Category Archives: Inspiring Stuff

10 Promises To My 80-Year-Old Self

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(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 9/13/14)

I am getting older. It is inevitable. As you read this, you are getting older in tiny, incremental steps. You are older now than you were when you began reading this post. Each second that passes is one less second you have to live.

It’s better than being dead, isn’t it?
I don’t want to view aging with dread. I want to embrace each age as it comes, and focus on the positive. I want to welcome old age with vigor and vitality. I want to sit at the table with it and have a long, lingering meal while we talk about what we did that day, and what we might do tomorrow if the feeling hits us. I want to be one of those awesome old ladies, who actively looks for reasons to be happy and who cultivates new interests and friendships right up until the very end. I don’t want to succumb to despair, knowing that most of life is behind me. I want to be grateful for each day that I’m given.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to come up with a list of ten promises to my 80-year-old self.
  1. I promise to wear whatever the hell I want without apology. I want to be the old lady that is draped in tunics and flowing pants, arms filled with bracelets, neck wrapped in scarves I’ve picked up from my world travels, gigantic colorful glasses, and natural gray hair shorn into a pixie cut (who wants to deal with hair when their old?). It’ll be like wearing pajamas all day except more awesome.
  2. I promise to have as many cats as I damn well want. Who cares if anyone thinks I’m a cat lady when I’m 80? I’m a cat lady because cats are awesome!
  3. I promise to make romantic love a priority. I will have a boyfriend, and we will laugh together, and dance together, and tell each other stories, and maybe even canoodle now and again. This is, of course, if present hubs isn’t still alive. He’s got some years on me, so chances are he won’t be alive when I’m, say, 90. But if he is, well, yay him! I hope he still has his hearing and cognitive abilities and hasn’t gotten grouchy, and that we are the best of friends.
  4. I promise to cultivate a diverse range of friendships. I will have an active and vibrant group of friends of all ages who engage me and challenge me and help me feel young and alive.
  5. I promise to look after folks my own age, and hope they do the same for me. I have no biological kids, so there won’t necessarily be any family to look after me when I’m old. I’d like to  belong to a tight group of old folks who will look after each other’s physical, emotional and mental well-being. Perhaps we’ll even all live in a big house together!
  6. I promise to keep myself in as good a physical shape as possible. I know that my mental and emotional health is closely tied to my physical health, and I will stay active, take walks, garden, and not use my advanced age as an excuse to keep it easy. I will challenge myself physically, and take care of myself when I am sick.
  7. I promise to maintain a positive outlook on life. I may be old and closer to death than I’ve ever been, but I want to have a healthy, upbeat attitude towards life until the day I die.
  8. I promise to keep that feeling of child-like wonder about the world, and to continue to discover what is beautiful about life. I want to always feel like a child on the inside, even if my shell looks like an old person. I want to stay engaged with the world, and make new discoveries, and revel in all the small, beautiful details, right up until the very end.
  9. I promise to continue to cultivate new interests and to learn new things. It ain’t over ’til it’s over, so what’s wrong with learning to play guitar at 80, or dance the cha cha? Maybe I’ll finally have the patience to master French macarons!
  10. I promise to look back on my life without regret, because all those choices and experiences have made me the person I am. I want to live a meaningful, mindful life, and even though it will have its inevitable tragedies, I want to look back on it with warmth and fondness.
What do you hope to be like at 80? What promises will you make to yourself?
Me as Millie in "Hot l Baltimore" (2001) Production directed by Israel Hicks at Mason Gross School of the Arts
Me as Millie in “Hot l Baltimore” (2001)
Production directed by Israel Hicks at Mason Gross School of the Arts

Artist’s Prayer

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(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 9/12/14)

prayer

Artist’s Prayer

 

I open myself up to the beauty and goodness in the world

And to the beauty and goodness that exist inside me.

I embrace my creativity

And know that I am simply the channel through which it flows.

I surrender my old ideas of what I think I am meant to do

And let my intuition and my heart guide me to my purpose.

It is my nature to be creative.

My creativity is the way in which I serve the world.

I will not allow my feelings of inadequacy or low self-worth

Distract me from my path.

I nurture and protect my creativity

And encourage it to grow.

I am patient, kind and gentle with myself

And encourage patience, kindness and gentleness in others.

I believe it is never too late for us to walk our true paths,

Never too late to banish fear,

Never too late for understanding,

Never too late to unfold to the world

And to embrace our life’s calling.

– Amy Clites

My Remembrance of 9/11 – Have We Forgotten?

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(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 9/11/14)

Photo by Chris Schiffner
Photo by Chris Schiffner

In writing that date, my heart is heavy. I always find this day very hard to take in. I was a graduate student at Rutgers in New Jersey the day the towers fell. I had gotten up early that day and gone to the gym for the first time that semester. It was our last year of acting school, and my classmates and I had become obsessed about getting in shape for showcase at the end of the year. A friend, Jessica, had met me there to show me some good exercises. She was fit, I was not.

It was the first week of school, and we had our first on-camera class that morning so I spent extra time getting ready. I even ironed my clothes. As I got close to school, I had this nagging feeling that I had left the iron on, and I was worried that my cat would knock it over and start a fire. I was pretty well consumed with this thought as soon as it occurred to me.

I parked my car in the faculty lot behind the student center. I was a TA so I technically could park there, a relief since there was usually an empty spot, unlike the student lot, and I didn’t want to be late. I hurriedly walked through campus to get to class on time. On my way, a random student I had never met stopped me and said, “A plane has just crashed into the Pentagon.” I was flabbergasted. What? What was going on? I didn’t linger – I didn’t want to be late for class. That was a cardinal sin in our program.

 

As I approached our building, several of my classmates were standing outside. Everyone looked especially nice that day as we were meeting a new teacher on going on camera. One of my classmates, Tammy Jo, was crying hysterically. The information from the events that morning started to come to me in disjointed bits and jabs.

“Tammy Jo saw it! She was driving to school and saw it from the Turnpike!”

“Should we go give blood?”

“There were two planes, the World Trade Center is on fire!”

“Are we having class? What should we do?”

What happened at the Pentagon? That seemed inconsequential now, considering how close we were to the World Trade Center. It was quickly determined that we were not having class that day.  In a truly selfish moment, I was so grateful. I could drive back home and see if I had left my iron on. I had.

Several classmates met back at the house down the street from school. It was the local theatre house, everyone who lived there was a student in the department, about eight or so. The number was never really definite, as boyfriends and girlfriends often stayed, too, myself included. I was dating one of my classmates who lived on the second floor.

We sat there that morning and watched the TV in stunned silence. Phone calls were made to check on loved ones in the city. More calls were made to folks back home to assure them we were okay. We saw the towers fall over and over again, the footage looped in case anyone in America hadn’t heard the news yet. How could anyone not have heard the news? The images of the jumpers were shown over and over and will remain seared in my memory of that day. It’s stomach-turning to think about what September 11th was like for them, the horror they faced that made jumping to their deaths below the best option. And the two who were holding hands – I still get choked up thinking about that. Did we ever find out who they were? I’ve since learned there were over 200 people who jumped to their deaths that day.

After a couple of hours of not knowing what to do, and not getting any new information, it was decided that the best thing we could do to help was to give blood. A small army of us coalesced and we headed down to Robert Wood Johnson Memorial Hospital in New Brunswick.

The hospital was mobbed and we were turned away. So many people had showed up to give blood that they were overwhelmed. I wouldn’t find out until years later that I can’t give blood, anyway. I spent a semester in England in 1995. The Red Cross won’t allow anyone to give blood who spent more than three months in some countries, including England, between 1980 and 1996 because of Mad Cow Disease.

Not knowing what else to do, we all descended upon the Edison Diner, a favorite place to score a greasy dinner after rehearsal or a party. I was preoccupied, wondering if I was supposed to have my therapy appointment that afternoon. I had finally signed up for the free therapy they offered at school, to help me through my recent divorce. All my calls to the office went unanswered. I could only assume there would be no therapy that day. We didn’t have any classes for at least a week, as I recall. Most of our instructors commuted to Rutgers from Manhattan, and were trapped in the city.

A month later I went to Manhattan with my friends Kristofer and Paul, to interview headshot photographers. We made our way downtown to see for ourselves what had happened. The air still smelled of acrid smoke and – what else, it’s hard to say. I’ve never smelled anything like that before, and I hope I don’t again. The site was not yet cleared, sections of charred walls remained, set askew and barely visible over the fences that cordoned off the area. It was a ghost town. Businesses were closed and there were few people walking around. Paul tried to shimmy up one of the temporary fences to get a better look. I didn’t need to see anymore. Our hair still smelled of that acrid smoke on our return to New Brunswick, like when you’ve been sitting in front of a campfire for too long.

Those are my memories of 9/11 – faces, pictures, feelings and smells. What a fucked up day. It’s so big and hard to comprehend, the amount of suffering that happened. Suffering that rippled out through the country from Ground Zero that day. Have those waves finally settled?

I’m watching CNN right now. It’s 13 years later. I’ve so far seen no coverage of that day. Stories of Ferguson, Missouri, the Oscar Pistorius trial, and Obama’s speech about ISIS are the top news.

Have we forgotten?

Does Honey Maid Get Their New Stepfamily Commercial Right?

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(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 9/10/14)

honeymaid

There was a minor stir in my corner of the Internet yesterday. Honey Maid has released a new “documentary” (aka commercial) as part of their This Is Wholesome campaign, featuring what they call a blended family. It features a boy named Isaac with his two parents and two stepparents.

As Isaac sees it, he has two moms and two dads. In fact, the stepmom, in the beginning of the spot, says “I’ll never forget the first time Isaac called me ‘Mom.'” The commercial then goes on to show how these two stepfamilies have come together to raise their children. We see them all together celebrating a birthday, and playing at the beach. The parents talk about how the situation isn’t easy, but that they come together for the sake of the kids. The full clip can be seen at the bottom of the post.

In what world does this actually happen? Is it wrong to say that when I watched this commercial, it made me feel a little queasy?

Please don’t misunderstand me – I think it’s great. I would love to be part of such a highly-functioning stepfamily.  I’m a stepmom, and I enjoy a healthy relationship with both of my stepchildren. I want to be a positive adult role model for them, and I want them to feel that they can talk to me about anything.  But our stepfamily looks nothing like this TV stepfamily. The bio parents struggle to get along, and it feels like we are almost always on the brink of war. The divorce has unfortunately caused a great rift in my husband’s family, and family members have taken sides. It would be a stretch to say that everyone over 20 has acted like an adult at all times. In the beginning, we tried to blend like Isaac’s family. We all attended birthday parties and family events. But that didn’t last, and we’re all still sorting out how to get along well enough to make sure the kids have a good environment in which to grow up. And no matter how much I love my stepkids, I don’t expect or even really want them to call me “mom.”

I feel like the commercial sets up unrealistic expectations. According to the statistics presented in the commercial, more than 40% of Americans are part of a blended family. How many of those families do you think actually look like this one? From my experience, very few. In a perfect world, we’d all behave like adults all of the time. But in most stepfamilies, the reality is quite different. Seeing commercials like this makes it easy to feel like we’re failing, when we are already trying as hard as we can to make the situation as best as it can be amongst people who just don’t get along.

I applaud Honey Maid for daring to approach this subject, in the same way I applaud Cheerios for showing a different kind of family in their recent campaign. But I look forward to the day when we can be more honest about how these types of families function so that we don’t feel like we have to live up to impossible standards. I gave up trying to look like a swimsuit model long ago, even though that’s what the media tells me I should look like. I don’t want to be made to feel that I’m also failing as a stepmom, when I think I’m doing a pretty damn good job considering the circumstances.

Why Are Good Habits So Elusive?

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(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 9/9/14)

habit

The number one reason I am writing a daily blog is to establish a good habit of writing every day. Putting it up for everyone to see keeps me accountable. At least I hope it will.

It seems I have no ending of bad habits that have grown on me like fungus, in the middle of the night without my even knowing. Smoking? Check. Drinking too much? Check. Eating crap instead of healthy food? Check. Sleeping too late? Check. Finding excuses to avoid writing? Check.

Why are bad habits so easy to form, and not good ones?

I’m worried the accountability part of the daily blog isn’t going to work. I’ve joined Weight Watchers three times now, and I while think that having someone else weigh me every week will keep me accountable, sometimes it doesn’t. If I don’t like the weight they see too many times in a row, I just don’t go anymore. That’s where I am right now. Smack in the middle of a bad habit.

What happens if I think you don’t like what you’re reading too many times in a row, so I just stop writing?

The challenge of this exercise is to strike a balance between writing about my process, which is inherently selfish, and writing about something that other people will enjoy reading. Hopefully the two coincide somewhere in there.

So far I’ve been successful at establishing a new, good habit of getting out of bed an hour and half earlier, so I can sit down and write before I check email or Facebook or even get dressed. But how long will that last, before an insidious bad habit takes over? They seem to do that, you know. Creep in silently like a squatter in an empty house and set up residence before anyone knows they’re there. Once they’re discovered they can’t be evicted because they’ve established squatter’s rights.

Bad habits are my homeless squatters.

Lifehack has a great article “18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick“. It has fair dose of good advice, and I’m trying to stick to the guidelines, like starting simply, making it daily, and getting a buddy (in this case, that’s you).

Are you trying to establish a good habit, and break an old one? How do you try to do that, and have you been successful?

Until I figure this out, I’ll keep getting up at 7am (I hope!) and writing a post every day (again, I hope!).

See you tomorrow!

7 Essential Elements of Successful Friendships

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(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 9/8/14)

friend

There’s no doubt that friendships are the foundation on which we build our lives. The health of our relationships is a good indicator of the overall quality of our lives. Good friends are there to lift us up in troubling times and to celebrate our successes. They give and take in equal measure. They provide a sounding board and a reflection of ourselves. In fact, our friendships are so influential in our lives that motivational speaker Jim Rohn has said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.

That’s pretty powerful stuff.

If we approach our friendships with this idea in mind, doesn’t it stand to reason that we should be more aware when we choose which relationships to cultivate? Should we not then demand the best from our confidantes, and offer our best in return? This is not to say that if you want to be rich that you immediately go out and befriend the five richest people you can meet. This is about the quality of someone’s character, their views on their place in the world, and the attitude with which they approach life.

I’ve been awfully lucky to have such tremendous friends in my life. Some of it is by pure luck – I stumbled upon some really wonderful people and became friends effortlessly. Others friendships took more time to develop, and were approached with intention and care.

As we get older, time becomes more valuable. We must become more choosy when it comes to deciding with whom to spend this precious commodity. These are the tenets I live by these days when beginning new friendships or nurturing old ones.

1.  A good friend challenges you to become a better version of yourself.

Friendships grow and change over time, as do people. A good friend lets you see yourself through their eyes, in a way that challenges you to make better choices, invest in yourself, and grow. This can take the form of being a cheerleader for you or staging an intervention if necessary. But no matter what form that challenge takes, it is done in a loving manner with your best interests in mind.

2.  A good friend gives you their best self.

Going along with the first tenet, a good friend is willing to give you the best version of themselves. This isn’t to say that there aren’t tough times when they need support and encouragement. But it’s done without excess drama or emotional neediness. A good friend can be vulnerable without sucking all your energy away. They aren’t a vortex or a black hole for your goodwill. They understand the gift you give with your friendship, and acknowledge it. They don’t try to drag you down with them.

3.  A good friend looks for opportunities to lift you up.

Life is always throwing us curveballs, but good friends are those that look for ways to buoy your spirit, and opportunities to improve your life. This could be something as simple as sending a thoughtful note or as big as recommending you for a great new job. A good friend is on your team and sees your happiness and success as part of a team effort.

4.  A good friend understands to the need to mutually nurture the friendship.

Life is rarely equal. When one friend is experiencing great success, the other may not. But there is an equal give and take between them. Good friends spend just as much time nurturing the friendship as you do. They initiate plans to meet up. They provide an ear when you need to talk. And because they are there when you need them most, they inspire you to do the same for them. Good friendships are two-way streets, with both parties valuing what the other has to offer.

5.  Good friendships have mutually determined boundaries.

It’s rare that I would choose to spend too much time with someone who is constantly crossing the line, such as calling in the middle of the night, making unrealistic demands on my time, or asking me to engage in risky behavior of some kind. Good friends know what the parameters of the relationship are, which often grow organically out of mutual respect. They know when to step in when needed, or to take a backseat when you need space. And if they don’t know, they aren’t afraid to ask.

6.  A good friend keeps an open mind.

Some of my best friendships are with people who have different world views from my own. An essential ingredient to any successful friendship is a willingness to have an open mind and to consider a different point of view. You don’t have to agree, but a good friend respects your opinions and finds ways to achieve understanding without sacrificing their own.

7.  A good friend celebrates your success.

Nothing kills a friendship like jealousy, and no two people are going to succeed at the same time or at the same rate. A good friend will nonetheless celebrate your successes with you and not undermine your achievements.

It goes without saying, I hope, that these tenets apply not only to the friends you choose, but also to the friend you choose to be. Cultivating meaningful relationships takes equal effort, and being a good friend can attract good friends in return.

What do you look for in a friend, and how are you a good friend to others? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

The Skinny on Being a Fat Girl

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(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 9/7/14)

poms

I was a fat girl. I was the kid who never met a cookie, cake, pizza, sugary breakfast cereal, donut or ice cream she didn’t like. I didn’t really have a shut-off switch, and never learned to practice self control. I drank Kool-Aid with extra sugar with my dinner every night. McDonald’s Happy Meals were a staple in my house. I would sneak three Oreos from the cookie jar, eat them, and THEN ask my mom if I could have some Oreos and I would eat three more. I shopped in the “Pretty Plus” section at Sears.

My brother, three years my senior and a normal, healthy weight, found my growing weight problem the perfect tool to use against me. When I irritated him, which was almost daily, he would call me the Blue Whale. Eventually, he and his friends morphed that into Blue Shamu because it had a nice ring to it. Kids in the neighborhood heard him call me that and soon everyone was calling me that. I remember getting off the bus one day after school, and several kids stuck their heads out of the bus windows as I was walking away and shouted “Blue Shamu, Blue Shamu!” at me. It was devastating as an eight year old.  I still think of it from time to time if I’m wearing blue.

I took tap and jazz lessons as a kid, for several years. As I started to gain weight, I started to feel more uncomfortable in my leotard and tights. My mom took notice and suggested it was time I go on a diet. I was bigger than all the other girls in the class. I feigned stomachaches before class so I wouldn’t have to go. Eventually, my mom said she wasn’t paying for classes I wasn’t attending, so that was it for tap and jazz at Miss Shirley’s Dance Studio. I was sad but also relieved.

In junior high I tried out for the Tigerettes, our school’s dance team. Basically, it was what all the girls who didn’t make cheerleader did. You still got to wear the cute cheerleader outfits, but you did a choreographed dance at half time instead of cheering during the game. At my first football game, some boys walked by me and said I was one of the ugliest cheerleaders they had ever seen.  I cried that night, and no doubt soothed myself with a big bowl of chocolate ice cream.

My first year of high school there was this kid, Phil, who was in one of my classes and decided he didn’t like me for reasons I can’t remember. Anytime I would pass him in the hall he would act like there was an earthquake, because he said I was so fat I made the floor shake when I walked by. That was hard to absorb at 14.

These are the memories that come to mind when I think about being a Fat Girl. No doubt there are many more, and if I took the time to write them all down it would be a Young Adult trilogy series.

At 15 I decided to do something about my weight problem. I was tired of being the subject of scorn and ridicule.  I didn’t have the discipline to starve myself, and somehow I managed not to develop a binge/purge problem.  I asked my mom if I could go to Weight Watchers. I was the only kid in the group, which met in the basement of the YMCA.  I bonded with middle-aged ladies who weighed me weekly on a scale set up behind a curtain for privacy.  For the first time, I learned what a healthy diet was. I was only encouraged, never discouraged. It was a safe place, and I was glad I had found it.  These were my people.

I lost 45 pounds and became a Lifetime Member at age 16.

I’ve gained that weight back, and lost it, and gained it again, and lost it.  It’s a pattern in my life.  I still sometimes go to Weight Watchers, and I’m almost 40. My inner Fat Girl is always going to be there. It has become part of my identity, and I suspect it will always be. As an adult, I’ve learned ways to cope with it.  I’ve cultivated meaningful friendships with men and women who would never judge me by my weight.  I’ve learned to treat myself gently, and to love my body no matter what size it is.  But I still feel uncomfortable in my clothes sometimes, and worry that my face is too fat.

I have a 14 year old step daughter, and I see her struggle with many of the same body issues I have. Is that a right of passage for every teenage girl? I am vigilant about not disparaging my body in front of her. I want to teach her to respect her body, to feed it healthy food, and to feel good about it no matter what it looks like. But I have no control over what other people say to her, the media messages she is bombarded with, or what happens to her while she’s at school.

All I can do is be good to myself. I try not to equate my self-worth with my pants size. It isn’t always easy and I have my good days and my bad days. But really it starts and ends with me. It is essential for my well-being and health that I remain my own best friend. I don’t negate compliments I’m paid about my appearance. I smile when I look at myself in the mirror. When people tell me I’m beautiful, I choose to believe them. Because I believe I’m beautiful on the inside, and that shows on the outside, no matter what my physical appearance is that day. I am learning to actively cultivate my inner beauty and share it with the world.

I want to present my true self to the world. And my true self is someone who has alot of issues about food and about weight. I want to show who I am regardless of what I weigh that morning. It’s a daily struggle, and it takes a lot of courage and self-awareness, and I have to be my own cheerleader, but it is a battle I think I’m winning.

5 Reasons Being a Morning Person is Awesome

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(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 9/5/14)

morning

Until I was about 35, I was one of those self-proclaimed “night people”. I liked to stay up late. I resisted going to bed until it was absolutely necessary, I wanted to suck every last drop out of the day. Perhaps I was a night person out of necessity. As an actor, any acting work I did was typically at night. In college and grad school, rehearsals were at night, sometimes late into the night. Homework was completed after rehearsal, which often meant staying up until 1am, 2am. Post grad school, while living in NYC, I did a stint as a waitress and bartender in a restaurant for four years. Those were really late nights, getting home at 3am. I was in a theatre company, and our rehearsals were at night. I wouldn’t get home until after midnight. If I wanted to get any personal work done, it was generally in those dark hours of the night and early morning. I was too wiped out the next day to even think about getting out of bed until 10am, at the earliest, unless I absolutely had to.

Since moving to Los Angeles, I have become a morning person. This shocks me, even today. Part of this is due to LA being a morning town. People do things in the morning here. They meet for breakfast. They exercise, or go hiking. They get up and walk the dogs. They catch up on the news. I suppose since we are behind the rest of the country in time zones, LA is a morning town out of necessity.

What shocks me most, is that I now love being a morning person. I always hated morning people! They were so annoying. How would anyone want to get up earlier than they had to? But morning people know a few secrets that night people don’t, and they make being a morning person totally awesome.

1.  The world is so quiet at 7am.

In a world that is as busy as ours, it can be hard to find quiet time. Getting up before the world gets going lets you ease into the day. There isn’t as much traffic noise. You don’t hear people shouting. Fewer planes and helicopters are flying overhead. You can actually hear yourself think. You can nestle in with a warm cup of coffee, read the news or get some personal work done.

2.  My brain is fresh in the early morning.

I don’t know how I ever got any real thinking or creating done in the middle of the night after a long day. I wake up now and my mind is brimming with possibility. I feel recharged and ready to tackle a project. And because it’s so quiet I don’t have distractions competing for my attention. I can actually focus at the task at hand. I find I’m more creative and make connections more easily. I feel productive and start the day knowing that I already got something accomplished.

3.  It’s easier to steal time in the morning.

As the day wears on, obligations and responsibilities take focus. If I get up a little earlier, that time is mine to do with as I please. I don’t feel guilty for writing a blog post, or doing a little free association. I can wander around Pinterest without anyone looking over my shoulder and judging me. Nobody is asking me to do the laundry, and I don’t have to check my email for another hour. I don’t have to be anywhere and I can just sit here and be greedy with this extra time.

4.  You can stay in your pajamas a little longer.

I work from home, but that doesn’t mean I’m in my pajamas all day. I do like to shower and get dressed and feel like a part of the working world. But when I work on my own projects in the morning, I can stay in my pajamas. I roll out of bed, brew some java, and sit down all comfy and cozy in my sweatpants and “The Dude Abides” t-shirt. I feel like I’m in my own skin. Nothing is binding or digging or making me physically uncomfortable. It feels luxurious.

5.  Nature is awesome at 7am.

We’re experiencing a serious drought here in Los Angeles, and the weather is pretty brutal these days. But if you get up early enough, chances are the marine layer hasn’t yet burned off and you are treated to an overcast sky. I find that so comforting, and so conducive to introspection. The air is cooler, the sprinklers just went off so the garden is glistening, and if I’m quiet I can hear a distant neighbor’s rooster welcoming in the day. Morning is my favorite time to experience nature.

I never found time to blog until I started doing it in the morning. Now it’s becoming an integral part of my day. I feel more at ease knowing that I am accomplishing my personal work before the responsibilities of my jobs creep in. And now that we’re at the end of this post, that means it’s time to get to the day. Go happy, dear friends!

When People’s Outsides Don’t Match Their Insides

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(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 9/3/14)

shallow

 

I can’t believe I haven’t learned this lesson already. You see, I still get confused when what people say and do don’t match how they look. I know, I know – don’t judge a book by it’s cover and all, but I find it particularly confusing when someone cultivates their look. You know – you wouldn’t wear a shirt that says “Marriage is only for straight people” if you are pro- gay marriage, right? Right?

Yesterday I got a haircut. I’ve been really wanting to chop it off, and I figured I shouldn’t trust that to the bozos down at Floyd’s Barbershop who normally cut my hair. While it looks rock and roll, they really are just a step above SuperCuts (no offense, SuperCuts, but I think you know where you stand in the hair salon line-up). I decided I would go to my friend’s stylist, pony up a little extra cash to go to a real artist. My friend has rockstar hair and it always looks good, so the stylist had that in his favor.

I knew what to expect before I met him, I went to his website, saw his photo, saw the types of cuts and styles he normally does. He’s a rock and roll guy, does styling for models and photo shoots and whatnot. His studio is a work/live loft space, it looks like an art gallery. Everything is all white, there are mannequins wearing weird art pieces/clothes, there’s lots of rock and roll type art on the walls (think Jim Morrison collages, that kind of thing). He himself had the look to go with it.

We got to chatting so he could get to know me a little more before he gave me a new style. I told him that my husband was apprehensive about me cutting off my hair, he prefers it long, but that he was cool with me getting a new style. If he didn’t like it we could have sex with the lights off. The stylist asked me what my husband does, and the conversation goes something like this:

Me: My husband is forming a charity organization to help build earthquake safe housing in developing countries.

Him: I don’t understand why those people just don’t move somewhere that doesn’t have earthquakes. And what do they really have to worry about? They don’t have anything anyway! What does it matter if their house falls down? They should just get a tent and move it someplace that doesn’t have earthquakes. (laughs)

Me: (silence)

Him: And I don’t understand why people have to go outside our country to help. Why can’t we just help the people that are here? You know, the homeless guy under the overpass? Go down to South Central and help those people. I don’t think we should be helping people outside the US.

Me: (silence)

It went on like this for a few more minutes. He was really impassioned about it, and I did not know how to respond.  He did just hear me say that my husband was devoting his life to helping poor people outside the US, right? I decided, after a prolonged silence to change the subject, since he was the one holding the scissors. But that really stuck with me. I guess, due to his very artsy appearance, I thought that he would be more open-minded. But he had a really narrow worldview, from what I could tell.

For the record, my hair looks almost exactly the same today as it did before I went in. I think perhaps this is not the guy for me. Maybe next time I should go to some really frumpy looking old woman. And she’ll be like super-open-minded and give me a really cool rock and roll haircut. I don’t know.

I just get so confused when people’s outsides don’t match their insides….

Money Changes Everything

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(originally posted on www.createdbychance.blogspot.com on 9/2/14)

money

This is where I am today, and it’s kind of embarrassing to admit.

I’m just going to come out and say it. I have alot of issues about money. I grew up in a working class family, and although our needs were certainly always fulfilled I was hyper-aware of money and how much we did or didn’t have compared to everyone else.

I don’t think that’s changed much in my adult life. I’m still working class and I am still hyper-aware of how much I do or don’t have compared to my friends and colleagues. I realize I find myself in this uncomfortable place because of choices I have made, the largest and riskiest one being the choice to pursue a life in the arts. A life that is inherently unstable and for which you often don’t get paid. The kind of life where you have to have a “survival job” in order to make ends meet. I think in my mind I’ve equated being an artist with being perpetually poor. I worry, often to excess, about whether or not I need to change gears, to give up a life in the arts for something more stable. I’m smart and I’m a hard worker. I know I could get a job that pays me well. I just don’t want any of those jobs. I’ve had them, and I hate them. And I know this is a first world problem. There are billions of people in the world who work long, hard days and barely makes ends meet. They are barely surviving. This knowledge makes me feel incredibly guilty about my choices, which just feeds the worry and anxiety.

I’ve also come to learn in my adult life that what I think about, I create. If I focus on not having enough, then I will never have enough. If, instead, I focus on abundance and visualize money flowing to me, then there is a much greater likelihood that will happen. Putting that idea into practice is incredibly hard.

This is where I am in my artist life. I feel compelled to continue to walk this path, this is the path my intuition tells me to follow, and I’ve learned to trust my intuition. I feel I have been called to this life. But, damn, you guys, it’s fucking hard.

This is where I am today.