence of a Higher Power, I knew that my safest and surest course through
all that uncertainty, fear, and buzzing activity around me was to touch base
with my center.
It really was only after the first month, though, that I was
able to write. I found my first journal entry in a notebook friends had brought
me in the hospital just days after I was diagnosed. It begins Saturday, September 29, 2012.
There’s one on the 30th, and then it stops. Until after my month of chemo and
recovery in the hospital.
But, thereafter, I made it a huge part of my practice to
journal, meditate, and eventually write my near-daily blog. I even made the
nurse put a sign on my hospital room door that read, “Meditation in progress;
Come back in 20 minutes.” (I personally loved that this meant people would
continually be turned away without a firm time listed, and I could have some
solitude in that busy and anxious place!)
But, I think about this practice now (journal, meditate, blog), one that was common
for me before I was sick, one that was essential to me during my treatments, and one that still needs to be a part of my
daily life.
Meetings, Movement, and Meditation are my recipe for sanity.
And most recently, with all the hubbub, I’m lucky to get even one in there.
But I know very specifically and with assurance that it not
only works, it also helps to light my way through.
I am in another place of uncertainty, fear, and buzzing activity. And my only way through is to have the anchors of my
practice.
There’s a phrase I’ve heard, “Most days I meditate for
thirty minutes, but on really busy days, I meditate for an hour.” Not that I’m doing that! But the intention is there; the intention to give myself even more time and space to coalesce, to touch down, to get
grounded, and to listen.
I have less trouble listening as I do heeding. It’s all well
and good to listen, and I can do that, and sometimes get answers or guidance;
but if I’m not following through or up on the information I receive, what’s the
point? Then I simply know what I’m not
doing and get to beat myself up for it!
And, I guess that’s not the point either.
I get to remember this morning that I have been in more dire
straits than the one I’m currently in: Job ending Friday; uncertain income
sources; uncertain path toward fulfillment. I get to remember that I’ve been
here before with previous job changes, and I’ve emotionally been here before
because of cancer. Nothing puts things in perspective like cancer!
And if I could have gotten through what I did, using the
recipe I know works every single time, then I am bidden to use it again. Journal,
meditate, blog. Meetings, movement, meditation. Heed the information I’m given.
Rest.
This career shift is all about buying myself time to see myself more
clearly, to see my future more clearly, and to create the space and time in
which to build toward those goals. This isn’t about busy work, or a brain
fogged with anxiety. This isn’t about despair or hopelessness.
This isn’t even about simply “getting through” this time.
This time is important; being in this
transition space is
important.
It’s not simply, Batten down the hatches til the storm passes. This isn’t about
ostriching my head into the sand. It will be important for me to be aware
through all of this time, to listen through it, and to be aware.
To not hide from my own change, because then I won’t know
where I’m going or what I’m doing. I have to stay present with this change. I
have to acknowledge that I’m uncomfortable, and that I’m taking positive steps.
I have to acknowledge where I’m neglecting myself and acting out my anxiety in less than healthy ways. And in order to know any of
these things, I have to be present.
And that’s ultimately what each of these “recipes” does for
me – they help me get and stay present.
So, yesterday I did
cancel that modeling gig. I went to meet up with folks I hadn’t seen in a
while. I got my vacuum cleaner fixed, went to the farmer’s market, put that bookshelf into my closet. I
bought dish soap.
The more I engage in my recipes, the better I feel. The
better I feel, the more able I am to take care of myself and to take actions
that support me. The more I take action, the better I feel.
It’s a continuous positive feedback loop that has carried me
through the most atrocious and trying of circumstances. With grace.  


And if I can remember that — I am voraciously confident, it can carry me through this. 

aspiration · authenticity · consistency · courage · death · fear · life · procrastination · responsibility · self-abandonment · writing

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow…

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Why aren’t you writing for a living?
Because it’s just a hobby, an escape.
Why aren’t you writing for a living?
Because it’s too hard and I’m not good enough.
Why aren’t you writing for a living?
Because I don’t know how to show up consistently.
Any of these types of questions ever cross your mind? Any of these questions
and immediate quashings?
This morning, that question came to me. I always dismiss my writing becoming a means or an ends.
I don’t make the time; I haven’t touched the essay my aunt said I should submit to
the New York Times’ Modern Love section. I haven’t crafted anything for the The
Sun
, a magazine at least 3 people have
suggested I submit my work to.
It’s just me
being me. How is that worthy or interesting or enough?
Because I saw someone else had clicked on it, I just re-read a blog I wrote in January, Remember What the Redwoods Told You, about being “told”
by the trees that I was going to live through my cancer. And as I read through
the end of it, about being given the chance to
be in my life, to make this time worthy, I think about
all the procrastination and fear I still let grab hold of my ankles.
This is not a self-flagellation blog; as you can read in
italics above, I already have plenty of those thoughts. But, they are just
thoughts, not facts. And thoughts can be changed. Through action.
“Act your way into right thinking,” the phrase goes.
I’ve “thought” for a while about waking up earlier (yes,
even earlier) to do some “real” writing.
It hasn’t happened yet, and that’s okay, but I know that I work better in the
morning, when my brain cells still have some anima.
And as I was finding this question arise in my meditation
this morning, goading me to find a legitimate reason for postponing my good, I
thought of a perfect resource friend I can reach out to about this, and
actually get something into action. And maybe deadline.
Because, as my acting friend told me earlier this week when
I asked her how she “makes” herself learn monologues, she answered, Deadlines.
She sets up deadlines by signing up for auditions, and makes sure she has a
back pocket filled with current monologues.
To paraphrase, Our growth can come as much from our actively
seeking it, as it can from being forced.
But, it helps to be pushed a little.
That’s what registering for these auditions is for me, a
push to get back into it, to not let another month and another month slide off
the calendar. To make this year “worthwhile,” to me means to actually do those things that I think are for other people,
people with talent or time or resources. Bull.
The only difference between them and me is action. Nothing
more.
A rallying, warrior cry sounds every day for me. It is my
choice to heed its call or to roll over and hit Snooze.
And yet, it is also my choice to condemn myself or not on the days
I do hit Snooze. As I wrote yesterday, there’s no use in beating myself
up for not being where I want to be – that doesn’t actually get me there
quicker.
What helps with all of this is accountability, which a
deadline is, but also what friends can be. I’ve been toying with the idea
(thinking, again!) recently of getting an “Action Buddy,” or “Accountability
Partner” whatever you want to call it.
I know this is a system that works for many people, and I
believe it could work for me. So, with all irony, I’m going to add “Get an
Accountability Buddy” to my list of personal actions… and see if I can hold
myself accountable to that!
Because there is no reason I’m not writing that is valid. I
know there’s grist here; I know there’s “enough” talent. I would love to take
actions that reflect that knowledge. Because, if you haven’t noticed, I seem to
think that Time is our most precious natural resource of all.

