There is such a thing as sitting on the fence too long

If you wait too long to make a choice to go to one side or the other

You might lose the impetus to move altogether

The impulse that got you up on the fence in the first place

Might die a quiet but painful little death

At the very least

You risk getting splinters in your bottom

Inspired by The Daily Post Word Prompt: fence

Heads or Tails

I am often torn.

Making decisions is usually difficult for me. (See Cutting the Cord.)

I don’t know if it is because I am a Libra or what, but I can always see the benefits of all sides to a decision, and it makes it very hard to choose.

I do not particularly enjoy this part of my personality, though I do appreciate my ability to see more than just one side.

I also think a large contributing factor is my fear of making a mistake. What if I screw up my whole life because I choose wrong?

Yikes. Pressure much?

The past few years, I have been realizing that even in the past when I have made decisions that I felt were “wrong,” later on, they turned out to be “right” in some way. Even through what seemed like a real mistake, something necessary came from the experience.

The black and white thinking that a choice could have that much power over my existence…not sure where that comes from. But I know that I cannot – no, I will not – live like that anymore.

In the last year, I have made it a goal to stress less around decision-making. To just make the best decision I can with the info I have at the time that I am making it and to then “let the chips fall where they may.”

Easier said than done, but I have made some headway.

When I find myself feeling “torn” over the different options I am deciding between, I just stop myself and gently but firmly make myself take the leap in one direction.

Sometimes it has been anxiety-producing. And sometimes, very liberating.

It is always better than staying stuck (and torn) between options.

What are some ways that you make decisions that you feel work well?

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: torn

Rebel Without a Cause

Confession: I often poo-poo fads or things that get really popular really fast without even trying them firsthand.

I won't go see a movie that everyone is talking about, for example. Like The Revenant. Wouldn't go see it in the theatre.

It is an annoying habit. A strange, stubborn character trait that I both wear like a badge and admit is pretty ridiculous at the same time.

It's like I just have to go the opposite way because everyone else is all-over a thing.

Like when electric toothbrushes came out.

I had so much judgement around them!

I prided myself on staying old school. I harshly judged those who bought them as "Suckers fallen prey to marketing schemes of money-hungry dentists!"

I mean, come on! Does anybody really need a frigging electric toothbrush? Jeez! Lazy much?

And then, one day, years after they'd been out, I tried one.

And I finally discovered what all the fuss is about.

And now, it is one of my must-have items.

I still haven't passed over into the truly high-end versions.

I love a particular brand, the Colgate Optic White Battery Powered toothbrush. (Full disclosure: a big plus is that it matches my bathroom wall color, a detail that greatly influenced my choice.)

And so just as was the case with jalapeños, Diet Sierra Mist, Tab and QuestBars, I became a convert once I actually tried it for myself.

Sometimes, a fad is just a fad. (I finally did see The Revenant and still think it was way overrated and was not happy when Leo Di Caprio won the Oscar that year for it.)

But sometimes, a fad is a fad for good reason.

And sometimes, I eventually "get it," despite myself.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: toothbrush

Cutting the Cord

I am on a quest.

A quest to trust myself more. Especially in the arena of decision-making.

It sounds easy enough, right? I mean, I am me. So it makes sense that I should be able to make decisions and act on them. Easy-peasy.

I have thoughts and feelings. I reference the information stored in my brain and body that I have gained through experiences in my lifetime until now.

I know my values. I have my goals, my aspirations. My action plan. I have one, five and ten year plans in place just like experts tell you to. These are supposed to be the touchstone from which you make decisions. Check in with what they are, and if the thing is in alignment with them, voila, you have your decision. What’s not to trust?

But the process above is not the way it goes for me. I agonize over decisions, major and minor. Whether it be deciding what restaurant to go to for dinner or if I should buy a new apartment.

In my decision-making process, I am riddled with doubt at every turn. There is a constant loop of second-guessing that plays in my head. What “should” I do? What are other people doing? What if I pick the wrong thing and ruin my life forever? What if I regret my choice? What if I could have made a better choice? I torture myself.

I used to explain this away as a Libran “ism.” As a Libra, I am prone to weigh the different sides of things. I can see the value in opposing sides. Fairness is of high importance to me. I can see the good in the bad and the bad in the good. It makes decision-making a tedious mess. I end up feeling torn.

I have also pointed to my being an actress, a storyteller, as part of the issue. When posed with a scenario, my mind naturally starts to put together paths of logic that stem from every possibility. I have a vibrant and active imagination and can envision potential outcomes in great detail. This does not necessarily make for easy decisions.

I have even thought that my difficulty making decisions had to do with being the youngest. Often, as the youngest, you grow up doing what others want you to do and going where you are told to go. You learn to follow your older siblings’ lead. You want to do what they do. You want to be where the action is. You don’t know there is any other way than how the family treats you: as the littlest: you are usually just told what to feel, think and do.

I also come from a Protestant people who I think are quite fear-based, so it is in my genes to be cautious and to fear bad things happening as a result of one’s own actions. Don’t rock the boat. Go with the flow. Don’t make waves. This desire to fit in and to protect myself by blending in is often at war with my other desires and impulses, making decision-making all the more tricky.

I also know that due to traumatic events at a pivotal time in my early childhood, I learned to discount my own experience and sense of truth. To doubt my inner truth in favor of what others’ think. That certainly has messed with my ability to reach within, make a decision and trust it.

Though all of these may indeed and probably do contribute to the problem, they aren’t the root cause of my decision-making difficulties. The root, I have come to learn, is satellite thinking.

Satellite thinking/living occurs when a person makes other people’s ideas and opinions and actions have more meaning than one’s own. To be constantly seeking outside evidence, clues and advice as to what to do.

I didn’t even know that is what I was doing for many years. That I was always looking outside of myself to decide what to do.  It is incredibly painful to live that way. It’s exhausting!

I know it now, and I am so grateful.

There’s no fulfillment in that way of living. Ever.

It has been quite an awakening to realize this and to shift into my own core. It has been perhaps the most amazing healing work I have ever done in my life. It has taken patience and tremendous love. I have had to learn to really listen to my own voice within and to discern it apart from those other voices inside my head that have worn their groove into my neuropaths.

And I now feel that I am at the last phase of becoming core-centered. I am at the phase where I actually jump off the psychic edge of the familiarity of looking to the outside to guide me. Where I willingly fall into the unknown abyss that core-centered living feels like.

It is flat-out terrifying. And exciting.

When I think about truly entering into this relationship with myself: asking myself alone what is the next right action; when I think about asking questions of myself such as how do I really want to lively life, and what does a meaningful, well-lived look like to me; what will I feel was a “worthy” life when I am on my deathbed…when I begin to live with these questions, really listening for the answers within underneath the cacophony of those loops, I feel dizzy and disoriented, literally.

It feels like I will become like the astronaut in 2001 A Space Odyssey who is disconnected from the mothership, floating away into black nothingness…

A terrifying image. That is truly how scary it feels. My entire relationship to life is changing. Scary, to be sure. And yet.

It also feels like finally coming home to roost. Like the Eagle has finally landed.

Like I have finally found what I have been looking for and missing my whole life.

Can I ever truly erase that ever-playing loop of doubt in my head? That constant tendency to look to see what is happening “over there,” to ask what are “they” doing in order to decide what I want to do? To question my own sense of reality and defer to what others say is the truth or what I think others would do or what I imagine they want me to do. Can I halt that loop?

Maybe not. But I know it for what it is now. It is just old static. I can brush it away, like a stray hair that is tickling my face.

I can tune the knob and find my own frequency inside. Sometimes it takes awhile to find, but it is always there.

Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz discovering the power to go home again, I find I’ve had it in me all along.

Turns out, I am my own mothership.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: loop


The Qualm Before the Storm

I have developed a fascination with intuition.

This comes out of necessity. I used to blame this on being a Libra, but I have come to admit that I am a person who has such fear of doing the wrong thing, that I make decision-making miserable.

Intuition is defined as “the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning. A thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning.”

Intuition. Also referred to as a hunch, instinct, clairvoyance, second sight, sixth sense…

I really like the idea of second sight. A way of seeing, not with the eyes, but with the body.

What?! How amazing is that to contemplate? The idea that my body can figure things out for me if I will but listen to her.

I have in the past called it the “uh oh” or the “red flag” feeling I can get in my gut. Usually around a person or entering into a space…an internal grab and/or a turning over of the stomach (similar to something I feel on a rollercoaster.)

That qualm in my stomach when something feels “off.” When I am about to do something or have just done something and I experience a seeping, creeping sense of dread around something having to do with it. A small wave of nausea followed by a feeling of dread…

At times I have honored these signals, and have been glad that I did. Other times, I ignored them, only to wish later that I had heeded their wisdom.

(Especially when I was dating. Turns out my body was always right about “reading” guys while my conscious brain worked hard to give them the benefit of the doubt, not wanting to “know” what my body was trying to tell me. Once I simply held my boyfriend’s little address book while moving it off a table in his apartment and I was flooded with fear and a sense of doom. I suddenly just “knew” that he was having an affair. I brushed this little feeling off, judging myself as paranoid. Turns out, I was right on the money. Months later and in a very horribly public way, the truth was exposed. )

That gut feeling, that little inner voice. The part of me that is wiser than my conscious mind.

Sometimes my intuition is very hard for me to sense or “hear.” I can struggle so much around certain decisions and am told to listen to my body for the answer. I sit and meditate, I journal, I ask, but at times, that inner sense, that “knowing” feeling, that little voice can feel so darned elusive.

