‘Quit trying to hide who you are. You’re the only thing you have.’

Check out this gem from an interview with actor Richard Jenkins that I heard on yesterday’s Fresh Air (find the episode here):

(Fresh Air Guest Host DAVIES): Coming back to when you were talking about how there came a point when you were bored. Can you take us back to that time? Do you remember when you felt bored – a role – what it felt like?

(Actor RICHARD JENKINS): I don’t remember the specific role, but I remember being outside of myself looking at me doing what I was doing. That’s the feeling I got. And I thought, you know, what am I doing? What’s the point of this profession to me? I mean, is this what it means to me just to do this thing night after night without feeling life?

And I went back to an old acting coach I had. Harold Guskin was his name. He wasn’t an old man. He was just a coach I had worked with for a year. And I went back to what he taught me. And I just said, OK. Let’s try this. And he basically said quit trying to hide who you are. You’re the only thing you have. And I just refused to believe that it was enough, that it was interesting enough, that I had anything to offer.

But the thing you come to – that I came to – is that whether you think that or not, that’s all you got. So you have to rely on that. Every experience has to come through a filter, through your experience. You know, you get angry. It’s – you’re getting angry, what makes you angry. So I was trying to copy others or be something else or be a character. It takes a long time to trust yourself enough to think that I have something to offer. And it’s – we still – I still don’t believe it. I still think I don’t. But, you know, you know that the only chance you have is to just kind of live your life and exist on the screen.

 


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What I know for sure

What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.  – Oprah Winfrey

My soul was stirred by Oprah Winfrey’s words

When we speak our truth we claim our power. We rewrite the ending to the our own stories.

Each and every time we acknowledge our truth— in a diary, over a cup of tea, with a therapist, with a healer, with a hashtag, to a boss, to a boardroom, or to a ballroom full of Hollywood elites— each and every utterance matters.

With each word we transform the entire fabric of the universe and take our world one step closer to alignment of its highest good.

Every word creates a crack until suddenly. . .the world is split open and from it a new world is born.

Your time is now.  A new day is on the horizon.

“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.” Muriel Rukeyser

What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have. - Oprah Winfrey

“Trust the process”

At least, that is what my wise-woman self tells me.

Trust the process.

artwork my own.

The process is not linear.

The process will not be understood by your monkey mind (which undoubtedly will want to dictate the process and will fail miserably).  

The process may be met with all your defenses. The sudden need to sleep. The sudden need to hide into a book. The sudden need to shove mouthfuls of popcorn into your mouth while reading said book.

If your body says rest, rest. If you body says dig in, dig in. If your body says, “you are putting up your defenses” then stay curious. 

Allow your partner to call you out (they always will). Allow your dreams to speak to you (make sure you’re listening).

Move. Shake. Walk. Dance. Tickle. Flail. Kick. Conga. [really wise self? Conga?]

Walk, relax, meditate in savasana.

Self-care, self-care, self-care. And then some more.

The sun will rise again. It didn’t disappear, it was just out of view. Relax into the orbit of your life.

Shonda Rhimes can keep her Year of YES. 2017 was my year of NO!

This past year was like the cleanup after a hurricane. (Which incidentally I also lived through.) If 2016 was the hurricane, 2017 the now what? after the hurricane.

After the real hurricane–Irma–I was surrounded by so many blessings. I saw them everywhere I looked. My house was still standing! The flood waters stopped short of entering my front door! (Barely.) The palm tree went down, sure, but it missed hitting our roof! And electricity, blessed electricity I so-take-for-granted–it eventually came back on!

That’s the thing about living through a hurricane. If you survive it mostly intact, it has a way of distilling what matters. For instance, living in a home with more than one room becomes a wonderful gift. (My daughter still to this day wants to play “hotel” because nothing was as amazing as having her mom and dad with her 24 HOURS A DAY, EVERY DAY, DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY, IN THE SHARED SPACE OF ONE HOTEL ROOM. She’s most definitely not an introvert like her mother, who to this day does not know how she survived the experience without totally losing her ish.)

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The year 2016: when I finally got tired of my own bullshit.

If 2017 was cleaning up after a hurricane, the year 2016  was the hurricane. I could say it was a year of deep surrender, unveiling of truths, healing wounds and rediscovering joy.  But really it was the year I owned my bullshit. (See Elizabeth Gilbert quote.) After that epic year of owning my shit, in 2017 it became very clear to me that experiencing joy was not compatible with duties that sucked the joy from my life. Shonda Rhimes may have had her year of yes, but 2017 was my year of no.

Yes, this past year was all about Does it bring me joy? No? GOODBYE FELICIA. Does it take time away from my ability to experience joy? SO LONG, WON’T CATCH YA LATER. Are my choices leading to burnout and fatigue, therefore limiting my energy to create art and experience joy? DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT.

