Step Forward – Fall Back?

I had a fairly significant business “event” occur last week. Some might call it a failure. A loss.

This “event” was disappointing, upsetting.

But beyond the momentary punch-to-the gut of it, I knew as this event happened that as a result, there were two paths I could go down as a result.

I could see it as a “setback“ and feel like a piece of shit. I could feel like a failure, slide into depression. Use it as evidence to feed the very familiar monster inside that is always looking for proof of my being a Loser incapable of keeping good things and making use of good opportunities.

Or I could use it as a stepping stone. I could take a beat to be upset, then take what lessons and information I needed to take out of it and keep it moving.

I allowed myself about a half hour to feel all the things I felt, and when I could, got very clear and honest with myself about my part in the equation.

I reflected. And then I regrouped. And then, as soon as I could, I took a positive action in the direction of my Big Picture.

Because I am in charge of my choices. Not the “powers that be.” They can make their choices. Those choices may affect me.

But I get to choose what happens next.

In this case, I rolled up my sleeves and made a new plan. Reached out to supports for ideas (and also to “normalize” the news – keep it out of a space of shame.)

I soon had a clear plan of action. And some pats on the shoulder that let me know I was not alone.

No means “not now,” “not yet” or “not me.” That’s all. This or something better.

I don’t believe in things setting me back. Things happen, and I can either allow them to be a reason I fall back, or a reason I step forward.

I know what I am choosing today. How about you?

#TheGetMyWorkOutThereChallemge #DayTwentyOne #resilience #reaction #empowerment

HeartSpace

My post today was inspired by an incredible poem quoted by the incredible Erin Stutland in one of her meditations. [Erin’s work is amazing: check out her book “Mantras in Motion” and her app The Movement.] Dorothy Hunt’s work is also amazing. Both women’s creativity and lives inspire me to follow my own creativity in my own life.

Peace is This Moment Without Judgment
by Dorothy Hunt

Do you think peace requires an end to war?
Or tigers eating only vegetables?
Does peace require an absence from
your boss, your spouse, yourself? …
Do you think peace will come some other place than here?
Some other time than Now?
In some other heart than yours?Peace is this moment without judgment.
That is all. This moment in the Heart-space
where everything that is is welcome.
Peace is this moment without thinking
that it should be some other way,
that you should feel some other thing,
that your life should unfold according to your plans.Peace is this moment without judgment,
this moment in the heart-space where
everything that is is welcome.

HeartSpace

Somewhere deep in the recesses of my heart

There lies a nook that houses secret things

Like a child’s hiding place of special tokens

In a treehouse or the back of a closet, where

Treasures and other things of import reside

Become forgotten in the process of growing up.

I found that nook, I unearthed what it held

The hurts from being bullied, the times I never told

The part of me that broke apart when I didn’t get picked

to be in Drama Club, that sorority, a date for the dance

The times I was terrified I was losing my mind, felt so alone,

When really, I was finding my sanity, waking up from a coma.

I found these things and so much more – and I dusted them off

I found a prominent shelf in the middle of my heart

And placed them upon it, one by one, with a kiss and a caress.

I have inventoried and know my parts intimately now

Nothing’s in shadow, I shine the light on all I am

Nothing more to be hidden for I am a child no more.

 

#TheGetMyWorkOutThereChallenge #DaySix #truth #heart #dorothyhunt #erinstutland

 

 

 

 

 

Gone Fishing

I was so relaxed yesterday here in a beautiful old house on the shores of Cape Cod that I forgot to blog!

I slipped! Oops!

But instead of beating myself up, I choose to celebrate this little break from my drive to “get it all done,” this break from my goal of a blog a day, this break from perfectionism.

Just as it feels good to show up for my drive, it also feels good to show up for my need to “be.”

The Urban Dictionary defines “gone fishing” as:

Gone Fishing

1. To checkout from reality. To be unaware of what’s going on.

2. To drop the duties of daily life and go do something else, something nice.

I hadn’t intended to do that, I always blog no matter what. But you know what, it was nice to “slip.” I think I have always feared relaxing my grip, my drive — that if I do so once, I will slide into some kind of lethargy. Lose all will.

Yet here I am, right back on schedule. Happy to write.

May you give yourself a little break today – some change in your regularly disciplined routine, some shift in your thoughts.

It really is OK. The sun will rise again.

It did this morning.

Done is Better Than Perfect

Well, it happened.

I thought I published yesterday’s post, but I just saw that I did not.

There is a part of me devastated by this error.

I call this part of me “Perfectionista.”

If I am not vigilant, she drives me. She wants to get things right. She wants to be the best at whatever she does, all the time. To be seen as the best. Perfect.

She hates making mistakes.

So breaking my daily posting streak of many months? Not going over well with her.

I try to reason with her. Technically, I did write it yesterday, and though clearly I messed up and only thought I published it, I created it yesterday. And after all, the point of me doing it daily is so that I do at least one creative act daily to stay connected to my creativity. That’s it.

So cool. I did that. Yay me!

But that part of me, Perfectionista, she wants more. And what she wants has to do with what she thinks others think of her.

And she is loud.

She creates suffering for me. She is going to incessantly remind me of this flaw, trying to create a very unsettled feeling that will saturate my system.

“You blew it,” she says.

Hers is a world of extremes, of black and white thinking, of a self-generated pressure to meet somewhat randomly selected standards and performance deadlines and levels or else…

She lives in world with an almost life and death internal pressure to seem perfect to others.

I cannot live from her world view. It’s too exhausting, too exacting. And empty.

I. Just. Can’t.

My world? I try to simplify these days. What a waste of precious time, worrying what others will think about me missing a randomly-decided goal.

More and more, it’s about doing my best on any given day and letting that be more than enough.

Don’t get me wrong: I still strive to be “the best.”

The best I can be on any given day.

As for what others think of that? No longer my business, thank you very much.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: simplify

Color Guard

“Don’t varnish the truth, darling,” she said to no one in particular as she resolutely declined to add more lipstick color to her lips. She could plainly see the little telltale lines above her upper lip and the way the bright red color she had favored in her youth now bled off into the tiny trenches, and with that, she was done with reds. It would be pinks and faint corals from now on, until the day when even those colors would need to be retired.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: varnish

The Dance*

When I was a little girl, I took dance lessons. From the age of 4 or so, I took, tap, jazz and ballet. I have vague memories of doing some kind of moving across the floor and the teacher saying “Jeté, jeté!” as we stepped from foot to foot.

I loved those lessons. There was a big dance recital, where my mom made costumes for me: I played a bumblebee and a munchkin.

When we moved to Dallas when I was 5, for some reason, the dance lessons stopped. It was a hectic year, and the business venture that my Dad had moved us there for failed, so after the year, we moved back to Houston, to a different part of town and a different set of circumstances. Finances were tight, so extras like lessons were put to the side.

But. I did not stop dancing. I would put my parents’ albums on the record player and dance my little heart out. This was way before MTV or dance videos. The only references I had were old Hollywood musicals, which I adored. So my dances were my own versions of what I had grown up watching: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Doris Day, Audrey Hepburn moving dramatically across streets and fields in passionate, emotive and song-filled scenes.

I had plenty to be working out. In my young life I had already suffered a great deal. But my trauma had been locked away tight in a safe room of my psyche, so I wasn’t consciously trying to tell any particular story through these dances. My body-mind just needed to move and my soul just needed to express through that movement.

Favorite songs were Wings’ “Live and Let Die” and most of the album “Whipped Cream” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Band. But I would dance to just about anything.

The dancing stopped somewhere around age 11. By that time, I had discovered food and TV and they became a kind of narcotic, a way to numb out the confusing feelings and thoughts that made life difficult. They became my number one coping mechanism, and saw me through until the teen years when other substances became available and appealing to me.

Did I dance again? Sure. At dance clubs in the 80’s and 90’s, where alcohol and often drugs were a part of the mix. At weddings, always somewhat self-consciously. There were a few attempts to go back to dance lessons so that as an actor I could be more marketable for musical theatre. I’ve danced in musicals and loved every moment. But the kind of dancing that I did in that living room back when? Nope.

