The Path

A year ago, out-of-the-blue, I was overcome with the desire to challenge myself to post daily. The idea was to do it for a year.

I had been struggling at the time with unexplained, extreme fatigue. My ability to be active in my normal life was severely impaired.

The posts became a daily lifeline to my creativity. A way to keep being in the world creatively, even if I could not be physically.

It has been an amazing gift.

That daily connection to readers and other writers has been crucial to my well-being. I am so very grateful for whatever wisdom inspired me to self-challenge myself.

I missed a day or two. But I did post a day for about 362 days. I wish to celebrate that. I could easily just bypass it, which is my tendency of all actions I take.

But not this time. Today, I acknowledge and celebrate my having posted daily for over a year, with a few three exceptions.

I showed up no matter what. On sick days, depressed days, vacation days, super busy days, days I really did not want to write.

And I learned to just write no matter what. To let things be less than perfect. To “just do it.”

I “met” amazing fellow writers and have been exposed to so many wonderful, different verse blogs.

And now, just as suddenly as the idea came to me to do it daily, I find that my desire to continue posting daily has gone.

I am so curious about this. Is it because I am now fully back into activities of my life?

Or are my creative impulses unpredictable?

Is it because I “completed” something and so desire some new challenges?

That has yet to be revealed.

For now, I accept that I challenged myself to do something, loved it, learned a great deal from the doing of it.

I thank those of you who have read me daily or several times a week (or any time!)

I look forward to finding my new pace. Perhaps every other day…

I welcome the wisdom that will surely guide my next step. I have learned to trust my own process. Look where it has brought me so far!

Inspired by The Daily Post Word Prompt: unpredictable

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

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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

A Tea Time Rebellion

“Before you launch into another tirade about how cucumber sandwiches are only to be served sans crust, I ask that you please set your concerns aside just this once in order to provide an empathetic ear to my complaints,” Myrna plaintively, yet forcefully, interjected.

Though her crimson-painted lips were set in a rather firm horizon line uncharacteristic for her features, her flushed cheeks belied her trepidation at having taken such a strong public stance, and she immediately tittered a rather anemic laugh and waved her hand in a vague attempt to dissipate any remaining resonance of what she had just said.

She turned her full attention to the deviled egg on her plate, nodding now and then to maintain the illusion of her part in the conversation at hand.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: launch

Chances Are

Coincidence? I think not. Happenstance? No.

It was divine guidance. Fate. Destiny. Meant to be.

I would never have been in Central Park otherwise that day. Hadn’t been there for years.

Avoided it, actually, as I did any person, place or thing that connected me to you, or the us that we had been.

But for some reason (it felt so random at the time,) I decided to get on the train and head uptown.

It was a sunny Labor Day. New York City felt generous without most of her locals taking up space.

I had no plans. I was trying to stay active so as not to slip into loneliness.

I came out of the subway at Columbus Circle. No plan. No route in mind. I wandered, following my nose, enjoying just being in the world.

I suddenly realized I was in “our” spot, on the Great Lawn. A fluttery fear made its presence known in my belly.

Without conscious intention, my eyes scanned the horizon, and just as I realized what I was doing, I saw you lying there.

Even face down, I’d know your body anywhere. Long, lanky, tanned. Shirt off, ripped, worn jeans low on your hips.

My heart somersaulted. A rush of heartache and bruised love and attraction rushed through my body.

In a moment of agonizing indecision, I considered turning away, walking past, walking on.

But my feet and heart had other ideas, and they took me to where I was standing over you.

Did you feel my presence, or was it just that I was blocking the sun?

You turned your head and said hello.

Just like that.

It had been three years of no contact. Three years since I came home to an apartment emptied of your things. A total shock.

Three years since I learned you’d been seeing other people for at least the last year of our relationship.

Three years of putting the pieces of my heart and my life back together, mending the gaping holes you left.

And today, of all days, “randomly,” our paths cross.

I say I’m well, and I mean it. I ask how you are, and then I wish you well, and I mean that too.

The truth is, I’ve never been better. The truth is, you don’t look so well.

I see the pack of cigarettes and the empty tallboys in the grass. I see a guy who is nursing last night’s drunk with midday hair of the dog.

You look like you’re in exactly the same place you were before the shit hit the fan. The place where we both drank too much. The lost place. The place where our love did not survive.

I see this, and I wish you well, from my heart, and I walk away.

I smile to myself, a bit astonished at my strength. The capacity of my heart to forgive. My resilience. My spirit. At the Universe knowing the perfect moment, the exact moment I am ready for it, providing me with this chance to see that I have healed. This chance to let it all go.

I move forward, into the sunlight, into the lush green of the park, into the present beauty of my life.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: coincidence