This of course was more complicated than I’m making it sound. In one stretch of weeks this past fall I remember collapsing while sick (likely due to lack of sleep) and crying in a puddle of tears. I CAN’T DO IT ALL, WOE IS MEEEEEEE! Well of course you can’t do it all, foolish woman! I had the startling realization that there was still a LOT more no to be said. I faced some major Catholic guilt…”but i promised these people I would volunteer with this project! I can’t possibly quit!” Yes you did, and now you must pay the piper and admit you over-committed. Suck it up buttercup! Time to say no!

I said no. . .and I survived. It felt good actually. I nurtured my yin — the feminine energy fueled by rest, introspection, creativity, and deep glorious sleep. I asked for a sleep mask for Christmas and I wear it with glee. I go to bed early, really early. I even (GASP) went off coffee for a long while so I could rid myself of the addiction to caffeine. It wasn’t needed now that I wasn’t trying to do more in a day than was humanly possible! Such joy and freedom in saying NO. For calling bullshit on the inner dialog that said “this is how it is, I work fulltime and have a child and blah blah blah here are alllll my excuses for why I should be permanently frazzled and fatigued.” Facing the truth–that my time is precious indeed, so how can I use it to fuel joy?–was LIBERATING and EMPOWERING.

Where does this leave me as I say goodbye to 2017? The trash has been taken out. The roles and responsibilities have been winnowed down to essentials only. Now I need to step into my truth. No more excuses. No more distractions. 2018 is where it becomes manifest. Ultimately it will mean living my truth. Time to take the plunge, baby. 

Are you ready? I am. Well, mostly. I’m sipping a coffee as I write this (some habits are hard to break) BUT I did sleep soundly for eight hours with my beloved sleep mask. No more excuses, no more hiding. Let’s do this.

Keep the faith, but reckon with the present

Keep the faith, but reckon with the present.

That’s the mantra that came to me recently during a walking meditation. (Walking meditation=me walking, trying not to have incessant mind-chatter and instead trying to breathe deep and stay present. Occasionally it works!) Well, the mantra keeps ringing in my ears lately, probably because I haven’t been following the mantra. I’m not sure if it is the holidays and their capacity to bring out grief, or the fact that we are nearing the end of one HECK of a sober year (though I still contend that 2016 was worse), but it seems every new day brings reckoning of truths I’d rather not deal with.

I’m old enough to know that what resists, persists, so reckon with them I shall. That doesn’t mean I always do so immediately and quickly.

Take for example the story of the misplaced lost driver’s license.  I recently misplaced my driver’s license. I resisted the idea that I lost it. So certain that I would find it, I didn’t deal with it for mumble-mumble-seven-days-mumble.

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I lose things so frequently that I’m asking for this guy for Christmas so my family doesn’t have to go, you lost your damn glasses again??? Apparently I need more of these in my life. (From https://www.uncommongoods.com/product/owl-eyeglasses-holder)

I literally had to bribe myself with a fancy starbucks coffee to get myself to go to the DMV and replace the license yesterday. And. . .while they took a downright horrible photo of me with what can only be described as CRAZY EYES--overall the whole thing was pretty painless. It turns out my identification is “verified” in the system (whatever that means) and I didn’t even have to schlep fifteen forms of ID with me to get it taken care of. So much mental energy thinking about it and really, what for? I got a coffee out of the deal. I got a crazy-eyed photo out of the deal. I’m good with the law. What was the problem here.

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I feel your pain piggy. 

The moral of this story is that the reckoning is sometimes easier than the thinking about the reckoning. The heartaches, the fears, the unknowns, the unspeakables, the not-pretties, the lost objects, all the junk you just don’t want to think about or deal with. . .just like my lost license, I have a hunch they won’t magically resolve on their own.

Of course, I’m holding onto the fact that mantra has another part to it: keep the faith. I mean, there is only so much compost to be made from all this sh*t, and I am told it helps to grow beautiful gardens. This too shall pass. 2018 is around the corner and I have a hunch maybe, just maybe, good things are in store. We survived 2016, and 2017, so hey things have got to chill out eventually right? (If not, we can always look at my cross-eyed DMV photo and have a good laugh.)


What do you have to reckon with that you are resisting? You can do it, really you can.

Now might be a good time for some self-care.

Some lessons are worth learning over and over (and over and over and over) again.

This past weekend I thought, here we go again. It was my semi-annual, perhaps quarterly (at least!) reminder that my essential self-care needs cannot be messed with. To mess with them is to create an imbalance that ripples throughout the whole household. As the saying goes, if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. 

I’m talking about sleep, time alone, and writing.  My three essential self-care items that keep me from turning into Cruella Deville.

IT SEEMS SO SIMPLE, RIGHT? And yet, there I was again, yelling like a shrew at my family this past weekend. All sleep-deprived and self-righteous. (I always become the self-righteous martyr when I’m parenting from an empty cup…look at me, sacrificing for ALL OF YOU, NONE of you whom seem to appreciate my greatness! LOL. NOT A GOOD LOOK FOR YOU, SARAH.)

After a long and difficult weekend I finally faced the music that I was spent. Done. Overcooked in fact. I needed to fill my cup, and fast. I collapsed and slept. A LOT. So much that I took a day off of work to keep sleeping. (It turns out I was really sleep-deprived from short nights with a sick kid last week. Huh.) I sat and watched some old Will & Grace episodes. (Season two, amazing 90s sweaters and longish boy hair cuts. But I digress.) I felt better. I created some art, something that I hadn’t done a lot of recently, spending most of my energy on administrative tasks for my Etsy shop.  (Note to self: balance those tasks with the actual creating of art!)

I was finally back to the woman I was always meant to be! Rested and replenished and once again liking the people in my household.  How had I let this get away from me, once again? Well, over-dependence on caffeine was most certainly one culprit. (I started weaning off coffee last week and this weekend I felt the full extent of my tiredness, no longer masked by delicious highly caffeinated Cuban coffees.)

Coffee aside, you know what else I blame? The damn patriarchy. This idea that somehow demanding time for myself on the weekend is indulgent or not becoming of a mother who works all week and only has weekends to really hang out with her kid. What, you are paying a sitter to watch your kid on the weekend TOO? What kind of monster are you?!

It’s all rubbish of course. Once again I’m back to reminding myself that not only can I not pour from an empty cup, but little eyes are watching me. What do I teach my daughter about taking care of herself, putting herself first, when I don’t do the same for me? And when I DO take time for myself pursuing my passions, I can show her what it means to be a nuanced, multi-faceted woman. Powerful stuff.

You may have heard other speak of self-care as a radical act, and that it most certainly is. I’m thinking it might be so radical that it goes beyond the idea of mere replenishment and recharging (though it is those things, too). I’m beginning to view it as a form of embracing the divine feminine. JUICY I KNOW!

I don’t have time to dive into those thoughts today, but I will tomorrow. After a full night’s sleep and with time to myself to write. Win-win-win!


What’s on your essential care list? Extroverts, I’d love to hear what your list looks like! 

Be here now (no, really!)

What does it look like to be here now?*

(*I started reading Be Here Now, the classic Harvard-prof-drops-acid-expands-mind-seeks-enlightenment-goes-to-India-discovers-guru-but-guess-what-the-guru-is-in-us-all book. It’s awesome. I can’t put it down.)

Let me back up and first say that I used to believe be here now was a way of escaping reality. What do you mean, be here now? I need to think about next week’s fall festival at my daughter’s pre-school which means making a “princess-witch” costume (which is not a thing but my daughter has envisioned it so we will make it a thing). And I need to think about the mortgage payment next week, and blah blah blah blah blah.

I’m starting to really get that being in the here and now is not escaping all of that, no, but in many ways is RECKONING with all of it. Let me give you an example. 

In the here and now I realized that my life was out of balance. In the here and now I realized I was experiencing stress–because all those worries about all the stuff I had to do came bubbling up in the here and now–and by sitting and staring at it in the face I reckoned with it. And in the next here and now (which is not this here and now) I made some hard choices about volunteer gigs I had promised and realized I’d overextended myself (something I do) and in the here and now I said, I cannot do this, something’s gotta give. And in the here and now I cancelled commitments I very much feared cancelling for fear of letting others down, and I faced some shame, gave some love to the shame, and reckoned with it all. Stuff that if I’d pushed away and pushed away would have likely bubbled up in more dramatic ways down the road.

In the here and now I reckon with the fact that I drank too many margaritas with my husband on date night (ok and ate too many chips and salsa too) and saw my weight loss successes diminish. (OUCH.) In the here and now I see that it was easier to blame my husband for the morning’s snafu trying to get our daughter out the door rather than facing the hard reality that she simply struggles with separation anxiety and it is what it whether I like it or not! In the here and now I look at all the laundry, so much laundry, a lot of clean (YAY) but not put away, some if it dirty (sigh) and I think, yikes why can’t I get it together. In the here and now I respond to that critical voice with, hey Sarah I love you doing the best you can juggling the mess of life.

There is no escape in the here and now. There is no hiding in the here and now. Here and now is HARD. It is hard with marriage and a kid. It is hard with the stuff we don’t want to see. But when we see it and face and and release it…wow it transforms.

How can you sit in the here and now? What might you reckon with if you do so? I’m cheering you on. You got this.

~Sarah