Sunday, October 28, 2012

Damn, Were My Parents Write, er RIGHT All Along?!?!?!

My parents are/were writers.  Journalists.  My dad was an old school, notebook-toting (that's an actual notebook, not a computer. Y'know, those books with lined paper inside them that you write in with a pen?), on-the-beat, in the neighborhood, interviewing people in person reporter.  He got to know the people in the neighborhoods where he journeyed to write his stories.  He did his research the old fashioned way, with microfilm, books, and going to the library.  When he started writing for the first of many newspapers he would work at, they still had copy boys and presses.  The reporters, mostly men, would sit at their desks, banging away on typewriters, smoking like chimneys, and answering their phones grumpily, as if they couldn't bear to be interrupted.
When computers and email came along, it was far too clean and quiet for him. He missed the days of alcohol-and-tobacco strained voices yelling out "Copy!" at which a boy would come running, pick up a mimeographed or carbon-copied bunch of pages, and race them to the editor's desk.

My mom tunes out everything when she's writing.  And I mean EVERYTHING.  And don't think for a second that my brother and I didn't take full advantage of that when we were kids.  Caught inhaling an entire pint of ice cream with chocolate sauce? "But Ma said we could!"  And she did!
She just hadn't realized, at the time, what she'd agreed to.
I imagine our voices, when she was working, sounded like the adults in the all the "Charlie Brown" TV specials.
We'd also test her:  "Ma, I'm going out."
"OK hon."
"I'm gonna meet up with Annie and Jane * and we're gonna go rob the savings bank."
"That's nice, have fun sweetie."
"Then I thought we'd go liberate a few nuclear warheads and start WWIII."

And so on.

My brother and I were basically wise-asses.

Our parents tried to get us to follow in their footsteps.  And for a while, when I was quite young, I figured I would.  Because, at the age of 9, one's career path tends to be a bit vague.
Then, the following year, the Acting Bug bit, and that was it.

But my parents never really gave up their quest, at least as far as I was concerned.  When my brother went into law enforcement, I think they realized that the only kinds of writing he'd be doing were police reports and traffic tickets.  But there was hope for me; after all, I was in a creative field, and writing was something I could "fall back on."
Yeah.  Most parents of aspiring actors tell them to take accounting classes.  Mine told me to write.
Because it's such a SECURE profession!

My rebellion was to do the opposite and avoid writing whenever possible.

When my kids came along, my parents told me to write down their exploits, which would make great fodder.  I refused.  Having been the subject of such fodder for many years when my dad wrote a column (and worse, when both parents got together and wrote a book about their marriage and kids, the Title of Which Shall Not Be Spoken in my presence), I was not about to turn around and do that to my offspring.

But lately, writing has been a bit of a saving grace for me. I'm sitting and writing a few days a week.  Not anything that anyone will ever see.  Not yet.  I'm just enjoying the process.  And, it turns out, it's good for my sanity.  Sitting in a cafe with a cup of coffee and vomiting words out into a notebook (yes, the kind with lined paper inside that you write in with a pen) is fun and therapeutic.  I guess that this apple didn't fall so far from the tree, after all.  Not that I ignore my kids or chase down politicians, mind you.  I'll never have a byline, a sandwich named after me at a local deli, or be painted into a mural at a local pub.

But I AM writing.  Who knows, maybe someday I'll actually show someone something I've written.  Actually, I did:  I dug out a very short play I'd written about 12 years ago and submitted it to a local theater for consideration in their 10-minute plays festival.  It didn't get chosen.  I wasn't really expecting it to. And last year I helped write a play with a group of students, which they performed for their families and friends.

Many of my own friends have become writers.  One wrote an entire season of "In Treatment" for HBO, as well as contributing to "A Gifted Man."  Another developed, writes, directs, and produces "Last Resort." And yet another has a play that will open on Broadway soon.  I'm not trying to be in the same league with them.

At least, not yet.
(Cue evil laughter!)

