Therapy Session: Life Changes

Therapy Session: Life ChangesZuma Beach 2017

Carmen: Honestly, I don’t know what’s wrong. Everything. Nothing. On the one hand, I know I have nothing to be complaining about. On the other, all I want to do is scream. It’s all just jibberish. Never mind.

Dr. Mei: How about if you stop over-analyzing what you’re going to say, and just say it?  Let me hear it and I’ll tell you if I think it’s jibberish or not. Deal?

Carmen: Okay.  Deal.  Uhm. Well, simply last week I was sure I’d be pitching my TV drama idea based on my book but I didn’t finish it. You know, detailing out all the characters and such. I wanted to be so organized, so ready and I’m not. Then, I got it in my head that I should pitch an idea I had on cultural criticism to a magazine that’s looking for new writers and so I started working on that.  I’ve outlined my second book – and started writing another chapter — I saw an audition online and wondered if I should submit – then I thought I should contact my agent to start sending me out or get a new agent because –  what the fudge, right? They haven’t sent me out at all. It’s annoying. Uggh.  I applied for a grant a while back and decided to follow through on the play part of the proposal. Plus it’s still something I want to do.  I “owe” two podcasts – based on my self-imposed schedule – I mean, what is wrong with me? Why do I think I can do all of this? And why can’t I do all of this?  Why am I feeling overwhelmed when this is everything I’ve been asking to do all along?

Dr. Mei:  First, take a breath. A deep breath.  Good.  Now, it seems like a lot, but why do you think you’re not doing it?

Carmen:  Well, if I’m being honest, I realize for the first time in my life I’m living my dream. For all these years I’ve worked a job I hated – yeah, I’ll say hated, without hesitation.  Even more than the work itself,  I hated the people I worked for.  I mean, now that I can look back, most of the people I handled money for were bitter, old-minded, entitled privileged lazy people. Ungrateful. And constantly complaining about how hard their life was and the worst:  they always “announced” how much they did for everyone else – which for the record, was write a check. Write a check from money they never had to earn by the way.  Anyone can write a check if they have money.  But it takes a real kind of person to take credit for doing bullshit.  I think I hated that the most. The god-damn boasting about how much money they gave to such and such… But I digress. I ultimately hated the work itself.

So, here I am, now, getting up every day working as a creative entity. I wrote my book, I’m doing some speaking events, I’m writing — exploring every day what it feels like to be a writer.  I can’t lie, it’s taken me some time to get into the groove of things. I mean, when I rehearsed as a kid, as a dancer, I was on schedule.  And, it’s taken me some time to FEEL like this is right, but I can’t lie. I’m scared.  I just am!

I fear I’m going to do all this work and nothing will come of it.  I mean, that’s not why you’re supposed to do ART in the first place, right? You’re supposed to create ART authentically because you can’t do anything else. But what if I share all of this, what if I pitch this or that or write a second book and no one cares?  What if I put so much into all of it and I get rejected, dismissed – or worse, what if I hear nothing at all?  What if I do all this and I still can’t pay the bills? What am I thinking?

I really can look at my entire life and see it that way. Nothing I’ve wanted has ever come to fruition. I’ve failed at everything I ever wanted even if I succeeded at everything else.  My entire life up until this point has always been to do the right thing. To be the good girl. To never be a bother.  And even still – with all of my effort of always being of service to others, of always being honest and kind…why haven’t I succeeded in all the things I’ve wanted?  Why try this? I’m just setting myself up for more heartache, right?  And which one of these things should I be pursuing?  What is wrong with me that I think I should be doing 5 things at a time?  And have I lost my mind? Do I think money grows on trees somewhere?

Dr. Mei:  Well, two things come to mind that I’d like to share.  Maybe three. First, take a breath.  I’m not saying that because it’s what I tell everyone – I’m saying that because I don’t think you notice how you hold your breath and tense up when you speak.  Your passion, your concern are formidable, but that stress is mounting and I can SEE it in you.  So first, take a nice long deep breath.

Second. I love how you said you’ve “failed”.  You realize you’re not done, yet, right?  You get that it’s not over yet.  As I know you, as I’ve read in your book, you haven’t failed at anything that was put in your path.  Most people see you as a success.  But you feel like you’ve failed at the things you want in life. I get that. But you’re wrong.  The problem isn’t that you failed Carmen. The problem is that you haven’t even started yet. 

