Journal: Thursday, June 22nd, 2017.

…I struggle to be alone, and I think maybe it’s because I grew up believing popularity and being surrounded by people all the time, meant…well it validated your existence. You were important, enough, valuable. But being valuable to others is not validation of who you are as a human being. And importance cannot be delineated by man because he is always a biased and partial judge. As for being enough. Well, enough for what? Enough to be loved. I am a divine creature, I am made in the image of THE CREATOR. The OG. Or OC, as it were. I am an original, from the original made wonderfully and fearfully (1. full of awe or reverence; 2. extreme in size/intensity). I am not able to lack, to be not enough. For love, or anything else.

#Embrace #Expand #Create

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The Adventures of Little Apricot…And Mr. Orange

What do you do when you’re suffering from a bit of writer’s block? Well, my friend and assistant decided to start a silly short story that we could write together, trading off after every paragraph. No editing allowed.

This is our unedited masterwork called: The Adventures of Apricot…And Mr. Orange (And also Josh, Cheryl, Old Lady, and mushy grape)

…and then the little apricot rolled off of the stack of little apricots and landed on the grocery store floor next to a semi-squashed orange. Once a neighbor above ground, they were now sticky companions literally thrust together by fate when a distracted, overweight, female shopper thoughtlessly knocked the little apricot from it’s arbitrary position of ‘king of the hill’…of apricots.

The orange, slightly mangled and clearly having given up hope of being saved lay silent and dejected on the cold linoleum. The apricot twisted and turned to swing his little face around to the orange and said, “Mr. Orange, how long have you been down here?” The orange replied, “Too long. I know it’s the end for me. The black sweeper is coming for sure.” Alarmed, the little apricot asked, “The black sweeper? What is that?” The orange grumbled back with a citrusy tear escaping his tiny pores, “The grocery store owners clean up crew. Once the black sweeper comes for you, it’s all over.” This account greatly troubled the little apricot and made him anxious to find a way off the floor.

as cart after cart clanked by the apricot watched closely. there were a few lame beasts in the herd. a wobbly wheel or a broken lower rack. the slowest though, by far, were the ones attached to pairs of over-padded, squat, orthopedic shoes. those! he thought, those are my best chance for escape! the orange took note of the apricots vigilance but did nothing to crush his hopes. for he too had once dreamed of being rescued. imagined himself being picked up by a slightly frazzled but pleasant faced shopper. ‘oh dear, i must have dropped one of my oranges!’ they would exclaim, not realizing that their bag already contained an even and exact count of six oranges. yes, lucky number seven! that’s what he’d be! …lucky, lucky number seven. but that was tuesday. and today was, most definitely, wednesday.

Suddenly, the orange was broken out of his sad remembrance of the time passed, by the little apricot’s tiny voice asking if he felt well enough to attempt an escape. They’d wait for a slower patron with spongy orthotic shoes to get just close enough that they could conceivably roll themselves onto the bottom rack. The orange, slightly invigorated by the apricot’s willingness to try, agreed to give it at least one shot. Hours went by as they waited for another gummy shoed patron. Soon a rush of customers came swarming through. The little apricot, fearful and trembling from the force of the stampede, tried his best to stay near the orange when out of nowhere an errant shoe nipped the poor little fruit sending him flying to the other side of the aisle.

the perfectly round apricot spun at a dizzying speed! once he reached his final destination he took a moment to collect himself (he had lost a bit of skin but found when he rolled back over it the skin stuck to him quite nicely!). he paused. high from the sugar rush the bruising of his flesh had caused he was determined not to let this minor hiccup deter him! after all, this was no longer just about himself, he had the orange to think of now! as he swelled with pride over his newfound sense of responsibility (and minor bruising) he heard a faint ‘excuse me’. he had been so preoccupied with his previous situation that he had failed to notice his PRESENT situation. apricot had landed in, what appeared to be, a small puddle of goo. upon further inspection, and stronger protests from the goo, he realized he was actually perched on a mostly squished green seedless grape! first the orange, now the grape! indeed! how many souls were lost down here?!!