But I was just reading an article about writers who also meditate, and how the practice informs their writing.  The columnist spoke to 5 or 6 mystery authors, and one of them said that it's important to enjoy the writing process, and not just think about the finished product.
Which is what I'm doing now.  It doesn't have to be perfect. Heck, it doesn't even have to be GOOD.

It just needs to be written down.
In a notebook.
With a pen.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Monday, October 22, 2012

What a Difference a Week Makes

Last week I was wondering how much longer I'd continue to teach Pilates.
Now I know: Until the end of the year.
I'm giving up my classes and private clients.  I've told almost everyone: I haven't told my boss or students at the gym where I teach my Saturday class yet.  I know they'll be bummed.  And I'll miss them, but I also know I'm doing the right thing.  I'm a big believer in following my instincts (once I've gathered up my courage to do so, which can take QUITE a while, lol!) and also in signs.  Not, y'know "Stop" and "Yield" and "Caution, Wet Floor,"  you don't really have to BELIEVE in those, they definitely exist, and I definitely pay attention! But SIGNS.  Messages from the Universe, or G-d, or my dad, my grandparents, or whomever is watching out for me and mine (and someone absolutely is: I have done some DUMBASS things in my life:  Let me tell ya, whoever got assigned as my guardian angel has been working overtime!) that I don't always pay attention to.

I believe I've written before about the Cosmic Duh?
Yeah, sometimes I don't do subtle very well. I need the celestial equivalent of an ACME anvil dropped on me before I get it.
I am the universe's Wyle E. Coyote.

Sometimes it's hard to remember that things usually happen for a reason, and that reason may not become clear right away. It's VERY easy, however, to get caught up in the day-to-day stress of life.
I was thinking about this last night: When we bought our first piece of property, a condo in L.A., we weren't allowed to bring our dog with us.  He was a Malamute, and the previous owner had had an untrained husky who'd wreaked all sorts of havoc.  We tried: begging, pleading, cajoling, brownies, letting the board get to meet him so he could charm the pants offa them (which he did, but, thankfully, not literally).  They were very apologetic, but rules were rules, and big dogs simply weren't allowed anymore.
So he came here, to live with my in-laws.  Which, in all honesty, was better for him. L.A. was hot, we didn't have a yard, and the condo was quite small.  Here he had milder weather, a big house, a yard, and his best doggy friend in the world to live and play with.  And we visited frequently. I even took jobs that kept me here for a month or two.  For their own sake, yes, but with the added bonus of being near him. He was my baby before I had babies.  :)  He lived out his days here quite happily.
As a result of all this, we frequently visited the Pasadena Humane Society on the lookout for a small dog.  And there was where we found Luna: 6 months old, adorable, sweet, and, ultimately, ours.  And we were hers.  If the condo board had let us keep Tundra with us, then Luna would never have been a part of our lives, and that would have been tragic. She was meant to be with us, and we with her.  She was an amazing pup, and she was loved by so many people.  Last night LG asked again if Luna was sleeping, and I told him that, yes, Luna had to go to sleep forever.  But that she's happy and with her canine cohorts.
There are still moments when missing her is a physical ache, but I had a dream about her the other night.  I think she was telling me she's OK. Probably getting her butt rubbed by Dad.
And Chopper, my S-I-L's pit bull, comes up to our room every day to visit and cuddle. He misses Luna, and he knows I miss her too. This would be a lot harder without him. He's a big, goofy bundle of pure love.

So as I stress out about jobs, money, the election, the MLB playoffs (go Giants!), I try to keep in mind that Things Happen For A Reason.