Through my 20’s and 30’s, I had pics of me from that recital in my costumes, beaming. I think I even still have a bumblebee wing. Over the years, I have often used those pictures as self-reference, proof that there had been a time when I had been confident, happy in my body and free-feeling. I looked to those pictures to try to find hope that perhaps one day, I could find those ways of being again. Through much healing over the years, I have made a lot of progress. I go deep in my work as an actor and singer, and work from a place of a great deal of freedom often. But it has always still seemed to me that the girl I had been – with her total lack of self-consciousness, innocence and creative freedom – was to be forever out of my reach no matter how hard I worked for it.

dance2

Then. Last week, a young director reached out to me and asked me to do his film. He’d had me in mind for the Woman in the script, he said, and he really, really wanted me to play her.

In the script, during the character’s most private inner moment, she transports herself through fantasy from her home bathroom to a gorgeous copper bathtub in a tiled tunnel in Central Park by the Bethesda Fountain. She is wearing a beautiful dress and a sax player is playing music in the background as she has this very free, very private, very joyful moment.

From the moment I read the scene, I imagined the woman dancing around the fountain.

I asked the director had he imagined the Woman staying in the tub in her private moment. He said yes, but that it was my private moment, and he wanted me to have complete freedom. (What a wonderful gift he gave me, that freedom. So grateful for his desire to collaborate.) So I had imagined my moments in the tub and was excited and curious for how the shoot would go.

I had not seen the location, so did not know that the tiled tunnel was a beautifully lit space that had arches in the background and copper hues, and that the tub would be placed in it, not near the fountain.

So that morning, as we arrived on location, when I saw the actual scene – the brick tunnel and the beautiful space that was surrounding the copper tub – and then heard the song the saxaphone player was to play, I knew that I had to dance out of the tub and around that beautiful tunnel.

And so on the first take, as the camera began to film, I began my private moment, made my way out of the tub, and I began to dance.

It was one of the most magical experiences I have ever lived. In the moments of my improvised dance, with the sax player playing for me and with me, the sun beginning to come up behind the fountain in the distance, hearing only the music and the echo of my own laughter, I felt myself dancing simultaneously as the woman I am right now and the little girl I was then. The tunnel and that living room became one across space and time. The joy that bubbled up through my body was total and whole, and it was such an honor to be in those moments bringing the Woman of the film and the director/writer’s vision to life.

Afterwards, we did more takes, and they were each wonderful but different in their own ways. There was no way to repeat that first take, and that was perfect too.

But I walked away from that shoot forever changed.

img_0901

There are moments in life where you feel that you are in the exact right place at the exact right time doing exactly what you were meant to do. In those moments, you can see that every other moment of your life has been a part of the making of this one magical moment. Every thing you’ve lived, every person you’ve met — the good, the bad, the ugly — it all makes total sense in those moments.

Those moments are astonishing. They are when I know I am a wondrous creation, a part of the whole that is this incredible Universe. I know in those moments that my life has been intricately designed, just as a rose has, or a peacock, or snowflakes. That nothing in my life – from the worst trauma to the most brutal pain – has been for naught. That it has all led to this moment in time, to this me that I have become.

That dance is forever in my heart now. It lives inside me, and it is the beginning of a whole new level of personal and creative freedom. I do not know what will grow from it, but I know that I have re-awakened something important inside, and I am so very grateful for that role finding its way to me, for giving me back the Dance.

#actorslife #danceforever #theheartremembers #itsnevertoolate #TheDanceoftheHeart

*Repost Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: dancing

This is a repost, but I really, really needed to re-read this today. I am feeling a bit lost, especially creatively. It feels like that connection with The Dance inside me is very faint if not non-existent – there’s been too much chatter going on inside lately that has nothing to do with joy, freedom and the sheer bliss of creation.

I needed to remember that in-between the astonishing moments of feeling like I am exactly where I am meant to be, there are moments of feeling totally lost. And each gives value and meaning to the other.

Sometimes I am dancing, sometimes I am stuck, or falling. Sometimes I am in the fetal position. Sometimes I am flat on my face.

I m reminded of a spiritual teacher who taught me to write a letter to myself during a time I am very, very happy and to save it for my unhappy self to read, to give me hope during the down times, to help me remember that there will be better times again. To remember the ebb and flow, the ups and downs. The times of movement and the times of apparent stasis. It has been a powerful exercise at times.

I will dance again, soon.

May we dance for each other when it is time to dance. May we dance for those who cannot hear their own music today.