Why is that? Am I blocking the signals by my looking for them so hard?

As an actress who has been trained extensively in the modern Method, I have learned to listen deeply to my body and not to discard any clues that she gives to me when approaching and working on a role.

Performers learn to follow their impulses and instincts for their craft, and while the intellect is certainly utilized, any one of us will tell you that it is crucial to “get out of your head” and into the body. We train in ways of strengthening our connection to our unconscious, to listening to our bodies’ responses to stimuli, to acting on the impulses our body generates.

Mental and physical tensions are the buzzkill to our creativity, our unconscious, or non-conscious. I have been addressing and exploring that for years.

These days I am on a mission to expand and deepen my relationship to my intuition. Not just for my work, but for every area of my life, especially decision-making. Practicing tuning in and developing it. Growing my trust in my own innate wisdom. Wow. I feel a qualm just writing that sentence…

I found a terrific resource in Jack Canfield regarding “cultivating intuition.” (I love that framing — I will cultivate my intuition!)

He says that “Just like memory, critical thinking, and intellect, your intuition is a mental muscle you can strengthen and use to create success and become the best possible version of yourself,” and suggests some ways to do that.

I am excited and nervous (in a good way) as I continue my journey with this. I can’t wait to see where I am led. I sense that it is gonna be good.

#intuition #JackCanfield #bodymind






All About Joan, Pt 1

lone bird

Mothers Day is coming. I have so many lovely friends in my life right now who are new mothers, so it is on my radar.

I always feel funky this time of year, despite the gorgeousness of the Spring weather and flowers and budding trees.

At this time exactly 9 years ago, I was doing a musical in Illinois — my first out of town theatre booking, a very exciting time for me. (I came back to acting later in life after almost two decades of drifting. Started singing again in 1995, and then performing in cabaret, which eventually led me to acting again in 2004. I started to pursue it professionally in 2006. In 2007, I booked a fun role in a musical and was thrilled to drive across country to live in Illinois for three months to do it.

And I was decimated. I had auditioned for the show in early January, just after returning home from the Christmas holiday in Texas, where I am from. The holiday where my parents told my two brothers and I that my mother’s oncologist had told them weeks before that there was no longer anything they could do for her in the way of treatment.

I returned to NYC in a kind of shock and almost didn’t even go to that audition. But being a consummate people-pleaser and a professional, I went, despite feeling way off. So I was surprised when I was offered the role. Surprise turned into elation, which then turned into a kind of dread.

How could I possibly take the job under the circumstances? We had been told that no one could know how long my mother had to live. We, of course, were filled with a kind of hope that only those who have been in such situations can know. A kind of hope that your loved one was going to be the one to beat the odds. It could happen. No one can tell you it can’t. So you believe. You believe because that is what the human heart does. It hopes and believes.

But I wanted to be able to see as much of her as possible. My father was her primary caretaker. She was living at home, with hospice care available as needed to help manage her pain and as things progressed. Still, a part of me wanted to leave my Life, move down to Texas and move in with my parents.

My therapist advised me that I couldn’t just go down and “watch her die.” That I had to keep “doing my life.” I knew in my gut that she was right, but I was not going to just wait from afar, either.

I felt incredibly torn: to be living in this co-actualizing of my heart’s greatest dream and my heart’s greatest fear both at once.

With the help of my aforesaid therapist, Bev, I worked out a plan of action, and presented it to the production team to see if they would agree to make it a part of my contract’s terms. I explained the situation, and said that I’d need an understudy in case of an emergency. I also said that I would need to be sure that the days off of each week of the contract were to remain days off — that I would not be required to do additional shows or PR on those days — as I would be flying down to Texas each week and would not be available. Miraculously, they agreed to all of my terms.

I remember vividly the day I took off in my then-boyfriend’s Pathfinder to make the drive that would take me across many states. I was equal parts scared, lonely, excited and wondering. Was I doing the right thing? Was I making a horrible mistake?

By the time I got just outside of the city where I would be living and acting for the next three and a half months, I was filled with that same dread in my gut. As I was calling Bev to get help, a call came in from my Dad that my Mom had taken a turn for the worse. I think I even called the hospice nurse to try to get a handle on what was going on. It was a horrible evening. She gave me the impression that it would be days. I was ready to give my notice and get on the next flight, but Bev suggested I check in, get some sleep and revisit the decision in the morning.

The next day, I had a call from Mom saying that she was much better. The crisis had passed. She assured me that she was fine and that I should stay on. I would be seeing her in 5 days…So I uncertainly decided to stay…and take it a day at a time.

So began what was to be a life-changing experience…some incredible gifts and some deep sorrows came out of that time…as often happens with the losses of life…

Part 2 to follow.