The Holy War

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Mourning is a non-linear experience. I keep thinking I’ve let go of something, only to discover it is so deeply embedded in me, that it has never left. That I am still in mourning, still waiting for the world to right itself again. I keep expecting my patience to pay off – because it has to…. because my heart, mind, and body says it is undeniable. Sigh.

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We want to be seen. We want to be chosen. We want to be loved. We want to be fought for. We want to be ‘the one’.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking truth is that you CAN be ‘the one’, you can be exactly right …and still not be chosen. You may have been utterly perfect for that role, that project, that experience…exactly what was wanted, better than even dreamed…you could be right about all of it…. but if “they” aren’t able to see and embrace all that you are, then it is also true that it wasn’t the experience for you. It’s a hard lesson for me to learn. It feels unfathomable that you can be the acknowledged-best in the room and instead of being fought for, decisions are made based on entirely different (and seemingly ridiculous) details outside of you. Again, sigh.

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Heartbreaking, but you step away with grace and shake your head at their loss and keep moving forward. You aren’t meant to be ignored. You aren’t meant to settle. You aren’t meant to have to convince the world to be brave. The best things in life take courage… and not everyone has it at the moment it is needed. You are meant to shine like the sun and those who want to share in your light will rise up beside you. You need those who see your magic and will fight for it like it is a Holy War, because it is. Nothing is more sacred than what sets your soul on fire. Honor those who choose you. Those who make the effort. They are your tribe. Those who stick their neck out and fight for you. People are what they do…not what they say they will do. Ignore the lip-service….celebrate the people who are DOING. Protect them fiercely. Cherish their loyalty. And build together.

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Trust that what you love, what lights up for you, what ignites your soul – the people, the projects, the moments, are where you should be spending your sacred time. That feeling – is a gift that tells us who we are and the life we are meant to be living. Honor the messages from the deepest part of your being about what you can do and which direction you should choose. And honor those who will fight along side you. This life, this industry, can feel like we are made of paper mache and everyone around us is playing with matches….we MUST find our warriors, our protectors, defenders, our creative cohorts, and build our tribe.

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You (or your work, your performance, your _____) are not for everyone.  Have sympathy for those who are unable to see what is before them….and have even more sympathy for those who are stunned into silence when what they have always wanted, appears before them. Some are in terrific awe over the possibility of happiness, of dreams fulfilled. Some look at the option of having everything they want, and after years of denial, they see it as the Hilary-step… unclimbable and become immobile, glued in place by their fears and habits or through what others might think or are telling them to do or what they feel they deserve, think is ‘right’ or expected or big-box-office or…or…or.   “They” have to be ready to experience you. Sometimes they simply aren’t. Sometimes they are too caught up in their own chaos to understand your magic, sometimes they won’t see any magic at all….and sometimes the power of your magic scares them.

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When others aren’t seeing your magic – when your work isn’t catching on fire…that doesn’t mean it is anything less than spectacular. It means that was not a member of your tribe. Keep hunting.

And have endless gratitude to your warriors who recognize and fight for you.

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Female Troubles

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An incredibly condescending meme comparing Michelle Obama and Jackie O has been going around, lamenting the days of the demure, beautiful first lady and presenting Michelle as somehow being crass. Worse, I saw it passed around by women. You have got to be kidding me.

It nearly made me burst into tears that women can be so pointlessly cruel to one another. I was offended to the core of my being by the overt racism, the blatant disrespect and unfair set up (Classic Jackie posed in pearls next to Michelle in a tank top cheering at a sporting event…I mean, come on!), but I also immediately laughed out loud at the misguided absurdity of this meme that also entirely miscalculates what it means to be a woman.

A woman is not something quiet and pretty that sits in the corner smiling…nope, you’re thinking of a doll. A woman is a fierce, dynamic magician who spends her day solving problems, supporting loved-ones and ruffling feathers when she needs to, to fight for those she loves, protects and provides for. A woman wears 10+ hats a day – executive, chef, teacher, chauffeur, goddess, mother, accountant, wife, athlete, lover, doctor, therapist, friend, hero, on and on ….. and yes, enthusiastic, cheering fan at a sporting event.

Jackie, regardless of how intense and multilayered her inner life may have been, was generally expected to be pretty and quiet in public. She was for all intents and purposes, window dressing for her husband. Sure, she was educated and skilled in her own right, yet her main job was to be a soothing, non-threatening, perfect accessory. How many of us can actually relate to that? Does that sound anything like your life or the life of any woman you know?? No. Luckily we’ve reached a time where we all deserve better than a first lady who is asked to be quiet and pretty in the corner. You can be guaranteed that every woman has more to offer than a sweet smile and a little black dress. Thank God we have miraculously been given this fierce #FLOTUS in our new millennium who is using every second of her time to better the world around her, to show the power of a woman with a mission. A woman who has chosen to use her time to fight for girls education worldwide, to work on behalf of children, fight obesity, and, and, and….

She also manages to do all of it with class, joy and humor while also being a wonderful mother, a successful lawyer and writer, a supportive and equal partner to her extraordinary husband, and yes – she can rock a set of pearls and pick out the china patterns if you insist it’s necessary….after she gets back from the ball game.

Women….we are better than this. Let’s hold each other up instead of being part of the problem. The value of every woman is more than her perceived beauty at any given moment. I hope to one day to manage to be a fraction of the courageous, accomplished, graceful lioness that Michelle is. Regardless of your political leanings, she is unquestionably a role model, a beautiful example of using your power to fight for those weaker than you, and a lightening rod for positive change. Three cheers.

Dear Fear,

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FADE IN.

INT. BRAIN – DUSK.   Cue: Long, deep sigh followed by shiver of terror.

EXT.  RIVER OF TRANSITION – NIGHT.

It’s the middle of the night.  You are alone in the middle of a swirling black river.  The current is strong.  The waves are lapping. Your mind is racing.  You’re fighting to keep your head above water.  You can’t touch the bottom or see what is below.  You are blindly trying to make it across to the other side.  Trying to move far enough ahead that your toes finally touch solid ground and you can start trusting that you are again on the upward incline, even if just an inch at a time.  That is the year it has been.  A year of surprising challenges, unanticipated changes, devastating heartbreak on a number of levels, confusion, unexpected losses… a multitude of strifes.   A year of transitions.  We’ve all been there.  A year of doing your best to let go of what was, but what is coming next hasn’t yet arrived, so you are sort-of-lost, sort-of-drifting, sort-of-desperate…to find meaning, understanding, solid ground.  Don’t panic.  Think of it like jet lag.  Your body has arrived but your heart and mind are still catching up to this new reality.  Whether you are putting in endless work, or feel unable to do anything at all, the effects are often the same – because right now you are in the middle of the black river of transition….and it simply takes time, to get through it all and find your feet again.

I pride myself on being ‘aggressively optimistic’ and always fighting for and believing that the perfect thing is just about to arrive… but in a year full of tragedy and set backs, fear has been nipping at my heels, and finding its way into my heart. It is certainly not all bad, and I trust I’ll reach the other side soon…but I am owning the reality that it has been a year full of painful change and loss and I don’t feel like I’m quite on solid ground at the moment…which inevitably brings vulnerability, stress and fear roaring to life.

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Fuck that.  Who needs it?   And yet…

Is there anything more seductive?   How easily we fall into that trap.

INT.  HEART – LATER THAT NIGHT.  Enter DOUBT stage left.

Fear is familiar, addictive and paralyzing. For whatever reason, words that wound us, fears that plague us, and beliefs that bind us are the ‘stickiest’.  They convince you they are important.  Assure you they are right. Fear brings its evil twin: doubt.   Why does doubt get to be the thing we are certain of?   Doubt is not the one who has earned victory here.  Doubt is not the one who deserves the power.  You must doubt your doubt.

Yet I’m fascinated watching how our minds work…how others handle this black river.  It has been a year of deep conversations with family, friends and coworkers on their own triumphs and failures. Their desire to leave a valuable mark, and reach their own goals and milestones in the way and on the timeline they expected – and how they cope when things go sideways.   How my heart bursts with love for those who curl towards you in times of strife instead of adding distance, or placing blame. Those who never take it personally when you have to pull back and focus on yourself.  So much gratitude to those who know they don’t have to supply an answer just an ear to listen.

I’m disheartened by those who have been thrown a rope, yet still refuse to grab hold – fearing letting go of what they’ve grown used to. Staying in situations out of the familiarity of what they know, what they can predict, even when it is predictably so far from what they want most.

I’m bemused by those still struggling to trust they have made it through the river and are back on solid ground – even as their new plateaus are publicly undeniable.  A dear friend is in the middle of a whirlwind second-life in her career, and her life.  A banner year of so many projects getting wonderful attention that have brought her the success and notice she so deserves.   I sent her a note saying how inspired I had been by her this year, and was shocked at the sincerity of her thank you as she admitted to her own insecurity over ‘whether her work mattered and was worthwhile’ and her fear of ‘whether it would last’.   This entire conversation was a glimpse into the heart of all of us, for her level of success, the beauty of her work, the power of her spirit, are all things that I aim for, and feel she embodies implicitly…and yet her doubt is as strong as the person who has never experienced success.  We humans are such silly creatures.   Doubt your doubt! 

I’m devastated witnessing some walk away from what could be the best thing in their life, out of cowardice, weakness, fear of change. I can say with utter certainty, I would rather be in middle of the black river – unsure of what comes next, but trusting it is coming, than to be resigned to a life that is slowly suffocating me. Change is hard, but change is good.

I’m enchanted by those using both hands to claim the latest successes of their lives with bonafied glee and unabashed revelry.  I’m bursting with joy as I witness ‘the ship come in’ for someone who had been stranded on shore for far too long personally and professionally.  An extraordinary friend who has landed smack in the middle of success after some terrifyingly difficult years.

And I remain inspired..by so many things, including my little dog, who I affectionately call Chicken Little, as she is convinced at every second that the sky is falling.  Yet I watch her tackle her fear each day and become this brave little bolt of lightening, as the power of her desire for what she loves, and what she wants, will overcome her fear: Every. Single. Time. That is the courage I want.  The kind that weighs the odds, is unconvinced of the outcome and jumps anyway.  Optimism winning, hope succeeding, love triumphing.  I can’t stop fear from visiting, but I refuse to ‘live’ in fear.  I just refuse.

So what’s a girl to do?  Find her inner wolf and give fear the finger.

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And surrender. Life is beauty and pain.  Life will break your heart again and again, and heal it over and over. Let it. This is its job. This is how we grow, and move on, and transition.  Change is hard…but change is good, as long as fear and doubt are not in the drivers seat.  Find your courage, embrace your optimism and ride the current.  Now is the time to lean forward instead of back, to give more instead of less, to be bold.  Sure, the waves are choppy, the water is cold, and the circumstances feel impossible. Tip your head back and laugh. Smile even in the middle of the black river.  Doubt your doubt.

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INT.  HEART – PRESENT DAY   Pulse jumpy, blood pressure shaky, confidence wavering.

EXT.  FACE  – SAME TIME   Close Up: delighted smile, laughing at the circumstance.

INT.  MIND – MOMENTS LATER  Cue: long, deep sigh…of amusement, followed by a shiver of delight over this thing we call life.

FADE TO BLACK

Grrrrrrr.

Just read this article:   Where have all the women gone in movies? By Rebecca Keegan

Not great news.  Some excerpts:

Despite the success of recent female-driven movies such as“Bridesmaids” and the “Hunger Games” and “Twilight” series, female representation in popular movies is at its lowest level in five years, according to a study being released Monday by the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Among the 100 highest-grossing movies at the U.S. box office in 2012, the study reported, 28.4% of speaking characters were female. That’s a drop from 32.8% three years ago, and a number that has stayed relatively stagnant despite increased research attention to the topic and several high-profile box-office successes starring women.

When they are on-screen, 31.6% of women are shown wearing sexually revealing clothing, the highest percentage in the five years the USC researchers have been studying the issue.

For teen girls, the number who are provocatively dressed is even higher: 56.6% of teen girl characters in 2012 movies wore sexy clothes, an increase of 20% since 2009.

Full LA Times article here.

Hmmmmmm

I found this interesting:

“This is the difficult truth of the artistic situation, particularly in the performing arts: Our choices define us and decide our fates. This is both a criticism and a confession: I have made my poor choices, and I strongly accept that I deserved what I got. There is a belief, calcified into holy writ, that one must work; one must generate interest and heat in one’s career. This attitude leads people to keep working, even when they know that the play or the film is bad; the director is a moron; their costar is a simpleton. The childlike belief is that all work is good, because it leads to more work. However, in the process of continually or regularly doing poor plays with bad people, you become this thing: Your DNA is altered by virtue of the work you have run through your body and your mind. Far more than your resume is stamped. But what are people to do? Rent must be paid. One has to eat. I have known visual artists who work as typists or retail clerks. Perhaps more actors should do this rather than the bad plays, but who am I to judge them? I’ve believed that I could alter or save bad work, and I was wrong, and my DNA bears the scars of the bad work. More talents than you can imagine remain undeveloped or become discarded because they were put into circulation merely to work and to be seen and to buy groceries when they should have been placed in the service of good work. But how do we alter this? There’s your question. And I can’t answer it.” Arthur Penn/Interview with James Grissom/2006. From the forthcoming “Artistic Suicide.”

F*ck Yeah!

*Shamelessly stolen from by friend Robin:
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