Ebb & Flow

One of the things many of us forget quite often in our chase for happiness, is that life is in constant flux. I’m not sure why many of us believe that happiness and contentment are just a goal away. Once we achieve X, then life will be good. For a while it is. We revel in our new state and think this will be how life is until we die. That’s why it seems so shocking when sometime later stress piles up and things aren’t going so well. Then you think, “Wait a minute! I had this figured out!”

Nothing is ever static. Whatever you’re feeling today will probably change tomorrow. I’ve been doing better about remembering this. Experience has shown that any time there’s an improvement in life, the euphoria from the improvement lasts about six months. Then it’s back to the same old happiness set-point. Something too many people forget is that “this too shall pass” applies to joys as well as sorrows. So, I watched for this shift after my move. Still waiting…

There were small dips along the way, but in general, my joy and contentment of living here has not faded… until the holidays. There were a variety of stresses going on in life at the time, which led to some insomnia.  A part of me was shocked at how quickly my frustration levels rose again. I thought I was back to my old, happy, chill self. It felt slightly embarrassing that my stressed, less-than-my-best-self came back so quickly.

Then I was surprised again when life settled back down and the joy and contentment returned. I was cooking in the kitchen one night when I was suddenly overwhelmed with the joy of it. I find such pleasure watching foxes, geese, joggers, dog-walkers, drone-flyers, metal-detecting treasure hunters, and today – a flock of turkey vultures, doing their thing in the park across the street.  After having an LA-style 45-minute drive going home in an ice storm, my 10 minute commute suddenly seemed notably wonderful again. With the return of the sun, I feel excitement at the coming spring. There will be thunderstorms, afternoons and evenings spent on my sun porch, fire flies, long walks, and all manner of critters singing me to sleep in a thunderous chorus every night.

It’s the same with my novel. While it’s a constant project that never leaves my mind, it definitely has its ebb and flow too. As discussed in my last post, sometimes I’m slogging, sometimes I’m flying. I’m trying to understand the shift. Does slogging mean I’m off course? Just haven’t had time to daydream so I don’t know where the story is going? Or is it just the normal ebb and flow of life.

I am back to a bit of a slog at the moment. Thankfully I’ve learned to fill that time with editing. It frustrates me when the word count doesn’t rise as quickly as I think it should, but the editing has to get done too. Experience tells me eventually an idea will spark and I’ll be off to the races again.

The trick, I’m learning, is to simply relax into it. It’s like surfing. When the wave is coming in, paddle like crazy and catch the ride. And when the water goes back out, let it take you past the breakers so you can catch the next wave. Don’t worry about either phase. They each have their role. Just relax. Whichever state you’re in, this too shall pass. And so shall the next one. Ebb and flow – that’s just life.

 

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Torn Between Two Memes

Yes, I’m a couple days late with this. I’ve had a topic in mind for a while, but could never quite make sense of it. Finally, things got sorted out the other night.

In the run up to my leap, I had a great deal of self doubt. Actually, self doubt is a pretty deep seated trait for me, regardless of leaping or sitting safely on my living room couch. So, the memes people post on Facebook often having me re-examining myself to see if I measure up. It can get pretty tough when the memes start contradicting themselves.

For instance, there I was, happily contemplating perhaps the biggest change in my life – a whole new part of the country I’d never lived in before, a new job, and new friends – when what meme comes along? This one:

Destination-addiction

I was imagining so much happiness in my new life. I saw myself taking long walks in my suburban neighborhood. There was a job without stress and worry. Being part of a team.  I saw slow days writing in front of a fire. There were good friends to share laughter with who were minutes away. There would be thunder storms and fall leaves. It all seemed so wonderful until I read that quote. After all, I knew my flaws and bad habits weren’t going to get left behind in California. I would still be me. So, was I falling into destination addiction?

Not long after that, somebody posted this:

il_570xN.717512541_41sc

So which wise internet meme was I to follow? I had remarked to a friend that perhaps I needed to stay so I could learn to be happy even when I was in miserable conditions. She pointed out I’d been there a long time and tried many methods. It was time to move on.

Ultimately I agreed and chose to leap my chasm, however the doubt has never left me. It should have faded when I arrived at my new destination and found life was as good, or better, than I had been imagining all those months. My walks don’t exactly take me through a suburban neighborhood, but they do take me through a more beautiful greenways trail. The open field I saw in my imagination was to the south of my south-facing house, and instead it’s to the east of my east-facing house. My job has a little more responsibility than I had envisioned, but I enjoy it so much that I actually sort of wish I was going in on my days off. Sort of. It is an environment that is providing physical and emotional healing. The friendships are lovely. And the thunderstorms… just wonderful. I’ll give you a report on the fall leaves in a few months. It truly is everything my soul was looking for that I couldn’t seem to find in LA.

