Following Joy

When this blog was started, I believed I was on the verge of leaving LA and having lots of adventures. It’s a little frustrating that I am still here, blogging from home about the minutia of my life, and waiting to leave. While the first buyer was eager to be in the house, this sale is dragging out a little longer. It now looks like the earliest I will be out of here is the middle of May. This week all the requested repairs will be completed, and hopefully by the end of the week I will know if the sale will go through.

In the meantime…

Every day there is so much to be learned, and I’m still figuring this new life out. A few weeks ago, it was frightening to have found myself with time to just be. We in the West have a hard time just being. It is beaten into our heads – Life is work. Life is effort. Rest is sloth and a moral failing! We believe in “work hard, play hard,” but the work hard always has to come first. You never hear it said, “play hard, work hard.” I began to feel guilt over not having work to do. This was why it suddenly seemed important to impose some discipline and outline five daily goals. The unexpected consequence was that making a list of things that should be done, turned it into a list of chores. It turned play into work, so that I no longer wanted to either work hard, or play hard. In my brain there was a German woman in a uniform with a riding crop saying, “You vil do dees tings dat make you happy, or I vil beat you about de head. Be happy now! Schnell!”

After fumbling around with these daily goals and becoming more resistant to them, it became apparent that a different method needed to be tried. Not knowing what else to do, I simply began to do whatever interested me that day. One day it was geocaching. Another day it was writing. Then surprisingly, the day ceased to be about guilt and became about joy. Where joy led, I followed.

Following joy is a brand new experience. It has been a long time since there wasn’t a responsibility, deadline, or obligation leading me through life. After I have moved across the country, and settled into life there, there will certainly be a return of responsibility, deadlines, and obligations. However, right now, there is a sweet little window of waiting. I’ve done so much packing and preparation and can’t really go any further until I’m sure the sale is going through. If there was ever been a time in my life to let go of discipline and structure, and experiment with following joy, this is it. I’m grabbing my chance and refusing to feel guilty no matter how I spend my day. It won’t last forever, but I’m going to enjoy this mini-vacation from obligation.

Who convinced us that the sole purpose of existence is productivity and not bliss? Why do we buy into it? What leads you through life? What would you do with this day if you had absolutely no responsibilities or obligations? Can you find a compromise? Life is too short not to follow joy as often as you can. Make sure you do at least one thing every day that brings you joy… more if you’re able.

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Be Kind

The house sale is progressing and hopefully this one won’t fall through. If it does, we already have other offers.

I’m working on a Young Adult fantasy novel that has me so excited. I have had several very good ideas I could work on, and for a while it was tough to decide on which one I should focus. Then something sparked in favor of the fantasy novel and I am off and running. It’s so good. The concept is fresh. There is subtext and depth. I just have to execute.

With free time, I’ve been researching my new home community. There are so many activities I look forward to joining. Music was a major part of my life for the first 20 years, but has had almost no role in the last 30. It was exciting to find the new town has a women’s acapella group. My low, true-alto singing voice isn’t really good for solos, but it can be a real asset to a group without male voices. It would feed my soul to sing again, and I look forward to a pace of life that will allow that.

That slower pace of life I so look forward to, is actually happening now. It’s been two months since my job ended. I have not missed it for one second of one day. There has been no loss of identity or crisis of confidence. In fact, my true self feels like it’s re-emerging. I no longer feel battered constantly by stressful incidents. I’m not spending an hour and a half a day in ugly traffic. When a friend calls to have lunch, or needs a ride, I can actually say “yes.” When I wake up, my day can be designed around what I need and want to do, rather than what others want and need me to do. When something stressful happens, it’s easier to step back, take a breath, and deal with it. The unexpected and beautiful consequence of this is that my mind, soul, and heart are opening up again. I am able to be less judgmental and far kinder.

I first noticed myself extending kindness to others. When I was out taking a walk, I saw a kid skateboarding down the middle of the street. My stressed-out, super-judgmental self would have thought, “Stupid kid with a death wish. Get out of the street.” My open self looked and him and thought, “Look at that kid skating down the street.” My judgmental thoughts about the kid would not have changed his behavior, but they certainly would have made me feel unhappy. Instead that day, I was pure awareness without judgment and it felt wonderful.

That kindness and lack of judgment for others has extended to myself. Did I meet all my daily goals every day last week? Absolutely not. A couple of days I only did one of the five things. Stressed-out me would have beat myself up over it. Here’s what the running dialogue in my head about my bad behavior would have sounded like, “Loser. Idiot. It was just 5 things. Five fun things at that! This proves it. You are not a writer. You are a loser. You will always be a loser. Why pretend? Just go curl up in a corner and die, you loser.”

