Friday, March 27th, 2020 – 6:24pm – The Ending Of my Challenge.
The good news is, in so many ways, my 30-day challenge, that I only ½ completed, was a great success. It pushed me to write at times I’ve never written before. That was huge. Breaking out of my systematic way of writing by hand and then transferring written work to a digital format was/is time consuming. I feel comfortable in saying, I don’t need to do that anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still prefer to write with pen and paper, especially when it comes to my journal or writing the first draft of my second book, but I’m not against writing straight from keyboard anymore. In that sense, mission accomplished!
My failure is that this coronavirus situation in our country and world has done me in something fierce.
Emotionally, I’m an absolute mess. I’m keeping it together, mostly for my friends and family. I have family who work in hospitals and clearly we’ve all heard the horrible circumstances they’re dealing with just not having enough of the basic equipment and gear (PPE’s) to do their jobs. But there’s also a mental toll they’re taking on. Watching people die. That’s hard at any time. Sure, it’s part of their jobs but it’s never easy. It’s made even harder because it’s continuous. And, I’m sure, some people would not die during this pandemic if we had been more prepared. If our government…
I can’t even go there. This is not about THAT. My point is, being there for my friends & family on the front line as best I can – listening to them when they finish a shift, is what I can do to help them. But hearing them vent and just watching the toll it’s taking on them has been heart-wrenching to say the least. I don’t let them know I’m crying, I want to be strong for them. But inside I’m dying. And when I finish the call, I cry. Deeply. And then I move onward.
I have friends – mi familia – with young children who’ve never had to spend this much time with them regularly. In one way, it’s very funny. I remember these friends wanting so desperately to have children. And of course, they love their kids, but yeah, damn! I couldn’t spend that much time with a 6 year old either, let alone 4 of them. I’ve done my best to answer every call and be the “Auntie” who’ll talk to the kids for a bit on WhatsAPP or Skype or Zoom just to give mom or dad a break. I mean it’s not much, but it’s what I can do to help. Again, I don’t share how bad I feel for them – but after I’m done, I say a prayer for all them.
I have a couple of friends whose marriages were on the rocks to begin with but now this situation is making it even worse in a lot of ways. Relationships are hard always. Harder when you’re basically in quarantine and your responsibility is to your kids. So… I’m happy to hear them vent too. One of my friends shared a glass (or bottle actually) of wine over Zoom. I literally watched her get drunk via video cam, all while she complained about her fiancé. Yikes!
I’ve also had to revamp my own job/business. Like everyone else, I’ve been considering long-term changes to my own industry and possible job/client loss and adjusting accordingly. It’s tough. I’ve seen major businesses get stuck in this and I’ve heard small business owners and CEO’s cry because they had to let their staff go and can’t pay them anything because they have no sales to cover the costs. Better to let them file for unemployment… It’s been sad to listen too and yet I continue to do my job as well – even though I know I’m not getting paid either. It’s the right thing to do.
My epic failure, if you will, is not being able to finish the challenge because by the time 9pm rolls around and I eat my dinner and think about my writing challenge, I end up falling asleep – lately on the couch, with the TV on, watching some show I was sure to start binging, humming in the background.
So, I’m okay with finishing my 30-day challenge today. I didn’t complete it, but I accomplished my goals and for that I’m so grateful.
More importantly, I’m so blessed to have so many friends and family who feel comfortable to talk to me or reach out to me when they need a hand. I wish it were like normal times where life was just doing it’s thing and we were all hanging out together because that’s what people do – but this works too. Our true character is tested not when things are easy, but when things are hard. And so far, I think I’m doing okay.
I kinda wish 2018 wasn’t over. I feel like so much is unfinished…
Here’s the list I wrote at the end of 2017:
Visit home (Boston) for a couple of weeks.
Finalize the Book Canela, get published before end of 2018.
Clean out my storage area / donate everything.
Meet 10 new people who are extraordinary.
Rid myself of the 5 toxic people – kindly.
Connect with like-minded creative folk and be inspired.
Buy a new car.
Find a new apartment / quieter, still close to the beach.
See a movie a month at least.
Read a book a month at least.
