On the Road Again

My husband and I are driving a Penske truck filled with furniture from our last apartment In the Bronx, NY to Texas. We’ve made this trip before.

Last time, we drove the opposite way with the same furniture from my parents’ home just after we were married 8 years ago, just after my Dad died, a year after my brother died and two years after my mother did.

I was so grateful for that furniture at the time. Newly married, making a home with someone for the first time, I was thrilled to have really nice things to bring to our shared space, a new apartment we’d chosen together.

Having lived in a tiny studio apartment in the West Village of NYC for 18 years prior to this big change, I had no furniture to speak of. My husband had some nice things to bring from his place, but not enough. We were stretching our budgets to get our apartment. New furniture was not in the plan. So my parents was a blessing.

It was amazing how perfectly the furniture all worked together. We chose rich colors for the walls off of the colors in the rugs, and somehow, it all had an eclectic warmth that just felt right. So “us,” somehow. The us we were becoming.

For the first years of our marriage, in those years after those huge losses in which I grieved and lived as best I could, that furniture surrounded me and held me and filled the empty gaping hole their deaths left.

I cherished it all. I had my father’s bronzed baby cowboy boots as book ends. A china cabinet held bluebirds, brown ware and silver pieces from my mother’s collections. We ate off of plates and used pans brought up from their kitchen. Put drinks on coasters from their den.

Our bedroom furniture was from my parents first house. The first expensive rug they bought, a now-worn but still lovely Oriental, sat under their gorgeous dark wood dining table and chairs.

But somewhere along year 6, something began to shift in me, and now, 18 months later, after a Konmari wave that washed away my clutter, a new apartment search, offer, and purchase, a renovation, putting an apartment on the market, a sale, a closing, a move, and a settling in, here I am. Day two of a three day journey to take much of that furniture to a new home.

My cousin, who my parents loved, who has a lovely wife and two young kids and a house, is happily taking the furniture off my hands. Whatever he did not take, others in NY needed and wanted.

Tomorrow we reach Austin, where the pieces will be put in their new home.

And I will let go. Of the grieving time. Of the me that has lived these 8 years in the after-shock, doing my best.

I feel such a mix of sadness and relief and excitement. Sadness because I still wish they were here instead of their things. Relief because something is done that I seem to have needed to do. Some job I unconsciously took on will soon be complete. And excitement is for this next part, whatever it will be.

Today I crave space. I want to be surrounded by things that resonate the me I am today. Our new home in no way resembles our last. And I love it with its new colors and furniture, and kickass river views.

I kept one chair out of it all. And reupholstered it. It looks wonderful there, surrounded by our new pieces, our new rugs.

At the end of the first day’s drive, we were treated to a blazing orange sky. Since my mother passed, I am convinced that beautiful sunsets are her way of letting me know she is there, loving me. It was clear that she, my Dad and brother, approve of this trip.

My parents and brother are still with me. But now they fill my heart space. I carry them wherever I go.

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Lessons of the Road

I have returned from an adventure.

A wonderful, yet challenging, adventure. With my family.

I am grateful for the abundance of time and energy to have been able to go on this adventure. I am so glad that we all took the time to be together and to explore new-to-us places and to experiences new sights, sounds, tastes and smells.

The challenges were all out of anyone’s control and totally unexpected.

They included outgoing flights that stole a day from the majority of our group. Record-breaking heat everywhere we went. An absence of air conditioning in these places because they usually have no need for it.

Two of our lodgings were not at all as they were represented, which was disappointing and uncomfortable. A space markedly smaller than the photos appeared. A stairwell so steep under a ceiling so low leading to the one common space and second bathroom that it was unusable. A stove with no manual that we could not figure out — no way to heat water for coffee. Another place having no window coverings, infested with bees and flies.

(I suppose these could be considered “luxury” problems if you look at it. For me, as I had been the one to book the lodging, they were challenging, and disappointing. It also really enlightened me to my own “Americanism” – to how used I am to traveling with and to all the comforts of home. Take a way some of those, and I felt uncomfortable. But isn’t the point of travel to leave home behind?)

The real challenge came when one member of our group (the person whose trip it was) got very sick for two days. And then another of us got sick right after that one, requiring an emergency clinic visit and rendering them housebound for the last leg of the trip (three days.) This family member, I am sure, was counting down the seconds until they could get the hell back home. They were really sick and could not sleep due to the illness and the heat.

I cannot recall a trip from my life that had so many issues. Everyone valiantly moved through it all as well as they could. But there were moments of discomfort and when spirits waned and were tested to the limit.

Still. We had laughter. We saw some amazing parts of the world. And we were together.

I know that down the road, we will, for the most part, only recall the good parts. (Except for the really sick person, who, I am sure, will never forget how bad it was for them.)

I struggled mostly with just giving space for everyone to have their response to the challenges. To not feel totally responsible for everyone’s happiness. I was, after all, the instigator of the whole trip. For a recovering perfectionist and people-pleaser, this was daunting.

As a result, I was stretched in ways that I did not at all expect. Perhaps that is the very nature of travel: to go beyond one’s known terrain into foreign territories.

So as I leave the trip behind and reenter everyday life, I let whatever lessons were contained in this journey sort of simmer, low-level, trusting that some day I will look back and realize the gifts contained within the turbulence that the trip presented.

I trust that my memories of the difficulties of the trip will fade in comparison to the joys.

And I refill my spiritual well for the next adventure.

A Table of One’s Own

The idea of it is so appealing to me. I’m out and about, on my own, in the world. Feeling happy…feeling secure…feeling strong….feeling hungry.

I decide to take myself to a nice meal in a nice restaurant. It starts off so well.

I consider different restaurants as I walk around. I check out their ambiance, their menus. I make a decision, and filled with joyful anticipation, I walk in. I approach the host or hostess with optimistic excitement.

And so it starts. It takes a bit longer than I’d like for them to address me. They make some kind of quick appraisal of me, and it is decided on some level that I do not measure immediate attention. They continue with whatever task they’ve decided they do not need to interrupt to greet little ole’ me.

So I wait politely until they get around to helping me. While I wait, I ponder the mysteries of this situation. This is not my first rodeo. I have been here before: the last time I attempted a meal out with myself. And the time before that. And the time before that. Ah yes. Nothing has improved.

What happens in that nano-second appraisal that leads to me being treated as an afterthought? Is it because I seem so amenable? Does my WASP-y middle-class upbringing resonate that I will tolerate a lot in the name of appearing in social good graces? Or is it because I am middle-aged and they do not actually really “see” me, because as studies show, people aged 45-65 are invisible in popular culture and media and therefore no one can really “see” them in life? That doesn’t explain every attempt to eat out on my own I have ever made in my adulthood…the many times prior to middle-age I went solo.

I tell myself it doesn’t matter, I push down the surge of anger that has risen up from my belly. I want to have a nice meal. They’ll deal with me soon enough. Calm down, Norma Rae. Let’s stay nice. Don’t stoop to their level. Maybe we are being a bit sensitive, dear. Don’t be THAT lady. (Yes, I do talk to myself like that. Even I have ingested the cultural attitude towards my own age and sex. That is perhaps the worst betrayal of all in the experience. That internal voice that judges me right along with their judgement of me. But I digress.)

Finally, the hostess or host comes over and with the enthusiasm of a gnat and asks anemically, “May I help you?”

“Uh, yes, you can. I just walked into your restaurant. What do you think I am doing here? I want a fucking table!”

Well, at least that is what I say in my head. To them I simply say, in my best I-am-woman-hear-me-roar-yet-still-non-chalent voice, head cocked in my best dignified angle: “Table for one, please.”

A tiny moment of something registers in their face. They’ve made some kind of judgement about my solo status. Sometimes there is the smallest trace of a slightly smug smile, usually from a much younger woman, as if they are thinking how pathetic I am, how superior they are, how assured they are that they will never be me. Sometimes, veiled contempt flickers across the man’s eyes, as if I will be wasting table space and time with my presence. Assumptions that I will not tip? That I will be, in addition to alone, cheap?

They set off ahead of me to show me to my table. We wind back through the restaurant, usually to some table in the back, in the corner, by the bathroom, facing the wall or server station. Thinking, I guess, that I, being alone, will prefer to be out of the limelight. That I will want to be alone in my shame. Or to hide me from the other, cooler diners? Don’t want to bring them all down with my aloneness?

I usually accept the offered table without a fight, though I have, at times in the past, insisted on a better table. The way I feel as a result of this action is usually more trouble to process than the bother of being seated at the lame duck table.

Then comes the longer-than-necessary wait for every part of the meal. For some reason, the lone diner is sort of relegated to being the low priority in terms of server values.

This really gets my blood boiling. What do they think? That because I am alone I won’t complain if I have to wait just a bit longer for them to come over and take a drink order? I would say it is because I am a middle-aged woman, and perhaps that is true, but I know other people have had the same issues dining out alone and they have been a variety of sexes and ages.

So I won’t make this a sex, age or gender-related issue. I will just call it the Mistreatment of the Solo Diner.

When I was traveling this summer, I walked out of three different restaurants in three different countries because of this phenomenon, so it is not just an American issue. I expected to be treated better in foreign countries for some reason. Nope.

Dining out alone has rarely been the real pleasure I always envision. Ethnic restaurants such as Indian or Japanese have tended to be better options as a solo diner. Not sure why. Maybe they are more used to solo diners. Because solo diners gave up on the other restaurants and started populating the ethnic restaurants? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

I welcome your own stories of dining out solo, good or bad, in the Comments section below. Is it just me? Or do you know exactly what I am writing about?

I’m over it. The next time I go to eat solo, I am going to speak up at every turn when I feel I am not being treated well. Just as an experiment. As neutrally as I can muster. Though I expect to feel awful having to do that (with that Protestant, female upbringing, any such speaking out brings with it a pretty potent mix of guilt and shame no matter what the outcome,)  I am just going to see what unfolds as a result. I have nothing to lose.

Don’t forget. As Johnny says at the end of the movie “Dirty Dancing,” “Nobody puts Baby in a corner.”

New World Order

It’s happening. Slowly but surely, people are being phased out of more and more jobs, replaced by tablets or machines.

I don’t like it. When I was traveling this past summer, I saw it everywhere. The latest? The airport tablet trend. It’s the brainchild of OTG Management, and it is the bane of travel as far as I am concerned.

Airports have always held the promise of connections. Plane connections, yes, but connections of other kinds as well. Conversations at the airport bar or while waiting for your flight and grabbing a coffee, or at the gate, have sparked romances, dalliances, business opportunities. People-watching at airports has inspired films, writers and artists of all kinds because airports hold so many real-life stories unfolding before our eyes. Stories of reunited loved ones, people traveling for funerals, weddings, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.  Airports have been the way station between adventures. A part of the experience of travel. They’ve held the potential for adventure, the unknown, new experiences.

Now, airports are looking more and more like, well, a sea of i-Pad stations. Every restaurant has them in front of every chair on every table. If you are with someone, there are two i-Pads standing upright between you, separating you like the plexiglass at the bank teller. There are still some employees, but your contact with them is minimal. (Yet you still are expected to tip them.)

It is supposed to be more efficient and reduce the travelers’ stress at airports. Every time my husband and I ordered through them, there were errors and it ended up taking twice as long as it should have. Our meals were comp’d twice due to error. I had to take rebel action and un-dock our i-Pads so we could actually be together while we ate. I found it all incredibly annoying. And disturbing, in a Hal-creepy kind of way (the software for the OTG system is named Flo.)

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We’ve had self-service convenience lanes for years now at stores where you can ring yourself up. (I have to admit I do like those when I am in a hurry.) But at least they have installed them in addition to still having people to ring you up.

Even the people who hawk the free daily papers are being replaced by metal iron bins. Somebody figured out you can just leave the stacked papers in the metal bins for people to grab and forego paying whatever small amount they must have paid those people who would try to get you to take one on your morning commute. I am going to miss those people. Some of them were quite inventive. Like the way some of the subway announcers add a personal touch in the way they give out the usual informational announcements. Some of those people create a moment of connection in the subway with their wit or their exceptional voice — fellow commuters look around and catch eyes and smile in a moment of shared appreciation. More and more, those announcements are becoming automated as well. I will miss that, too.

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The opportunities we have to connect with people on a daily basis are becoming less and less as a result of all of this technological advancement and replacement. Interactions between strangers, once commonplace, is lessoning. Sometimes I look around on the streets, and in the buses and subways, and we all look like strange robot-people, plugged into “the source”…our various electronic devices…all looking down into our palms.

Even if you wanted to make a passing remark to someone, they wouldn’t hear you. (Ever try to get off the train, saying “Excuse me!” over and over only to realize that the person you were trying to pass was plugged in and couldn’t hear you?)

I really worry about how this will affect us over time. We’ve begun to notice that young children no longer know how to interact socially. Can it really be that big of a surprise?

It’s as if we all bring the comfort of our living rooms and our offices with us now everywhere we go. We can create our own soundtrack to play as we move through our lives. Sounds cool, right? But when we do that, we miss the actual live music of the actual world around us. Yes, there is a kind of music to the world of daily life around us. We don’t even recognize it anymore.

We now can watch our favorite shows as we move from one place to another. Those in-between times of transition between Point A and Point B used to be opportunities to process what has just occurred, to daydream, or to connect randomly with the world around us. Now it is a way to plug back into what we already know, what we will find at home when we get there. It’s as if we are constantly trying to get back to the state we know best…the state we recognize most. To spend as little time as possible being affected by and living in the actual world as we live in the actual world.

I have a 1.15 hour commute both ways to and from work each day. I often use it as a time to get certain things done. So I get it. I utilize that time, too, using the train as my temporary office. I type, I learn lines, I listen to workshop lessons, audiobooks, read on my Kindle, too.

But I do make a conscious effort to not be plugged in all of the time. I don’t run around the city with my music playing in my ears anymore. I purposefully start up conversations when at a checkout register with the person ringing me up, or the person selling me tea, or the person in line with me at the store. It is amazing how surprised some people are at it. It is not the norm anymore, it is the exception. Before I began to make this effort, I, too, would feel sort of jarred if a stranger tried to have a moment of connection with me out in the world. Sort of annoyed. Like, why are you interrupting my connection with my music or my show or my whatever-I-am-connected-to-at-the-time? Can’t you just leave me alone?

What? Wow. That floored me, when I caught myself feeling that way out in the world. That is when I had to take a hard look at what was happening in the world around me. And at my behavior in it. I had to ask myself what I was doing in the world in the first place.

Are we all here to remain the same as much as possible? To only connect with the known and to stay safely in control of what we are exposed to as we move through the world? Do I really want to try to maintain the world of my home and take it with me as I go out into the world?

Or do I want to go out into the world and be affected by it? Interact with it and communicate with people and allow myself to move through the world and connect to it? Be moved and changed by the interactions I have with real people?

So I started weening myself off of my smartphone. It was tough at first…to go back to just walking down a street without looking down and doing something on my phone felt, well, anxiety-provoking at first. My system was no longer used to the simple, naked action of moving through space with just me and my thoughts and the world around me. But in time, I learned again how to just enjoy the sunlight on my face, or to take in the street scene, to exchange a smile with a passer-by. Have a short exchange with someone on an elevator. Spark up a conversation in a line. There ARE still others out there happy to connect like that. You just won’t even see them unless you are available to it.

Just as I set office hours for myself as a self-employed person, I also now set boundaries for my time on my phone when out in the world. It makes a huge difference in the quality of my day.

I love my smartphone, I really do. But I love people too. I don’t want to forget how to have an exchange with a stranger. Some of the most memorable conversations I have had were in airports with strangers. I wouldn’t be the same without having had them.

#reallife #intheworldandoftheworld

 

 

 

 

 

On Selfies, and Vulnerability

I’ll admit it. I’ve been a secret selfie-judger for some time.

Since “selfie” became an official word by being added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2013, much has been written about the selfie and its effect on culture.  Tina Issa wrote in The Huffington Post that they should be renamed “selfshie.” She writes, “It has created the selfie monster — people who seem to want to scream ‘look at me’ or ‘look at what I have’ every minute of the day.” And while I do see her points, this isn’t about that.

In the New York Times, James Franco defended the selfie, calling it the “Mini-Me’s that we send out to give others a sense of who we are…the new way to look someone right in the eye and say, ‘Hello, this is me.'”

Hmmm, even though I am an actor and understand his points about the ever-growing role that social media has in our industry, I do not agree with that. He says he’s turned off by someone who doesn’t post selfies, because he wants to know who he’s dealing with. That viewpoint both fascinates and alarms me, because it truly reflects how much selfie-taking and posting has begun to shape the way we take in and reflect back the world around us. That’s the thinking of someone so deep into the world of selfies that it has become the norm from which to measure reality. Yikes.

I avoid posting selfies as much as possible. I HAVE done it, guilty as charged. But I can literally count the times I posted them on-line with two hands. Yes, I DO post. I am ok with posting (or having others post) a group picture (or a “groupfie” as my sister-in-law coined them.) I will post new headshots or stills from film sets – those are solo shots of me.

But a selfie? That just feels so gross to me. So self-absorbed. Pathetic. (Yes, that word really crosses my mind.) I tend to post sunsets, landscapes and pictures that avoid looking like selfies, but I am still posting. (Is that even that different, really? I am still participating in the “look at what I’m doing/just did/am doing…” So am I really just a passive-aggressive selfie-ist?)

Do I judge friend’s selfies? Honestly, yes, I do sometimes. Not the cute pics of them with their children or friends or family or partners. I love those. But when they post a picture of just them, I admit it, I DO judge them sometimes.

What is the root of this judgement? Am I afraid of being judged as selfish, of being a narcissist, in the way that Tina Issa judges selfie-ists? Or, following Franco’s logic,  am I afraid of being vulnerable, of being seen as I really am? Am I hiding who I really am because I do not post selfies?! This has been kicking around in my head and causing me to have sleepless nights.

(OK, that is not true. I only recently found Franco’s essay, but it did get me thinking and these are great questions to explore, but that is not exactly what I want to write about…)

What IS true and what I DO want to write about in regards to selfies is that I am concerned about selfie-taking and its effect on our society’s future art. Hell, I am concerned about its effect on our society’s future.

Let me explain.

This summer, I was away traveling and working for three months, July through September. It was glorious for so many reasons. I was out of my routines, comfort zones and the structures of my NYC life. This shook up my internal sense of the world in amazing ways. I gathered information and inspiration and took in so much I felt on sensory overload most of the time, in the best of ways. It was fantastic.

Except. For. The. Selfie-Taking. Going. On. Everywhere.

For two weeks out of the three months, I traveled with my niece and sister-in-law to London and then Paris. We visited all of the usual top tourist attractions, and I can tell you this: for the most part, though everyone still goes to see all of these wonderful places, no one is actually really looking at them anymore. The London Tower, Parliament, the cathedrals, the London Bridge, the British Museum and its artifacts, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triumph, the Louvre and all of its treasures…all now just check-mark locations from which to get a selfie so that you can post and show to the internet world that you were there.

Full disclosure: yes, we took groupfies, many of which I posted. My niece took selfies. Once or twice I tried to take selfies. Not sure why. I think sometimes we just got swept up in the frenzied, competitive selfie-taking vibe and took more than we needed. (There’s a sort of “selfie mob mentality” at these places.) Mostly though, for us, a picture together was a natural extension of the moment.

But there was a moment of experience from which to extend out from, you know? Between us and the place or the piece of art. Most people literally walked up to a place, took selfies, and ran to the next selfie spot.

From a safe distance, I watched. People pushed in a frenzy, fought to get close, but not to actually look at these works of art or places of beauty. They fought to stand their ground and get their selfie with the work of art.

But for the most part, no one was actually experiencing these places anymore. No one was taking them in and allowing themselves to be affected by, informed, inspired, moved by them. If you are a person who still remembers how and is able to let something affect you, you are in trouble, because you are going to be in danger of pissing off the selfie-takers when you try to experience these sights.

While in Paris, we actually witnessed several arguments between people traveling together over the quality of the selfies they were taking. It was the strangest thing. In one case, one person seemed to feel that they had not yet gotten the best shot, while the other wanted to move on. In the other, someone felt that their selfie was better than the other’s. These were not quiet disagreements. These were heated, high stakes, loud, public fights. The psychology behind such an argument is fascinating to postulate. The pressure some people must be feeling to get the perfect shots of themselves to show off to the world must be pretty serious.

We also witnessed two times where within the throngs of people pushing to get their selfies in front of the most popular attractions in the Louvre, people had to be physically restrained by their friends because they were about to get in physical fights with other people over selfie-taking issues…someone’s wife was too tall and staying too long in one place and blocking the view…someone pushed someone else….

I found it all exhausting and depressing. (And slightly scary — that mob mentality is no joke.) People have always taken photos of tourist places, but over the years since the selfie and the selfie stick have become the predominant norm, something has been changing. I was in the Louvre only three ago, and it was not as bad as it was this past summer.

What does this all mean? And why am I so afraid?

I don’t know what it means. But I do know why I am afraid.

I thought the one big point of travel is to leave one’s known environment to be exposed to new and stimulating sights and sounds, tastes and cultures in order to expand one’s self. If you go somewhere exotic and only spend 2 minutes with some amazing piece of art or in front of one of one of the wonders of the world trying to take the ideal selfie so that you can post it on-line and everyone knows that you were someplace fabulous, how does that change you in any way?

Yes, there are still people who are taking in and being affected by these artworks and wonders. But they are few and far between. Often they simply cannot get to some of the places and sights because it is either literally too dangerous to try to stand and look at the something, or because everything is now revolving around the selfie-taking culture and there is simply no way to spend time looking. (Museums and tourist spots structure traffic to support selfie-taking because it is the norm, not the art-gazer who wants to experience the art.)

I know because I was one of those people trying. I was shoved several times when I wanted to stand and take in the treasures of these places. At the Louvre, an older man literally almost knocked me down to get in front of Venus de Milo. I was stunned.

I truly wonder, if picture-taking was banned at such sites,  two things. 1) Would people comply? Or refuse, outraged, claiming their rights were being messed with (the right to bear selfie sticks?) And 2) would people still care to go look if they could not document that they had been there for their friends?

Or would it feel empty and worthless to them without being able to have that connection with the internet and the social media network as they move through the experience at hand. If they are left with just themselves and the piece of art or the building or the historical place, would they be able to tolerate the anxiety of that kind of true intimacy with themselves and their own experience? Or would they be so uncomfortable with this ever-decreasing sensation in today’s world, the sensation of being alone with one’s own experience, that they would just have to shut it down rather than live with it and see what is underneath it, what it sparks, what it creates.

What will our future art look like then? Art is the interpretation of the world. Will art one day all revolve around and reflect selfie-taking? What will that look like then?

It used to be that someone would take in and experience the Mona Lisa and perhaps be inspired to look at their world a bit differently, and then perhaps actually see things in a different way. It might lead them to become artists, or it might lead them to parent differently. Or to daydream, and to end up inventing a machine that manufactures a pollutant-free form of energy.

If no one is really looking at anything except themselves in front of other things, won’t we then only be seeing more of ourselves in relation to everything else in the world, and less and less of the actual everything else in the world? So then how will grow? If we are not putting ourselves in new situations (actually entering into those new experiences, not just taking a picture of ourselves standing in front of them) how can we gain new information? So then how can we become more than we are?

That, my friends, truly terrifies me. I am all for healthy self-involvement, do not get me wrong. I do not believe in selflessness as the ultimate attribute or that self-love or self-attention is selfish. Anyone who knows me well knows that I practice radical self-acceptance and believe that healthy self-awareness and self-love is crucial.

While I do see selfie-taking as narcissistic, I don’t see that as a dirty word as Tina Issa used it in her article. I side with Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, who has spent the past thirteen years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Brown is the author of three #1 New York Times Bestsellers: Rising Strong, Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection.

Brown suggests we look at narcissism through the lens of vulnerability. Through that lens, she sees in narcissism “the shame-based fear of being ordinary…of never feeling extraordinary enough to be noticed, to be lovable, to belong, or to cultivate a sense of purpose.”

Wow. That resonates so truthfully for me.

I wonder if the urge to take selfies in front of extraordinary places and things and people actually stems from a fear that we are so ordinary and so lacking that we will never really be seen, so we take selfie after selfie, stacking up evidence to ourselves and to the virtual world that we actually exist. Typing that sentence fills me with sadness and knowing. I felt that frenzied, desperate feeling from the people around me in those museums and at those amazing places. These were people trying to fill an empty, angry, sad hole with something that can never fill it. All the selfies in the world will not help a person feel truly “a part of” or connected to others in a meaningful, truly gratifying way. It’s like eating bag after bag of Cheetos to feel full. It may feel good at the time, but you end up feeling hungry anyway.

I think at this point in our evolution we actually need more practice at being self-involved. But in a different way. We need to practice how to become intimate with ourselves again. To tolerate the discomfort of the vulnerability of revealing who we really are even to our own selves. Not the virtual-vulnerability that social media and the internet affords. Exposure does not equal vulnerability. We have truly developed that muscle as a society and now it is in danger of being over-developed, like those guys at the gym who have over-worked their lats or their chest and left their legs out of the picture. A little less selfie-taking and a little more actual living the experiences of our lives is what I prescribe.

I urge you to go to a museum, or a park, or some place beautiful and NOT take a pic of yourself (or anything) to post. Just be there. Really be there. Just live those moments and let that be enough. Tolerate the discomfort of not satisfying that urge to reach out via social media to seek meaning in your experience by seeing it reflected in the number of likes it garners. Dare to walk through that fear of “disappearing” into nothingness. Let yourself feel that “ordinary.” Enter into the ordinary and really live there.

That is where the extraordinary is born.

#lessselfiesmoreliving #brenebrown #vulnerability #jamesfranco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Vacation

I have been absent the past three weeks. I am on vacation, following a family wedding trip to Northern Ireland and an acting intensive in Ireland. Today I am in the middle of a two-week “girls trip” with my niece and sister-in-law. Having a wonderful time.

Just wanted to say hello from Paris. This week, I will be posting a blog that I meant to post two weeks ago! It has been a whirlwind month of living on the skinny branches. If I was more experienced with having a blog, I would have had posts at the ready and scheduled ahead of time to post while on these trips. Now I know how it needs to go.

Ah well! C’est la vie. Live and learn, and let the rest go.

Today I send you light from the City of Light. I am living out on the skinny branches, and the living feels fine.

#lifeontheskinnybranches #girlstrip2016 #paris #eiffeltower