Quickly the apricot rolled off this gooey grape friend and asked, “Did I hurt you?”
“Oh, no,” said the grape, “I found myself under a pair of nice shiny dress shoes nearly two days ago. Been waiting for the black sweeper ever since.”
The apricot, felt tears welling up in his eyes as he tried to convince the grape to join them. The grape simply shook his head and through soft wheezing breaths explained, “I don’t fear the black sweeper. It comes for all who find themselves at their lowest. But even as we are taken from what we’ve always known into the greater unknown, we are first lifted high in the sky. I am content to wait for that beautiful moment, however fleeting it may be.”
Our little apricot nodded at this lovely thought and tearfully bid the grape farewell. He could see Mr. Orange across the aisle, and hear him faintly calling for him. With one final glance over his shoulder, the apricot began his terrifying journey across the mammoth aisle back to his citrusy companion.

he didn’t get very far though for an object at rest tends to stay at rest and apricot was, most decidedly, an object at rest. weighing his options like a produce scale he heard a strange double squeak…then a thump…then a swish. far off in the distance but advancing…slowly. squeak, squeak, thump, swish…squeak, squeak, thump, swish…he was afraid to look. afraid to see what he already knew to be true. Their time was fleeting, their window closing. the black sweeper…approaching. luckily, but unbeknownst to our fruity friends, the black sweeper was manned by a pimply faced, underachieving, teen named Josh who liked to multitask. Josh found that you could, in fact, read an entire comic book in a single shift if you paced yourself and kept a keen eye out for the manager. Or even more menacing the ASSISTANT manager Cheryl! A power hungry, bean pole, 19 year old, fink who he was pretty sure had graduated from some kind of ninja academy! The fruit, however, possessing none of these facts shot each other a quick glance across the floor. neither was sure how but both knew they must act fast. the squeak, squeak, thump, swish their call to arms!

As the comic-book engrossed clerk crept ever closer, the apricot suddenly heard the squealing of a bedraggled wheel attached to a rather slow moving cart. Far off in the distance they could make out the white, squishy cloud-like outline of a shoe. The apricot giggled with joy at the sight and turned to the orange to share his delight, but when he did his eyes grew wide with surprise as the orange had disappeared! Had the black sweeper gotten his friend? Was he next? The apricot squirmed with all his might to look about, when above his head he heard the shrill voice of the assistant manager and resident ninja, Cheryl. “Josh! How many times have I told you it is totally unprofessional to be reading these children’s books while you work! I mean, look! You’re missing opportunities to make Carlo’s Grocery and Pharmacy the greatest, cleanest, bestest it can be!” With that she thrusted the piece of fruit she had been holding in her hand into Josh’s chest and walked off. Josh raised a very dismayed sigh as he rolled his comic book up with his right hand and placed it in his black apron pocket. The apricot watched intently, nervously as Josh pulled the piece of fruit from his chest and examined it. It was none other than Mr. Orange! The frustrated teen quickly glanced over the bedraggled fruit and in an act of protest placed it on the very top of the orange pile, scuffs, slits, oozes and all. “Now who’s the bestest, Cheryl?” The apricot, swelled with utter joy as he watched his friend be lifted back to his former glory and away from what was sure to be the end of him. Oh, how the tables had turned!
Then the teen, turning back around in a huff, clumsily knocked into the squeaky-wheeled cart of the older patron stopping her just inches before she would run over our little apricot friend.

The old lady lost her grip on the cart and it careened toward the display (carefully built to resemble a stack of old wooden crates) under which the apricot sat. it shifted slightly before catching in the goo that once was green grape. apricot though he heard a whispered ‘thy will be done’ before the leg of the display lost it’s secure grip on the floor and gave apricot a good hard bump. apricot once again found himself spinning helplessly out of control! and then, as abruptly as it had started, apricot’s wild ride came to an end. he had come to a soft landing against something bright, and white, and leathery. the fear that he might finally have come to meet his maker, that great white peach in the sky, flashed through his mind but was quickly replaced by a new sensation. that of five pudgy sausages wrapping themselves around him in a warm embrace! ‘honey, i think you forgot to grab this one here!’ the old lady exclaimed triumphantly lifting apricot to the sky. ‘no ma’am, you already have an even six here in your cart’ explained an exasperated cheryl. if she had known that being named assistant manager meant (literally) cleaning up other people’s messes she never would have taken the job! (even if it DID come with a sweet dollar an hour pay bump and free unlabeled dented cans on thursdays!)
‘then this one makes lucky number seven’ said the old lady matter of factly. ‘but i expect a discount! this one’s awfully beat up!!’ ‘yes ma’am’ sighed Cheryl, knowing the price of that seventh apricot would now come out of her pay. with all items now restored to old lady’s cart Cheryl walked her to the checkout, careful to avoid any more mishaps. Josh, now safe for a few minutes, returned to his comic book. and orange relished his moment of absolute perfection born of chaos.