Every year I write a list of at least 10 things I’d like to do, but no more than 20. All of them tangible and possible. Here’s how it all panned out:
After my book was published in June, I visited most everyone in the book and spent a lot of alone time in my home town of Boston. It was magical, emotional, inspiring! I had only been “home” for brief moments over the past 20 years since I moved to Lost Angeles. I’d visit for a funeral or a wedding. Just quick weekend trips where I only saw the airport, freeway, and/or a church. But this past year, I was home for a while. I got lost in my own neighborhood – that’s how long it’d been and that’s how much things had changed in the city I grew up in. I saw old friends and fell in love with my childhood all over again. I saw how far I’d come and I realized how much I loved Boston, but missed Los Angeles. It really was beautiful. Maybe my favorite part of 2018.
My Book Canela
I’ve written so much about publishing this book – but let me say this again: if you have the want, the desire to write your story (because everyone has a storyto tell) please, do it! For me, it was cathartic and life learning at every level. The process of writing is one part, editing another – what I didn’t realize was that AFTER you publish it, well…. maybe it’s just me… but this part has been just as incredible and teaching as well. It has changed my life and the way I view it. Creatively I’ve changed. How I view people’s importance in my life has changed. And the book has become a very central part of my every-day life in ways I’m just starting to understand. Tell your story. Preach your story. The world will be a better place because of it.
Clean out Storage
Done and done. We all have that STUFF we keep “just in case” we need it. Uhm, I got rid of all of it. Period. Just a housekeeping item that I had put off for too many years so… done.
Meet New People
I met more than 10 extraordinary people in 2018. My point in writing this in my list (I write it every year by the way) is because I think when you meet new people, you have the opportunity to grow and learn and be “better than you used to be”. If you are constantly around the same people all the time, well…. that’s cool. But for me, it can become pretty stagnant. Here’s the cool thing about the people I met this past year: I met so many of them because of my book!!! Yes! I have done no publicity, no advertising, just giving it out to friends and yet, others have read it and reached out and it’s been amazing! I ‘ve learned so much and am excited to get to know these people even more over the next years.
Rid Toxic People
We all have people in our lives we wish we didn’t have to interact with. And for most people I get this is a hard thing to do. For me, eeeh, it’s pretty easy. I’m really great at walking away from people when they are toxic. Even if I have to work with them or be around them for some reason (creatively). I have a pretty tough barrier that keeps them at distance. It’s a skill I developed growing up the way I did. You know “bad” people right away and learn to always keep them at arms-length, while still “dealing” with them as best you can. This past year I had 3 people I definitely wanted OUT of my life, but there were 2 others I was hoping to also end the “pretend” friendships with. That happened earlier this year. Wow. Clearly a great thing! Rid yourself of people who do NOT lift you up or make you a better person. Seriously, it’s the best thing you can do for your health!
Well, this I could have done better for sure. I do not have messenger and I am not on there often. I also have Instagram and eeeh, use it sparingly. I’m a huge fan of Twitter though so I’m not sure any of these are better than the other. But all are a part of our daily lives now – whether we use them or not. But the point is to get better at NOT being on social media so much and I’ve accomplished that. I think social media is finding its equilibrium in our lives in that it’s not a constant way of “talking” to each other. Many times this year I went out to dinner or was hanging with a friend at the beach and missed so many calls and texts. And it’s simply because I’ve learned to turn off that ring/sound and just enjoy my time with the person I’m with. It seems like things are calming down for all of us on social media. Maybe we’re all learning that there really is something to actually (physically), talking to each other and enjoying REAL time with one another. Maybe.
Connect with Creative People
I found a few groups on MeetUp.com and got inspired for sure. WritersBlok was a great place to go and finish up the last edits of my book. I’m really glad I found it. I also had lunch with up and coming Directors this year, met with other writers, had dinner with a few musicians. I met with dancers and graphic designers, actors… being around creative people fuels me and I made an effort this past year to be around those people more often than not! So glad I did. I’m a better person for it!
Movies and Books
I did much better this year with Movies and Books but there’s still room for improvement. The movie that surprised me most was clearly Black Panther. I’m a huge fan of all action movies (Marvel and DC) but Black Panther stunned me. It’s not what I expected at all and I loved it. I loved it when I saw it alone, then again with a few friends, but my favorite was watching it with my 10 year old God-Daughter who’s take on it was exactly how we all want the world to be!
Another favorite movie this year was definitely Mary Poppins Returns! Loved it, loved everything about it. And can I just say, Lin-Manuel Miranda? I think we’re in the midst of genius with this lovely talented man…I’d love to work with him. Hmmm.
As far as Books are concerned, I’m a slow reader and if a book doesn’t grab my attention or is too difficult, I just put it down. It bums me out. I didn’t finish four books this year to make my goal complete, but I did start them…that counts, right? Ughh. *insert big cheesy half smile emoji here*
In 2019, I’d like to think I have a list as long as former President Barack Obama’s. I’m not sure I’m as interested in his entire list of books, but I’d like to think I’d read as much to even have such a list. #Goals.
Things I didn’t accomplish:
I didn’t buy a new car – and I guess I really don’t need one. So, you know, there’s that. I also didn’t move out of my current apartment. That may still happen next year. I love my apartment and it’s close enough to the beach (3 miles) but I hate my neighbor upstairs. She has a great kid but it’s just loud all the time. When I was a little girl and lived in an apartment with my mom, we were never allowed to run and jump in the house. You just didn’t do it. You were taught to have respect and consideration for the neighbors that lived next to you and below you. If you wanted to run, you went outside. But not these people. It’s incredible. I don’t blame the little girl. It’s her parents. They are inconsiderate and…goodness, it’s a one bedroom. They run up there, always have too many guests – every day. And it’s just incredibly loud and not a great place to live if you like quiet and need to write, to work, to just be. So, it’s still a goal. But, seriously, I keep thinking: First. World. Problems. Hmmm.
Well, if I had more time I guess I’d finish the books I didn’t complete and maybe I’d…
No, it’s all good. I had enough time for all the things that matter. 2018 is almost over and it’s been a good year personally after-all. There were some missteps along the way, but nothing too damaging or unfamiliar to move through.
Actually 2018 started out with my sweet sister (Jo-ann) from Boston visiting me in January for my birthday.
The year ended with me hanging out at Christmas time with one of the guys – also from Boston— who helped me go to college (Scot in the book).
And in-between it all I became an author, traveled, got inspired, did a GREAT photo shoot (with Michael Roud!), saw so many of my dear friends, met new people from all over the world (shout out to Jean-Claude in Luxembourg) and really accomplished so much more than I realized!
Okay 2018. Actually I’m ready to move on. Bring it! I’m starting my 2019 list right now. 🙂
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! 🙂
I’m not a big fan of recapping the prior year and making resolutions in the New Year. The analyzing of the prior year ends up making me reflect on things that went well, but also on things that went “not-so-well” and future resolutions always seems too dreamy to me. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to have goals, but I think on-going betterment of the self on a daily basis is a better strategy. At least for me.
With that said, I can’t help but share a few fascinating things that I’ve incorporated into my everyday life that has really put me in a whole new frame of mind. I’m on a different playing field now and things just feel better. It didn’t happen overnight, but when I see where I am right now in my life and look back at where I started, I feel like some of these basic choices/tools might be similar to what others have done or are doing – and if you haven’t done them yet, maybe this might help get you started.
Eliminate the “wishy-washy people” out of your life.
This seems like a no brainer when talking about people who physically abuse you, or emotionally hurt you. But even the subtle people are obvious to me now. We all know the type: the big talker, the name dropper, the “let’s do lunch” cliché-ism that infests most of Hollywood and Wall Street. But I’m also talking about the “I’m so busy” people. The “I’m finding myself” people. The overly “spiritual” “life coached” folks — you know, the ones who call themselves “enlightened” but are actually just idiots? I’ve said this before: truly enlightened people never say they’re enlightened. People who brag about how Yoga or meditation have changed their “being” and yet, they still treat the waiter or the janitor like they’re below them? Yeah, I’ve gotten rid of all of these people in my daily life. Anyone who remotely annoys me on any level, I’ve just stopped. I don’t respond to them, I don’t initiate communication – I just let them be. They have no effect on me whatsoever.
And here’s the great thing about walking away from people who do not add to your livelihood –when you eliminate people out of your life who cause you more harm than good, new people show up. And you feel excited by the possibility of a new relationships and new moments. Now, it may be that these folks don’t work out either, but it’s exciting and new – and for me, I made three great new friends this year. Surprisingly, I would have never met them had I not walked away from “people” that were not adding to my life’s breath.
Do what feels right to you!
I always ask people for their opinion. I do. I like to cover all my bases. It makes me feel in control if I get as much information as possible and then make a decision. That’s not bad thing to do. And it’s why I’m good at my work – whether creatively or in my consulting business. But, at the end of the day, going with my gut, always prevails. Always. I don’t care if Stephen Hawking himself tells me I’m wrong about something, I’m going to go with my gut anyways. Now, you should know the consequences of your actions and be willing to accept them, but when you do this, when you listen to – what I like to call – God’s whisper, some call it an inner voice, a gut feeling – you’re making a choice based on all your experiences, all your knowledge and all your inner knowing of things. There’s something powerful in that.
Now, that doesn’t mean at times it doesn’t work out. But, the cool thing is, when you listen to your inner voice, your gut, you tend to have no regrets, even if it doesn’t work out. But, if you went against the grain, went against what you believed, then it’s more likely that whatever choice you made would be regrettable.
Love and embrace your baggage!
Lately I’ve been listening to people talk about “baggage”. Life coaches, therapists and gurus tell you all the time that you need to get rid of your “baggage” or deal with your “baggage”. It always seems so negative. I’ve always seen my baggage as evidence of the journey I’ve been on. I wouldn’t trust anyone who didn’t have baggage, because it would mean they hadn’t lived. They haven’t travelled on this journey called life. The only people who shouldn’t have baggage of any real dimension, are children. 7 year olds.
Baggage, or, my past, is what has brought me to this point in time. Getting rid of it would mean, getting rid of the good stuff too – and why would I do that? This idea that our past is some horrible linkage to a time that we should forget in order to live in the present, is a falsehood. Just because people say it all the time doesn’t make it true. First of all, getting rid of your baggage is impossible to do. We all have memories. We all have past experiences. And those memories, those experiences, good and bad, are what make up most of what we are in this moment. Embrace it. Own it. Love who you are because of it all.
Now being 30 years old and living like you’re a 12 year old because you’re stuck in the past and still want your mommy – that’s a whole other thing. That’s not what I’m taking about – and that would most likely require a doctor’s help. Someone dealing with trauma of any sort, should always get professional help. But let’s be clear, this is not about baggage – now we’re talking about mental health. Please when in doubt, consult a professional doctor and understand the difference.
Love yourself unconditionally!
This is a hard one. It sounds like an easy one, but truly loving yourself is hard because we’re not used to thinking this way. We find it so easy to say to ourselves, “Uggh, you’re so stupid.” When we do something wrong. Or “Oh, you look so fat!” – when we don’t like an outfit that we’ve tried on. We’re always so mean to ourselves. When was the last time you looked in the mirror and told yourself that you loved yourself completely and without any reservations or conditions at all? Could you even read that sentence without snickering a bit or giggling?
This was the most transformative thing that I’ve done in the past year. Really embracing my own brilliance and not feeling weird about it, bad about it, or giggling about it. Knowing that I have such gifts and talents and accepting that I have faults and make mistakes and that THAT is okay and part of the human journey has been freeing! It has completely changed how I interact with others and more importantly, how I view my purpose on the planet.
So, those four things: Eliminate wishy-washy people, Do what feels right, Embrace your baggage, Love yourself unconditionally– those very specific four things have been life changing for me. This past year has been an amazing revelation and unfolding of a very wonderful, very exciting life. I can only imagine that a lot of it had to do with learning to incorporate each one of these aspects into my daily life fully. It didn’t happen overnight and there were struggles along the way, but I have to say, I’m so glad I’m finally here!
And thank you to all of you, who helped walk me through.
Merry Christmas, Happy Festivus, Happy Hanuka, Happy Kwanza – and Season Greetings to any others I may have missed.
Today is the 1 year anniversary of my dear friend Richard Johnson’s unexpected passing. In his memory, I’m asking that if you’re reading this post, please reach out to someone today and tell them that you love them. It’s not that life is short, but, that life is precious. People are precious. Friends, family, loved ones, precious. And in honor of Richard’s remarkable life, I’d like to always remember my own true purpose: to love and be loved – as authentically as possible. Hug someone today. Love someone today. “Stay beautiful and know you’re always somebody important to me.”