Tag Archives: new york city

The Dawn of the Non-Apocalypse: Do the Thing

galactic-centerYay!  We’re still here!

Okay, so no one thought that the world was really going to end.  However, many believe that this is the dawn of a new shift in energy – when the extraneous elements of life will be abandoned for the truly meaningful ones, and we will begin to find balance.

As I sit here about to launch into full blown holiday mode, having just finished three weeks of production on a film for San Diego’s One Billion Rising Campaign, juggling three writing jobs and attempting to make plans for the future, balance seems farther away than the point where the sun’s elliptical apparently crossed the equator of the Milky Way this morning.

However, leading up this End of Days, I have admittedly noticed a shift in my own life and the lives of those around me.  Light bulbs seem to be popping up over everyone’s heads.  I can’t tell you how many times I have had conversations with friends about their choices to do Plan B instead of Plan A, for no other reason than it felt more authentic to who they are.  These new plans don’t make them more money, don’t grant them a path to fame or fortune or success, and often don’t even seem logical in the typical “way of doing things.”  And yet, there my friends are: moving from New York City to Portland, Maine for a better quality of life, quitting jobs that don’t serve them, taking off for teaching assignments in foreign countries, going back to school for degrees that would just be enjoyable to earn rather than a guarantee of a career path.  Seemingly crazy decisions – or are they?

When I started writing seriously this year, I experienced a balance I had never felt before.  Thus far, my life had consisted of working really hard at school and jobs and feeling that if I didn’t have my hand in 50 activities simultaneously, that I wasn’t really living.  How is it, then, that when I sit down to write a blog post to all of you lovely readers out there, I feel more balanced and energized and fulfilled than when I’ve done anything else?

A paradigm shift began to occur.

What if I did things that made me feel balanced…all the time?  Or, at least…more often?  What if I actually redirected my life to include more time for…this?

Of course, it’s one thing to recognize what makes my spirit sing, but it’s another thing to actually carve out the time to do it, and do it well.  Thus began the Angst-Ridden Dilemma Decisions of 2012:  Do I accept this part in this play, or do I make time for writing?  Do I stay in this job that isn’t entirely serving me, or do I make time for writing?  Do I  allow myself to get distracted by errands and invites and day trips and doing for others, or do I make time for writing?

I soon began to realize that my levels of commitment to anything OTHER than writing were an addictive tendency I clung to in order to mask the one thing that was truly driving me:  my fear of what would happen if I just did the thing I need/want/love/have to do.

And when I say “addictive,” I mean seriously addictive.  Like, time for intervention and rehab kind of addiction.

Who could have thought that involvement in “stuff” and “things” could be as toxic as guzzling booze?  But, there you have it.  When I have thirty things on my to-do list, my mind is occupied, numbed in its busy-ness.  It doesn’t have to go to the places of quiet solitude, where I am faced with a reflection of who I really am.  I can avoid that NeverEnding Story Magic Mirror Gate moment because, after all, who knows what I will find there?  The girl who is not doing enough to honor her authentic self?  Or worse: the potential for greatness.

Doing stuff is so much easier!

The funny thing about the universe is that when you take one small step in the right direction, you get all sorts of kudos.  Strike that.  When you even turn your head in the right direction, the universe is like “You rock!” and you get all this fun stuff. Whether this means choosing a new thought, or saying no to a play, or doing whatever the “good for you” thing is that seems hard in the moment, it is when you take a leap of faith and honor your authentic self that the net appears.  Truly.  I knew what I had to do.

My first “no” happened in late September, shortly after I wrote my “Dark Spots” piece.  I was offered a part in a play.  I agonized for a week about accepting the part, which typically would have been a no-brainer.  I upset myself to the point of nausea.  The thought of saying “no” seemed nuts to me.  Why would I do that?  Why would I deny myself this artistic opportunity?  Was I totally crazy?  But deep down, I knew I couldn’t do both.  I couldn’t prioritize writing and work on this show simultaneously.  I looked ahead to the fall and winter months and began to hyperventilate.

But…to create blank space in my days with which to fill with writing seemed…completely frightening.  I began to experience what would be my own personal brand of withdrawal pain: Oh, God.  What would I do with hours free to sit in front of my computer?  What if I wrote crap?  What if I lost my way?  What if I wrote and wrote and wrote and nothing came of it – ever?  How would I ever find the tenacity and persistence to see it through in the first place, whatever that meant?  What if I spent hours alone in my room or in some cozy coffee shop away from the world and people…forgot about me?  Panic ensued.  I needed hot chocolate, stat.

The thing about writing is that it takes time.  For me, at least, it takes time.  Thoughts and ideas have levels.  The more time I spend with them, the deeper they go.  Unless I granted myself that time, they would not manifest.  (David Lynch wrote a nice piece about this for GOOD.)

And so, I made the call.  I said “no.”  And an amazing thing happened.  No one hated me.  No one ostracized me.  No one condemned me for taking the time to shut my door and get to work.  And so, I did it again.  I said “no” to a job that I needed to let go of, the alarm bells of civilized society going off in my head the whole time.  And yet, strangely, because of various freelance opportunities that immediately came my way, I found myself more financially stable than I had been in a long time.  And also: I had time.  All of a sudden, I had time.

Of course, honoring this new paradigm takes time as well – nobody’s perfect.  As I said, I just finished producing a film, so yeah…not a lot of writing happened this month.  However, here I am today, putting words to virtual paper, contemplating the apocalypse, and finally feeling more like myself again.  I guess every day that the world doesn’t end is a new opportunity to figure out why it’s worth being here in the first place.

Do the thing.

Engywook: Next is the Magic Mirror Gate. Atreyu has to face his true self.
Falkor: So what? That won’t be too hard for him.
Engywook: Oh, that’s what everyone thinks! But kind people find that they are cruel. Brave men discover that they are really cowards! Confronted with their true selves, most men run away screaming!

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And Away We Go

Gentle Reader,

I am feeling a little bit like Rachel Berry as I leave my friend’s apartment this morning on the Upper West Side and head for Blog World Expo. Despite the threat of wellie-weather all week, it is a PERFECT day in New York. (I may even go so far as to say it is a San Diego day in New York…) All signs point to this conference being a very auspicious venture for me…the transit of Venus, the rainbow I saw from the plane on the flight in, the appearance of Bernadette Peters singing “Unexpected Song” at Musical Mondays… I might as well stick a gold star on my forehead and bust into a show tune as I walk into the Javits Center. It will be so cool to see how this day unfolds. But first…coffee.

Until later, Gentle Reader.

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T-23 Hours till Go Time

So, I leave for NYC tomorrow morning at the (insert inappropriate language here) crack of dawn and here is an assessment of my Yet-To-Do-List (further recommendations welcome from other attendees):

1. Finish grading papers (Shoot me now).

2.  Pack umbrella.

3.  Do more research on speakers and narrow down my list of Must-Attends (Be quiet, Kevin Six.  I am NOT type A.).

4.  Follow Blog World Expo coordinators on Twitter (Check!)

5.  Make business cards.

6.  Confirm dinner with my former a la Sex and the City brunch crew (Check!).

7.  (Do I really need that scarf I saw in that shop last week?  It’s super cute and would match like every outfit I’m bringing.)

8.  Download BWE mobile app on the recommendation of my new Blog World Expo Twitter friend and local San Diegan @mattsurfs  (Check!  Thanks for the tip!).

9.  Make sure I can run my online classes entirely from my smartphone.  This is a huge step into the advances of technology for me.  A little nervous.

10.  Corollary thought to #9:  My computer is a dinosaur from 2005 which is why it is staying in San Diego.  Maybe the giveaway gods will be good to me at the conference and bestow upon me a confirmation-of-my-new-direction gift from the universe in the form of a slick laptop.  Just putting it out there.

11.  Make a blog friend pre-conference.  I so do not want to be the new kid roaming the halls wondering where all of the popular people are hanging out.  If only I could find a cool blogger like me and make a conference lunch date pre-NYC…  (All of a sudden I feel like the Anne of Green Gables version of the blogworld.  Will someone be my bosom blog friend?)