The end.

Journal Entry Series: (Validation)

Date: est. May 2014

VALIDATION

I am not my job

I am not my possessions

I am not validated by the love of a man, or anyone else

 

I have merit as a human being

I am worthy of this life because I work to be, because I am

 

I am my effort

I am my integrity

I am my passion

    My honesty

    My love

    My compassion

    My faults and failures

They do not discredit me

In fact, they serve only to further prove me

My existence

 

I am here

Not by chance

Not even by choice

But for divine purpose

 

And my lot will be filled

    My goals reached

      My ideas heard

        My heart tended

          My love so freely given

And it is so because…

I am

 

BDD & Me

BIG. Too big. “I’m a big human.” That’s what I like to say about myself. I take up a lot of space. I’m tall, muscular, stocky even. barrel-chested and big boned. Sturdy bones that have never broken despite many falls. *Knocks on wood* I’m not petite, cute, miniature, slim, slender, girlish, waif-like, model-proportioned, thin.

And yet, I am thin. Logically, factually, I’m pretty thin. For my body type and height my BMI is actually exactly in the middle of the healthy zone. And for most of my life my BMI had rested just inside the healthy zone, almost touching underweight. But that’s not how I feel. When I feel myself in relation to others, I almost always feel bigger. Bigger arms, bigger breasts, bigger legs, taller, thicker. I feel like I have a responsibility to protect because of my size, like the “Big Mama” of all my friends. I hate being lifted in dance or in hugs by friends. I’m self-conscious that if someone picks me up they’ll realize how large I really am. And when I go out on dates, I often feel uncomfortable because I feel bigger and burlier than the man sitting across from me. (Even if the guy’s an actual lumberjack)

When I was younger I used to dream about looking the way I do now and yet when I’m not looking in the mirror I don’t feel any different than my desperately self-conscious twelve-year old self; constantly sucking in my stomach, trying to hike my pants up over my belly-button (at a time when high-waisted was not a thing), and also sitting up straight and tall to lengthen out my “flaws.” Never wearing a bathing suit, buying clothes three times my size, living in sweatshirts, and when I got hot, suffering through the heat by keeping the heavy sweatshirt wrapped around my natural waist.

I remember, for my fifteenth birthday I had a Disney Princess themed party and I instructed all my friends to dress as a specific princess. I picked out a stunning Jasmine costume from a theatre costume store, robin’s egg blue, and trimmed with golden sparkles. Unfortunately, neither the pants nor the shirt covered my soft stomach and no amount of sucking in made midriff-baring a possibility in my mind. We rented the costume but on the day of the party I sobbed for over an hour about how disgusting I was. About how my “friends” would certainly mock and hate me because I wasn’t skinny and perfect. In the end, I wore a white cami under the crop top and stood with an arm protectively guarding my “disgusting” midsection all night.

But today I had a day where I looked at my body in the mirror, I looked at the body I had grown into and I saw imperfections, yes, but mostly I saw the body I had always envied. The confident body I had pined for, and dreamed about. I looked in the mirror and saw that I was the kind of woman I had always hoped to grow up to be. Not just in looks but in mind, heart, and accomplishments. I had a real moment of appreciation for myself. These moments seem to happen with greater frequency as the years progress. The unfortunate thing is that no matter how much I grow to love and accept my body and my self, I never can seem to kick the feeling when I’m not looking in the mirror that I’m big. Bigger than nearly everyone else. In the top 80th percentile of big humans both tall and around. In my mind I’m still broad, cumbersome, and ungraceful. Unladylike. And then I bound up a long flight of subway steps two at a time in just a few seconds and without my breath catching, and a piece of that old and broken identity gets chipped away. Or, my trainer comments on how lean I’m looking that day, or my friends casually call me thin like it’s a real fact not a feigned compliment, or a guy I’ve gone out on a date with calls me cute.