Many people refer to that voice as “monkey mind,” because it leaps from thought to thought and hurls poo at you.  And, boy are those thoughts a whole load of poo. They are horrible. Would I let anyone talk to a friend like that? Of course not! Yet, that is a pretty typical conversation I might have with myself. It may even be typical of a conversation you have with yourself. Why do we do it? Has it ever helped? No! It’s not motivational. It’s defeating. It’s harmful.

Thankfully, the new de-stressed me did not have that hurtful conversation. Well, okay, maybe I did for just a second, but it was quickly followed by stepping back, taking a breath, and showing myself some kindness. I’ve never been unemployed before. I have either been in college or had a job since I was 17. That’s 33 years of marching to someone else’s drum. Before that, I suppose I was marching to my parents’ drum. This is a whole new world! It’s going to take a little time to find my rhythm. Maybe last week I missed some steps, but this week I’ll do a little better. Before long, with a little kindness and patience, I’ll be hearing my own beat, and dancing to it with flair, in my white-girl, hippie style.

Have you failed at something and now you’re beating yourself up about it? Does that help? No? So, did you learn something? Will it help you do better next time? Then you did not actually fail, did you? We are all just imperfect creatures doing this for the first time (as far as we know), and we’re trying to makes sense of a very confusing life. Anyone in that position deserves a lot of kindness. So, I’m challenging you, be kinder to yourself. I promise it will help you accomplish your goals far quicker than that nasty, little voice in your head.

Tell monkey mind to go eat a banana, you’re busy dancing.

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Schedule Schmedule

The sale of the house fell through. Now it’s back to a holding pattern as other offers are considered. So, for the first time since finding myself unemployed, I have extra time on my hands. I look for jobs, just in case I find something that could convince me to stay. So far, that has not happened. I take long walks. And I have watched far too much TV. Made my way through Breaking Bad, finally. Unfortunately, I already knew the ending since The Soup decided to show the final scene shortly after it aired. It wasn’t as bad as when I typed in a monologue joke revealing the ending of The Sixth Sense long before I saw the movie, but it was still annoying. The Late Late Show writers found that so funny. I did not. The experience of that story was lost to me forever.

It is easy to let the days slip by doing little projects here and there, waiting for some sort of news about the sale of the house, and watching series I’d had in my queue for years. It’s easy to convince myself that I’ll get into a writing routine when I am settled into my new location. However, as the days have slipped by, I find myself growing more discontent. While I love lazy days, a whole string of them does not lead to happiness. I need a schedule – a routine. Oh, the annoyance that brings to someone who cherishes their freedom! Yet every writer knows that the difference between a wannabe dabbler and a professional writer is discipline. A professional writes even when they don’t feel like it — when they’re not inspired – even when it’s not fun. A dabbler writes when all the planets align, they feel inspired, and there is absolutely no other errand or chore they can think of to do. I’ll admit, that’s been me far too often.

So this week, my goal is to establish a schedule that works until it is time to leave. There are five things that must be accomplished in order for me to feel satisfied. 1) Physical activity in the form of yoga or a long walk. 2) Meditation 3) Writing 4) Reading 5) Writing-related activities such as searching out writing contests, writing and publicizing this blog, or looking for freelance writing and editing work. Those are the goals I must build into a schedule and be disciplined about following. Woe for my false sense of freedom and sloth. Hooray for productivity and joy. It’s a decent trade.

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Rolling with the Punches

Yesterday was the day I was supposed to post. I want to commit to writing something intelligent at least once a week, and had decided Tuesday was the day. I had started on an idea about doubt and the roll it plays in faith. However, life sometimes has other plans. Rather than write about doubt, I got thrown into a big pile of it.

Things were moving along swiftly with the home sale. The inspection went well, and the buyers had little concern for the small details and even some of the bigger ones that were found. They are anxious to finally own a home. Suddenly I was looking at being out late next week, and that left a lot of details to work out quickly. There were reservations to be made for a moving pod, movers, and pet-friendly hotels. I was busy on the phone, excited and scared all at the same time. Then out of the blue, it all came to a grinding halt. I thought a home was worth what someone was willing to pay, however, banks  utimately control the price when they are lending the cash. The bank says my price is too high, regardless of the fact that there are 4 people who are willing to pay that price.

Now what? It gets frustrating and lately my tolerance level has been low. My dating life had alraedy played out like Charlie Brown, Lucy, and that football. I was tired of ending up flat on my back, gasping for air, so stopped kicking a long time ago. Then I felt that way with my job, too. Time and again I thought I had figured a way out, only to have it yanked away. So now with this, there’s that familiar frustration that bubbles up quickly. Here again I feel like my dream is just within reach, and wham… not so fast. When is that football going to stay in place?

