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.

That Apple Guy

No not Steve Jobs although I am a big fan of his products.  I’m referring that other apple guy, Sir Isaac Newton, who discovered these universal laws when an apple fell on his head.  Rumour has it.  I never took physics, pretty much avoiding science like the plague when I was in high school, but as I’ve grown older I realized how much I missed out.  I think I would have had a blast in physics.  I still may go back and take a class at some point just to do all those experiments.

So one of the laws The Newt came up with was his third law, that being “for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction”.  I’ve heard this bandied about over the years but never really gave it much thought until recently.  I’d always thought it was that whatever action I did, there was something out there that negated it or zeroed it out.  I had kind of an aha moment when I realized that what it really meant was whatever action or energy I put out to the universe, it generates an energy comes back to me with equal force.  So if I’m putting out negative energy such as “this will never work out” or “I’ll never be successful” or “that’s impossible to accomplish” then that is what I will get back, a whole lot of negative and nothing.  But if I put out positives “I’m going to have a great day” or “I’m going to be a success” or “yes I can” or “I’m going to book a job” then that is what I’m going to get back in spades.  I know it sounds all mystical and touchy-feely but hey, I’m talkin’ physics here.  That’s hard science right?  Can’t argue with a law that’s been around for over 200 years and still remains relevant now can you?

An Important Question

The other day I got to spend the entire day on set filming a short film written, produced and featuring a friend of mine, Grace McPhillips, who most wonderfully included me in this project.  It was a fabulous day indeed.  I was surrounded by a cast and crew that were inspiring in their creativity and professionalism.  It made my heart sing to be around these people.  It was a mix of wise veterans and enthusiastic students which made it all the more energizing.  The set was built from scratch and was incredible.  The creativity of the shots and lighting was spectacular.  I can’t wait to see the end product.

As I left after the end of a 14+ hour day, I was walking to my car in 93 degree heat (and it was almost 10pm at night!) I realized that I had so much fun and was so fulfilled from the day, that if I never made a dime from my efforts, I would do this for the rest of my life.  Realizing that made me stop in my tracks, no easy task carrying several wardrobe options, a rollaboard suitcase, lawn chair and bucket bag filled with overflow necessities.  Independent films are very tightly budgeted so I’ve learned to bring with me any- and everything I might need to get though the day, including bread and water and a place to rest my weary bones.

But back to our story, as I was driving home with a ridiculous grin on my face having acknowledged this wonderful day and the realization that it was indeed something I would do should no money every be offered, I had the thought that I should be asking myself this question with every endeavor I undertake.  If I can answer yes to that question, that is, would I do this if I never make a dime on it?, then it is a endeavor to be followed up on.  I’m pretty sure this qualifier will guide me well as I travel forward.

Delaying Reality

I’m kind of funny when it comes to some things.  Take lottery tickets for example.  I, like I’m sure a lot of other people, purchase lottery tickets when the jackpot gets really big.  Then it’s worth my hard earned bucks.  But one thing I don’t do is check the numbers right away to see if I’ve won.  It’s kind of crazy I know.  But until I check the numbers and am given the final dash of cold water that I’m going to have to achieve my millions just like everyone else – one buck at a time and with hard work and diligence, I’m in a suspended reality that maybe, just maybe, I could have the winning ticket.  So I continue in my fantasizing of all the things I’m going to accomplish with all that cash and of course knowing all along that I’ll be able to handle it in a mature, intelligent responsible way.  HA!

This behavior bleeds over to other areas of my life.  I was out of the country recently (did I mention I was in the UK?  No?  Hmm, I could have sworn I did.  Here come sit next to me, I’ll tell you ALL about it!) so I missed the last 3 episodes of the Oprah Winfrey Show.  I have been a long time fan and viewer, going back to her AM Chicago days when I was in town for a friends wedding and she turned me on to the show.  Over the years, mostly because I was working, my viewing was hit or miss.  When I moved to Chicago though, I was back watching regularly.  The ABC station here ran it twice a day, live in the morning (she used to tape the show at the station) and then again after another of my favorite shows, Nightline.  Which meant I could watch at the end of my day.  I was back in the fold once again and my girl crush was full on.

I’ve been watching religiously, especially since she announced her retirement, collecting lessons and thoughts and memories, storing them away for the day when her wisdom and the wisdom of those she surrounds her with would no longer be a part of my daily life.  But I just can’t watch those last 3 episodes.  Because then the cold water of reality will be unavoidable.  Her show is over and it won’t be back.  I know she’s moving on to new adventures.  There is a time for everything and this time is ended. Avoiding watching them isn’t going to change anything.   I just need to sit down, watch the shows and move on myself.  But I’m dragging my feet every step of the way.

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.

Bruises

Did you ever go through your day, just doing what you do everyday, then get home that night and when you are putting on your pj’s you look down and say, now where did I get that bruise?  I don’t remember banging into something.  Did I get hit in passing?  It’s going to be an ugly one, going to stick around for days.  Hmmm.  That’s a puzzler.

Those are the bruises we can see.  We don’t remember when we got them but we know we have them.  They’ll go through their phases of healing, first black, then green then this putrid yellow, finally just fading into nothing, no trace it was ever there.  It occurred to me, as I looked at 2 I swear got from a virus in the air, that there are other bruises we can’t see and may not know are there.  Like the one I have from the oh-so-wonderful fellow castmate, who as I was about to step on stage for my first line, said “please stop stepping on my lines”.  Wow. Talk about sabotage.  Then there are the ones that are long buried, the ones from the nasty kids at school that shape how we act with others.  Or the ones from our family that were meant to help us (in their minds) but instead cut us most cruelly and undermined our self confidence.  Or the partner whose idea of supporting you is to mention how few feature films ever get made and how many more porn films are made, so maybe you should go into that field.  These are the ones that are the hardest to heal.  Oh we’ve buried them, but they come up at the most inopportune times and smack us right between the eyes with their fresh, ugly purpleness.  Healing those takes a lot of patience, understanding and forgiveness.  And knowledge that it may come around again to smack you with a 2 x 4 in the gut.  But they get better.  And easier to deal with and dismiss.  Hopefully they’ll one day just fade into nothing.

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!