And the fact is, Pilates served a purpose for a few years. I made some money, got out of the house, got good workouts, and had a chance to talk to other adults.  I met people I wouldn't have otherwise.  I certainly don't regret it, it's just time to move on.
Even living in L.A. and feeling beaten down served a purpose.  I now know not to let other people determine my value.  I also was able to open my perspective quite a bit: Until that point, my entire life since the age of 10 had been focused on acting (with some teaching thrown in).  I was forced to discover other things in life.  And, of course, it allowed me to focus on my kids.
I come back to it now with a much broader perspective: I may be a little rusty, but I'm older and much, much wiser, with more experience not just as a theater person, but as a Person.

And, again, I take a good, hard look at the things I'm drawn to, whether it's a TV show, an actor, a painting, a book, yoga, whatever.  There's a REASON I'm drawn to it/them. They make life better, and they give me a clue as to what I need to follow my heart.
I'm also learning not to feel guilty for going after what I want. It will not only make me happy, I'll set the kind of example I want to set for my kids, I'll be a better mom, a better wife, a better everything.  Being a martyr never helps anyone, and, quite frankly, martyrs are annoying.
There's a reason they're celebrated only after they're dead!

OK.  So. A new day, a new week, and a new temperature (the heat has finally broken and we're actually getting some much-needed rain).  Hopefully Hubby and I can take our 3rd hike this week, and life will continue on apace.

Peace out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Just finished an hourlong walk around a nearby reservoir.  I only did a bit over 3 miles, but much of it was uphill.  Plus, I was carrying a backpack.  That counts for something, right?  :)
It's very woodsy there, and there was a family of deer having lunch by the trail.
It's also RIGHT on top of the San Andreas fault, so it's never dull...
I have the day off today.  Spent some time at the bookstore and realized I may be (gasp!) losing my taste for my froofy-girly-coffee drinks.  I may actually prefer my iced soy lattes (made with unsweetened soy milk and VERY strong coffee) with a bit of stevia mixed in to the mochafrappawhippedcreamsugarbombs.

Whoulda thunk it?!?!

I AM trying to cut down on sugar, dairy, and gluten.

In other news, it is HAWT here today!   It feels like summer.  And summer kinda felt like fall.
I'm so confused.
But that may be due to the fact that I had four hours of sleep last night, and I'm starting to feel a little punchy. I figure it's about 5 more hours until I can convince the kids to go to bed.  In the meantime, there are baths to be given, dinner to be prepared, and a presidential debate which I will sort-of watch (tuning in for a minute or two here and there) like I did the VP debate last week.
Because they make me nervous.

Have I mentioned how much I HATE election years?
The good thing is I watch a lot less TV than I used to, so I'm not inundated with campaign ads. The bad news is my F-I-L is a news junkie, so the TV downstairs is on cable news. All.  Flippin'. Day.  When I go downstairs to make dinner I wear my headphones and listen to music so I don't have to hear the talking heads.

Yes, I have issues.
But don't worry, I'm in therapy.

And in still, I have a new workout buddy!  It's Hubby!!!!!  Last Friday I met him at his workplace and we went for a hike during his lunch break.  The VA clinic is right by Fort Miley/Land's End, which overlooks the Pacific, has great walking trails, and leads one to a gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge. And he is, as you may know, quite athletic, so he knows all the fun trails.  We're meeting again on Thursday. I'm hoping it can be a weekly thing.
'Cause you know what they say about the couple that hikes together. lots of great stuff...outside.
(Like the fuzzy caterpillar we saw last week!!!!!)
I also broke down and ordered a new set of yoga DVDs.  Since I can't get to the studio, I'll bring the studio to me. I'm going to try to do those 3 days a week.  They're only 20-35 minutes, but they're pretty intense. I figure that's pretty doable.  Combine those with my walks/hikes, and the occasional swim/bike ride, and I will be a happy camper.

OK.  Off to cook dinner for the kiddos.
Have a good one!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sometimes I Forget

That my main job, my full-time job, is being a mom.  Not that I forget I have kids, but that raising them is, in fact, a more-than-full-time job.  A recent study published in "Real Simple" magazine showed that if a stay-at-home-mom were considered a CEO and paid what she's worth, she'd earn $112,000/year.  She works an average of 94 hours a week (although I think that number is low, especially if she has kids with special needs).
Because my kids are now in school, I forget how much energy I expend taking care of them.  Because it's not just about taking care of them physically, it's also about shopping for/preparing food, doing laundry, meeting with their teachers, scheduling their doctor's/dentist's/therapy (for their autism) appointments, getting them to and from said appointments, keeping the house somewhat sanitary, etc  Along with working my 3 out-of-the-home jobs, trying to fit in my workouts, and maybe, some time for myself and with my husband.
It's making me wonder how much longer I can, and SHOULD, hang on to my Pilates classes.

When I was in my 20's (and before I was a mom) I worked multiple jobs in multiple cities.  It wasn't uncommon for me to teach a class, drive 2 hours, stay overnight, teach another class, drive another 2 hours back, do a performance, go home, wake up, and do it all again. There's no way I can do that anymore, lol!
And as much as I want to get back onstage, I have to wonder if, at this point, I have the energy for it.

I also wonder if I'm holding myself back:  Right now I'm teaching Pilates mainly for the paycheck.  It's not fair to my clients, and it's not fair to me. It's absolutely not fair to the kids.  Maybe, if I were to give it up entirely, other opportunities would arise in the field I want to focus on.  That's usually the way it works, I've found.
Plus, there's the simple fact that I am spreading myself too thin. I am plum exhausted, and I cannot continue on this road. (Plus I really shouldn't be THIS tired after 8 solid hours of sleep.) I want to have energy, at the end of the day, to hang out with my kids, and right now I just don't.  I'm shirking my most important responsibility, and that feels awful!
This weekend I spent A LOT of time with the kids, and they really responded to that!  It was amazing!  See, the thing is, even though they're not toddlers anymore, they still need me.  And I need time to be with them. When I wake up every Saturday morning grousing because I have to go teach, that's PROBABLY a sign that maybe I'm experiencing a little burnout.  It's also more time away from my kids, time when we could be riding bikes or going on the train or taking a walk. Time for the four of us, which is a rare commodity these days.

Time.  As Voice of the Beehive says, "Time is a distance that you can't retract by miles."  The kids are growing up so fast, and I don't want to miss it.
So perhaps it's TIME for me to let go of what's not working for us, and embrace what is.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

And Another Thing...

Expanding on a bit of yesterday's topic, which got me thinking.  I have FINALLY realized that I am a highly-sensitive person.  OK, I've known that for some time.  Except I used to think of myself as an OVERLY-sensitive person. That it was like a disease, and something I needed to get over or else I would never, ever be happy/successful/fulfilled/strong.
The thing is, it takes a WHOLE LOTTA STRENGTH to navigate this world with sensitivity, more so than it does without. If one is without large reserves of empathy, thoughtfulness, consideration, one feels less.  It's easier to get by without guilt, without caring.  Being selfish, not being thoughtful, not bothering to put oneself in another's shoes, all of that makes life a whole lot easier, I would imagine.
I made the mistake, for a long time, of assuming everyone felt things the way I did.  Of course they don't:we're all unique, after all.  And as I listened to the criticism ("G-d, you're so SENSITIVE!  Lighten up!  It's just a joke") I wondered what was wrong with me.
Well, as it turns out, NOTHING.  I'm far from perfect, but I'm also not the weak, fragile, not-living-in-the-real-world china doll that many have accused me of being.  In fact, I'd wager that if ANY of those folks switched places with me for a day, they'd run out the door screaming by the end of it.  They couldn't handle my life.
And, actually, a few of them have even told me that.  "I don't know how you do it" is a refrain I hear more and more these days.  It doesn't make me a hero, or special, or any of that.  But it DOES make me STRONG.  Resilient.  I've had a whole bunch of crap flung at me in my 43 years, and I'm still here.
The truth is, when people try to insult me, they're saying a whole lot more about themselves than they are about me.  I've said it before, I'll say it again:  Just because someone has an opinion of me doesn't mean I have to believe it. And just because I do things differently doesn't mean I'm wrong.
I spent way too many years trying to be what others wanted me to be.  To do things their way.  And ended up more confused than Sybil.  The harder I tried to make people like me, the less they did.
So screw it.  Like me or don't, I don't particularly care.  You have the right to your opinion.  But if you try to shove it down my throat, you're gonna find yourself covered in spit-up.
The simple fact is, most people are out for themselves first.  Putting their own interests ahead of everyone else, often including their own kids.  Fine.  But don't expect ME to be like that. I'm no martyr, but I'm also not a drama queen.  I save it for the stage!  :)

At the end of the day, I'd rather be who I am, sensitivity and all, than someone else. I know a good number of people who are successful, well-off, attractive, etc., but don't really give a rip about anyone else.  That seems like a pretty hollow existence, to me. I may be struggling financially, I may be fat, I'm definitely prone to anxiety and depression, but at least I give a sh*t.
For the time being I may have to live with the drama, the noise, the passive-aggressive complaining, the veiled insults.  But i DON'T have to let them shame me!  I have NOTHING to be ashamed of! And, finally, FINALLY, I realize that I am NOT someone to merely be tolerated, I am someone to be CELEBRATED. And whomever doesn't see that, well, that's their blindness, not a failing in me.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Farewell, Facebook!

I'm ending my relationship with Facebook.  Or, as I prefer to call it, Timesuck.  I seriously spend waaaaaaaay too much time there. And stuff that needs to get done falls by the wayside. I'm also a glutton for punishment, getting into political discussions with mean, nasty trolls, which I know will upset me, but I do it anyway.  And, being the overly-sensitive type, I don't handle it well when people who say they are my friend, people I've known and liked for many years, loop me in with groups of people they hate and say nasty things about us.  I know I'm not "supposed to" take it personally, but I do.  And I always will.  I try not to lump people into stereotypes, and I appreciate it when others do the same.  Unfortunately that seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
*Sigh*  I suppose I'm just a morally superior human being.  :)
As The Doctor said to Rose, when she warned him not to leave the TARDIS because there were soldiers waiting outside who had guns:
"And I don't, which makes me the better person.  They may shoot me dead, but the moral high ground is mine."
I'm debating whether I should first suspend it, or go ahead and just delete it.  I have some things on my wall that I really like.  We'll see.  Either way, in the grand scheme of things, it's not THAT big of a deal.  And I have a feeling I'll be a lot happier. Once I get over the withdrawal symptoms.

In other news, I've been a bit lax with my workouts the past few days.  As in, over the past 5 days I've worked out a total of once.  And that was only because I was teaching the class.  If I'd had my druthers, I would have slept in and skipped it entirely.
But it's OK to take a break sometimes.  In fact, I think it's necessary.  And it's not like I've been a woman of leisure: I still walk LG to/from school, teach Shakespeare to the 38 kids (which uses up A LOT of energy, lol!), do fun stuff with my own kids (yesterday we toured a lighthouse), and, oh yeah, things like vacuuming, sweeping, laundry, etc., etc.
Plus going up and down the stairs 438 times a day.

I'm also trying to do more Things I Enjoy.  Swimming for fun rather than counting laps.  Going for a walk in order to explore, rather than counting steps. Focusing on the quality of food rather than counting calories.
And, the biggie, as always, trying to stop OBSESSING over the things I cannot control!
Like elections.
I will vote.
At the moment, that's all I can do.
I cannot control who will win.  Either way, life must go on.  Granted, I'm planning on updating my family's passports, just in case, lol!

I also find myself dropping more and more into deeper and deeper periods of depression.  Some of them coincide with Aunt Flow, but many of them stem from anxiety.  Or from looking at our circumstances and wondering, sometimes, how we got here.
Not that here is all that bad, mind you.  It's just not where I thought and hoped we'd be at this point. And I have moments of wanting things I can't have; wanting them so badly it becomes a physical ache.  Not material things, but dreams.  The ones that never came true.
I know my life is so much better than I ever could have imagined 20 years ago.  But I guess when you get to a certain point and you realize that some things will just never happen, well, it's natural to wonder "What if?" It's part of getting out of denial, I think.  It's healthy to mourn the death of dreams, and then make room for new ones.
Feeling sad, even this horrible depression, isn't something to be avoided at all costs.  It's to be felt, then let go of.  If I were unable to come out of these bouts, I'd be worried.  But they come, and then they go.  And if I can remember that, then all will be well. And they have something to teach me. I just need to pay attention.
In the meantime, I'll be swallowing some St. John's Wort.  Because it doesn't seem to hurt, and it just may help.

OK.  It's 9:30 PM and time for this party girl to get to bed.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Oy to the Vey!

*NOTE:  The first part of this post was written a week ago.

I imagine it would come as no surprise to say that I am something of a luddite.  I STILL can't post a video or photo on this blog, unless I do it from my phone.  And even then...
Last night it took me 2 1/2 hours to email photos I'd taken with my iPad.  Of course, the iPad wouldn't let me email directly, so I had to go to my mobile email app, attach the photos a few at a time, email them to myself, and THEN email them to my coworkers.  And in the middle of THAT, our wireless, which has been faithful for months, went out.  I was finally able to run a diagnostic & get it going again, but it's a wonder I'm not bald from tearing my hair out.
Finally, one of my coworkers didn't get the photos, so after I taught my Pilates class this morning I sent them again.  So far so good, knock on wood.

Later today I have to create a spreadsheet.  I'm worried the computer is simply going to blow itself up when I do.

Watched the Emmys on Sunday.  Mainly to see if "Sherlock" or "Luther" would win anything.  Of course they didn't.  Most of the Emmy voters have probably never heard of either show.
I'm SO GLAD not to be in L.A. anymore!!!!!!  Have I mentioned that?

On a more positive note, I can feel my inner creativity beast (which, in my mind, looks like an 8-foot  muppet monster created by the Henson Company) is waking up. I find myself having far less patience with brain-killing content (like reality shows, entertainment magazines, or anything with the name "Kardashian" attached to it) and craving more of the good stuff.  Just as the body needs its vitamins and veggies, the brain needs things it can figuratively chew on, as well.  And let me tell ya, being prepared to answer a barrage of questions about Shakespeare from a group of 41 4th-8th graders will wake the mind up, pronto!  It's like a cold bucket of water inside the ol' noggin!

*OK, back to real time!

Right now, I have the entire house to myself!  Except for the dog.
This NEVER happens!  Not with 9 people living here, 2 of whom are retired.  But my S-I-L and nephew are visiting from Hawaii, so everyone who isn't working or in school is out doing...stuff. I don't know what..
I don't care!  It's QUIET!!!!!
Of course, I have an appointment in an hour, and they'll probably be back by then, but I've had 90 minutes of pure, unadulterated ME time.

Because this house is LOUD.  And sometimes a body just needs some quiet.

To find it I've been spending quite a bit of time at the cafe.  Drinking strong coffee and writing.  Which is NOT a bad way to spend the time!
I figure I've earned it.  I've had very little time to just sit and relax over the last 20 years.  I work a lot.  I have kids.  So when I have the chance, I am going to take it.  And milk it.  Like a poor, neglected cow that's been lactating for weeks.

I've also gone back, again, to my Slim Series/Slim in 6 DVDs.  They challenge me without my having to either work out for hours at a time or bounce around a lot, which I'm sure the folks on the second floor (including my 5 month-old niece) appreciate.

And then pleaseohpleaseohplease, it's back to the computer, back to Excel, and back to getting these #$&*-ing spreadsheets done!

To be fair, they never taught us this in drama school!