time to recharge

part of me has always hated self-help stuff. part of me knows that it’s the best dealio out there. i’ve taken a long break from this blog but now i’m ready to do it again. this time with slightly new eyes.

the main reason i think blogging is important is not because every sentence one utters is mind blowingly amazing, but it’s a reminder that the act of writing is important. and when you see someone else blogging and taking their thoughts seriously, i think it’s a good thing. it helps you do the same.

in some ways, i am so tired. soooooooo tired of my life being the way it is. predictable. same job. same house. same situation. it’s winter. it’s dark. i don’t like it. at the same time, i know that it doesn’t matter where you are and how much money you have and how fancy your stuff is, if you don’t enjoy you and yourself then the surroundings don’t matter. you have to enjoy yourself.

so it starts with you. can you enjoy you? are you proud of you? do you like you? and sometimes you have to learn or relearn how to toot your own horn because as you get older you don’t necessarily have a parent or coach or partner or bff always there to root you on. you have to learn how to do it for yourself. it sounds cheesy and dumb and annoying but you really have to do it. you have to learn how to be your own cheerleader.

so excuse my vanity now but i’m going to try to toot my own horn, as weird and awkward as this may sound.

  1. i’m good at making an instant latte: instant espresso powder and heated up milk on the stove. it makes less noise in the morning and it’s fast.
  2. if i get enough sleep and time to myself, i am a very patient person. if i don’t, i turn into a sourpuss. but when i do, i am really good at spouting self-help affirmations and advice whether people want to hear it or not. i believe self help affirmations are better than me yelling at people and i think they would agree.
  3. i like and i’m pretty good at talking to pretty much anyone. except maybe that homeless person wielding a sharp object but other than that i can talk to pretty much all folks. except maybe my old boss who had a beehive and a shrill voice and who wore outfits that i’d never be caught dead in and who made me feel very small and who i had absolutely zero in common with in terms of a sense of humor. but everyone else, yes.
  4. i’m pretty good at complimenting myself.
  5. i like writing and i do it quite a bit. occasionally i say something funny or deep stuff. much of the other time it’s just dribble drabble but somehow or another people put up with it or at least my friends are nice enough to just let me ramble on and do my own thing because i’m not generally hurting anyone with it. and for those whose eyes or ears i do hurt with it, well… no one is forcing them to read it. so if you’re one of those people, stop reading this. thanks.
  6. i like dmitri martin. a lot. and i just realized that i am now starting to sound like dmitri martin. but, you can’t help imitating your mentors, you know? your idols? i didn’t do this on purpose. i just loved pretty much every chapter he wrote in his book this is a book so somehow, like the actor that i am, i internalized it. so sue me. but please actually don’t sue me. i’m really writing this on my own and i promise to combine my style with his eventually to forge it into something new. i promise. please.
  7. i really am good at doing nothing. some people aren’t. some people need a plan. a direction. a purpose. a goal. an itemized ‘to do’ list for every day of their life. if i didn’t have to worry about money or anyone besides myself, i would have NO TROUBLE keeping myself entertained 24/7 and it would definitely involve zero plan making. plan making is for the birds. and, to be honest, i don’t even think they like it very much.
  8. i’m ready to start living the rest of my life.
  9. i really love lists. they separate your thoughts better than periods or paragraph breaks.
  10. but this is not an itemized list. no way jose! i don’t like ‘to do’ lists. not at all. nada.
  11. i am a really good procrastinator (i don’t even know what the theme of this list is anymore… maybe that’s a good thing). but i did learn something powerful recently. when asking a friend how she deals with her pile of things to do every day, she said, ‘you just have to do it.’ sound familiar? i didn’t realize she was using a variation of the Nike motto at the time so it had more of an impact on me than the Nike motto ever has had. just do it. it really makes a lot of sense. like right now. i don’t want to do it. i want to do what i’m doing. but in a few minutes, if i do want i want to do right now for a while, then i will DO IT. i really will. i know what i have to do and i don’t want to do it but knowing that i had some of my own real fun for awhile, then i’ll do the annoying stuff and just through it. that’s the best trick i know for combating annoying stuff you have to do.
  12. i’m running out of things to add to this list, but i’m not ready TO DO IT yet.
  13. i’m going to go check the heading of this list again to refresh my memory, get new ideas, etc.
  14. oh yeah, tooting my own horn. that’s what i’m supposed to be doing. hmmmm. let’s see. what else? i’m good at rambling. i’m good at meandering. i’m good at diversions. i’m good at deluding myself. i’m good at ignoring stuff that’s annoying. i’m good at going inside myself and burrowing there to hide from annoying stuff. i’m running out of things… i’m….. going……. to…….. do…………..IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rock on, single lady!