However, I keep reminding myself that up to this point everything has gone so smoothly, that a bump or two in the road should be expected. If I have to drop my price, which will hurt badly, I will lose 2 years of writing time. But if I’m successful, those years might not be needed anyway. It means a used car, and continuing to use my barely functioning computer. BUT, it’s not the end of my dream. I recently told a friend that it’s good to be hungry as a writer. Knowing the time is shorter, might push me harder. I can’t let this get me down. I need to keep my frustration in check, as that can spiral into even darker feelings.

The truth is, there’s a slim chance I could still get what the market will support. I mean, we had 4 offers after two broker opens, and never even got to an actual open house. We’re pursuing the possibilities. So today, rather than worry, I packed. I might be leaving LA next week. Maybe not. Either way, I’m just going to have to roll with it.

Perhaps next week I’ll have something to say about doubt.

 

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Come Along as I Leap

Not another blog!

The last thing the internet needs is yet another writer blathering on about their life’s experiences, and yet here I am, adding my voice to the cacophany. It seems foolish, because lately I keep running across internet articles that make me think we have jumped the online writing shark. Articles like – You’re Wiping with Toilet Paper All Wrong, or How to Act Before and After a Massage, or An Open Letter to my Ex-husband’s Latest Conquest Who Wants to Raise my Child. Really? Selling an article has come to that? More humliliating, that writer probably only got paid a few dollars for their work. But still, I’m joining in.

This isn’t my first chasm.

If you didn’t read the ‘about’ page, let me catch you up to speed on why you might enjoy reading this blog among the many that are out there. I am a 50-year-old woman who you wouldn’t bother talking to if you sat next to me on a plane. Trust me on that, I’ve had lots of silent flights. However, hidden behind my plain exterior are many adventures.

I grew up with 1000 acres of South Dakota prarie to roam. I spent most of those years imagining I was someone and somewhere else, so when I finally was old enough to make that happen, I went adventuring. I spent a couple of years in Hawaii (chasm 1), returned back to South Dakota before heading off for a summer working in Yellowstone National Park. That summer opened my mind to possibilities, and I just kept going. From there I worked at the Grand Canyon, where I learned about a job at an outdoor science school in California. After leading 5th and 6th graders on nature trails, and helping them deal with a week away from home, I moved into L.A. (chasm 2) to make it big in film and television. Almost immediately my typing speed and work ethic landed me steady employment as a teleprompter operator.

There I was, a small town, farm kid working with Meryl Streep, Clint Eastwood, Michael Jackson, Sydney Poitier, Bill Clinton, Neil Simon and John Candy. The list could actually go on and on and on. It made my mind spin. Pulling onto the lot at Universal or Warner Brothers was absolutely thrilling. I was living my dreams every day. Based on that early success, I was convinced only great things lay ahead for me. However, my career stalled when I took a job with the Late Late Show. With no ability to move up, and no opportunity to grow, I stagnated. Since my interests weren’t in late night television, I wasn’t making the connections that could take me where I wanted. Efforts to find my way out always got squashed. When the economy fell apart, it was even harder to leave.

A few years ago, I realized I was too old to realistically expect a writing career to take off in Hollywood.  Prompting paid a decent wage, but there was no pension or retirement waiting for me. My later years were looking very bleak. Staying where I was seemed like death, yet lying before me was empty space. I was standing at a great chasm.

This Time I’m Jumping With a Net

The game changer for me was a risk I took 5 years ago when I invested my entire life’s savings into a house after the real estate market bottomed out. The market recovered more quickly than I expected and will allow me some starting over money – a net, if you will. I decided almost a year ago that when the previous incarnation of the Late Late Show ended, I would sell my house, leave the industry, find someplace affordable to live, and throw myself into a writing career. I’m risking everything I’ve managed to accumulate all these years. It will give me a cushion that will keep me afloat for a few years, but ultimately, it will have to be my words that provide my income for my later years. I have a net, but it’s a thin one.

Enough of the exposition…

… let’s pick up where I am currently. I’ve been out of the entertainment industry a little over a month, I’m in escrow with my house, packing up the life it took me 25 years to build, and heading across the country to Missouri. A place with a good friend, a circle of supportive women I’m just getting to know, a low cost of living, thunderstorms – which I miss terribly, and lots of peace, quiet, and beauty… the perfect place to reinvent my life and allow the words to flow.

Come with me on this journey. See if I fly or fall. Let me inspire you to create the life of your dreams. Tell me about your leaps of faith. Let’s create a community that jumps in faith, believing that they will land spectacularly on the other side. Afterall, it’s not as wide as you think.

 

Please like & share:
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather