Monthly Archives: September 2015

Week 59 – Little Bits of Birthday

Hi There, Celebrationists!

1.) I am grateful to my kind, loving, thoughtful roommates who decorated exquisitely for my birthday and made today incredibly special, in a multitude of ways

2.) I am grateful for generous and supportive friends who are always there with listening ears and heaps of compassion in times of need

3. ) I am grateful to be working with people I admire, respect, and adore

I’m going to keep this short today.  I get very reflective about birthdays, and for what it’s worth, today I just want to share ten things that I’ve learned this year, or have experienced in new, more deeply realized ways.

Most of the time we already possess the wisdom we need to make difficult decisions. We just need to get out of the way

Asking for what you need can be empowering and surprising

Most people we think are “mean” are just scared, and need the most love of all

Reaching out is better and more fun than waiting for something to happen

Podcasts are amazing

Creating something every day is healing

Getting clear on what you want and putting it out there can yield amazing results

Doing less and letting go > doing more and holding on tighter (in many cases)

Coconut oil is useful for most things

Life’s too short to waste time being unhappy

On this Birthday, I celebrate YOU, dear Celebrationists. Have a beautiful week, and celebrate someone special in your life.

My slew of birthday books! Want to read them with me?

More next Monday!

Week 58 – Little Bits of Tribal Talk

Hi There, Celebrationists. Happy Monday!

1.) I am grateful for a super productive day off

2.) I am grateful for an incredibly fun week of rehearsals

3.) I am grateful for several early birthday packages that have arrived, but which I’ve not opened yet – the anticipation is fun : )

I recently stumbled across this little gem, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot:

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In the last three to five years I’ve become hyper-aware of how much I’m affected by the people I choose to spend my time with.

Is there anything better than being surrounded by people who make you feel like your best, kindest, most inspired and authentic self? People who challenge you and love you in equal measure? People who support your aspirations and dreams – and further fire you up with their own amazing goals and acts of courage? Just typing this gets me geared up.  I would definitely put that feeling high on my list of favorite things. I’m thankful to say that I’m now living and working in a place where I feel surrounded by such people on the regular, and I never take it for granted. Not for a moment. I’ve grown better about setting boundaries and surrounding myself with people who inspire me to be a better person.

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But it definitely wasn’t always this way. I used to think that I was being insensitive, judgmental, or mean if I didn’t want to spend time with someone who wanted to spend time with me. If any person asked me to do anything, I almost always said “yes, please!” out of guilt, fear (of rejection or anger), or because some part of me felt like I was lucky to be asked. This mentality led to my spending time with some wonderful people, but also with some folks who were Energy Vampires.  What causes us to spend time with people who don’t make us feel like our best selves? Humans who exhaust us, or leave us feeling totally spent, negative, and stuck? We’ve all done it, right? Why do we stay in these relationships? Instead of beating ourselves up, let’s break it down.

We might keep the Energy Vampires in our lives around, because of:

  • Habit/it’s an easy relationship that we understand already
  • We feel like we can help them. We can’t help them.
  • We don’t have to work very hard at new friendships if we stick with what we know
  • We “know who we are” with this person, it’s comfortable to some degree
  • We have a history with this person, and we don’t feel ready to say goodbye to that chapter of our lives yet
  • They affirm some limiting or negative belief we have about ourselves
  • We are afraid that expanding our social circle won’t work – we may end up alone if we put boundaries on that relationship, or let it go entirely

But how do we feel when we are surrounded by friends or family who aren’t giving us LIFE? When I spend time with Energy Vampires who are….

  • Lazy – I feel more inclined to be lazy
  • Gossipy – I feel more inclined to think in this way
  • Negative – I feel less hopeful
  • Overly vocal about self-doubt – I start doubting myself…
  • Living at a low frequency – you get the pattern…

Not to say that this is a directly cause and affect situation – we all have personal agency here, and this isn’t about blaming another person for our choices. But I’ll also say that when I surround myself with badasses who…

  • Are inspired to create on a daily basis – I want to wake up and make things
  • Are taking risks and being brave – I want to leap, and have new experiences
  • Are taking care of their minds and bodies – I want to follow suit
  •  Are educating themselves about the world around them – I feel inspired to gain more knowledge
  • Are exercising empathy and compassion – My own sense of empathy and compassion is excited and ignited, and I find more opportunities to extend this part of myself with joy

 

Credit: http://saynotomean.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-company-we-keep-impact-of-people.html

 

This isn’t about rejecting people. Or judging people. Or being exclusive. This isn’t about shutting out someone who’s having a hard time.  This is about tuning into our personal battery and being able to say “Man! I feel drained. Why do I feel this way? Since I’m responsible for my happiness and progress in this life – where are the places that I’m letting energy leak in ways that aren’t positive? What am I feeding myself? What isn’t serving me right now?”

We have to take care of ourselves to be able to care for others, and the world.  And I really believe that one way to do this is by paying attention to what, and who we surround ourselves with most.

I also don’t think this is an “all or nothing” situation. Several years back I was really struggling in this area of my life, and a friend said something to the effect of “You know. I think there are circles of relationship.  There are the people who are friendly acquaintances. Then there are the people who are in a slightly closer circle, who you share more of your life with, and then there are the people who are part of your inner-most tribe. The people you trust with your feelings. And THOSE are the people you want to choose carefully. It matters.”  It may take awhile to meet those people – you may have a few right now, or none at all. But you can find them. Some things to look for:

  • People who know how to listen, and care enough to do it
  • People who are motivated
  • People who are curious
  • People who are open hearted and open minded
  • People who are creating
  • People who are kind
  • People with a sense of humor
  • People who are searching
  • People who are reliable
  • People who are honest
  • People who care about things, people, the world

The list could go on and on – what’s on yours? And maybe you’ll need to expand your vision to find such people. They may not be in your regular haunts.  But as Oprah (and others) say – “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” Put yourself out there.  Be the kind of friend or romantic partner that you are hoping to find. Trust that those people exist. And trust that you deserve to share in that kind of relationship. You do.

Credit:http://saynotomean.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-company-we-keep-impact-of-people.html

See you next week, beautiful Celebrationists! *HUG*

Week 57 – Little Bits of Reanimation

Happy Monday, Celebrationists! Here we are in the middle of September. Can you believe it?!

1.) I am grateful for a wonderful first week of rehearsal for The Importance of Being Earnest with Zombies, at freeFall Theatre. A uniformly kind, talented, and playful cast – just an amazing time already.

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2.) I am grateful to be the proud owner of a sewing machine! Very thankful for the dear friend who gifted it to me, and the kind friend who transported it many miles to my doorstep : )

3.) I am grateful for FaceTime. It’s just really wonderful.

For every play or musical I’m in, I like to write one vaguely show-inspired post. I enjoy using the piece of theatre I’m working on as a jumping off place to explore a related theme that might apply to our lives, or in the case of The Importance of Being Earnest, go down the rabbit hole of lateral thought for a bit. When I did The Importance of Being Earnest (sans zombies) this summer, I shared some thoughts about Bunburying in modern times. As I launch into the show for a second time, though altered, as it is an adaptation called The Importance of Being Earnest with Zombies, it only makes sense that I’ve been thinking a lot about the walking dead.

To prepare for this rehearsal period, I’ve been watching quite a few zombie movies to get inspired – Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Fido, Cockneys vs Zombies (which I admit I couldn’t get all the way through) – and it might make me a total sap, but for as ridiculous, hilarious, and (I suppose) scary as these creatures seem, there’s something about them that makes me innately sad. Without being conscious of it in the moment, I think probably it’s the idea of moving through the world without really living, that gets me. When I think about the zombies in these films, some of the first words that come to my mind are: mindless, hungry, and destructive. They might be totally ridiculous creatures…but I just can’t help finding them a little heartbreaking. I mean…literally as well as figuratively.

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Check out Fido, on Netflix. I found myself “awwww”-ing for this guy a surprising amount…

In The Importance of Being Earnest with Zombies we meet a cast of characters who are thoroughly consumed with triviality, and fixate on the inane minutia of life instead of opening their eyes to the world around them. Zombies might be banging down the door, but they are much more concerned with muffins and marriage proposals. Even though the play is a glorious farce – I think there is some gravity to be found in the metaphor of being a zombie.