Still, I worried I had become a destination addict. Would these feelings of joy and contentment wear off once the newness of the place wore off.

But the other night, the right analogy hit me. LA and Hollywood were like shoes. At some point in my life I saw these gorgeous shoes and just knew they were for me. I wanted those shoes more than anything I’d ever wanted. I risked everything I knew, left family and friends behind, in order to get those shoes. Once I had them, they were even more amazing and I loved how I looked in them. I was never taking those shoes off!

Then I started to walk in those shoes. Sure, they pinched here and there. Sure they caused blisters. But they were gorgeous and I could take it. It was worth it to be wearing those shoes, because I believed there would be a payoff for the pain.

However, the longer I lived in those shoes, and realized there was no payoff, the harder it became to ignore the pain they were causing. There were more and more raw spots. There were blisters on blisters. Every step became excruciating and made me angry. Finally i wanted to take the shoes off but didn’t, because I was worried I had nothing else to wear. Now not only was I in terrible pain, but I began to resent those shoes I had once loved.

What to do in that situation? Stay and learn to love the shoes causing so much pain or take them off and find another pair that fit better. It seems quite obvious, and thankfully I chose option two. And oh, the blessed relief of taking off shoes that don’t fit after wearing them all day. (imagine 20 years of wear!) That freeing-of-the-tootsies relief is exactly how my move to Missouri has felt. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.

So I’ve found my peace with the memes, because sometimes if you are in an over-crowded, loud, hyper-competitive, stress-inducing environment, in a job that limits your future and your potential, and with equally stressed-out friends so scattered across a large city that you have to use a day planner to schedule “play dates,” maybe then it really is a new destination, a new job, and new relationships that will make you happy. Maybe all you really need is change.

Maybe you just need to find a pair of shoes that fit and not worry about internet memes.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Settling into Limbo

More business up front — The subscription plugin I was using stopped working. I have switched to another subscription service, however this means all previous subscriptions have been lost. Please re-subscribe if you so choose.

I have been in Missouri a little over a week now. I am settling in as best as I can when I am stuck in limbo. There have been further problems with the sale. It should have closed last Friday but instead, we are all scrambling madly to keep the deal in place. This means I am marooned without my “starting over cash.” I can’t rent a house. I can’t buy a car. I can just sit and watch as the money drains away into a hotel and rental car.

Despite not being able to touch, I can still look. This morning I paid the price of test drives — lengthy sales pitches. I made it clear that I had no money yet. One dealership respected that, and actually thanked me for being responsible. The other dealership pressed me to make a deal. The first dealership thoroughly explained my financing options and made me aware of better ones than I’d considered. The 2nd dealership glossed over the details and just tried to find a way to get me into a car. The unfortunate thing is that I liked the test drive at the 2nd dealership better than at the first dealership. However, there’s no doubt that I would adjust to either vehicle so the difference might not matter. As I was leaving dealership #1 I said that I would be test driving other cars to see which suited me best to make my decision. The finance guy replied, “And also judge who you want to buy a car from.” I had never considered that until today. It really is a factor to consider in the purchase. There is one more car that I’d like to test drive and then I will make my decision. Right now I’m leaning towards dealer #1. Let’s see if #3 can knock them off the pedestal.

My second week of work is also wrapping up. It was a bit overwhelming at first. I had not had a new job in 20 years. I had not been stretched in my work in 25 years. There was new computer software to learn. Lots of accounting methods to absorb. PR schemes to be created to bring in new clients. New faces and names to remember. Personalities to navigate. Regardless of that stress, the work environment is beautiful. When anyone comes to do the studio to do Pilates, yoga, tai chi, kettlebell, or massage, they are there because they chose to be there. It is a peaceful, happy, and relaxed place — a far, far cry from the frenetic, self-important atmosphere of the television industry. There are far fewer overblown egos to be soothed. The last 25 years are starting to feel a bit like a really warped dream spent in a sort of insane asylum. My Emmy is in a container somewhere traveling across the country, and hopefully not getting sucked into a tornado to be scattered across the prairie. It will be good to get it back in my hands so I have some physical proof that my time in LA was not a dream.

Speaking of tornados, we’ve had one tornado watch, which isn’t anything to get too worked up about. It’s the tornado warnings that cause concern. I easily fell asleep in the midst of the watch and we got little more than rain and some distant thunder. We had a better thunder and lightening show last night, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’m still reveling in the lush greenness of the place. Last weekend I puttered over to my friends house to sit and talk while she planted her garden. It was just lovely to sit in her lush, green backyard and watch the bunnies, woodpeckers, and cardinals. It was also really lovely to be able to just drive a few minutes to casually see a friend instead of planning a week in advance then spending a 1/2 hour to an hour on the road to visit said friend. Life under the jet trails is lovely, but don’t tell the snobby fly-overs.

