Which may just be the first time someone has ever said that to me.
When I was 10 and announced I wanted to be an actress, no one really took it seriously. Because, well, I was 10!
But I stuck to it, and, as you know, actually made a go of it. Somewhat successfully, for a few years. Surprising everyone.
Because every time I told someone my plans, I got a 45-minute lecture on how hard a life it was, how I'd NEVER make it, and that I'd better have something "to fall back on." Well-intentioned, always, but not exactly encouraging. :)
(Remember, my parents' idea of something to fall back on was writing. ?!?!?!?!?!?!
Yeah, that's stable!)
I believe I've mentioned that I'm an Irish Jew, along with British, Russian, Romanian, and German. We're not always the most optimistic folks. So, honestly, it's not a huge surprise that I never thought myself worthy of success. And I'm sure I projected that in my professional life. Which may be a big reason why I had such a hard time in L.A. Aside from the whole "too old/fat/ugly" thing. I've always been quick to believe the negative and slow to believe the positive.
And it's continued into the present. Yesterday I finally realized that I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to my professional life. I have never, except for those few years in my early-mid 20's, believed I was good at what I do. Or good ENOUGH. Even when I was teaching Pilates, and got consistent, lovely feedback from clients. I was never good enough. I didn't get as many students in my classes as some of the other teachers, and I was fat. Ergo, I was a failure.
Well, I'll tell ya, that is a CRAPPY way to live!
And painful. It really, REALLY hurts to pull yourself away from the things you love because you're afraid to fail. It's an empty life. If I want to be the best mom I can be, and I do, I need to feel fulfilled. My kids need to see both of their parents doing things they love, earning a living, and not stressing out over finances ALL THE TIME.
I keep thinking about something Marianne Williamson wrote. You've probably seen it:
"Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you NOT to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give permission to let other people do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
I REALLY get it now.
The best gift I can give my kids is to be my fullest self, and to let them be theirs.
I've never believed that we're put on earth to suffer for the promise of a later reward. I don't think suffering is our fate. Just the opposite: I think we're supposed to try and alleviate suffering as much as we can, in whatever way we can. And to find joy. Some spend their entire lives helping others. But giving a stranger a compliment, or holding a door open, or paying attention to someone who needs it, that all counts, too.
The good stuff doesn't get publicized. You won't turn on cable news and see "Our top story: People being nice to each other on the subway." It's so easy to fall into despair. To criticize, blame, and point fingers at each other. To blame someone else for our own dissatisfaction.
People who refuse to do so are called out for being "naive," for not "living in the real world." These days, if your not cynical, you're dismissed.
And that's OK. If people want to call me naive, as they have my entire life, that is their prerogative. Doesn't make it true, and I certainly don't have to take their word for it!
And besides, the people who don't always give a fig what others' think tend to be the happiest.
So, it's time for Happy Mom!