What are the ways in which we move through the world like the walking dead? I can think of a few:

  • Being glued to our various screens instead of expanding our awareness to the people and situations around us
  • Being more concerned with the drama of our particular social group than we are with what is happening out in the world
  • Living out mindless patterns that aren’t necessarily healthy, but we feed on them without thinking
  • The constant overstimulation of our senses that can leave us feeling like…well…zombies…
  • Being “out for blood” – ready to pounce on, criticize, and rip apart our fellow humans instead of craving empathy and understanding

So how do we battle our own personal zombie apocalypse? How do we reanimate, connect with humanity, and ward ourselves off from our own complacency, heartlessness, and hunger for destruction? (This is what I mean by lateral thought, as this kind of self reflection has no place in the world of the play). How do we fight such tendencies in ourselves, instead of giving in to them and joining the ranks of the walking dead?

Turn off the TV, and get quiet: Zombies (literal and metaphorical) respond to noise, and are more likely to attack when our surroundings (outer and inner) are loud and distracted. Get quiet, and become fully aware of the people, places, and things right in front of us. Dial down the noise and dig into the moment.

Fortify your safe house: Just as one would stock up on plenty of food and water preparing  for a zombie apocalypse, when we nourish and educate our minds through meditation, good books, podcasts, or just surrounding ourselves with positive people who challenge us to be better, we are more prepared when an “attack” or challenging circumstance comes our way.

Grab a heavy object: Pick up a baseball bat, walking stick, or bowling ball… and get out there and LIVE. Experience the world by trying new things, exploring the unknown, and challenging ourselves to be active participants in everything around us. Each new activity, no matter how “small,” broadens our horizons and has the capacity to make us more empathetic, observant, and aware. It’s infectious!

Destroy the brain: We have the ability to retrain our thought patterns, and just because we experience things like jealously, aggression, and rage doesn’t mean we can’t wipe the slate clean and approach people and situations with a completely open mind. We have the capacity to change.

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Good luck, fellow zombie hunters! Have a wonderful week – I’m dying to hear how it goes : )

Week 56 – Little Bits of Mess

Welcome to our first Monday in September, Celebrationists!

1.) I am grateful that my move to Florida went smoothly, simply, and has been so filled with loving friends already

2.) I am grateful for this couple of days to settle in, before rehearsal starts

3.) I am grateful for sunflower seed butter, because it made my morning delicious and fiber-filled : )

Today I want to talk about mess.

September seems like a useful month to consider this word, as many people are preparing to start (or recently started) school – either as teachers or students. It’s a common time for people to move, establish new living spaces, and buy adorable office supplies from Staples.

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(Brightly colored post-its are a personal favorite) 

I’ve said it before, and know I’m not alone in this, that September always feels more like “the new year” than January does. It’s certainly when I become the most reflective, set new goals, and make plans for beginning certain parts of my life anew. So while we’re thinking about organization in all its forms….here are some musings on mess.

I think about how the phrase “I’m such a mess” creeps into our every day vernacular. I feel like this expression can mean:

  • I (literally) look like a mess right now
  • I don’t have my life together
  • I feel like a disaster
  • This is a quick way to apologize for the fact that I didn’t (fill in the blank) _________, and somehow requires no real explanation
  • I’m emotionally spent
  • I’m being ridiculous about this person, event, thing, and it’s kind of funny, but also kind of not
  • My inability to deal with this situation or person makes me kind of adorable and relatable, right? (But secretly I’m bashing my head into a metaphorical – hopefully, not literal – wall about it)

There’s also a kind of “love your mess” mentality going around, which I think can be linked to

  • Self love
  • Accepting ourselves, flaws and all
  • Letting go of the need for perfection
  • The desire for authenticity/letting go of the need to put on airs/hide from our reality
  • The celebration of that in us which isn’t so beautiful, but is still part of who we are

I’ve been a participant in everything just listed above. I also consider myself a big cheerleader for self-acceptance/self love, so none of what I’m about it say is meant to negate any of that. But I’m such a Libra, and looking at/finding value in two sides of the same coin is one of the things I enjoy most.

As important as I think it is to embrace all the parts of ourselves, I also think there are times when our mess, in the literal or metaphorical sense of the word, can be self-destructive. To ourselves, and those around us. And it makes me evaluate in my own life – what are the things I’m claiming about myself and the way I move through the world? Are those the things I want to be claiming? Self love isn’t the same as excusing my own bad habits – so how do I make the distinction? In other words, when I choose to “love my mess,” where do I draw the line? How do I love my mess, but also get my life together?

Author and motivational goddess Louise Hay talks a lot about how our physical space is an out-picturing of our inner lives. If we live in outer chaos, frequently it says something about where we are at inside, emotionally/psychologically – or maybe it’s a chicken/egg kind of thing in terms of which comes first.

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And of course, we all have a messy rooms sometimes – I know I do! But here’s are things I’ve noticed about myself

  • When I’m living in clutter I’m more easily distracted
  • When I’m living in clutter I don’t feel as motivated
  • When I’m living in clutter I feel less at peace
  • When I’m living in clutter it takes me longer to do everything
  • When I’m living in clutter I’m more anxious
  • When I’m living in clutter my focus is more inward than outward

At first, the little list above just becomes annoying. Then after awhile, I think it becomes something else. When we allow ourselves to exist in a state of mess for a longer period…what starts to happen? Physical mess, or otherwise? Do these things become our new norm? And what does that do to us?

Gretchen Rubin (her book The Happiness Project, and podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin are both fantastic!) is a big proponent of making your bed every day, no matter what. To read about her awesome theory, check this out.  I started doing it myself, and noticed that it did make a difference for me! And that makes me think….if making my bed – something so simple, can have an impact on the way I move through the world, what else might have such a great effect? How far can I go with it?

When I get myself (be it physical space, schedule, etc) in order, here are some things that I notice:

  • Taking care of myself in this way feels like a great act of self-respect.
  • I feel like I am respecting others more, too. When I’m more organized I am more likely to be on-time, able to listen without distraction, and be fully present with whoever I am with
  • I’m able to articulate my wants and needs with a fuller expression. Organizing my space seems to lead to more organized thoughts, which seems to lead to a greater clarity in other, sometimes more surprising areas
  • The sense of accomplishment I feel, no matter how small, seems to positively affect my ability to take on larger and more challenging endeavors
  • My memory improves.  I really feel like when I am organized, I don’t forget things as often
  • I have more energy, because I’m not expending it in unnecessary places (like spending three hours hunting for my keys)
  • I accomplish more when I organize my space and time, which leads to more time for the things I enjoy
  • I have more time and headspace for other people. I’m more inclined to think of others when I’m not drowning in my own mess – whatever form it happens to take at the time

So how do we do it? As with all of these posts, I’m very much figuring it out myself. But I think we start small. I think we start manageably.  I think we are kind to ourselves when we “mess up.” I think we embrace our imperfections while asking honestly “which of these would be helpful to explore some action on?” “Which of these things, if I work on creating some new patterns of behavior, might bring me more happiness?”

I think we get specific about loving our messy selves, while making the distinction/asking “which of these habits/behaviors are just not serving me, and are not a part of the mess I want to embrace?”I think we forgive ourselves, pick up the feather duster, dance around the room, and begin.  

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Week 55 – Little Bits of Humor

Hi there, Celebrationists.

1.) I am grateful this week for two thoughtful friends who were kind enough to let me throw a few bags in their truck, which is bound for Florida. Will make my travel day INFINITELY easier on Saturday, and I couldn’t be more thankful for their kindness

2.) I am grateful for watermelon, which I am eating right now

3.) I am grateful for a relaxing trip to the Hamptons this week – so very restful

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I’ve always been a pretty serious person. Which is not to say that I don’t have a decent sense of humor, because I like to think I do. I enjoy laughing, though I probably don’t do it quite often enough. I guess what I mean to say is that I tend to take things (and myself) really seriously, by nature. When I’m not in a group setting, (and reflexively concerned with “reading the room” and trying to provide the most needed energy at the time,) this baseline seriousness feels like my most natural mode of moving through the world.

This seriousness also feeds into my personal tastes. 98% of the time I would say that I enjoy and feel more energized by what someone might classify as a “deep” conversation than a light and silly one.  I find that I have more to contribute, share, and get excited about in these conversations than I do about many lighter, more every-day topics.  Anyone who has ever tried to talk to me about pop culture knows this.  If left to my own devices and I’m alone watching a movie with no one else to consider, I’ll pick a drama or thriller over a comedy nearly every time. I often find things that are pegged as “sad” to be beautiful and thought-provoking, and find deep satisfaction in turning over the layers of possible meaning in my mind. I don’t think any of this makes me any kind of “profound,” or anything other than ordinary – but I’m aware that these are what my natural preferences are.  And that they aren’t always popular.

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(Did you read this book as a kid? It was hands down one of my top 5 favorites. If you missed it, grab a box of Kleenex and go for it.)

I think a lot about how in our current culture, seriousness isn’t considered very “cool.” It seems like earnestness and the desire to find meaning meaning is considered exhausting – if mentioned at all in popular media, and that there isn’t a high premium placed on self-knowledge, beyond a general “do what feels good for you!” mentality. And can I say something painfully honest, that feels awful and self-important, and ridiculous to type? Sometimes I feel mildly (and very privately) frustrated when others don’t take things as seriously as I do – which isn’t fair at all, in most cases.

But I have to say.

I was feeling stuck today as I thought about writing this post. For the first time in awhile I didn’t know what to write about. I’m not finished editing my GBD interview that I did this week, and I felt compelled to write something new…but had no idea what.  When I shared this frustration with someone, his response was – “What if you stand up and wiggle your butt?” I groaned inwardly and rolled my eyes, but also kind of smiled. This response is a perfect example of who he is, but my own inner response to feeling stuck is something more along the lines of, “Ok, let’s make a list of possible topics, dig deep, and go over your week – who has inspired you lately? What’s something you’ve read or seen that stirred something deep inside of  you?” To read his simple suggestion in the midst of my own swirling thoughts reminded me – that sometimes it’s really healthy not to take ourselves so seriously.  I know this isn’t new information. You’ve read this before. But think about how often we forget it.  Consider some of the times we might be inclined to take ourselves especially seriously

  • At work
  • On a job interview
  • With our kids, parents, partners, whoever
  • When delving into a new project
  • When trying something we’ve never done before
  • When doing something we’ve done 1,000 times before and have placed unfair expectations on ourselves to exceed our last performance
  • When imparting advice
  • When receiving advice
  • When wanting to make a good impression
  • I mean, really…any time…

Though I’ve consciously tried to make an effort in this area of my life, and have gotten better about it – especially in the last three years or so, I still need plenty of reminders. And thankfully, the universe provides them.  I greatly admire folks who already understand the wisdom of good humor, and move through the world with this quality as their default mode. I don’t say this to negate my own nature at all, but I think we often appreciate the qualities we don’t have innately, when we see them in others.

It brings to mind a dear friend – this  this little pixie of a woman. She carries two things in her purse without fail – a clown nose, and a television remote. The clown nose (which she is given to putting on when things get a little too serious) is to remind herself that she “lives in a comedy, not a tragedy!” and the remote control is so she can “change the channel” when she’s on a train of thought that isn’t serving her. And she will absolutely whip the remote out, if the moment calls for it. Much like the person who gave me the advice mentioned two little paragraphs ago, she know what it means to not take life, or herself too seriously.

I was trying to think of the advantages of moving through the world with a greater sense of humor about ourselves. We can know in a vague way that this is a good thing, but to really put language to it, here are some things that come to mind:

  • Laughter is really healthy for us, for one thing – it boosts our immune systems, decreases anxiety, lifts the mood, relaxes the body, and so many other positive perks!
  • I think that when we approach a situation – particularly a conflict, from a place of light-heartedness, we are able to have a greater and more compassionate sense of perspective
  • When we approach life with a sense of humor, I think we are often more open to new ideas and experiences
  • We are less likely to have a meltdown when we pause to remember “Hey. It’s only life.”
  • We put others at ease when we can pause, smile, and metaphorically (or physically, I guess,) “wiggle our butts”
  • I think that regarding ourselves with a sense of humor also makes us innately kinder to ourselves – and others
  • I think that laughter, and the act of not taking ourselves too seriously can create the best conditions for hope to exist and thrive within ourselves
  • Taking ourselves less seriously makes us more flexible
  • Laughter is closely linked to celebration, and we are Celebrationists, for goodness sakes!

It’s still so possible to care deeply about things and have a sense of humor about them. Sometimes I need a reminder of this fact. Do you?  What do you do to support a great sense of humor about yourself and the world? I’d love to know!

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Maybe we just all need a clown nose : )  See you next week, Celebrationists!