Patching holes

Last summer my brother and brother-in-law came up to help me do some minor repairs that I’d been putting off for quite a while.  It was a very busy weekend but great progress was made which I continued for several weeks after they left.  One of the biggest things they help me take care of were two big holes I had, one in a ceiling due to a leak and the other in a wall due to some long ago plumbing work.  The ceiling hole was the newest of the two but was most definitely the biggest.  The wall hole had been there probably 7 years.  Maybe even longer.  I was pretty astounded I’d let it go that long.  Once it was patched and the walls painted and everything else taken care of, I felt like I had a brand new room.  I couldn’t believe I’d let this go for so long.  But in the rush of life, I’d put these repairs and the tattered state of my home in the background along with all the other visual white noise my brain doesn’t see.  Now I go into that room and it makes me smile every time I flip on the light.

Finally patching the holes and doing these repairs made me realize I’d let quite a few areas of my life become neglected and needing repair.  It seems I’d lost the forest while looking at the daily trees.  Note to self, let’s not let that happen again.  Now where did I put that drill?

Falling

Sports and their analogies are very prevalent in my thinking and writing.  It’s not surprising as sports exists in every culture and at many different levels.  Baseball and Football in the US.  Soccer, Football to the rest of the world, in many, many countries.  And every other year, the Olympics bring to the world sports that we don’t get to see every day.  Sports participants have a relevancy in so many ways, you can’t help but draw from their experiences.

I saw an interview recently from Olympic ice skater Michelle Kwan who said when she started skating (at age 5!) her first coach spent a lot of time teaching her how to fall which really puzzled Michelle.  After all, should she be learning to skate?  What she later realized is her coach knew she’d be falling, and falling a lot, during her career and Michelle needed to learn that falling wasn’t fatal, that it was all part of the process and not really a big deal.  She just needed to pick herself up and get going again.  Falling didn’t end her performance.  She had to continue.  If she allowed herself to become paralyzed from fear when she fell or thinking she might fall, then that was what was going to end her performance.

Falling, and falling again, then falling some more, is what happens every day with almost everything we attempt at life.  Those miserable 10 pounds (ok 25 pounds!)?  So you had a bad day fueling yourself, that doesn’t mean you give up a healthy lifestyle forever.  Yes, you know smoking is bad for you and you know you had a drag when stress got the better of you.  So start right back on your no smoking path the next day.  Those new business clients you were going to research for work?  So maybe you spent the day on the couch channel surfing instead of diligently plugging away at the computer.  Vow to do the needed work first thing tomorrow morning.

Learning to fall and not letting it stop you in your tracks is key to continuing your forward progress.  You might as well admit it’s going to happen.  How you handle this eventuality determines how successful you’ll be in your journey.  And bruises, while not very pretty, do fade.

I’m Having Difficulty…

All too often, I really don’t pay attention to the words I use when I speak to myself.   The language I use isn’t the kindest or the most encouraging.  I say things like “shame on me” and “I can’t”.  The shame on me is pretty harsh and brings down judgment, regret and well, shame.  I’ve been working on this as I used to say it with frequency, not even registering what I was telling myself.  Shame on me.  Wow.  Slips in before you know it.

Then there’s the insidious “I can’t”.  Boy oh boy does that one creep in faster than a speeding bullet.  It’s not always verbalized but it’s there nonetheless.  It’s there when I fall short of a goal and don’t keep trying to meet it.  It’s there when I think it’s too cold/hot outside to work out.  It’s there when I don’t get hired for a VO or On Camera gig and I rationalize with I can’t be the voice, or the image they have in their mind.  It’s there more than I realize.  And I’m not one to give up easily on things.  Remember I’m the queen of “me do it”.  But it still exists in my vernacular anyway.  Saying “I can’t” is saying there’s absolutely no way to make something happen.  And there’s always a way to work around a problem or figure out a solution.

I’m not asking for superhuman efforts or perfection of myself.  What I’m asking for is a rethinking of the language I use to talk to myself.  Instead of saying “I can’t” I’m going to try to start saying “I’m having difficulty”.  It may be semantics but I think the way we talk to ourselves and to others has a far greater impact than I’ve realized in the past.  And it’s not one big change that will make a big difference but the thousands of little changes I make in my everydayness that will help me achieve my goals.

Putting It All Together

We’ve all done it.  Attended a conference, workshop or diet farm where we learned oodles of great tips and skills to help us get to the next level in whatever we are trying to achieve.  Our bags are stuffed with great ideas we have every intention of implementing the moment we arrive home.  This is a new beginning by golly and we’re going to just soar with all we’ve learned.  Then our feet cross the threshold of our homes and all that great knowledge, drive and determination go poof! right out of our noggin.  And before we know it, 4 months have passed, you’re cleaning out your office and what’s this?  Oh, it’s that stuff from that thing I went to back when.  What was it I was going to do with all that stuff?  I’ll just push it aside for a while longer.

This time, I’m really going to try to have a different outcome.  I’m going to put together a schedule for myself and make every attempt to stick to it.  It will take self discipline and determination and I know I may fall off the wagon but I’ll really try to get back on track.  Wish me luck!

Silly Obstacles

I stopped writing for a while.  I couldn’t figure out why as I really enjoyed doing it.  And for the most part I appreciated the comments and the feedback I received from the 3 people that read my posts and commented.  But for some reason I just couldn’t bring myself to continue with the endeavor.  And it was really bugging me that I couldn’t pinpoint the cause or the event that precipitated my ceasing to put fingers to keys (the modern day version of pen to paper I guess!).  I let it sit for a really long time and didn’t do anything about it.  I didn’t even think about the issue, or so I thought.  It was never far from my brain.  I’d ruled out having nothing to say because honey I ALWAYS have something to say.  Just ask my closest friends and family.  I’m sure they’d admit under their breath and out of my hearing that me having nothing to say would be a refreshing change of pace.  But there you have it, I’m a talker.  And a writer.

So what was with this aversion all of the sudden?  After cogitating (see Willie Shakespeare, I can make up words too!) on it for several weeks, ok months I know, I think I may have figured it out.  And it’s a situation that isn’t going to go away, especially if I have the kind of career I want to have going forward.  The details of the issue aren’t important.  What is key here is realizing I was letting someone stop me from expressing myself fully.  That’s an old behavior I thought I’d put on the shelf long ago.  Apparently not.  I was surprised it reared back up but there you have it.  It’s back and needs to be dealt with.  And the pen needs to be put to paper once again.

Coagulation

I haven’t written for a while.  At first it was a break because I was in the middle of shooting the web series I’m producing.  Then the holidays rushed in to take my attention with all the shopping, wrapping and requisite joy.  Once that subsided, I kept thinking I needed to get back to writing but never did.  So I figured I really didn’t have anything to say.  I would write when something came to me, but it never did.  I gave up trying to force it.

Three nights ago, I was researching insurance companies because I need to find health insurance.  This has been going on for several weeks as it is such an overwhelming process and I kept putting it off.  Going through it makes me long for the days when I was a corporate employee and I had to just pick from 2 choices that were clearly identified -HMO or PPO.  It’s enough to almost go back to the 9-5 grind…almost.  Anywho, this research extended well into the next day.  It was so complicated that I kept getting frustrated, stopping and turning to web surfing, email, TV, anything to get my mind off this monumental task. I kept having to pull myself back to the task at hand.   Which didn’t make my focus or my progress very good.  Finally by early evening, I had narrowed down my choices on 3 different providers and sent off a note to my insurance broker with my selections and a some questions for her.

Then a funny thing happened.  I truly felt a physical sense of relief.  I relaxed.  As I moved the now 2 inch file off my desk, I could feel my brain shifting.  For the first time in a long time, I felt like writing.  So I did.  And not just one post but two with ideas for 2 more.  And I started thinking of ideas I’d like to either produce, write or act in.  The creative juices started flowing again…finally!  I didn’t realize it at first, but when I noticed what I was working on, it hit me that I’d been so stressed about this insurance thing that it had stunted all my thinking.  The very nature of this insurance project and the fact that I’d put it off for so long, had taken all my energy away from everything I love to do.  My brain was just existing, it wasn’t thriving.  Creativity had slowed to a halt, and the insurance stuff had coagulated my imagination.

I’m not through this process yet.  And it’s an awful process.  But you better believe I’m going to attack the next step much faster and with less agita.  Peeling the bandaid off slowly just extends the pain.  Better to rip it off, feel the momentary ouch and move on.

Staying Enthused

I’m in the middle of a big project.  One that has been in the writing and planning stages for several months now.  It’s a web series called Mags N Mel that I’ve co-written with Maritza Cabrera and we are co-producing and starring in it.  It’s been a lot of work to get to this point and now we are halfway through shooting all the episodes.  A feeling I used to feel when I was doing a play is starting to come over me and I’m a bit surprised at it’s appearance.

When you are planning something big there is a lot of excitement and enthusiasm leading up to the commencement of it.  Months of planning, writing, rehearsing, what ifs and how abouts.  All leading up to that first day or first performance or first launch.  There’s so much energy in the air, you can feel it.  Then you start and that feeling carries you through the first day or so.  And then you realize, this is going to be a grind.  More so that I thought it would be.  And that feeling always surprises me because I don’t expect it.  It’s happened midway through the run of a play, when my closet contents are spread all over the floor and when I’ve commenced a complicated craft project.  That’s when the “ugh” factor kicks in and it’s not fun anymore.  It’s work.  I thought it was going to be fun!

We started this project for various reasons, to get ourselves in the Screen Actors Guild, put ourselves and our friends to work, create content and put our writing skills to use.  All of these objectives have been accomplished but the project isn’t finished yet.  Finding the enthusiasm and the drive not to mention the money to finish what I’ve started isn’t going to be easy but finishing it will be so rewarding.  This is usually when I wish I had Samantha Stevens bewitching nose to just twinkle it into completion!

The Truth Will Set You Free

Recently I wrote a post that was inspired by another blog written by Seth Godin.  In it, I was pretty harsh with my self criticism and received quite a bit of feedback saying I was too hard on myself and I should look at all I’d accomplished so far.  I was surprised at the reaction and wondered if I indeed had been too hard on myself.

I don’t think so and here’s why.  Humans are wonderfully able to fool themselves into thinking they are thinner than they really are, more wealthy than their bank accounts would reveal, are smarter than all others and work harder than anyone else around them.  We’ve all run into people who make you shake your head in their total lack of self awareness and the ensuing “Are they for real?!!”  All too often we fool ourselves into a reality that isn’t based in any truth.  And when you work for yourself and don’t have a boss or a spouse or some other accountability person giving us the stink eye when we say we’ve been working really hard, being brutally self honest is extremely important.  Let’s face it, no one cares about you or your projects more than you.  Ok maybe your Mom does but in her eyes she thinks you do no wrong.  Assessing your progress with honesty allows you to move forward with renewed purpose and vigor.

So I’m ok with what I wrote.  Just so you know, I’m firmly in the altered reality with regards to my weight but one reality check at a time please!

A Well Deserved Kick in the Rear

Seth Godin’s blog is something I read every day and have mentioned to here several times.  I have to say this guy’s writing is so on the mark.  He makes very relevant points more often than not and puts out an incredibly consistent amount of good content.  The consistent part is what I truly admire.

Today’s post was another home run.  He talks about the world’s worst boss.  And he’s telling me to point the finger right back at myself.  When I did, I didn’t like what I saw.  After reviewing my work this past week, I think I would have fired me, or at least put me on probation.  My organization, time management, productivity and employee (me) development was mediocre at best.  The only thing I have going for me is the amount of hours I put in.  But many of those hours were spent cruising websites and tracking down obscure info that really couldn’t be mistaken for revenue producing activity.  When I was managing, I would look very hard at my employees when they were goofing off for long periods of time.  Sure there were times that we were slower than molasses and this helped balance the crazier-than-a-loon’s-nest times.  And I am not inhuman enough to recognize the need to unwind a bit after an intense amount of activity.

But, I can honestly say I haven’t had that insane amount of activity lately, certainly not on a consistent basis.  I haven’t really earned the right to goof off as much as I’ve been allowing myself to.  My lack of planning my day has left me to flit from activity to activity in a very unfocused way with the results being haphazard at best.  To be fair, I have launched a major project that has taken much of my time and attention these past few weeks.  I’m starring in and co-producing a web series called Mags N Mel.  It’s my first time producing anything and it’s been overwhelming with all the details to take care of.  But we are only shooting 1 day a week over several weeks which is a very manageable shoot schedule.  Although I’m not getting paid (cheap producers!), this is an important project in that it has made me eligible to join the Screen Actor’s Union.

What I haven’t been focusing on are projects and auditions that will directly result in generating revenue.  And I knew what I was doing.  I wasn’t being honest with myself and calling a spade a spade.

So now that I know what I’m doing, the real key is to not continue the behavior.  They say the first step to recovery is to recognize the bad behavior.  The bigger second step is to not repeat the behavior expecting a different result.  That’s the difficult part.  First I have to get this big boot out of my rear though.

Living Through It All Again

It’s been a really tough couple of weeks.  My focus has been awful, sleep has been interrupted at best, my emotions all over the place, I can’t write anything for lack of concentration and my productivity non-existent.  It started in a subtle way and was hardly noticeable but before I knew it the wheels had come completely off the bus and it was a train wreck of chaos.   I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  Maybe it was the change in the seasons.  After all, we’ve been living with tropical storm winds for over 72 hours now and it was starting to get on my nerves.  Maybe it was my moon was in Virgo and Pisces was in retrograde.  Maybe it was my biorhythms (remember those?!)

Whatever it was I kept plowing ahead feeling like I had a lead shoes on my feet and a kryptonite helmet on my head.  Nothing was coming very easy.  Everything was a challenge.  It was really starting to get to me.

But last night I was awoken yet again at around 4:09amish but this time I remembered the dream I was dreaming just before I woke up.  I was being laid off all over again.  There were a few minor details that weren’t the same, like for some reason my Mom was with me and what I was cleaning out of my files included lots of bags of vegetables and a squashed PB&J sammie which I never took to work, but everything else was the same.  Except for one vital thing, this time I wasn’t happy to be leaving to start my new life, this time I was anxious and worried.

AHA!  Finally some enlightenment.  You see the past several weeks I’ve been looking for new health insurance.  I stayed on my old plan because it was really good and surprisingly wasn’t super expensive.  But now I’m making the last break with my old life and it’s a biggie.  I never realized how difficult it is to compare and select plans because for so many years I just picked between the 2 plans my job offered.  Now I’m having to do all the leg work and evaluation by myself and apparently I’m a lot more anxious about this than I thought I was.  What a relief to finally realize what was holding me back and to identify the dark cloud in my mind.

I think I’ve found a few plans that I’m interested in.  Once I get that done I’ll be able to get back to my new life with excitement, hope and energy.  It’s funny how something can weigh on you and you don’t even know it.  But it sure is great to figure it out and take the boogy out of the boogy man.