‘The joy of being alone’….I have NEVER in my life been able to say that and mean it. I mean really mean it. I might have had my moments, but to actually believe it for an extended period of time? Yup. I am finally there.

I’ve been reading about writers like Hemingway and Cheever and the necessity of being alone for creativity to unfold. And so far, all I hear from them is that it’s a blessing and a curse. Well, I’ve mostly felt the curse part of solitude. Now I’m feeling the blessing part, too.

Here is what I know about myself. I tend to focus on helping other people. I’m pretty good at it, in fact. That’s why I’m a teacher. The problem with being a teacher, though, is you forget to help yourself. You put everyone else first. And that gets sucky. You get so good at reading other people, that you forget to read yourself. You get so good at sensing what other people need or want, that you can’t remember what?…. huh?….. what was I saying?

I had this student once who talked about how she could never just sit still. How she always had to stay busy. It was almost impossible for her to lay down and rest, even  when she was sick. That’s how I am. But it’s not because I can’t sit down and chill. It’s because I feel like if I do, then the world is going to end. Bills need to be paid, dishes need to be done, cats need shots, the roof needs to be fixed, dogs need to be walked. There is an endless list of stuff always whirring around in my head so it takes tremendous fortitude for me to say ‘fuck it’ and just sit down and chill and to accept the mayhem that surrounds me.

Now, in 2017, I’m finally getting it. I finally understand why. I can’t sit still and not stay busy because I haven’t – in the past – liked to remember that I’m alone. At least if I’m doing things all the time (usually for other people, directly or indirectly), then I don’t have to think about the fact that I’m alone. Doing things becomes my way of staying connected. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it’s a thing. Like if I’m running around because I’m going to make a nice dinner for my family, then that’s nice. Or if I’m running around because the dog’s nails need to be trimmed to be happy, then that’s nice, too. But the part that is not nice is that I’m not running around enough for me.

So in 2017 that’s my resolution. If I’m going to run around, I’m doing it for moi more. And it may remind me that I’m alone but so be it. I’ll remember myself as a kid being happy on my own and hopefully that will be enough. I’ll remember that being content and being alone is an example that I can set my family. That nobody has to be there to complete you. That you are complete unto yourself. Because if you go through life thinking someone else is going to complete you, then you are fucked from the start.

Tidbits

I’m writing this because…

  1. I love my family and don’t see them enough.
  2. I have lived far away from my family for a long, long time, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to share the tidbits of my everyday life with them.
  3. I’m sharing this with the world, too, because I think if we all shared a bit more about ourselves with the people we care about the most then we’d all be a bit (and maybe a lot) happier for it but all too often we hide away these little tiny details because we think they’re not important. So, believe me, I’m not going to subject you to this all the time (folks who aren’t in my immediate family) but just maybe you might think I’m weird and wacky enough and silly enough that, while you’re laughing at me, you might get a wild hair up your butt and try to do something wildly weirdly loving to your family, too.

To my immediate family (immediate in love and spirit but far away in physical distance)… here are a few things that happened to me today just so we can feel a bit closer despite the distance. I’d love to know the little things (and big things) that happened to you, too. Plus, I like lists.