You feel like a failure because you’ve been pursuing other people’s needs and joys.  You’ve never followed your true North.  You moved to Los Angeles and took a job doing bookkeeping because you knew it’d be better money than being a waiter, plus you’d never last waiting on people.  But it was the plan till you could get yourself stabilized to pursue your creative career.  Things continued on from there and the jobs got more important and impressive – and they got even more miserable with every day that went on.  My goodness, you wrote a book in the midst of so much misery in the job you had while working through past pain of your childhood!  That’s pretty remarkable. I can’t wait to read the second book for that reason alone!

Third, and maybe most importantly, you’re here now.  THIS was your path to get here.  You needed to travel that road to get to THIS point.  None of it was a waste of time – and none of it was really in your control.  This is LIFE happening.  You can only do what you know how to do when you actually KNOW how to do it.  You couldn’t be anything else other than who you were then, to be who you are NOW. This is the journey you’re on.  And so far, it’s been pretty interesting to say the least. Aren’t you excited to see what’s next? I am. I can’t wait to see what you do from here.

Let’s talk about rejection.  Or my other favorite quip you said, “…or worse, hear nothing at all.”  Whatever it is, fear of being rejected, to make a mistake, to let people down, to not make enough money to make a living, whatever.  Rejection is hard.  Doesn’t matter how many times you’ve gone through it, doesn’t matter how used to it you think you are – rejection is difficult.  Got it?

By the way, welcome to the club.

Yes. It’s a club.  We’ve all been there at least once in our lives.  You’re at a crossroad and instead of choosing which path to take, you’re standing at the head of all the choices in front of you hoping someone will you push you down the “right” path.

Look, everyone wishes Steven Spielberg will run into them at the local coffee shop and be so stunned by their mere presence that he asks you to his office because you’re his next lead in his upcoming movie.  People dream of Oprah calling them on the phone and saying, I read your book and you’re one of my favorite things… yes, we all want that. Someone to validate us, someone to walk us through.  It would be easier…

I’m not Steven Spielberg, but let me help shove you down a path anyways.  Write the TV Script, do the pitch, write the second book, do the acting, the podcast, the blog, do the magazine cover – DO ALL OF IT!  Do the speaking events, teach, write, dance – all of it IS WHO YOU ARE.  It’s who you’ve always been even while doing everything else.  That’s what’s so impressive.  IT’S YOUR TRUE NORTH Carmen.  You’re a story-teller, a performer.  Do you need evidence? Okay – here’s some off the top of my head:  Steve Cadwell said, “You write like Hemingway: every word true to the bare bone fact of how you experienced it. Compelling!”  That was October 21st, 2018.  Right?  You sent me the email because you were so happy.

Need more? I can rattle off the names, the people – some you know, some you don’t who have already told you about your writing.  But just looking at your face I can sense your disbelief.

Tell me what you’re thinking right now.

Carmen: I’m thinking they’re all just being nice. Overly generous.

Dr. Mei: Okay. Let’s go with that. Let’s pretend that all the accolades thus far have been people “just being nice” to you.  For the record, that’s a complete untruth, but let’s just go with it.  So what?  Then just do it because it’s what’s next.  Do it because you have no reason NOT too. Do it because you’ve been given numerous “signs” that you should.  Do it because NOT doing it guarantees failure and regret. Do it because it makes you happy. Do it because I’m telling you, this is so much closer to your true North than anything else you’ve done in the past 20 years. Do it because even when you talk about the struggle of it, you still sound lighter and happier than any time you’ve talked about any other work you’ve ever done.  Do it because the worst possible thing that can happen is that you took the shot, it didn’t work out and you go about and do something else.  I don’t see how that’s a bad thing.

Carmen:  Yeah. I know. Everything you said, is true. I know all of this. The weird part is, I’m excited. I’m excited about all of it.  And it’s mixed with a tinge of fear. But when I think of going back to my old life – the only word I can come up with is dread.  Absolute dread.

Dr. Mei: You’ve already leaped Carmen. You’re in the air right now –in the midst of it all.  Don’t worry about how you’ll land.  Stop looking to land just yet.  For now, keep doing the work. Keep flying high on the joy it brings you. No matter how you land, you’ll be fine.  My guess is, you’ll be better than fine.

Carmen:  You know what’s so funny and sad at the same time? I went and saw the new Avengers movie and there’s a line in it that made me wince – I just couldn’t believe I had just heard this. I promise, no spoilers. Have you seen it yet?  It doesn’t matter.  This line gives away nothing to the movie. But the character says something like: “Everyone fails at who they’re supposed to be. A measure of a person is how well they succeed at being who they are.”

What I really thought in that moment:  I’ve gone mad crazy. I’m so ridiculous I’m even getting “signs” from action movies. Don’t get me wrong, I love movies, it’s just…crazy, right?

Dr. Mei: Well, that’s one way to look at it. Or, the way I see it – the universe is trying to push you down a path in every way possible.  And if not the universe, then you’re inner-self for sure. You’re seeing what you need to see.  You’re hearing what you need to hear.  Whether you choose to listen is another thing. It’s like that clip you like in the show the West Wing. The episode is Take This Sabbeth Day, remember?  It may be a bit too religious for this moment, but it’s on point. Choose to take all the signs your getting – the most important sign is that YOU want to do all of this. If you had all the money in the world, THIS is who you’d be, right?  Failure wouldn’t be such a big deal then. It’d be just a bump in the road to still doing what you want to do.  And seriously, when have you EVER allowed money to be the reason you chose to do anything at all?  To define you?  To stop you from doing what you want to do?  Don’t start now.  This is the best part!  Enjoy the ride. It’s just getting started.

Carmen:  Yeah!  You’re right. Oh my goodness. Yes!

Dr. Mei: Till next time, then?

Carmen: Yes!  Thank you so much.

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West Wing Clip: Take this Sabbath

Definition of Success: A Different Vision

As always, enjoy the PodCast or the transcribed version below.

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I heard a motivational speaker on someone’s news feed this morning. They were talking about how – if you want to have success –  you have to leap.  You have to get rid of all this fear and just leap.

I was so frustrated.  I was so annoyed by it.  I immediately started writing.  Why is this bothering me so much?  Clearly understand what he’s trying to say and it’s not that I completely disagree —  I just have a different vision.

I also think it’s this weird concept that the only way you can find your true North or you can find “success” as he put it – is by somehow risking and possibly having loss.  To me, there’s something so negative about that.

I think it also comes from a place of experience for me. More times than not in my life I have leaped and many times I have landed on my feet and felt success, but many times I have to say I have leaped, and I have fallen (and I have fallen hard) and gotten hurt.  So, I’m not sure that’s the answer to success.

It’s probably good to define what success means though. So, clearly I think what he’s talking about is financial success.  I’m not talking about financial success – however, I think financial success and any kind of abundance in our life is all kind of the same thing.

I don’t put that much value in material goods but we do have basic needs. We also need to take care of our families and we also like to have the things we like to have — we all have a standard of life we wish to have.  So I’m not against financial success.  But I think when you pursue financial success as your only goal, you’re cheating yourself.

I say this because my experience working with so many ultra wealthy people and knowing so many (I guess) ultra poor people — the one thing I know for sure is that money does not make you happy.  And I know that’s a cliché, but that’s a true one.

If anything, I think wealthier people seem to be more miserable – because they had this idea that money would be able to solve all their woes.  But I know that being poor is also not any better.  So that’s all about financial and material-esque ideas.

I actually think the real purpose of success in life:  is learning how to walk through any situation you’re in.  I don’t think the point of life is to have as much material wealth as possible or to have as much stuff as possible – I actually believe that you can have all those things but what’s more important, is learning how to get through certain parts of our life and come out on the other side.

The first part of this is to think of life as a path – a journey. Again another visual cliché, but this is how I have always envisioned my life.  Walking along this pathway you’re going to encounter good times and bad times. And you’re going to encounter things that work and things that don’t work – and how you choose to go through those events in “our lives” is the ultimate meaning of success for me.