adulthood · compassion · connection · courage · friendship · healing · leadership · perseverance · recovery · self-love · trauma · writing

Seeing Someone

Yesterday, I saw my new somatic therapist for the 2nd time,
and we’ve decided to continue to work together, for the next little
while. I don’t know, exactly, what changes will be wrought from it, but it’s
nice to have someone to talk to again who’s third party and kind and uninvested
in propping me up or giving me advice.
Which isn’t to say she isn’t keen on helping me recover and
heal, but she doesn’t really have any agenda except that. Which is nice.
At the end of the session, I said how it galls me that I was supposed to, all these years, work on trauma recovery and grieving, and now I
have to go through recovery from the trauma and grieving of cancer to even
get to that layer of healing and muck.
She said something heartening, which I’m not sure I agree
with yet, but maybe will eventually: That it’s all connected. That if we work
on one part, it’s pulling on all the others. Like a spider web, if I work and
tug and pull and excise over here, it’ll ripple across and affect the other
parts.
We’ll see. As always, the act of showing up is one of hope
that things (that I, my life and how I engage in or hide from it) will
change. I have hope, every time I call a friend or reach out for help or write
this blog – this blog is an act of writing myself out of the darkness.
In my “stats,” I see someone read that first blog called
“Cancer,” so this morning I went back to read it too. So much of what I wrote
about the recovery process was true and so many of the questions are still the
same, if not a little more in focus. My cousin is a doctor in palliative care,
and reads my blog (Hi, L.!), and she emailed me the other day after she’d read
my blog to say she’d never thought of life-threatening illness as trauma
before, but of course it is. And to thank me for the bravery of putting my
process of coagulation up for the help of so many.
It’s interesting to read back to that first blog, and to
read the virulent ambivalence of being “an inspiration.” And it’s something
that came up yesterday in my session: the desire to be someone who holds the
torch, and the desire to stop being the
f’ing person who holds the torch all the time.
The duality of being a leader, if you can call this that
(which, frankly, I’m coming to see it is), is that sometimes you want to just
march along with everyone else. You get tired of standing at the top of the
mountain alone to look out and see where you should go next, what horizons need
staking. You get tired of being the one who charges into the fray – of being
the person, as I wrote in that blog, who just “goes with it,” faces it, accepts
it.
AND YET, of course, for me, I want to be that person, too – I want to be the person who is a light for others; I want to be a teacher and a leader and an inspiration. I
want to exact positive change in the world.
Yesterday, in session, we spoke about vascillating between
both these feelings, and allowing it to be. It’s part of owning the all of
myself: the fearless leader, and the exhausted soldier. The tireless explorer,
and the guy who just wants to carry the horse oats and play cards in the tent.
I think part of my ambivalence is a conscious understanding
of what leadership might mean, too. To recognize, without slipping into
workaholism or unseeing “progress,” that I am, and have always been Both/And.
At some point, I also told her that I’d been scrolling
through my profile photos on Facebook just the other day, since I’d put a new
one up. And I came, on Tuesday, sitting in my car waiting to meet up with some folks,
to the photo of myself at graduation from Mills College in May of 2012. That I
stand with a cap and gown, long hair, and a “radiant smile,” I told her.
I told her how I began to cry, looking at that photo, out of
grief that that girl had to go, and would go, through all this. That she had no idea what was about to happen. That the innocence of that
moment and that glee was … time-limited. To see that girl, to know what she was
about to go through, to feel so sorry that she does and will, and still is, is
grief. To know that my right eyelid will never look quite the same, an eye
infection during chemo causing it to droop slightly, so that I can see it now,
though others can’t. To know what that graduation day meant to me – to accomplish
something, to put my energies in and to excel, learn, progress, and shine.
I suppose, truthfully, I can say the same for my current
profile photo. Almost 2 years later, headshots for theater gigs. The result of
something I’ve also put my energies and monies and progress toward in order to
shine the way I know that photo does, too.
It’ll take some time, as I wrote in that first cancer blog,
to heal from all this. But I am a leader with a torch–though, please,
sometimes, can you be one too?