  1. I just realized that I used to do this as a kid. Each night before I went to bed, I would lay down and recount all of the cool things that happened to me that day. Bad things, too, for sure but I tended to focus on the good stuff. Call me ‘mushy’ and ‘do goody’ but it’s true.
  2. I have been dancing and doing ballet plies and tendus a lot the past few days and my legs already feel stronger. They’re actually sore, in fact. I can only do a partial plie before it feels like knives are cutting into my thigh muscles. Yayyy for pain!!!
  3. My finances are going to be better in 2017. Not only is this a 2017 resolution but I’m also making a bet. I’m betting myself that I will get it under control by the end of this month. If I can do it, then I’m going to splurge and reward myself somehow. I don’t know how but I will. Maybe a banana split. Maybe a massage (that’s covered by my insurance). Something!!! If I don’t do it by the end of this month, then I don’t get a banana split. No, something worse. I have to run a marathon? No, I have to sit and watch all of the Star Wars movies back to back. Hahahaha oh now I am really going to lose some readers of this blog (not that I had that many to begin with).
  4. I’m committing to at least 5 minutes a day editing my one-woman show. So far so good. Well, yesterday I did at least. Today? Tonight? There’s still time.
  5. I took our cat Willow for a check-up. She actually has NOT gained weight for three years although she FEELS fatter than ever. She was very cute and cuddly in the car. She whined and whined and then finally lay on my lap and looked up at me and purred. The ladies in the vet’s office loved her to death, too. They all started giggling and laughing and smiling and cooing at her when she waltzed in in my arms.
  6. I found a piece of our roof that had fallen off onto the grass but then I got a good idea and phoned a friend who can take a look at it tomorrow. Whew!!! Thank God!!!!
  7. My friend is a godsend. She reminds me how important it is to slow down enough and quiet down my life/mind enough to be able to hear that inner voice that reminds me of what I want/need (and stop being a people pleaser/accommodator of everyone else’s wants/needs).
  8. I love making coffee the French way. Instant espresso crystals in a bowl of warm milk.
  9. I’ve learned how to harness the power of my own voice. When things get tough, when the world starts making too many demands, I literally slow down how I speak and punctuate each syllable that I speak in order to ground what I’m saying in reality. I refuse to be rushed. I make sure I believe every word that I’m saying so that I speak with conviction. This really works well with fast food restaurants when they think that I’m a guy ordering because my voice is low and they haven’t seen me yet, so I correct them after I’ve made my order. ‘THANK YOU AND ACTUALLY, JUST SO YOU KNOW, I AM NOT A GUY. MY VOICE JUST HAPPENS TO BE LOW BECAUSE I’M A FEMALE TEACHER AND HAVING A COMMANDING VOICE HAS HELPED ME MANAGE CLASSROOMS BETTER OVER THE YEARS.’ Ok, I don’t really say ALL of that but you get the gist.
  10. I am continuing to realize that I’d rather be alone and finding time to clear my head and figure out what’s up then keep running around with too much on my plate to keep up with. I’m finally more and more at peace with ‘LESS’ going on. I’ve always dreaded the ‘alone’ thing to an extent, but I’m finally finally finally really okay with less being more. I’m being more choosy with whom and how I spend my time, in other words. And yes, I know I’m repeating myself sometimes but like a mantra or self-affirmation that works, it helps me remember what I need to do to be sane.

Great-Gods-of-the-Checkout-Lanes

I was waiting in a grocery checkout lane yesterday. I was in my own world not really wanting to chat with anyone, but it was fine because nobody seemed that interested in talking to me. On the periphery of my awareness, I heard the guy in front of me say something like, “Well maybe the lady behind me will want my stickers.” And then I realized I was being pulled into a conversation. This often happens to me. The more I disengage with the world, the more people try to suck me in. Anyway, I responded with a smile as I realized that he was offering me the stamps that go on this doohickey thing that SafeLay is doing as a promotional campaign. You get X number of stickers and it allows you to turn in your completed pamphlet for various pots and pans. I’ve earned one large pot so far, and I’m due for another.