So yeah, I’m feeling a little down today but the way in which I choose to walk through it is: Do I dig the hole deeper? Or do I find a way to climb out of it and walk on through to the other side?  I always choose to climb out of it as quickly as possible.  And the more that you learn to deal with difficult things in your life in this manner the easier it is to get through things.

I also think we don’t put enough value in happy moments, in good times.  I think a lot of us have an expectation that life is always supposed to be good and in bliss — but that’s not true, and that’s the confusion with material wealth.  We think that people are always happy because they have everything they’ve ever wanted.  But actually, life isn’t about being continuously joyful and continuously happy.  If it was, you’d be in a mental institution – because no one can be continuously happy.  And the only way to really understand true happiness and true joy is to understand sadness and bad times.

So life to me is kind of this equilibrium where we experience all of these things. And the real true purpose is for us to learn how to walk on through each moment that comes to us and figure out how to get through it.

As time moves on and as I get older, and as I have more and more experience, I realize that even when bad times are happening to me, I find it easier to get through those than I have in the past.  With more time, comes some wisdom into how to deal with these things.

I’m also learning as I get older that I need to embrace the happy moments.  I need to really pay attention to those times when things are good.  And I think a lot of us kind of just expect life to always be good so we don’t really embrace happy times.  We’re kind-of like, “Oh yeah that was great…”  unless it’s something monumental — but even times that are content, even times that are just regular days that nothing happens, I’ve learned to really embrace and to really love and enjoy and find purpose in it.

So yeah, I don’t think that in order to have any amount of success you have to experience loss or be in a position of fear.  I think it is true that if you’re afraid to do something, that you may want to think about why you’re so afraid of it and figure out a way to walk on through.  But this idea of “leaping” and hoping you’ll fly and soar… it’s a possibility – and you could soar – that’s true.  But you could just as easily fail. How do you stand back up when you fall that hardHow do you get back up, dust yourself off and walk on through anyway?

That’s the trick.

And every time you learn that, you realize that things are not scary to try because you’ve already failed before because you’ve already been there before.  You know you can get yourself back up again and move on through.

Maybe there’s a few different concepts here that I’m talking about.  But I think it’s important to define what success means to you.  I think it’s also good to understand and visualize for yourself: what is your purpose in life?  And the third thing I’d like to leave you with is this idea:  how do you embrace the good times?  Do you take enough time to really enjoy when things are great?  And also, do you take enough time to embrace when things are just standard contentment. Just a regular day?  And if you don’t, then let’s start focusing on that!  I know that’s what helps me.

I know it helps me to focus my attention on the things that are good in my life and the things that I love to do like writing.  Today, I just did all this writing on this and now I’m sharing it with people and I already feel better even though this morning I woke up feeling a little bit blue or sad or whatever you want to call it.  I feel like I’ve gotten my energy back – and so again, how do we walk through those moments when we’re not feeling good – I think that’s the purpose of life.  I think that’s the true success that everybody seeks.  That’s the true wealth.  Everything else, is just icing!

Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Have a sweet day and I’ll be back again soon.

Carmen

Support

Like many things in our lives, it’s so much easier when you have the right support to walk you through.

Today, I ran to the beach and back – in total it’s about a 6 mile run.  I ran fiercely today – it wasn’t a struggle at all.  I took no breaks. I felt like the music carried me easily through to finish back home in fairly record time. This may seem silly to those athletic friends of mine who do a 6 mile run at lunch on a regular basis, but for me, this was finally finding my stride.  My comfort zone.

It’s taken me a long time to get back here.

I met a great work-out group via MeetUp a couple of years ago —  Sabertooth Fitness —  and I continue to participate in those classes regularly.  I train with Pete Neumann privately, once a week and I’ve started taking a yoga class at Goorus.  Yoga is something I’ve NEVER been interested in at all, since I’m NOT a fan of the practice.  But I found this YIN class that works for me and it has added a whole other level of mind and body care that I hadn’t even considered.

One of the best things I joined,  which is free, was Kasey’s Walking Group which is just a facebook page of people committed to walking or running every day during the summer months and posting a picture or any update of your “moving” that day.  You go for a walk or a run, post a selfie, and watch others post their pics as well. It’s like a great big support group across the country motivating you to just go for a 10 minute walk if it’s all you can do that day.