For so long I have crafted an identity of being big and that big is bad, that there are still times I look in the mirror and see a very big, very unhealthy, and very humiliating version of myself. The version my peers created and I’ve kept alive in my mind for nearly two decades. One minute I look and I see me, the real me. The muscular but thin, slender, graceful me that bounds up steps, wears crop tops without fear, and even gets called cute occasionally. And then one glance more and I too easily morph right back into my very insecure and very soft younger me, who tears up at the sight of herself. Just that quickly my perspective changes and it feels wholly out of my control.

I wonder how much of my body issues and my own self-shame are caused by external sources; toxic re-renderings of women in media, the dissatisfaction quota, the unhealthy focus on women’s outward traits as their only source of worth or power, or the well-known belief that women who are confident and actively demand respect for themselves and their bodies will be known as every manner of “bitch.” And then I wonder what part of it all lies in my upbringing; my inability to feel secure, safe, loved because of my strained relationship with my father or feeling wholly inadequate because I was a girl and not a boy. And what part of it lies in my psychoses; continuing negative storylines and condemning myself out of comfort for feelings of pain and being my absolute harshest critic out of fear of becoming a self-centered, egotistical, narcissist.

Whatever the plethora of reasons may be that I still see versions of me that don’t exist, and that I struggle to love versions of me that were completely worth loving in the first place, I know that this cannot continue. I cannot continue to repeat to myself the rhetoric that a bully-worn, insecure little girl made up about her appearance. I cannot continue to allow the narrow view the media has of beauty to limit my love for myself and my body. I’ve grown awfully fond of what makes me different. It is those very things that make me successful, interesting, and beautiful. And I believe that is the same for every human and creature on this planet. Diversity is the spice of life, and I choose not to subscribe to the idea that trying to smooth out every difference or “flaw” I have should be my main goal. 

But even with this resolution to embrace my body and love it for its perceived flaws, I want to take note of how long I’ve struggled with the remnants of what I truly believe was/is Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Don’t let the officialness of a “disorder” fool you, this is something I believe is bred wholesale into American culture especially for young girls and especially for young brown girls. I used to be obsessed with hiding my imperfections, I would put a hand over my mouth to cover my teeth when I smiled, a hand over my stomach to cover my fat when I sat, and I avoided pool parties at all costs. I spent night after night sobbing to myself, staring in the mirror. Knowing I’d never be acceptable looking. And my thoughts were always seemingly preoccupied with what people thought I looked like while doing any activity. For nearly 25 years I have struggled to kick these ideas and though I feel much more confident than I ever have, I still have those strange moments when I look in the mirror and see someone else completely.

So, how much do you think about your appearance? How much do you hate it? What do you think caused you to hate it? How many others do you think feel the exact same way about their appearance? And how reasonable do you think those perceptions truly are? Thoughts?

Tell Me What I Look Like…

 

HeadshotCompliment

Above is a very lovely tweet about me coupled with a picture. A headshot. Taken almost 4 years ago at the ripe age of 22. It was a retake actually. My first shots didn’t come out the way I hoped. They didn’t show the real me, whoever that was. Instead of feeling confident and ready to take on the NYC audition circuit, I found myself embarrassed and staring at a face slathered with makeup that was two shades too wrong and in poses that were “fun” but none too flattering. My hopeful heart was shattered to pieces when these photos didn’t come out as expected. I had taken out a loan to pay for them and traveled to the city from Ohio on my birthday to get them. And yet, there I was: Ugly.

When I returned for the retakes, I brought my own makeup and applied a minimal amount myself. Beforehand, I had spent many hours posing in the mirror trying to figure out how to make my body and face look appealing, calm, confident. Which, for my hypercritical eye and hypersensitive self-esteem, was quite the task. And this photo happened to be one of several my director chose from that shoot. I, however, did not choose it.

That’s not to say I didn’t like the shot. I did like it because I had a genuine smile on my face. But that was also precisely why I hated it. Consequently, it’s also why many people like this guy hated it too.

ShrekDonkeyTeeth

I consume, what most of my fellow actor’s say, is an ungodly amount of chatter about myself. I scan message boards, I search out the Tumblrs, and I read nearly every comment thrown my way via reviews, twitter, and even occasionally some podcasts. At first glance, that may seem awfully narcissistic. But if you searched the same media I did, you would quickly realize how unashamedly people not only criticize my work, but pick apart every last detail of anything I’ve ever “said” or “done,” and most especially what I “look” like. If you read what I read so consistently, you might actually start to think I’m a lunatic. How could anyone possibly keep a level head and any semblance of self-esteem when thousands upon thousands of people are very cruelly picking them to pieces, many times just for the fun of it?

GirlsGirls1                  GirlsGirls2

At first, it was just curiosity. Did the public, that vast gray mass which has become increasingly more aware of my presence over the years, value my work? Did they like me? Many times yes, many times no. It felt, however, in my negatively conditioned brain like a constant no. I’ll be honest; I spent a night or two (or three) with tears streaming down my face, as I got deeper and deeper into the Google hole. Then, I was pointed in the direction of an eye-opening Ink Talk by Josh Radnor. In this talk, he discusses the pitfalls and responsibilities of fame. He also tells a story about a spiritual teacher who forced himself to endure biting criticism and outright hatred at the hands of a peer who greatly disliked him. Every week at an appointed time, the teacher would go over to his peer’s house and stand quietly as the man berated him until the man was too weak to do so any longer. Then the teacher would leave without a word. For many years this became habitual until one day the teacher didn’t go anymore. When his students asked him why he told them that when last he was harangued, he felt nothing.

Now imagine being barraged with that kind of abuse from hundreds upon thousands of nameless faces any and every day of the week. Of course, you’re probably saying, “Well, just don’t read the trash.” And I believe most actors, in an attempt to maintain a shred of sanity in this otherwise maddening business, do just that. They either don’t participate in social media, or have others do it for them, and do the best they can to put up barriers that keep them away from the biggest tabloids, etc. Which, in this day and age of media over-saturation where every available space is filled with mind-numbing advertisements and “news”, is a pretty difficult feat. But the story of the teacher struck a chord with me. I’ve spent a great deal of my life desperately seeking other’s opinions of me in pursuit of a well-rounded and realistic picture of myself. I remember having this argument many times with those who cautioned me that my quest for “knowledge” about myself from without would prove painful. They were right; it has been extremely painful and limiting. With each blow, no matter the size, I felt a piece of who I might have been, of my greatest potential, being destroyed. And I allowed it. Perhaps it was/is to toughen myself up and free myself from the bonds of outside approval like the teacher. Perhaps it’s to keep my head from bursting at the seams from the success with which I have been so graciously bestowed. Perhaps I am just a glutton for pain.

A few weeks back I went to HVFF Chicago and had an absolute blast. I was sick, and tired, and jet lagged, but getting to discuss the show and the comics with real fans was so refreshing and fun. One of the most interesting events at this convention was the panel. The final question came from a lovely young woman who explained she was turning 18 that day and therefore wanted to know what advice each of us on the panel would give to someone her age. I thought back to how revolutionary a time that was for me. Graduating high school, working in my first professional show, and prepping for college over 300 miles away from where I’d lived my entire life. But what stood out most to me was how people’s opinions of me changed so drastically over the 2 or 3 months between ending high school and beginning college. In high school I was constantly picked on, teased, and made to feel fat, ugly, and worthless. I hated every inch of myself (especially my teeth) and I was constantly uncomfortable in my own skin. Many times inching dangerously close to destroying myself completely.

Then I began receiving new opinions from my peers in college and each was, miraculously and for no apparent reason (since I hadn’t changed much), about how beautiful, interesting, and talented I was. I was shocked, to say the least, and couldn’t reconcile the incongruence. Either everyone in high school was a liar or everyone in college was, and since high school abuse came first I was inclined to believe it over the latter’s fresher praise. It didn’t dawn on me until much later that both sets of opinions were true…and false, because opinions are always true and always false. They aren’t incontrovertible facts because their truth and/or validity can’t be proved or disproved. However, the conclusion I reached when speaking to this young woman was that everyone’s opinions about me (or her) simply Didn’t. Fucking. Matter. That’s not to say that opinions don’t have weight. They do. But that does not mean that every opinion has to have the same weight in your life or in your decisions about who you are. Especially when the people giving the opinions have no connection to you beyond a screen and a twitter handle.

Which brings me to my friend, Wentworth Miller, and his incredibly inspiring open letter to a site that had created a fat shaming meme with two pictures comparing his body size. In his letter he speaks very candidly about struggling with mental health and how this kind of abusive behavior towards anyone can be hurtful and dangerous. He also talked about his choice to take back the power to assign meaning to the picture and to this incident how he saw fit. That, is precisely the kind of power I’d like to start allowing for myself.

So what’s the great lesson here? Well, for one, there’s always more to a person’s story. Whether you think they’ve got it all or not, they’re still human and they still hurt. Secondly, opinions are not facts. They only matter as much as you let them and my sincerest hope is that you (and I) will start to reclaim that power, that right, to assign validity.

But the greater question is this: Why have we created and why do we continue to foster a culture of mistreatment and abuse? Whether it be online, at school, at work, or at play. And why does it take an actor, celebrity, anybody really to come out detailing their pain or to, God forbid, commit suicide for there to be any semblance of remorse from the offending parties? And when people don’t feel the confidence or power to speak up, how quickly do we let them drown in an overwhelming sea of abuse? We’ve seen it time and time again, from school kids to celebrities and everywhere in-between. Am I really to believe we’re all completely unaware that our mean-spirited attacks are doing real damage until someone, usually with influence, spells it out to our faces?

Look, I’m no fool. I know it won’t all go away. There’s still pain in this world that needs releasing and sometimes the best way people know how is to aim it at someone else. But I wonder if a world laden with pain/boredom/insecurity and a populace irresponsibly throwing that pain/boredom/insecurity wherever it will stick is the kind of world YOU want to live in. Thoughts?

Today…

Today….I found myself on my way to the market to attempt to fill my fridge and cupboards with something more than rice cakes, champagne, and ghee. My main pursuit was kombucha, my most beloved drink for promoting gastric health. If purchased in groups of twelve they’re discounted as if sold by the case. I bought twenty-four. (Please save your judgment, I really, really like kombucha.)

I took them out to my car and began packing them in my reusable grocery bags in my trunk. (I care about the environment.) As I packed, I could feel several cars behind me waiting to claim my coveted corner spot in a parking lot that doesn’t hold more than twenty cars. The thought crossed my mind that I ought to feel guilty for taking up so much time, but the fact was I didn’t have a choice. So I continued packing at a clip. In my haste I dropped one of the bottles and watched it sputter around a bit on the ground, seemingly unharmed. I stooped to pick it up and my rump was met with a loud honk. Confused, I turned around to see a very flustered woman in her shiny black SUV waving her arms in that sort of exasperated way that is meant to show me that my sloth-like swiftness just isn’t cutting it. And furthermore, how dare I pack my health-food drink into my environment-saving recyclable bags!

So, I slowly packed the rest of the bottles and slowly took my cart back to its stall. She honked again as I strode by, smiling and staring pointedly back at her. My smile was not friendly, it was smug. And I slowly and smugly found my way back to my car and slowly backed up while rolling down my window to smugly yell, “Have a nice day!” Before quickly rolling up my window before she could respond. (Thank God for automatic windows)

And as I drove off I patted myself on the back for…for what? Did it make me feel better? Nominally. Did it make her feel better? That was not my intention. Did I improve the situation? Certainly not. So then why was that my choice? Because I’m human? Well, so is she. This stranger who, for all I know, could’ve been having the worst day of her life chose to act in anger towards me. And though I find myself quite justified in feeling harassed and annoyed by her actions towards my attempts to save the environment, my choice to respond negatively only begot more negativity. Just like her.

Many times I find myself romanticizing my Libra qualities, such as an undying need for justice and equality, as a catchall and excuse for many of my actions. At least, all the ones in which I view myself as “right.” But therein lies the problem, am I seeking to be right? Or am I seeking to bring justice? Equality. A level playing field, where I can see and be seen. Bestowing justice is a heavy burden and resides in a much greyer area than I, or most people, would like to accept. Moreover, it certainly does not reside solely in my perspective. But my perspective is often the only one I have. I could come up with any number of reasons why this woman felt the need to be rude including her being unhappy, worried, frustrated, woke up on the wrong side of the bed, or she’s just simply being a bitch. Do those reasons invalidate her or me? And would allowing her a bit of grace and understanding have taken away my “rightness?” Would it have made me feel better or worse?

I sit here pondering this, on set, in the wake of several accidents happening to me nearly one right after the other. I burned my left eye, slipped down steps and bruised my backside and then a flat, leaning the opposite direction away from me, fell (unprovoked) all the way over to the other side and nearly smashed me on my head. If I hadn’t caught it, it would have. I don’t know about you, but somehow that group of happenings one right after the other doesn’t quite feel like an accident. It feels like a sign.

This week I struggled to work productively, and spent a massive amount of my time complaining (or in my head, explaining) why some negative actions and less-than-ideal circumstances were toxic to the entire work environment. And though many people agreed, and though I may have been logical and well-spoken, and though I may be absolutely and completely right, all I really did by bemoaning our circumstances was create more negative energy, and this time (right or wrong) it came back to me directly. And it took nearly getting my head bashed in to realize it.

So what’s the answer? How do I, though I may feel quite justified in my complaints, find different language, different energy, or a different mindset so that I can help foster a positive, productive, and safe environment? Well whichever course of action I choose, the biggest takeaway for me, is that I am responsible for the energy I allow in and the energy I put out, whether I’m right or wrong. And whether I’m right or wrong, that energy will undoubtedly affect others and eventually circle back around to me. So even if you lack a strong sense of altruism, the desire to protect oneself should be all the impetus you need to start turning your justified negativity into something more positive, more productive, and ultimately safer. Thoughts?

#100HappyNewYears

January 4th, 2016

So I never properly ended my #100HappyDays. A photo-a-day challenge that’s supposed to promote happiness by requiring you to find something each and every day that inspires you, excites you, makes you laugh, or something you’re grateful for and sharing that with others. I had intended to finish on the 31st, but the unavoidable shuffling and bursting into the new year helped the day escape me. Which leads me to today. Today is my #Day100.

I had my first day back in Vancouver, back at work, back with my cast & crew. Rejuvenated over our break as I was by my ability in the last two weeks to have more rest and freedom than I had had for the last few months, I soon found myself itching (as I almost always am) to get back to work…in Vancouver. A strange contrast from my constant longing to be in my beautiful, complex, friend-filled, and opportunity-laden city. This realization shocked me. How could I now be longing to leave the one place I had been pining for these last few months? I wasn’t necessarily displeased with my city, though this time it did present itself differently. Like an old friend and teacher, we fell in step with each other with no undue joy or pressure. We simply were with one another, as it was meant to be. And yet our chats left me tired, beleaguered, and confused. I had wanted to run into its arms and be comforted knowing full well it never offered me that mercy. Instead, I had to keep pace with it and at times even bow to it. It never really let me rest. It pushed me forward until I was forced to stumble into myself and my constant childish groanings for something else.

Which brings me to today. I now find myself at a new crossing, where my life feels pulled in different and wondrous directions. Confusing directions. I feel as if I’ve opened my eyes in muddy pond waters and I’m squinting to make out where the fish are…or at the very least the location of the rocks. And, oddly enough, I heard my current sentiments reiterated by many of my dearest friends back home. That their lives were beginning to unfold in ways they hadn’t seen before and at the same time they were watching their lives, ideals, priorities diverge from those they had so long strode a path. But as challenging and heartbreaking as that thought could have been, I watched them all say it with acceptance and a fortitude by which my fear-tinged heart was naturally buoyed. And therein seemed to lie the secret. Perhaps to happiness or just perhaps to moving forward.

Life is always shifting. Who you love and who loves you. Where you live, what you like and what you dislike. Your dreams, your goals, your personality, your clothes. Your body, your health, and the world that surrounds you. And though all of this will most certainly change, and though it could all hurt tremendously when it does, it could also be absolutely OK. Joyful even. And perhaps all our kicking and screaming and wishing life would be something else doesn’t really help. In fact, I’m more certain now than ever that it doesn’t. This isn’t to say don’t fight for what you want or believe. Or even to simply accept what is without a plan for moving forward. But perhaps, not to hang so much of your emotions, your identity, your well-being on what is now because the immutable truth is that it will all change. It must.

So I sit here pondering the words of Pema Chodron who first told me that the truest cause of misery is our desire to keep the same what must continue to be different. How do we free ourselves to choose happiness no matter the circumstance? How do we allow ourselves to truly understand that change is inevitable and forward motion is the most powerful and human thing we get to be swept up in? These are questions I cannot presently answer, but I now know what the questions are. And I think that’s a pretty good start…for a new years resolution, perhaps. If I ever thought I could fight the statistics of failed new years resolutions I know most fervently my active search for these answers would be mine. But since I don’t wish to put myself in a pool of bloodied abstracts, I think I’ll set these questions as an intention. For life. In its entirety. It’s bigger, clearer, more important this way. At least for me.

So, what do you think?