Anyway, when I realized what he was up to, I perked up and tried to be social. He was, after all, giving me something for free. I didn’t want to be rude or ungrateful so I smiled and thanked him profusely (well, it felt like I was overdoing it, but I’d rather overdo then underdo it, ya know?). So he finished paying and left me the stickers on the little counter where (in olden days) people used to write checks. It seemed like he didn’t want to hand it to me. Maybe he thought I had germs? Maybe he was just keeping a polite distance. I don’t know. But there they were, waiting for me.

As I walked over to take his spot, I thanked him again. At this point, I knew I was overdoing it but I couldn’t help it. I felt like I had to fill a void. The void created when one human being makes a generous offer to you and you, as a human/social being, must fill that void with your imaginary hand of connection and solidarity. He was being nice and it was my turn to be nice, too As he walked away, I felt an impulse to go running after him, to thank him all the way to the parking lot, maybe even offer him my phone number. We could become grocery store friends. We could share our differing philosophies on how grocery stores have become warmer or colder over time. Whether it’s better to use the express self-check out lane or be a loyal Luddite and let a person ring up your groceries? Maybe I could buy him coffee and convince him to hang out longer and people watch with me? Maybe I could help him work on his finances since he clearly was clueless in terms of the cost-benefit analysis of saving stickers and getting free kitchenware? I don’t know, but I definitely felt like that transitory moment with a stranger in a checkout lane was incomplete. Thank you, prefrontal cortex, for letting me have closure with this unfinished incident. And thank you, great-gods-of-the-grocery store-checkout lanes-that-determine-our-lot-in-life for offering me this ephemeral insight into the beauty of human connection and (almost) simultaneous dissolution.

Write it down

There are so many kinds of writing out there but part of me keeps holding myself up to some expectation that I need to be writing a certain kind of novel or play. That I can’t write too much memoir. It’s self indulgent. That I can’t write about certain topics too much. That I can’t do this and I can’t do that. So many fucking can’ts in one’s mind. Pretty soon you can’t go anywhere or do anything. I’m fucking done with it. Sure I appreciate knowing what other people think about my writing but during the act of creation itself you can’t take all those people along for the ride.

That’s the lonely but also the exhilarating part of writing. You are alone with your mind. But the fun part is you get to trust where it will take you. It’s like lucid dreaming. You’re both in control of where you want to go and yet something inside you propels you and gives you ideas about where to go. Which is, of course, like life. We all want to think we know where we are going, but really… what drives and pushes and pulls us? Nobody  knows.

I’ll never forget how, when I was in fourth grade, I began to slowly grasp the concept of what writing a letter was all about. Writing a letter was, to me, like talking on the phone. Why would you do it? What’s the point? What are you supposed to say? It baffled me. What is so urgent that I have to put it in a letter and wait for it to get to them? Why can’t I just wait until I see them? It made no sense. I’m still not sure I get it, but… I sorta do. I think writing, like a monologue, is just a way for us to make sense of our world. And when we are lucky, we have some people in our life who are patient and kind and maybe even love us enough to stop and listen and care about what comes out. There is something magical about putting that shit out into the world. Something final and concrete about it. We’re a little less crazy for it. That’s all therapy is, I think. Someone being paid to listen to your babble to help you make sense of it. And that’s a good thing. But you can do it for yourself as well. Or with a friend.

I don’t understand, for instance, why people read my stuff on facebook. I mean, I am super grateful, for one thing. But when people respond and encourage me to write more, I am completely dumbfounded. I don’t get it. I really don’t understand or can hardly accept that people want more of my stuff. It feels so vain and self-indulgent to post things sometimes, but then to actually hear that people want more of it? it makes me feel dirty. Yup, dirty because I am actually relishing in the fact that they’re enjoying it. I know! So weird, but true. Vanity is a weird thing for me. I am always deathly afraid of ever becoming arrogant and vain and yet, I know, I need to somehow accept that what I do brings joy and silliness to people and whatever else people get out of it. But it’s hard to accept (let alone type) it. It feels stupid. But it shouldn’t be that way. Why is sharing who you are a ‘sin?’ There it is. SIN. The word that I grew up with in the ole Catholic schools. God love ‘em those Catholics. I learned a lot but they also infested my mind with some pretty fucked up ideas (sorry friends who are religious). Vanity…is… sinful. Ok, yes it can be. Sure. Anything taken to excess can be a sin. Drinking too much Mountain Dew can be a sin. Watching too much porn. Sitting on your ass too much. Spending too much money when people are poor. All of that can be a sin..[Sin (in my definition) meaning causing harm to somebody, including yourself.] But what is ‘excess?’ is it excessive when you are simply stating what needs to be said and what might bring healing or joy or laughter or stupid fun to somebody else? I think the only time writing is truly excessive is when there is no longer a thought in your head in even the remotest sense that what you are doing is destined to be in anyone else’s hands or mind. When you are truly solipsistic. And even then… it’s ok to write. You just should probably not put it out there until it’s been looked at a few more times and considered with an audience in mind. I think the sad thing about our world is that there is a whole lot of chatter and nonsense every day, but we still so often don’t share what REALLY needs to be said to the people who REALLY matter. We are afraid. Afraid to tell them the truth about how we feel, good or bad. Afraid that what we say might embarrass us, or hurt someone too much and so we hurt ourselves in the process holding it in. But there is another option. Write it down. Fictionalize it if you have to but get it out. Don’t let what you want to say be squashed so deep inside you that you end up in the grave someday never saying the things that are dying to get out. Get them out. They will benefit someone somewhere who might also be inspired not to live a half-awake life either.

Hollywood can kiss my bottom

It’s so weird traveling. I love it and despite it at the same time. I love it because it reminds me that there is a whole world out there beyond my usual four walls. That there are endless possibilities. That there are people with minds and ways of seeing completely foreign to me. Whose voices are voices that I never normally hear. Who have weird senses of humor that I can’t believe they get away with. Like this guy on the airplane sitting behind me who loudly exclaimed that he was glad that this other (slender) guy was sitting next to him because – thank god – he’s not another Jabba the Hutt.’ I mean, come on!!! I could never say that to a total stranger. Who can? It takes a certain kind of person who can say that. Not sure that that’s a good or bad thing, but still. Almost a Trump-like person. Again, not an admirable person to be compared with (IMHO) but I was intrigued. So I kept listening and it turned out that this guy was anything but a Trumpite. He was a Hollywood exec type who liked to do a lot of name dropping. He was a co-producer working for Cameron Crowe and every other comment outta his mouth was  ‘Jerry Macguire’ this and ‘Tom Cruise’ that. I was intrigued at first. I wanted to know how the mind of a Hollywood exec sounded. I listened for a long time but then the plane started going through some serious turbulence. So much so that I was gripping my book and saying my prayers (and I’m agnostic unless a serious emergency is at hand – I figure God has enough on his plate and s/he doesn’t have to listen to me unless there is a really bad situation to deal with). Anyway, there I was panic stricken and all this guy did was interrupt the flow of his conversation for half a second by saying ‘Yeah, turbulence is a bitch sometimes’ and then he was back to his nonstop monologue of self-glorification.

When I finally got off the plane and my dad picked me up, we drove along the 405 freeway and I started remembering the good ole days when I first got out of college and started working little jobs on movie sets. There was one job I got that totally turned my stomach in regards to ever wanting to work in Hollywood (stop reading now if you have any genuine dreams of ‘making it’ in Hollywood – I’m not here to crush your dreams. Really, I’m not. I just want to set the record straight and offer a different version of the Hollywood story. Sure, some people are cut out for it and that’s awesome. For me? I felt guilty for years because I wasn’t interested in getting into that ratrace. I thought there was something wrong with me. It turns out: nope. There are just different strokes for different folks and I prefer doing the freestyle.)

So anyway, back to the main point (sorry but I like taking meandering paths at times). I was working as a prop person (I think the term ‘prop mistress’ is demeaning and sexist) on this set. And I found myself doing a lot of standing around waiting for the director and cameraman to take a certain shot. A lot of primping and fluffing and talking and eating from the appetizer table and then more talking and more standing around and more chitchat and more networking and namedropping and then more eating. And then maybe…10 seconds of a scene was shot. And then more talking and standing around…. You get the picture.

I’m sorry but with several identical experiences on movie sets within about six months, I was done. I didn’t get it. I didn’t know how on God’s gradually less green earth that would be remotely interesting to anyone but I’m glad, for some people, it is. And I’m not saying this to be all ‘sour grapes’ and Aesop’s fables-ish about it. I just am honestly glad that I made that decision a long time ago to get the hell outta dodge. No guilt. I do not want to live here. EVER. I love my family but this town? No way no way no fucking way. I love the warmth. I love the sun. I love the open skies. I love even the tinsel town aspect. I love the new eateries that pop up and I love the people watching opportunities. And not because care to sound disdainful. I am genuinely curious about people and I want to know what all kinds of people are like…. With the proviso that I can get faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrr away when I need to. Very far away. Writing helps me get away.

P.S. There are sweet and kind and nice people in LA, too. I ran into several already. And I will write about them as well. Next blog.

Ferris wheel dangling

I compare everything to when I was a little kid.

I’m pretty sure the happiest I ever was… on a consistent basis… was when I was a kid. Maybe like 7 or so. Yup, that was the best time.

It’s not that I’m not happy now. Most of the time I’m pretty happy but the time of my life was when I would go to bed happy and wake up happy. I used to lay in bed and catalogue all of the wonderful things that had happened that day and then in the morning I would wake up very excited about what the day would bring. The sheer fact that I had no clue what it would bring is what made me even more excited. And now?

Hmmm…. Not to be pessimistic, but it’s not quite the same. Still, I have my moments.

Most of the time my time is spent either taking care of students, my kids, my family and friends, and myself. And not in that order necessarily. Taking care. Yup. In fact, I just realized…. That is pretty much how I end every conversation, “Take care!” Oh my god!! I’m so terrible. Maybe that’s some kind of subliminal message. Maybe what I’m really saying is that I’m tired of taking care of other people, so I’m trying to persuade other people to take care of themselves????!!! Aghgghghghhghghg!!!! But when I was a kid, I didn’t have all those responsibilities. It was just me and my imagination and my family and a few friends and my cats and dogs and chickens. That was it. and I wasn’t taking care of them really. Just enjoying them. Not that ‘taking care’ is separate from ‘enjoying’ necessarily…. It’s just…. different. There’s a level of responsibility that comes with ‘taking care.’ Not much time to just…. Be.

But I’m getting better at that. Just being. And I’m realizing that if I don’t take care of me first and finding time to just ‘be,’ then there is less and less enjoyment in all the other things that I do. And yes, I know I’ve said this before but GOD ALMIGHTY IF I DON’T SAY IT A FEW TIMES I TEND TO FORGET AND GO RIGHT BACK TO NOT TAKING GOOD CARE OF MYSELF FIRST.

And here’s the other thing. The little things. I am an obsessive watcher of ‘school of life’ youtube videos. The latest one is about taking pleasure in the ‘little things’ because essentially our lives are frequented more by smaller moments of joy than just huge moments of joy (e.g. promotion, lottery, getting married, having a baby, traveling to exotic countries) and so if you learn to slow down and savor more of the little moments of pleasure hour by hour then the cumulative effect of pleasure/joy is much greater. And so, in keeping with that philosophy, today I have made a change.

I no longer care about finding ‘the one.’ If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, then I’m still going to enjoy moment by moment the little things.

I’m not saying this to be heavy and serious. I’m saying this because it’s true. I’m just done. Fucking done. Fuck circumstances. Fuck it. Fuck polyamory. Fuck open relationships. Fuck long distance relationships. Fuck it. Fuck movies that inspire romantic nonsense that you’re only going to be happy if someone is hanging from a ferris wheel and being willing to drop dead if you don’t go out on a date with them. I want to get back to that happy girl I once was who woke up in the morning excited to just be alive. I wasn’t excited because I would find Mr. Prince Charming that day. I was just excited. I wanted life to surprise me and it did. I didn’t have huge fucking expectations. That’s who I want to be again. And if you’ve found someone, that’s fucking awesome! That’s amazing! I don’t mean to take that away from you. I’m just saying…. I’m going to start enjoying my life right now as it is whether or not anyone else ever comes along for the ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drapetomania (n.): an overwhelming urge to run away.

When I was about nine, my family and I visited these ole friends in Vancouver, British Columbia. We had been living in New York City for a couple of years. Well, all over the U.S. really. California, Connecticut, New York. And we had decided to come back to California via Canada.

There was a boy in the family, maybe a year older than me, who I started to like. I’m not sure when I started liking him but I think it coincided with when I started tutoring him in math. It was summer time but for some reason he needed help with math, so there I was, sitting in the dining room with him, leading him through math problems. I felt proud and strong that I could help someone and it was the first time I started even remotely thinking about being a teacher.

Anyhoo, my crush grew within just the week or so that we stayed there. It grew to the point that when I heard a Beatle’s song playing in the living room – ‘The long and winding road’ – I started to feel sentimental that I would be leaving him soon. I knew this little budding romance would go nowhere but I was enjoying savoring the feelings that he conjured up in me.

And then, on the last day we were there, my family and his went for a walk. It was a long walk on a paved path that led up to some monument in Vancouver. It had a view of all the city and it was twilight. We walked and walked and walked. And then, after we got to the top, we turned around and started heading back down. I’m not sure what prompted me to do this next thing I did. Maybe his mom had said something about her son or maybe it was an even more generalized statement like, ‘I bet you’re going to miss staying at our house’ with some pointed look towards me and him. I don’t know, but I started running. I just ran and ran and ran and ran. After a while, I just started enjoying the run. The feeling of running downhill in the summertime at night. The feeling that eventually they would have to start chasing me and trying to find me. I enjoyed the powerful feeling of running away and getting attention for it. I enjoyed the mystery of it. But mostly I just enjoyed the running part. When I looked back, I saw his mom running faster than me and catching up with me. Finally I slowed down and let her. And I thought she would laugh because by that point I was just having fun running and had forgotten why I did it in the first place. But she didn’t. She was very worried about me and started asking me all kinds of questions about what was wrong with me. I thought it was super funny. I mean, I felt fine. What was she so worried about? And the more worried she became, the more laughable it all seemed to me.

I’ll never forget that run. And the fact that I’ve never liked people pointing out when I like someone. Or the fact that I love running down hills. Or the fact that sometimes it’s fun to run away from your problems. Or the fact that sometimes problems are worth running away from and contemplating later, if ever. Or the fact that on that trip I started to love teaching.

But mostly I like remembering memories like this because they remind me that life can be pretty simple. With all the stress and worry about climate change and Trump and xenophobia and gun control and lack of critical thinking and fake news and more and more and more to worry and fret and stress about and more and more and then more, it’s nice to remember that you don’t have to freak out all the time. And that sometimes the most restorative means for dealing with any of the onslaught is simply to remember that sanity can exist. Even if nutcases do take office, you don’t have to become a reactionary like them. You can stay calm and laugh despite the panic and hysteria and realize that no one solved much of anything by being agitated and stressed about it. So just take a chill pill. The rest of the shit will always be there. But you can step away from it sometimes and not feel guilty about it.

 

 

 

Voices in my head

It’s time to listen to the nice voices in your head.

