If I don’t believe in Love….

I’ve had this sort of weird realization lately. You see, when I’m sitting on an airplane and I’ve completed all of the tasks at hand, there’s a phase of flight where I’ve taken my jumpseat and we’re descending into landing and I have some time to think. Sometimes I worry I think too much. I internalize a lot. I wait to speak until I’ve formed it perfectly in my mind. (Which is what makes me so entertaining when I drink – that filter gets turned off. And I royally put my foot in my mouth. A lot. But that’s another story for another day.)

Recently, I was on a trip, and texting with a friend of mine throughout the day as I flew, and we were talking about our dating lives. (which I always appreciate because I miss my friends a lot when I’m gone, and I feel like miss out on these little day to day things, so sporadic as it is, it’s like an ongoing conversation we have all day and I love it.)

She was updating me on her feelings about her most recent experiences. I was trying to think of something encouraging and positive to say about love. I couldn’t.

You should know, if you don’t by now, I am a total sucker for love.  I read all the love stories. Watch all the lovey-dovey movies. Gaze at the moon at night and wish that I was leaning into the arms of someone I love as they gaze at it too.  I realize that I’m a hopeless romantic because I love all of these IDEAS of love.  The ideas of finding your soul mate, twin flame, true love – whatever the phrase/intention is – it’s a beautiful thought that something like that could actually be a reality.

You should also know, I’ve taken a break from my dating life since I started this whole flying adventure. I just didn’t have the capacity to focus on it, and also I felt like a fuck-up, on a colossal scale. I really wanted to get to the bottom of it, emotionally. I’ve had points where I’ve had unexpected moments that make me re-think that break, but still I pull back because I want to make sure I’m going towards something healthy and positive for myself.

Upon this reflection whilst seated in the jumpseat of an ERJ175, now I see I’m the Fox Mulder of love. I want to believe. I see the evidence all around me. People who’ve met their soul mate on the internet. People who met their true love in a pub on a rainy night in Ireland. Pen pals that finally meet after years of writing each other and it’s destiny. People who met while on work assignments or in the grocery story and find “The One”. But personally, I’ve become convinced it’s a smokescreen created by Hollywood and the Brontes, Austins and Gabaldons of the world.

Which leads me to the hard truth about myself. I crave love. I’m paralyzed by rejection. Is this why I struggle with the idea of true love, that it even actually exists?  Too much rejection? Is that what makes me certain it’s a fairy tale not meant for women like me? THAT’S why I’m so drawn to the stories. Because I WANT to believe it exists, that all of these stories are truth and possibility.  But thus far, I’ve never been shown true love, and to top that, I’m not sure I even know what it is even if I did have it. At this juncture, I suppose this is where I also point how that I am a true believer of energy begets energy. You get what you put out there. So what am I putting out?

With that energy, I’ve gone into situations and I’ve proven to myself over and over again that it always ends, one way or another, the only way I know love to end: They leave.  I’m always put on the back burner. Possessed and abandoned. Randomly picked up to be left behind. Misjudged for being too unfeeling or feeling more than I was supposed to. Overlooked and undervalued.  Saved for a rainy day.

The most humbling of it all:  I let it happen because I went into it “knowing” somewhere in my psyche that it would always end that way anyway, because that’s all I’ve ever seen love end with. Never the happily ever after. I’ve been too leery of opening myself up and being truly connected and vulnerable in many circumstances. I haven’t been bold enough to say something when I should have. I’ve left way too much unsaid, instead just reading into subtext when really, I should have been blunt and stated what I felt and what I wanted.

Now I feel like there’s nobody left to fall in love with me, except me, myself and I, while we make our way through the wilds of life. And that’s ok – I suppose I’ve become very self-sufficient. I’ve become an adventurer of sorts. I live a life full of family and friends who do love me and stand by me. Make no mistake, I’m very happy, grateful and content with many things in my life.

So if I’m going to be completely honest here, in my hypocrisy of loving love, I’ve been going through phases. Ups and downs. Beliefs and disbeliefs.  I went through a phase of having telling myself that I actually don’t believe it’s a real life thing to be happy and in love with someone,  I took on sort of a melancholic indifference. I gave up on the whole idea. I was okay with it, but at the same time, I didn’t like it. I had a number of people try to talk me out of giving up on love, including a recently broken-hearted Captain that I was flying with and also a vintner in Scotts Valley, both of who didn’t know me from Eve.  A group of us would all be sitting around, in deep conversation, glasses of wine in hand, talking politics and philosophies of life and inevitably the question pops up….”Are you married/do you have a boyfriend?” and then the looks of disbelief and “How are/do you not?!”.  It seemed weird to garner that reaction. What is it about me that would preclude that I MUST already be in a relationship. Do I just have that vibe? And where do I begin in answering that question without getting into the whole sordid history of my very dysfunctional past relationships?

But then, on a cold morning in Gillette, Wyoming, I woke up after a night of a sort of life changing dream.  In the dream, I had an altercation with someone (who I’m not going to name here). I remember blowing up at them. Spewing words that I’d held in for a very long time. When I was done, I felt lighter. Free. I suddenly felt myself start to float up, tears of relief streaming down my face. As I floated, I heard a voice calling my name. It was a very familiar voice. I couldn’t see their face but in my heart I knew exactly who it was but my mind was still struggling.  I felt their hand grasp mine and pull me into their arms and hold me as I broke down and confessed everything I had been feeling. I felt so safe, so wanted and so loved. And then I woke up. And I had never felt so solitary in my life. Not lonely. Not unfulfilled. Just so…. solitary. Like I’m journeying to somewhere and the burden is resting squarely on my shoulders to step into something. What that is? I don’t know.  But I knew I wasn’t the same. I felt softer. More vulnerable. And more ready than I had ever been, to tackle this last remaining hurdle of happiness in my life.

I don’t know how to necessarily fix this existing broken record that’s spinning in my head. But I’m shutting down the voice that lingered in my head for years, telling me that I was never enough. The only thing I can do is let go and let that record shatter on the floor and put on a new one. Be present. Be in alignment with who I am and be loving and gentle with myself. Only put myself out there for someone who actually sees ME, who actually values my heart and my soul and who doesn’t want to break me.

And so until then, I’ll just be over here in my corner, living as full of a life as I can muster, and saving up my pennies to buy my Victorian on the coast, that I’ll spend way too much money on fixing up, keeping up on the love stories written in myths and stories that come to life on the silver screen, and hope that maybe someday, just someday, that some innocuous phrase similar to “As You Wish” might take on a whole new meaning for me too.

 

 

Say What You Need To Say

If there is anything I’ve been reminded of in various different ways in the last few days, it’s that this life is ever-changing. One thing can happen in the span of seconds that irrevocably changes everything you know. Absolute in their karmic causes. Unchallengeable in their  manifested intentions.  The most important thing we can do is embrace the challenges with an unseen faith that we have the strength to propel us forward in the story. We are each living the hero’s journey right now, and we can choose to answer the call or ignore it. Mark Twain said “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear; not the absence of fear.”

I strive for courage every day. Courage to wake up. Courage to step out the door and live another day. Courage to stand up for justice.  Courage to keep dreaming. Courage to speak my truth. Courage to look to an uncertain future and continue taking deliberate steps into the horizon. But it’s not just about a great big beautiful tomorrow. It’s also about courage to live in the moments of what I have right in front of me. Courage to face those inner demons that make me doubt everything I know. Courage to actually follow through and do what I say I am going to do in every single moment.  Living in that very prism of time I’m in right now. Living lovingly. Intimately. Heart open. Forgiving myself…and others. Stepping away from the shackles of the past and into the fields of gold that have been surrounding me this whole time.

Courage is inspired in the most unexpected situations. I can’t tell you what sparked mine, other than a sheer will to survive on some occasions. Sometimes I just heard someone say the right thing at the right time. Sometimes it was a song that tapped into a creative part of my soul that only wanted to dream bigger.  It’s led me to many adventures, going further than I ever thought I could. I always find that I have something I can improve upon in myself.

For instance, lately, I’ve really had to face that I’m not very good at speaking my heart out loud. It’s ironic – I can speak in front of hundreds of people on any topic, and perform in front of even more and be adrenalized by it. But to speak my heart…..well, that’s a little harder for me. It’s hard for anyone, isn’t it? We have to put ourselves out there, lay wide our vulnerable soul.  I can sit here and pour my heart out to a nameless, faceless audience. It’s so much easier behind a computer screen. I don’t know who’s going to read this. I don’t know who will see pieces of themselves in this and be correct, despite my best efforts to protect their identity. I don’t know who will be inspired by me, or repelled by me, a woman who can spill out lines of words trailing all over a blank page, reminding them of the very things they didn’t want to acknowledge either. I know this is a roadblock for me. I can’t speak for everyone. But I can speak for myself when I say, NOT vocalizing my feelings to a person, face to face, has been a detrimental roadblock for me. I’m an artist – I’m expressive by nature! So this odd little twist, it wasn’t a personal choice. It’s not how I grew up wanting to be. It’s just how I’ve been conditioned by forces outside of me. And it keeps me from living fully. From loving fully. From feeling fully. It chokes me, silencing me and locks up my ability to be fully intimate in any sort of friendship or relationship.

It’s a choice: be courageous or let the fear win. I’ve chosen to be courageous.  The more I express the things that I felt I’ve had to keep close to the vest, the lighter I’ve become. The easier it is to speak. The easier it is to forgive. The easier it is to receive love. The easier it is to give love, compassion and empathy. Saying “I love you.” gets easier. Speaking my mind gets easier.

Loving myself gets to be the norm instead of caring why someone else may not love me the way I expected. Saying thank you feels more authentic and more important. Listening becomes key. Hearing the other person just as much as they hear me. Being right all the time is no longer important.  Being acknowledged all the time doesn’t matter. But being authentic and in truth does. Coming from a place of love is a powerful intention and I strive for that every day. I succeed a lot of the time. Sometimes I don’t. But the intention speaks truth when I need to hear it.

There’s so much more I have to say. But I’m done waiting to say it. The filter is off. Time is happening right now and I’m jumping into the vortex.

See you on the flip side.

Only Love Can Leave Such a Mark

2015 was full of eye-opening behaviours of mine when it came to love. I found myself here in 2016, wondering why I still felt like I wasn’t quite feeling settled about it. There is something deep-seeded inside of me that has been gnawing away at my subconscious. Admittedly, while having nipped a lot of behaviours in the bud, and changing a lot of my outlooks in life, there is one thing that hasn’t gone away. And it’s a VERY hard thing to admit, especially being the hopeless romantic that I am.

I’ve become brave and courageous. I’ve become more honest. I love myself. I love the life that I’m creating, despite some of the things that have happened. I’m really embracing my life. I love my friends and my family.

But despite that, it seems I’ve had a very deep seeded truth, or belief,  sitting like a toad in the shadows. It’s hard to convey into words.

However, the overall feeling is that I will never be enough to keep my true love’s attention.  I don’t believe people are capable of being faithful. Does true love really exist?

I’ve analyzed where this starts. But I also have to give you, dear reader, a very BIG dose of honesty about my life. Keep in mind, this is about my experience only. I will not weigh in on the character of the person, nor will I share names. You see, I’m not innocent in this either.  You are not allowed to ask me why I stayed. These things are complicated and I’m not submitting this for your judgement. This entry, is selfishly, for me to work this out and finally let this go.

While I’ve alluded to some of the things that happened, it boils down to a major thing. I’ve come from a long line of experience in infidelity. I was with someone for a very long time, who professed to love me, didn’t want to be without me. But in every “friendship”, every female co-worker, every girl they met randomly,  having sex with them was always the outcome.  It didn’t matter who I was. It didn’t matter how well I kept the house, how much I cooked, how perfect I was.  It didn’t matter how much empathy or anger I showed. It didn’t matter what I did to “keep” him. I didn’t matter how much I tried to “spice” things up. It didn’t matter how much we talked about it. Nothing I ever did was enough. He was always looking elsewhere when it suited. This happened for years.

I was never able to rest in the “security” of a relationship. This was the tip of the iceberg in the many issues we faced together. But I think this is the one that really shook me to the core in retrospect. There was always the girl that came along, that struck his fancy. And I was forgotten. Soon the love I felt was never enough.

You see, this wasn’t the first time I had seen this happen. I had seen the behavior repeatedly in my childhood from adult figures in my life. People I loved and looked up to for my education on how to be in a relationship.

I figured the depth of love you felt in a relationship was proportional to how much pain you had to go through to keep it. That men and women are incapable of staying faithful. That life is complicated so I should stop expecting so much.

So I did. The string of relationships to follow my break-up were with single and attached men alike. I’m finally saying this out loud. I have NEVER fully admitted this. I’m not proud of it and maybe it’s the judgement on myself that has kept me from moving forward. But ultimately it’s because I thought that human beings were not capable of anything else anyway so I should stop expecting more. I NEVER committed to them and never expected them to commit to me.  I would cease immediately if feelings were ever brought into the picture.  I built up a sort of armour around myself to shield me from becoming too emotionally invested.

After a while, I felt even more lonely and isolated because deep down, this was not what I had dreamed about. This was not the way to do it. I’m not a disloyal person. In fact, when my ex was unfaithful all those years, never once did I step out on him. I was faithful the WHOLE TIME.

What?!

Yup.

In the recent year, I found myself jolted. The more that I looked inward, I realized that I have a unique kind of energy. My nature is that of empathy, love and no judgement. For everyone. And in all that time, they never saw ME. They thought they knew me, but if they had paid close enough attention, they didn’t. They knew an idea of me.  I realized maybe that’s how I found myself in situations like this. It became more about what the other person needed from me. What was I doing for myself though? Was I applying that same forgiveness to myself? Was I now self-punishing for all of the things I did wrong up to that point? The shame that I felt in things that I did in my previous relationship?  The shame for actually feeling something and wanting more than that?

Well shit. How do I change that? Is this something I’m ready to take on?

I figured if I can forgive my ex of ALL of the things that happened between us, that we can move on in peace and wishing each other well, how hard could it be that I could do that with myself too?

I want to believe in love.

I watch all of these romantic movies. Everybody finds their soul mate. I see a myriad of happy relationships around me. I want to believe in being faithful and trustworthy and growing in life with someone that is in love with me and I am in love with him.

But here’s where I trip up, because for as much as hopeless romantic that I am,  I admit that deep down inside my heart I think it’s an impossible ideal. What happens after those closing credits?  So again, does true love actually exist?  According to the Princess Bride it does, but that’s only in the movies and the storybooks. In real life, people betray you. People only do what suits them. Love for as long as it suits them. When it suits them. They get what they want from you and then they leave.  There’s no such thing as real love. True love…..doesn’t exist here.

Or does it?

I have no answers right now. I can’t tie this up with a pretty bow. All I know is that for right now, I’m letting all of what I just wrote go. I forgive myself. I embrace my experiences as learning opportunities. I will continue to live in love and empathy and non-judgement. I know who I am. I know what I want in a relationship and what I want to do with my life.

I don’t know love the way I want to. But I suppose the only way to learn that is to keep loving myself and those I surround myself with.

Maybe that’s the only answer.

Writing Prompts: Tattoos and Twin Flames

Topic of the day: What tattoos do I have and do they have a meaning?

Yes, I do have a tattoo. I actually mentioned this as one of my interesting facts in another entry. (I’m also in the process of planning another tattoo as I type.)

Right up front, I’m a very spiritual person. I’ve read, and still read, a lot. I’ve experienced things people would never believe. I’ve explored different areas of holistic mind/body therapies. There are a lot of things I’m happy to discuss. Some things, I won’t because I have to gauge my audience and some are not open enough to hear things without judgement.

I should preface this with some background I suppose. This is one of the parts of my heart I wear fairly openly – you only need ask me. I may not go around talking about it much (though I have written on the topic) but I’m sure people catch on the more they know me. I am, what is commonly coined, a hopeless romantic. I’m in love with the idea of love. Especially epic, time-and-space, destined-since-the-dawn-of-time kind of love. I have been ever since I was a very, very young girl. I devoured books that had the kind of love stories that I desired for my own life. ( SIDENOTE: All of the stories I mention below were BOOKS first, not movies. The books are what inspired me.)

Now, I’m not talking about Romeo and Juliet. (The only one of Shakespeare’s plays that I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT DEAL WITH BECAUSE THOSE TWO ARE COMPLETE IMBECILES AND NOT ROMANTIC AT ALL. Sorry. But it’s a fact.)

I’m talking like Chris and Annie Nielsen in What Dreams May Come. Or Clare and Henry in The Time Traveler’s wife. Or Catherine and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. As you can see it’s not all about happily-ever-after love stories of Disney fame. These are the real, nitty-gritty, “What would you do for the one who is your twin flame?” kind of stories. How far would you go into the heights of heaven and the depths of hell, just to be with the one you love, in any capacity possible?

This topic I could delve into very deeply, but there is no time, so let me sum up: There’s a dichotomy of love that I struggle to understand about my self. I’m very much about free-will. You make your own destiny and way in life. But I also believe, in that journey, somewhere along the way, wherever our souls have been, we’ve chosen to do so with a Twin Flame. The other half of us. Whether this particular existence is about the human journey or not, I won’t know until I pass to the other side. But the concept in quantum theory, that we are living across multiple planes of existence simultaneously, would make this plausible to me that we have little pieces of ourselves floating around that could be put back together to make a bigger “whole”. Which makes it sound pre-destined that in every life, you will meet this person. It’s not. It’s already a choice you made, you are already connected and it’s already happening (much like the premise of “Somewhere in Time” another one of my epic faves) ANYWAY………. I won’t confuse you further BUT I have always felt a pull to a relationship that doesn’t “complete” me but actually enhances me to be someone outside of my frame of reference. Something that entices me to become more than I am in this very moment. With someone that is meant for me and I’m meant for him. For as much as I have wanted it, I have also run from it.  BUT before I get too far down the rabbit hole, let me focus up and finish the assignment. I’ll save discussion on the above for another day 🙂

How this ALL ties in, is that the tattoo I currently have, is one that I got when I was 18. It’s two roses intertwined in a circle, which is a symbol of one manifesting their twin soul mate. You can Google it these days and find all kinds of interpretations. When I was 18, the internet had only been released to the public for about a year. (Yes I know this dates me) So I didn’t have that to guide me.

This was a tattoo of a symbol that I’d literally had a recurring dream about. And still do. I researched copious amounts of spiritual books on it. Then one day, I found a thin book, that was simply a book on religious symbology. On a page towards the end, I found the exact picture of what I was seeing paired with a small blurb that simply said “The manifestation of love. Love for yourself and love for another. Where it meets at the top is where two become one.” That one little phrase encompassed the very circumstances of my recurring dream. So when I was 18 and nobody could stop me, I got the tattoo that was calling for me.

It is located around my belly button which is located in your “Root” Chakra. Now I didn’t know much about Ayurveda at the time. All I knew was that was where I wanted it. Now, of all the myriad of places I had chosen, this was one of the more painful places you could ever do it. But that was where I wanted it to be. What I came to learn was that the Root Chakra your base sense of safety and security during our journey on this earthly plane. It’s “grounding” as it were. Your foundation of what you need grows from there.

So in line with my beliefs, my experiences on how I viewed love, how I received love and how I sought love, this spot made a lot of sense. I’ve always lived my life coming from a place of love and empathy and compassion. It’s gotten me into trouble a couple of times, but I still believe it to be the best way to live. Even in the moments where I feel impatient and angry and lash out, that only lasts for 2.5 seconds and I revert back to a place of patience and compassion.

Despite my innate sarcasm on many topics, the root of my spiritual beliefs start here: The only thing we are on this planet to do is learn how to love and forgive and grow. The rest doesn’t matter.

So there’s your longwinded story about my tattoo. 🙂

Until the next entry.

Writing Prompts: 10 Things I’ll Tell You About Me

10 interesting facts about myself? I’ve always felt “interesting” is in the eye of of the beholder. But I will endeavour to choose the best facts I can come up with that seem interesting enough. I hate to be rote and just list off, but I’m lacking the brainpower today. Here we goooooo…

1. I used to drive a bus. Way back in the day. Mostly because people thought I couldn’t. So I made them lose their money when they bet I wouldn’t pass my DMV test. Hah!

2. I’m a sucker for anything lightshow/fireworks/lazershow oriented. I love sparkly lights.

3. I used to spend so much time reading as a kid, that my parents limited me to only reading after 7pm on the weekdays. Keep in mind, my grades weren’t suffering. They were just afraid I was becoming anti-social. Which, in a way, might possibly have been true. But I didn’t care and still read all the time anyway when they weren’t looking.

4. I have a tattoo that I got when I was 18. It’s two roses intertwined in a circle, which is a symbol of one manifesting their twin soul mate.

5. I love interior design and am known for reorganizing my house 3-4 times year.

6. I love fancy hotels. I love the designs and walking around the grounds. Especially the historic ones. It explains much of the first 10 years of my career working in them.

7. Dancing is my outlet.

8. I’m a LOT geekier than I let on. You see, back in the 80’s and 90’s, being a geek wasn’t the “cool thing” like it is now. I learned to hide it well to avoid the merciless teasing that true geeks had to endure.

9. My CD/Music collection numbers in the thousands. It’s a serious addiction for me.

10. I’m a classically trained singer.

There are lots more I suppose. But that’s some fun stuff I thought of off the cuff today. I’ll write more in depth on tomorrow’s post. 🙂

Whooooooooo Aarrrrrrrrrrreeee Yooooouuuuuuu?

Every once in a while, I’ll post my morning reflections on Facebook due to some kind of random inspiration. (This one got a lil long so it ended up here.) Then again, I don’t believe things happen randomly. I believe in signs and synchronicity. Somebody needs to hear this message, so for whoever this is for, I hope it’s as cathartic for you to read, as it is for me to write it. 
 
Maybe it’s just the Fall time, but it seems this time of year, I’m reflecting. Always reflecting.  My career and things that I want to experience in life: places I want to go, chances I want to take, things I want to see/feel/smell/taste.

Last year at this time, I was reflecting on the very reason for my existence.  I had questions on what I was called here to do. Perhaps it was nothing. Maybe we are just a freak accident from an asteroid that hit Earth and there is no purpose. But then why would we strive for purpose in our lives, if it’s not something we are meant to have?  I felt called to do some things. Travel. Write. Act. Produce. Be in love.  But then when I would focus on those things, I would get thrown for a loop. Why? What was I doing wrong? I could go on with this. But you see what I’m saying here, I’m sure. 
This year, my reflections have gone past the reason of existence to, “Well, I’m here regardless. So what do I do with this time? How to I enjoy it?” I’ve had a lot of change in the last year. A LOT. I set about to change that question of existence to just being still and being in existence. Feeling every moment. Learning how to say yes and no. Learning how to actually take the road less traveled, not just talk about taking it.  Learning how to have faith in myself and my abilities. How to love myself.
This approach has utterly changed my life.  If you told me what I was about to experience in job, home, dating and spirit, I would have laughed.   “Yeah right”, I would have scoffed. “I’m never leaving my cozy cottage paradise in Altadena and moving to Orange county. I’m most DEFINITELY not going to be working Attractions in Fantasyland. And FOR SURE not going to be ….. <insert a million other things here>…”  Wasn’t the way I envisioned life happening. I had a plan for my lofty goals and aspirations.
But life. Life is what happens while you’re making other plans. Life swept me out to a very big ocean of self-discovery. I’ve always said, everything is always about learning and growing. It’s a humbling and enriching experience all at once; but a necessity. So while, this year’s ups and downs were not at all what I planned,  it’s made me the strongest I’ve ever been. I’ve had to, in a sense, break my heart open again to survive it. I’d been holding onto a lot of fear and pain. But I couldn’t go on like that anymore. I was getting in the way of myself.  I had put up a very strong wall around me. I had a hard time letting people in. In retrospect, I think I had to though, for a little while at least. I couldn’t let anybody else in when I wasn’t even letting myself in. I had to learn how to love myself and take care of myself. Not materially. Emotionally. Spiritually. 
 
Much like caterpillar has to build it’s chrysalis to protect itself while it morphs into butterfly, I had to learn how to grow within the very fears and pain I was trying to run away from, so that I could break through that wall and crumble them in bits of dust particles to be swept away from me by the winds of change, into the vast universe, never to be seen again.

Who Are You?
Who Are You?
 
When you learn to stand on your own two feet on a spiritual and emotional level, it is an exhilarating feeling. I can’t quite describe it. Materially, I’ve been on my own since I was 16. But spiritually and emotionally, this is the first time in my entire life, that I feel completely independent of anyone outside of me. Buttons and triggers that I used lovingly protect, are gone. I don’t need the validation from anyone else for my mere existence or ability to get through life. I was not made to be a marionette puppet and I learned how to stop acting like one.  This goes so much further than having control of the remote for the TV at the end of a long day. This is deeper than anything I’ve felt before. There is a sense of calm for me amidst the storm of life. Nothing and no one, will ever break me again. I could put my heart on the floor at a man’s feet, and he could stomp on it. But that’s not going to break me. Sure, it’s not gonna feel great. But it won’t shatter my existence, my very soul.  I could have conversations with my family about how I really felt about things in life, show them pieces of who I really am and I didn’t need their approval nor did I care if I got it. I have found a level of unconditional love for myself and others that I did not know I was capable of. 
Now this is not to say I don’t have my moments of frustration. There are PLENTY of those. But instead of letting those moments hinder me, I let them propel me. That’s the difference. It’s about making a choice to hold myself accountable for where I go in life and what I do. I can decide how to shape my attitude and emotional reaction around something.  I have NO control over anything outside of myself, let alone any other person. When I released that burden of responsibility, that’s what opened up unconditional love for me. I can choose to either say yes, or say no without dispensing judgement, and without taking judgement in.
 
I had written a status last year when contemplating some pretty big determinations  and life changes I had just made on my trip to Kauai. I always jokingly blame all of these life change on Kauai – but in a way it’s true. Kauai brings me back to life. Reminds me of the deeper parts of myself. It’s my spiritual spot. I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, I was finding, when got back into my routine in LA, I was starting to feel disconnected again. I searched for inspiration to help me reconnect. I pulled a book off my shelf, and it was the last book my Grandma Elsie ever wrote. These were the last words I ever had from her. And they were beautiful.
 
And that is what inspired this whole post was, today, the Facebook “On This Day” feature delivered those words to me again, at the very moment I needed to remember them. Without fail, I always hear the words of my Grandma when I need them the most. 
I feel compelled to share them again. New starts are bold & brave and humbling all at once. You have to shed all of the weight of your past, who you think you are and embrace your “highest you” that you can be. 
 
“Each of you, dream big. Fix your gaze
on that far place you know is yours to seize;
Set your steps to win, and when you
reach your dreams, new paths will touch your toes.
Your far horizon gleams
with treasure beyond imagining.
Choose, then, and go, our loved ones, go!
But go with God….
Becoming real takes faith in God:
Takes trusting more when doubts
loom large and fear sucks out our breath —
Takes being willing to walk blind
through sorrow —
Takes standing still,
when we want most to run —
When all is lost to struggle on —
Takes firm belief, no matter what,
that God turns bad to good….”
—- Elsie Larson
 
Take this with you. Be brave, bold and courageous. Go with love. You cannot fail.

 

 

 

 

Unnumbered sparks fly through the sky, created by cellphone signals

This is amazing. Just beautiful.

TED Blog

Outside the Vancouver Convention Centre, people gather to interact with Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks. Photo: Ema Peter Outside the Vancouver Convention Centre, people gather to interact with Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks. Photo: Ema Peter

“It looks like it’s holding up the clouds.” “It’s like a sky jellyfish.” “I love how the light moves across it along with the sound.”

[ted_talkteaser id=1164]These were some of the comments heard at TED2014 about Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks, a collaboration between sculptor Janet Echelman and data artist Aaron Koblin. This monumental sculpture stretched 745 feet, from the Vancouver Convention Centre where TED was held, over an open-air plaza on the edge of Vancouver Harbor and up to the top of the Fairmont Waterfront hotel. Every night while the temporary sculpture was installed, from March 15-22, 2014, dozens of people could be seen across the street setting up cameras and tripods to capture the glowing spectacle. Meanwhile, underneath the sculpture, even greater numbers of people gathered, most…

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Inspiring Lessons

I’ve learned in my life that there are many ways to live it. Some of us wonder why we are even here. Some think they know. Most of humanity feels stuck in the very “system” that humanity itself created. For themselves.

Nobody is making us do things the way we do. But for some reason, the human race has chosen to live in anger, sadness and despair. Hopelessness. Some refuse to acknowledge the feelings and situations that are meant to transform them. Some mask it in controlling others, by telling them what to feel, what they should think, what they should do in their lives. Some mask it in addiction and substance abuse. Some are completely unable to be alone at all. It’s painful to look at personal issues that we can just as easily drown out by never spending a moment alone.

But, really that’s the very thing they should be doing, is turning the focus on themselves and fixing the very things that they criticize others about.

One of the things I’ve learned in my life as an artist, is there is thousands of people who look to art as a means to express themselves. Some people think artists need to conform to a “norm”.

That’s not what art is for.

“Norms” are for people who are too scared to hold themselves accountable to living an authentic life, being true to who they really are.  Art is for the bold and the daring. The people who are willing to walk away from what’s “safe” and “acceptable”. People who don’t want to see that, are certainly free to go elsewhere. They do have a choice.

But for some reason, critics of art have a perverse need to control the situation.  To make people “see” the error of their ways and completely change their whole way of living and being to suit the critic.

Artists, I’m imploring you to remember this, and critics take this to heart:

Artists are here to inspire you, not to take care of you.

Yes, we are inter-connected. But not interdependent. There’s room for everyone, but only you make your own success. Nobody can do that for you. Yet our society has apparently bred a sense of entitlement, that somehow people owe us something. They don’t.

This dependence on external people to make us happy, to fulfill us, to carry the weight of a life that is not theirs, has caused unrealistic and unfair expectations and doesn’t allow people to fully be themselves and grow.

We all have that instinct that wants to “fix” things. But we can’t “fix” anybody. They are who they are. You can either choose to accept that or choose not to. That’s up to you. But you can’t make them be someone that suits what you need in life. That’s not their job. That’s yours.

We’ve defined “help” by doing things for people instead of inspiring people to do it themselves.

As human-kind evolves technologically, we have not evolved spiritually. There are battles still being fought that have been fought for thousands of years, in the name of religion, money and power. There’s a disconnect on respect and compassion and remembering that there is room for everyone to succeed. Instead there are people out there who still act like they are five years old and get mad when people start playing with their toys.

As we battle these age old problems, we have brave souls who put their foot down against these bullies. We’ve developed social reform and aid in an attempt to balance the scale of equality. But now we have a society who has it better than any other past historical era of this world, and they think they are still victims. They still want the handout.  And then the people who really need the help are left behind.  The programs have backfired on us and has bred a huge attitude of entitlement.

This is a form of evolution we have contorted. Instead of independence, we’ve bred a culture of codependence. People who, instead of taking on a task on their own, play the victim and place the burden of their work and success on other people.

People have become too mired in fear-based thinking to realize the potential of being compassionate, decent, and polite human beings. All they can think about is who is not giving them what they need, why they can’t succeed  as long as so-and-so is keeping them down. They try to manipulate situations and people so they can get what they want. So they can feel emotionally empowered and validated. Because they don’t feel that on their own, from within the root of their own soul.

Throughout the ages, art has sought to point out all of these negative traits and bring awareness to them. Sure, Hollywood has a propensity for happy endings. But why shouldn’t we strive for that? Art has pointed out dysfunctions, prejudices, diseases, insanity, lust for control at the cost of human life, religious persecution on the side of the religious and the non-religious. And then shows us the possibility of how it could end, should we actually have the courage to do things differently. And then for those of you who like realistic movies, there are plenty out there who have less than stellar endings. So what would you do differently?

Here are the top ten things I’ve learned in the course of living an artist’s life (you are welcome to disagree, but posting even the most compelling argument will not change what I have tangibly experienced in my life. I trust that you know what’s best for you).

1) Religion has no place in politics and should be personal. Whatever religion you decide is for you, make sure that it’s based in love, not shame and anger or abuse and doesn’t demean anyone due to skin color, race, or sexual orientation.

2) Being defensive is not necessary. You will never convince anybody that they are wrong about what they think or feel about you. Most of the time, people spew hurtful words and actions because that’s what they fear in themselves. They have no sense of self-validation, so the need arises within themselves to cause conflict and chaos to feel important. It’s dysfunctional. Those are the people to walk away from. Or, if they end up walking away from you, because you don’t play the game, don’t follow them.

3) Standing up for justice is necessary. Anything that harms another human being’s right to life is not love.

4) Do things because they are the right thing to do. Not because you’re banking karma points or future favors. (Playing guilt trips on people is a shitty thing to do. Do something because you want to. If you don’t want to, then don’t do it.)  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. If it feels wrong, then it probably is. Put on your adult pants and take a stand.

5)  Fame is a fraud. If you are only doing things to become famous, you will end up a hollow shell who sold your soul. Do things because they inspire you to be more than what you presently are. Do things that are fun and add value to your life. Do things that are life altering for you. That’s where the rush is.

6) Forgiveness is key. You are allowed to feel and channel every last angry tear and euphoric smile into your art. But at the end of the day, forgiveness is key. Not for them. For you.

7)  Say please and thank you. Let the other person go through the door before you. Smile and say hi. But don’t be a fucking doormat. You are allowed to say  no – thank you. You are allowed to let the door close if the person is dawdling inconsiderately. (We all need to respect each other’s time). Smile and say hi in any given situation regardless.

8) Go see movies. Go to art museums. Go to concerts and shows. Go see theater.  And don’t bitch about how it wasn’t “realistic”. Lighten up. It’s fucking Hollywood. I don’t go to movies, TV or art shows for my formal education, I go to be entertained.  I’m inclined think everybody should have that same intent. It’s much more fun. Plus, contrarians are boring.

9) Take care of you FIRST, before you take care of anybody else. Meaning, eat well, exercise, meditate, and dress snappy and confidently. Get your check ups. And don’t tell me about the woes of no insurance. I haven’t had it most of my adult life. There are resources out there if you look for them. And if you have a very serious illness to deal with, then get your priorities straight and set yourself up with good healthcare ( yes that can be found too )  You are useless to help anybody if you are too broken down yourself.

10) BE GRATEFUL. For everything. Yes, many American political systems are broken. But we are still better off in many ways. We have a beautiful vast world of nature at our feet and in our sky. If you live in LA, like I do (or any expensive city for that matter), be thankful that you are making it in one of the most expensive cities in the world. That’s no small feat.  Be thankful for your loved ones.  For losing toxic jobs that make way to healthy new jobs. There’s a silver lining in everything. (Go ahead and grumble all you want. You’re just doing it in an attempt to avoid the truth: You know there’s a silver lining in everything ) Everybody dies. But everybody lives too. Remember to live every moment. Don’t take one damn minute for granted.

Remember, art improves our life vastly. Take responsibility for you. Have some fun with your life. And take some vitamins while you’re at it.

That’s what “they” say.

Recently, I was attending a memorial service for a dear friend who had lost her life partner.  The things that were being said about this person and their life were amazing and inspiring. Beautiful.  Death brings light to life.

Think about that sentence.

Death brings light to life.

Some would argue that the opposite is true. But is it?

In death, we see things that we normally would not see. We see families devolve and fight over things that don’t matter in the long run, in a desperate attempt to keep the person that has died, close to them. We see the ways the deceased touched others in their lifetime. In good AND in not so good ways. We see personal struggles of the deceased that come to light, that we had no idea they were struggling with while they were living. And we see the people left behind, make transformations in their lives, that may not have been made otherwise. We see people inspired by a life lived. A reaffirmation of life, if you will.

Death brings light to life. Do you see what I mean now?

And it made me think about this journey I’ve been on. About time here in this life’s existence. About letting things go that no longer serve who I am or what I’m meant to do. About living every moment. Not like it’s your last. But like it’s the moment that it is! Right there. In front of you. In you. Behind you. It’s gift. It’s a chance to change your destiny constantly. We can be more than we think we are, in every SECOND going forward.

But some of us choose to stay mired. Complacent. Angry. Sad. Bitter. Victims. Powerless.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in those kinds of moments (and I’ve had plenty of them) and I don’t want to stretch those out anymore.

There have been lots things that have happened in my life in the past few months. A lot of changes. So am I living the best life I’m meant to live?  Am I doing the things that call to my heart? Am I being the change I wish to see?

I’ll be completely transparent here, because that I what I promised to you dear reader. That this blog would be honest and no holding back.

I am vulnerable.  I find myself living on a daily basis, in a place of overwhelming emotions. I have been like that since I was little. I can get into the struggle of what that is like and how people react to it. Another time though. But I will say, there are times when others need to feel something and it’s a moment of honor when your sensitivity can affect such inspiring change around you… (My call to be an actor may tie into this)  🙂

Don’t make the mistake of thinking I’m fragile. I’m not. I’m sensitive. But I’m by no means fragile. A lot of people mistake the two. Being sensitive, I’m in tune to emotions and feelings and I express them. That doesn’t mean that I’m broken and can’t handle life. I’ve handled a lot of ugly things in my life. Looking at me, you wouldn’t think that I have. I guess we all reflect what we’d like to see in ourselves, onto everyone else.

I have revised this blog a few times this AM. Because I wanted to inspire you to think instead of it becoming about a venting session for me. Also, I needed time to sort my thoughts. To get to the root of why I really wanted to write this blog.

I think what that memorial service really inspired, was a thought process in me. A review on life maybe? It also happened to fall on the anniversary of my Grandmother’s death, and I miss her, because this is a conversation I would have with her.

At a service, do you ever find yourself thinking, “What would people say about me?” “How would I be remembered?”

I had to ask myself, do I live with a passion for life everyday?  Why do people come into our lives only to be yanked out? It’s not just death that yanks them out. There’s break-ups, divorces, fights, accidents, work, callings, all kinds of things that take people from us. How do I deal with life changes that are seemingly out of my hands? Because these are the things that happen that make life more challenging and may make us “give up” living, for fear of being hurt, for being left behind, for making us feel too much.

I think the point of those hardships and challenges are to inspire us to find ways to move beyond the pain and live even better! Not give up. Not hide behind an armor of anger or bitterness so that we don’t get hurt.

I’ve been through a lot of life altering experiences. But here’s an example of how growth can come from chaos.  I’ve been pretty mum about up it to this point. Only a few people really know what happened, and it’s going to stay that way for the most part. I’ll touch on it here though, because I think it merits the growth process experience discussion.

I recently was in a complicated situation with someone who I considered a very close friend. What I didn’t see for a long time, was who they really were. Whether it was to ridicule the things in other people’s lives that identified them as an artist, or criticize other people’s personal choices they made, this person, consciously or unconsciously, was not a very nice person sometimes.  It kind of snuck up on me. The occasional venting session or sarcastic remark turned into a daily mire of negativity. Everyday, in some way, shape or form, they would give clues to the deep chasm of unhappiness that resided within them. There were a couple of specific circumstances that clarified this. Not getting into it here.

I never felt (and still don’t) that they were/are a bad person. I knew the circumstances that shaped them. I truly believe that people can change at any point, if they really want to. So, I excused things that I shouldn’t have because I saw a different bigger picture. (Oftentimes this is my downfall as evidenced by a myriad of complicated and challenging relationships I have been involved in)

LEARNING OPPORTUNITY #1

You have no control over what others feel or how they act. You can’t “stick it out” till you change them. You can’t change anyone.

Our friendship started to get challenging. Did I mention before, being the bleeding heart is often my downfall?  Been there, done that. Here I was again. Dammit. And sure enough, it began to unravel. Like it had done so many times before. And this time, instead of fighting it, I let it unravel. I let it get all tangled up to where it all exploded. That was where my growth and change was in this situation. I have never let things go like that. I was the fixer, the peace maker. I would morph MYSELF before I let somebody else fall. This was unusual for me to let something self destruct like this. I think deep down, I knew that this a was lesson that I had been tested on numerous times. This time I was going to take a stand. I was going to pass this test and advance to the next level. I was done with this lesson.  It was time for me to put on my big girl panties and take it like a woman.

It started when, apparently for months, the gossip machine had turned on me.  This person had been informed by another that I had been voicing some unhappiness and lack of caring in our relationship and that I was saying derogatory things about them. However, this person didn’t come to me and confront me.  There’s not enough time on this Earth to waste second guessing the motives of rumours and gossip.  But they chose to believe the gossip before the truth. They started setting me to up to fail. They watched my personal social media, assuming posts that alluded to (but never named) circumstances in my life were about them. They started asking people that were close to me what I was saying and doing when they weren’t around.

But never once, did they come to me.

LEARNING OPPORTUNITY #2

Always be authentic with how you feel, no matter the timing. There is never “a good time”. 

They did, however, start holding me at arms length. And I felt it. They started coming down harder on me in situations that did not merit the level of intensity.  And I felt all of this. And it made me sad. Hyper-vigilant. Guilt ridden at times when what I was offering was never enough.

So I made a mental plan, that I was going to go to this person and have a talk. Be candid about everything that I was feeling. But when the time came, they dropped some news on me, and the timing felt poor to bring it up. So I let it go.

This new thing called social media changed all that, and a posting on Facebook brought it to a head.

In a sense, we called each other to the carpet. Emails ensued. They were convinced I was talking about them. I was not. But there were things that needed to be said. The next day we talked over some food and a bottle of wine. It felt like the old days again. We aired out everything. We talked about all of it. We found middle ground and had some realizations of how others had misrepresented the truth. If anything came up like this again, we would talk to each other plainly and openly. Everything was all good.

It made me feel like I should have done it sooner.

LEARNING OPPORTUNITY #3

Always trust your gut.

The next few times I saw them, I felt better, but still a little woozy from the experience. I felt like now, I needed to prove myself more than ever. I felt like a bit of an outsider again. The friendship didn’t feel authentic as it should. But I kept going thinking it was just me over thinking it.

And apparently, I was right. When opportunity presented itself, my former friend read a mutual friend’s personal FB email. In it, was a discussion of a topic my former friend decided was inappropriate of me to be discussing with this person. And I was sitting right there in the moment they read it. I guess they didn’t think I knew. They kept quiet and let me go home without saying a word to me. And I, seeing where this was going to go, sat back and waited.

The friendship ended via email on a cold November night.  Yes. Via email. “Due to conversations with <name redacted> I have no choice but to….”

Two things ran through my mind

1) Where do you get off reading somebody’s personal email and then getting mad about it and start retaliating?

2) Did they take the opportunity to make the change they had promised? Did they come to me to clarify anything? No. They said nothing. They did not uphold the promise to never let this happen again.

I should have listened to that uneasiness in my heart. It was trying to tell me something.

LEARNING OPPORTUNITY #5

When standing up for yourself, don’t make it personal. It’s counterproductive and unnecessary.

I responded with an email that confronted them right off the bat. That they had violated someone’s privacy and read someone’s personal email and that they were ending the relationship on yet something else taken out of context that had nothing to do with them personally. No more bullshit. And I’m not gonna lie. I felt relieved. I didn’t have to tiptoe anymore for fear of waking the beast. It didn’t matter anymore, it wasn’t my job to deal with it from this point going forward.

A flurry of emails ensued. Mine were plain and fact driven. Theirs, emotional, chaotic and full of vitriol. I was overwhelmed. And I would now have to explain the sudden absence of them from my life to a lot of mutual friends. How was I gonna do that? I needed guidance.  When I showed several people the exchange, some of which knew this person, they were flabbergasted. The comments ranged from “This all sounds like a high schooler wrote it” “This all drama” “It’s like you’re dealing with a 5 year old who got their feelings hurt”  to “You’re better off now” “I can’t believe this is what was going on, no wonder you’ve been a basket case” “This is a blessing that you have been released from this” I kept thinking if I’d have just done this or that differently…but then I had someone bluntly say to me “Stop it. This isn’t about you.”  It made me realize for the first time in my life, that people who have problems are just that. People who have problems. And in reference to Learning Opportunity #1- I can’t change them. I couldn’t take on their issues.  I had to let my ego get out of the way, and not make it about me.

LEARNING OPPORTUNITY #6

It’s okay to be mad. It’s ok to grieve. It’s better to forgive and move on.

At the time, I had to look at it from the standpoint of “What did we learn?” A worthy question in any given circumstance in life. And I grieved. And I got angry. And I grieved. And I let go. And I got angry. And I grieved. And I let go.

Why was I going through this nasty situation? Why did I have to deal with this?

Well let’s look:

I had become complacent in where I was. I was trying to fix something beyond repair. And I had to experience the above learning opportunities.

So armed with this new knowledge,  I made some changes to better my life as a person and as an artist.

I accepted an offer of a job that I had been extended to me in August, but I had just been sitting on it for two months for various reasons. I moved to a more peaceful environment, out of the city and into nature. I started writing consistently and getting back to my acting. I started hanging out with people who kept at me to learn how to trust again, who treated me with genuine love and respect. Who had my best interests at heart. Sincerely.

A couple of months later, I got an email from my former friend, wanting to reach out to me. I didn’t really know how to respond other than that I wished them well, and had never seen that ending the way it did.

Life hummed on.

And then out of the blue in the beginning of January, I got a phone call from one of the parties who had been involved in the gossip mill during the breakdown of my friendship.

They profusely apologized for their role and for not standing beside me and for misrepresenting me. I don’t know if they ever told my former friend that they did that, but ultimately I guess that’s up to them. I was relieved to forgive and move on. I didn’t want to hold on to it anymore.

That same week, I randomly ran into the party who’s private email had been read and had been the straw that broke the camel’s back. It was more of a reconnection after an awkward incident kind of experience, but I was genuinely glad to put it behind us.

Then there was this kind of cathartic release after that. I was no longer angry, nor grieving, nor confused, nor anything. I was done. It was over. And it was a relief. I realized that in the grand scheme of things, it was everything and it was nothing.

I didn’t think of it a single bit after that day. I kept living everyday with a newfound gratitude and excitement for the opportunities that I was generating and that I hadn’t even seen yet.

I would have never gotten to this point in my life, had I not experienced it all and learned from it.  

LEARNING OPPORTUNITY #7
Well, what did we learn? 
You’re probably wondering how this all ties into anything I was saying at the beginning.
Here it is:
Fast forward to present day, I’m speaking with a friend. They bring up the fact that I came up during a recent gathering involving my former friend. That things may have been said.
And I had to laugh. Because I didn’t feel anything about that. I hadn’t even thought of that possibility.  And it felt great. I can’t even tell you the things that I have carried around my life’s baggage, that I would punish myself for. I’m finally free of it.
I finally had crossed this barrier in life that I wasn’t going to punish myself anymore. And THAT was living in the moment. I am no longer living in the past of my mistakes and/or regrets. 
I’m human. You’re human. We’re all on a journey here. Everything that I’ve been through is something that teaches me and makes me stronger. I will never claim to be perfect. I’m far from it. But at least I’m authentic. You will always know where you stand with me. And I will continue to go forward loving more fiercely than ever and pushing through the fear of the unknown with boundless courage and optimism.
At my memorial, I know what people are going to say about me. I can rest easy knowing I lived the best life I know how to live. My close friends and family know who I am.  I have an inkling of what they would say. Or not say. And it’s all welcome by me.

Death brings light to life.