This morning, on my way back from my run I stopped and while taking my selfie to post, I realized all this support, all this encouraging, has walked me through a very difficult time in my life. Since February 2018 life has pretty much been a bitch!  It really has!  So many things have happened – some real good: like my book being published — but mostly a lot of bad stuff.  Truth be told, all of them stressful, anxiety driven and very disappointing.

And yet, I’ve stayed on point working out, walking, running and have found myself dealing with each situation with calm and even joy (I know, it sounds weird, but I swear it!).  Today it hit me:  all these groups and “new” friends I’ve met where our common goals have been to stay fit – all that support and encouragement – has helped me get through so many obstacles these past few months unscathed. It’s been incredible.  And today I realized it – lightbulb moment!

For some people I think it may be hard to ask for help.  But for me, I didn’t even realize I needed help.  All this time, as I walked through some minefields these past months, I’d been supported by the camaraderie of friends in a class, or getting to a work-out, or meeting my trainer or just having to post on the group page.  All of these interactions motivated me to get out of the “minefield” situation I was in – take a break, maybe talk about it or not, but return with a fresh new perspective. And today, that just all came together and made so much sense, I had to share it!

My point is we should find ways to put the right people around us so we’re always in a nurturing supportive environment.  I know that sounds easy.  And yes, it seems logical.  But when we’re “in” a bad situation, the last thing we want to do is join a work-out group or post something on a page.  But, if you can push yourself  to join a group on Facebook or Meetup —  to just get out of your head for a bit – it really could help you get through things easier.  If only to give you a break from dealing with whatever “IT” is.  You may also be helping others by possibly being that “support” for someone else, even if you don’t realize it.  And yes, depending on the support environment you choose to create, you could also enjoy the side benefit of having that bikini beach body you’ve always wanted!  🙂

Clearly, today, was a good day for me.

 

 

Goal: 100 Rejections

Someone once told me that I should have a goal of 100 rejections per year.

This had to do with my auditions and I know it sounds weird, but trust me, it’s an amazing concept!  And it can be applied to absolutely anything. The benefits of this kind of “reverse psychology”  are brilliant (in my humble opinion).

If you try for 100 rejections a year, then that means, at the very least, you’ve attempted 100 times to do whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish!

It also takes the onus off of “success” and just makes it sort of game. Can I do this and fail anyways? The pressure falls off and it becomes enjoyable to just try – somewhat light-hearted and…wait for it… Fun!

I love this principle. And here’s what I’ve learned in implementing it in my life: Eventually the law of averages takes over and you do succeed in some way shape or form. At the very least, you learn something. It’s kinda cool that way. I succeeded in my goals last year AND learned something about myself that was extremely important to my career and my life in general. It worked!

We all have goals – and my thinking is you should have a baseline: find a way to have joy most days in 2018. Happiness (JOY) is a thing! And setting myself up to have more joy in life is one of my goals for 2018. If something is not adding to my life, then I need to find a way to make it work or I need to let it go. This works for me. I hope it works for you too! And even if it doesn’t, maybe some variation of it does!  Please, at the very least, think on it. You deserve joy! We all do. We are here on the planet to love and be loved – of that, I’m extremely certain – do everything you can to stay in a good place. A positive space…

Happy New Year! I’m so glad you’re ON IT! No luck needed, but wishing you much joy in the process. And hey, I’ve already been rejected three times this year and it’s only January 7th! I’m so on my way to success. Looking forward to meeting you there! 🙂

Peace, love and all that good stuff.
Carm~

I’m Not Done

It’s not over yet, is it?

I’m not done.  Mostly because I haven’t really started yet.  The journey till now has been all that I had to do.  The path forward is all about what I want to do. I get that now.

I’ve had little fear in my life, mostly when I was a child.  I learned the best way to deal with fear is to walk right up to it, scream at it and move on through anyways.  “Fear ain’t nothing but a thang.” I still say that to myself all the time.

So, I’m not afraid. I’m excited, bewildered maybe, but going forward nonetheless.  There’s no other choice for me really.  Reminiscing about my accomplishments or contemplating my failures has proven to be futile.

I know it’s time to move forward – continue on the path. Enjoy the rest of the journey.

I think I’m gonna love this part.