12.  Deep breath.  Game face.  Smile.

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Stories We Tell

photo: blog.hubspot.com

Joan Didion, my absolute all time favorite author ever of all time ever, said that we tell ourselves stories in order to live.

Story:  I am intelligent, honest, loyal, and a generally nice person.

Story:  I live with an open heart and I am stronger, better person because of it.

Story:  The idea of success scares the hell out of me.

What the what?

The truth is that the fact that I’m an intelligent, honest, loyal, and generally nice person has done nothing to contribute to my career path.  Apparently, the real world doesn’t operate in hearts, flowers, glitter, and bubbles.  But neither is it helpful that every time I seem to get close to something one would generally consider success (in work, in relationships, the list goes on), I pretty much abandon ship, citing reasons such as, “I’m just not ready,” or “I just felt like moving back to California,” or “I have to learn how to be a whole person without the validation of financial achievement or personal attachments.”  Yeeeah.

Many a therapist have told me, “You’re afraid of success,” which never made any sense to me at all.  Why would anyone be afraid of success?  I would ask as I cancelled meetings with movie producers and turned down corporate jobs with giant salaries.   Not me!

So, as I begin to pack for the Blog World Expo happening in NYC next week, I notice that my hands start shaking a little bit.  You would think that if I am attending the (insert reverb here) Bloooog Wooorld Expoooo, that I would be a semi-pro at this stuff.  Not true.  I signed up on a whim and now I leave in a week.

First of all, I don’t consider myself a blogger.  I’m a writer and the blogging thing is new to me and the only thing I truly know about it is that I am waaaay behind.  (Next therapy session:  The utter disappointment I feel if I don’t overachieve on Day One of trying something new.)  And so, of course, with my amoeba-like sense of career goals and life direction right now, I decided to do what anyone relatively new to anything would do:  Attend the most gigantic, intimidating, trial-by-fire three day conference on the topic at hand and pretend that I know what the hell I’m doing.  Duh.

Except that I don’t even know enough to pretend.  I’m going to be stuck wandering the halls of the Javits Center on the west side asking random blogger-attendees if they know what a Tweet deck is.  Seriously.  They will sense my fear.  They will eat me for blogger lunch.  They will look down their hipster glasses at me over lattes and shake their heads sadly at my desperate cries of, “But I’m a good writer!  I just don’t know how to do Google analytics yet!”  I’m toast.

So, where does my fear of success fit into all of this?  Because instead of sitting down and linking my blog to my Twitter account, I’m watching back to back episodes of “Scandal” and “Revenge” while noshing on peanut butter straight from the jar with a fork.  (True story.)  And I’m scared.  I’m truly I-feel-like-I’m-gonna-puke freaked out.

You know…I’ve done the whole travelling alone through foreign countries thing.  I’ve been questioned by border military officers on overnight trains in the middle of nowhere (Don’t tell my mom).  I swordfight.  I surf.  I stand on stage and tell stories that other people don’t always want to hear.  I lead with my heart.  I would consider myself pretty brave.  Mostly.

So, why does the thought of entering this brand new world full of stuff I love to do freak the hell out of me?  “You’re afraid of success,” the voice tells me.  So…what?  I’m afraid of using my voice?  That no one will think I have anything to say?  That it won’t be relevant?  So what?

What happens if, on the odd chance, I find out that I do have something to say?  That my voice is relevant?  What if I learn just enough to get me to the next phase of my writing career (let’s call that the “Phase Where I Make an Income,” shall we?) and who knows?  Something magical happens?  Or – gasp – I work really hard and my hard work pays off?  One of my acting teachers once said to me, “Well, you know, if you stand on a street corner long enough, someone is going to come by who can use you.”  That sounded much better in Sam Schacht’s acting class than it does as I type it here, but you know what I mean.  Another grad school adage: Persistence Alone Is Omnipotent.

So, my new course of action:  When my hands start to shake or I find myself readily anticipating Emily Thorne’s next infinity move, I will do my work instead of believing the story of my fear.  And even though I know I will be blogger-scorned in New York, that doesn’t have to be my story, either.

Because, as a writer, the one thing I should know for sure is that

stories

are always

rewritten.

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