It feels like I’ve been saying this for a month now, but hopefully by the end of the week I will have some solid news about the house sale. Until then, I continue settling into limbo. Eventually I hope to be able to move forward and stop bleeding cash.

And oh yes, giving Whole30 another go. My body made it clear that’s what it wants.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

I Yam What I Yam

As I had hoped in last week’s blog, there is positive news to report this week. Regardless of whether or not the sale falls apart in the last few days, I am leaving LA on Friday. My car has been sold. Reservations have been made. It’s so exciting I can barely stand it. There have also been sad goodbyes along the way. I just don’t understand why my friends don’t move wherever I move so we can keep hanging out. I mean really!

Whole30 came to a rapid close when my digestive tract decided to absolutely flip out. At the moment, eating anything but yogurt makes me nauseous and I have constant heartburn. Those are just the symptoms I’m willing to talk about. I lost 2 days to really miserable intestinal pain. I’m 50 so one of the first things I do when I get to my new home is find a doctor and get that fabulous colonoscopy scheduled.

But now the lazy, joy-following period is done. I’m glad I had it because recent weeks have allowed a lot of introspection and have been a revelation to me. As I have felt free to be myself, I have found joy again. When I first came to Hollywood I worried that it would change me. It did, but not in the way I expected. I was worried that I would become arrogant and entitled. Too big for my britches. Instead, I got too small for my britches. I became diminished. It didn’t happen quickly. Over the past… oh… 15 years, I have undergone a gradual transformation into someone I didn’t like much. Now that I’m out of that situation, I see so much more clearly. I look at that person and think, “Who was that?” I look at myself now, and think, “Hey, you’re pretty fun! Let’s go have an adventure”

So how did it happen?

The first 10 years of life in California were freeing. I grew up in rural South Dakota, a sensitive, liberal, creative person who just always felt out of place. In California, it felt like I’d finally found a place where I wasn’t different because everyone was different. First, I was freelancing, meeting new people and new celebrities every day, which was just thrilling. Then I was on a quirky late night talk show that nobody watched and so nobody paid much attention to our motley little group. I was the only woman on the crew, which meant I was often excluded, but on the good side, there was little pressure to be anything other than who I was. I fell into the traditional female role of the mother of the stage. I brought the baked goodies. I organized gifts and cards, and gathered funds for them. I had a role.

When hosts switched and our show became a little more mainstream, the staff and crew grew. As an introvert, I began to feel lost and constantly overlooked. Other people were more exciting and interesing… more shiny, as one friend says. My role disappeared and I wasn’t quite sure how I fit in with this younger, more hip Hollywood crowd. That’s when the gradual changes began. I started dressing differently. Got interested in the things everyone else was interested in. Quit talking about the things I was passionate about. Yes, it took until I was in my 40s but I finally succumbed to peer pressure. I began to be a warped version of myself. I was there, but not quite.

For the most part, my methods seemed to work. On the surface, I fit in. Superficially it all seemed fine, until one day I learned it really wasn’t. When others faced trouble, I’d seen the wagons circle, but for me they scattered. Feeling alone and vulnerable, I armored up. It was a painful period because I realized that I was tolerated more than included. Not only had I failed to be accepted, but now I was left with this person I didn’t like much. I slipped back into a familiar coping mechanism when faced with something I had to endure. I suited up with thick plate armor, looked neither left nor right, and marched down the field, warding off whatever blows came my way until I got to the other side. After one hiatus, wonderful periods where my true self would surface and gasp for air, I was talking on the phone with a friend and joked, “Yeah, hiatus is over, now I have to put on the armor of bitterness and anger.” We laughed, but it was actually heartbreaking.

Did I really need to have such strong protection? Of course not. It was just the method that had worked so well in the past. This time, having processed the entire episode as an adult, I am hoping to avoid going through the pattern again.

In fact, I am making myself a promise to help prevent it. From now on, I refuse to be anyone other than who I am. I’m going to like what I like, think what I think, do what I do, dress how I dress, and if those things agree with you? Great. Let’s hang out. If not, have a lovely life with people that are more your speed. If that means I end up alone, well at least I will have the company of someone I like.

I yam what I yam.

So now, the yam I yam is off to adventure. I’ll try to post from the road but we shall see.

The leap is about to commence….

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby 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.

 

 

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby 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.

 

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather