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!

Standing on Their Shoulders

I mentioned a few days ago I’d spent some time in the UK recently.  I made a point to cram in as much of the history as I possibly could.  And history from all periods in time.  I went to Stonehenge with it’s mystical stone formations from people long disappeared.  From there to Stratford where Mr. Shakespeare was born and raised and returned once his success was ensured.  He was a climber of the first degree.  He built a then, and actually still today, huge 22 room house to show those townspeople what the glove maker’s son had achieved.  And in the meantime introduced to the world over a thousand words and hundreds of phrases still in use today.  Then to the palace’s and castles of the Kings and Queens of the Tudors, Stewarts, Hanovers and Windsors that led to the formation of the good ol’ USA and the eventual up-yours of the Revolutionary War.  Realizing I was standing on floors older than my entire country is a bit sobering.  And that includes the James Colony settlers.  Then to the only surviving original operating room (remember I’m a medical geek) and all the scary gadgets that passed for medical instruments back then.  Finally to the horrific and unrelenting conditions of the London blitz during World War II.  The smoke, darkness and confusion must have been overwhelming.

Being lucky enough to be able to see these amazing and important places and to have the thirst for knowing more is a gift I am most grateful for.  I realized somewhere along the way that all these things and many, many more, lead to where I am at the moment.  The struggle of early women for equality.  The rise of the middle class and the expansion of education for all.  The artists and performers that braved humiliation and sometimes persecution to bring art to all.  The formidable thinkers who saw far beyond their place and situation in time and created laws and institutions that protect and motivate todays leaders.  I could go on and on.  As I sometimes do.  But my long winded point here is that none of this happened in a vacuum for any of us and it ain’t a bad idea to get a little familiar with whose shoulders you’re standing on as you climb out of your current place on to the next rung in the ladder.  I know you’ll find my boob tube tuned to the History Channel a bit more in the future.

Words, Words, Words

I’ve just returned from an extended holiday in the UK.  It was first vacation I’ve had in probably 8 years that wasn’t work related, even though there was a smidge of work done on the trip.  This time I went further than just the city of London, which is one of my favorite cities on earth.  Even though I was a French major in college and have a fondness for Paris, I absolutely adore and am in serious crush with England.  And it returned the affection.  The weather was fabby, the people wonderful and the sites everything I’d want them to be.

I’d hoped to do more inhaling of the accent than I was able to but circumstances prevented that.  What I did do was listen to all the talking going on around me, which was so easy to do on the tube.  And for a word junkie like me, it was quite the treat.  I’d read somewhere that Americans use about 2000 words but the Brits use approximately 5000 words.  Very soon I was suffering from word envy.  And it was a serious case of the green eyed monster.  They use the language so richly that I was embarrassed to open my mouth sometimes.  Not really but you get my drift.  When you are in the presence of someone who has more skill than you do at something, a shyness comes about when you realize that you don’t measure up to their expertise and you’d be a fool to even try.

Instead of letting this stop me, I’m resolving to try to increase my master of language and all the wonderful words we have available to use.  After all, I just visited the home of where so many words were created hundreds of years ago.  I wouldn’t be doing my travels justice if I didn’t at least try.  So fair warning dear reader, you may need a dictionary nearby in the future.

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.

Sliding into Home

I have been blessed with 8 nieces and nephews.  More nephews than nieces but I’m partial to both.  My brother and sisters were kind enough to select me to be the Godmother of the oldest and the youngest, both boys.  Let me tell you, the youngest one is a pistol and being around him is a blast.  He’s sharp as a tack and built like a toddler linebacker, an interesting combination.  The oldest one is very observant, serious, smart, impatient and likes to know he’s got a handle on everything, that’s he’s in control of his environment.  He’s a good student although I wish he liked to read more as it opens up your world so much.  Whatever Aunt Pam.  Sometimes I feel as if I’ve turned into the adults from the Peanuts cartoon when I’m talking to the kids, so much “wah, wah, wah”.  But start talking to him about sports and watch his face light up.  He’s a huge sports fan, from baseball to golf to football to basketball.  He’s truly a student of the game and it shows in how much he can tell you about any subject.  He’s also an active participant of several sports.  He plays football in the fall, baseball in the spring and has a really nice natural golf swing he breaks out in the summer, which makes his Nana very happy to see.

Since it is Spring, we are in the midst of baseball season for all the kids even the girls.  Every game counts for each team as it gets closer to the playoffs.  This particular game was a real nail biter as it went down to the closing innings and our team was behind.  My nephew is leading off third as the pitcher throws a wild pitch.  He takes off down the baseline and slides into home plate.  Only his cleat catches on the base and his leg goes one way and he goes the other.  Followed by the pitcher falling on him.  Snap!  You could hear it pretty far away.  Both bones, tibia and fibula, broken.  As he was being carried off the field for the trip to the emergency room, tears streaming down his face, he looks up at his coach and asks “was I safe?”  He was.  As the tears resume, he stops them once again to ask “did we win?”  The game wasn’t over but it was the go ahead run.

Pretty amazing.  Not the part that made me smile, the questions that were topmost in his mind, but the total commitment he had to taking advantage of an error and getting to home plate.  Nothing was going to deter him.  His goal was to get to home plate no matter what.  There’s something to be learned from this terrible experience.  There will be obstacles and sometimes setbacks as you pursue what you want.  But being completely fearless and totally committed will get you the results you want in the end.  Oh, and they did win the game…by one run.

Recalculating

If you own a GPS, you know that word.  I don’t think the person voicing it meant to be as accusatory as it sounds when you make a turn contradictory to the directions the computer feels you should be following.  Sometimes you know where you are headed so you aren’t complying with the preset path, you just need the computer to keep you up to date on what your ETA will be.  Other times, you remember you need something and make a pit stop on the way.  Sometimes you genuinely get turned around and go the wrong direction.  Either way, you get the GPS all discombobulated and she’s clattering away, “recalculating….recalculating…recalculating”  I know! I know! you want to scream.  Just chill out while I get myself back on path.

It often seems this way with accomplishing our goals.  We think there is only one way to achieve them but then something or someone bumps us off that path and before you know it, your internal GPS is saying “recalculating” as you get your bearings and get back on track.  Being flexible enough to take this all in and not let it deter you from continuing on is key to making progress and not quitting.  There’s never just one way to get to your destination and knowing you just need to recalculate your way takes a lot of the anxiety away from those bumps and bruises.  And hearing a less obnoxious voice in your head certainly won’t hurt!

Finding Heroes

Reading biographies is something I truly enjoy doing.  I buy into the fantasy and believe these words just came flowing out of the authors mouth perfectly onto the paper.  Ghost writers?  What are those?  I choose not look behind the curtain to see the main moving the levers and pushing the buttons.  Reading about another’s journey and what got them to where they are today is very inspiring to me.  I usually pick up something that lights my fire and keeps me going in a forward direction on my own journey.  Usually these people have reached a level of expertise, celebrity or notoriety that would allow a biography to be written.

Every once in a while I come across a story that isn’t like this.  The subjects aren’t famous.  They haven’t climbed to the top of their field.  They may not even have a field.  They are simple people trying everyday to reach beyond their present circumstances.  And their stories are every bit as compelling and inspiring, sometimes even more so, than those of the celebrated.  Such was the case with a documentary I recently watched, Waiting for Superman.  It’s been on my video cue for several months but I kept pushing frothier fare in front of it.  But I found myself on a long flight and it was in my bag.  And let me tell you, it was gripping.  Several times tears were just streaming from my eyes.  My heart was breaking for these kids.  If you haven’t watched it, do yourself a huge favor and put in on your must watch list immediately.  You’ll thank yourself.  The struggle of parents to get a better education for their kids was heartbreaking.  And when things didn’t turn out their way, they didn’t give up, they tried another route.  Nothing was going to stop them from getting a better life for their kids than they had.  And you know this is going on everyday, in every home, with single or dual parents, rich or poor, PHD’s or barely GED’s.  Parents realize a good education is the ticket to success for their children and they were going to move heaven and earth to make it happen.

That single mindedness, resolve and quiet determination really hit home with me.  It’s so easy to point to the celebrity or sport elite for inspiration but the real heroes are those that just keep plugging away, day after day in their anonymity, doing the best they can with what life throws their way.  They are real heroes.