We all have them. And we all have, even if it’s just a smidgeon, some not so nice voices. And it doesn’t matter how perfect or imperfect your childhood might have been, it seems that the negative is always louder than the positive (which they say is due to the fact that, instinctually, our need for self-preservation makes our minds more alert to potential threats (negative) than positivity). So…. Lard it on, people! Lard on the positivity by listening intensely to the nice voices in your head to counteract the negative tendencies.

Here’s what I like to do to cultivate the presence of nice voices in the garden of my mind. I like to….

  • Give myself little rewards whenever I can. Even if I’ve just accomplished a little thing like make that annoying phonecall to set up an appointment that I didn’t want to have to deal with. I did it so now I get something for it. Today I got a spoonful of molasses for that little annoyance.
  • I’ll dance. I’ll put on a youtube video with some new ballet moves or tap dance moves or hip hop moves and I’ll pretend I’m a virtuoso ballerina/hip hop/modern dancer and regale the animals sitting on my bed if no one else.
  • I’ll dance in the kitchen. While I’m waiting for something to warm up in the microwave, I will do plies and stretch and I’ll kick my leg up behind and in front of me in various arabesque moves and it feels good.
  • I install more mirrors. Yup. Mirrors. I forget to even stop and look at myself sometimes because I am running so much from task to task. When I see my reflection even in my computer screen, I realize that, ‘Hey! Who is that pretty lady right there? It’s me! Goddammit, it’s me! And I better start appreciating myself because god knows when anyone else will.’
  • I avoid things. Yes, avoid. I should go to the car mechanic right now. I went over a bump last night in the street and I really should go and check it out to make sure it’s ok. But then, again, why not NOT do it? I mean, the mechanic is probably going to say, ‘Well, looks alright to me.’ Or, ‘Just drive it until something breaks down on it.’ Or, ‘It’s probably nothing. Stop worrying.’ Or he’d look under it, like I did, and notice the little scratch mark on the undercarriage and say, ‘Well, it’s probably fine. But I can charge you $150 to lift it up and tell you the same thing. What do you want to do?’ So, I don’t know. I’m tempted to just drive it until it does something that warrants me taking it in. But then again, for the sake of peace of mind, I might just go in and be told simply that ‘it’s nothing.’ So I think I’ll take it in, but I’m not going to rush to take it in. I’ll take it in on my own sweet ass time because this is the first day in a long string of days that I’ve had entirely/mostly to myself so I refuse to be rushed around today. Not one fucking jot goddammit!!!
  • In order to hear the happier, less stressed out voices in my mind, I need to simply counter them with calming, soothing nice tones in my head. ‘Lara, you will be fine. Lara, there is nothing to worry about. Lara, there will always be someone worrying about something out there. Just stop worrying. Your legs work, you can breathe, you’re not hungry and your kids are ok. Stop worrying. Lara, there are people in this world who wake up every day relaxed and carefree. You used to do that as a kid. You can do it again. And they’re not even rich people who do this. There are poor people out there who are happy every/mostly goddam day. You saw it in the video on ‘Happiness’ so it has to be true. The point of that documentary was…. As long as you have a loving support system of enough people, then you can be happy no matter what. And, yes, sometimes it’s a delicate balance of how you maintain that support system because sometimes some folks can take more out of you than you even have to give but that’s why you’ve got to take care of yourself first and stop feeling selfish about it. You’re doing the world a favor by being good and kind to yourself because then you can make the rational choices you need to make to keep your sanity intact for all. Take care of yourself, goddammit, Lara! (Ooops, the voices are getting mean again…)
  • And, above all else, have a good, well functioning, fucking sense of humor for chrissakes! That’s the key to it all. At least for me. I know it is. Laugh, for fuck’s sake. Nothing fucking nothing is worth getting that bent out of shape about. Fucking laugh about it! Enjoy!!!! Life is short!!! Who the fuck needs to dwell on negative ass shit!!!! Have some fucking fun!!!!!
  • And if that doesn’t cheer me up, I don’t know what will.