Friday, August 26, 2016

Finding My Fabulous

"I should know better, but better always seems to be filled with scenarios in which I am not fabulous, so I continue to live in blissful ignorance."

(In quotes because I'm quoting myself.  Thanks graduate school, for teaching me not to plagiarize my own words!)

I have this habit that I've been aware of for a really long time -- decades probably.  I tend to fall for a feller, and then submerge myself in his world, sublimate my needs and put him before my own needs and desires.  I've been aware of and battling this for most of my adult life.  It's always a conscious effort on my part to put my needs over the needs of a man.

I thought the cure for this would be to fall in love with a man who had similar interests to my own, then I wouldn't be sublimating, I'd be partnering.  

Wrong.

It was still his deal, his gig, I was the side kick.  We didn't mesh.

I've been fighting this problem my whole life.  Fighting, fighting, fighting to find a man who would love me and be just fine with me being as is.

And then  a co-worker taught me to ask three simple questions when analyzing dramatic text.  And those three simple questions have cracked open a new layer; these questions are forcing me to level up in the game of Lee.

1.  What do I want?
2   What do I really want?
3.  What do I really, really want? (which is actually what I need)

BAM.

I can tell myself 1) I want someone to love me, but 2) what I really want is to share my life with someone I love without losing myself, and 3) the thing I need is the willingness to let someone in without protecting myself from them.

Saying that seems easy enough, but it leads to a whole new understanding of who I am.

Because I've believed for so long, since I was a little girl, that I wasn't good enough just as I am.  I was told over and over that until I was thin, I wouldn't be lovable. 

You'd think after 40 years of living and loving that I would have figured out that good people, worthy people, love me.  I know they do.  But the answer to these three questions is tied to some core belief that has surfaced.  

It whispers in my ear, "he won't love you - you're fat."

Maybe that's true, but I think it's true because I let it be true.  

And that's the new thing.

     I lay awake these past few nights pondering a man, 
     pondering the potential we seem to have, 
     and all the time telling myself that 
     I'm not fabulous enough. Believing  
     I'm too fat for him 
     to love me.

     But that's a lie.  
     If he doesn't want to love me, 
     I have nothing to do with that choice.  
     It has everything to do with his life, his thoughts, his heart's desire.  
     I am separate from that.  

I am a worthy and lovable person regardless of his choice to love or not love me.

The difference between the whispering voice that tries to silence my heart 
and the potential love that exists between me and any other human being is 
the difference between a person who chooses to vote and one who chooses not to.  

The voter participates.

The non-voter does not do what she can to affect change 
and sits in a mess she has made 
wondering why her life is so unfair.

The person who is willing to be vulnerable?  She votes.  
She votes for her own heart to be filled with love.  
She is the person who can be brave enough to be vulnerable. 
 She is the person who can tell herself she's fabulous and believe it.

This is where my fabulous lives.  
It grows in a garden of vulnerability 
and hope 
and possibility.  

If I "knew better" I would go on believing that I don't deserve love because I'm not a size 0.  The fact of the matter is I have a whole lot of love and beauty to offer.  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Opening Night


Facebook:  Opened Bloody Mary Christmas at Space 55 tonight. Great audience, good things happened. Now that I've opened the show, I feel a part of me has been exposed. Now I need to hear the whispering Universe. I need to hear Her winds whip around canyon walls and feel Her swirl turbulent eddies around me. I need the invisible force of the Universe to hold me up murmuring "shhhhh" "shhhhhh" as I pull my shell back together and seal it up for the next 20 hours until I do it all again. ‪#‎walkingonstage‬ ‪#‎anactorslife‬‪#‎windycomfort‬


Introspection alert - be forewarned.



Tonight was opening night for a light hearted and raunchy little comedy called A Bloody Mary Christmas.  It's been great fun rehearsing this show with a great director and cast.  And it's been awakening something in me that I never came to terms with fully.

I left theatre performance for a long while and became a writer and filmmaker.  That's what a lot of people out here in AZ know me as.  I've had many folks say to me that they were surprised to see me in a show.  But that's just because they didn't know me when I was all about that theatre thang.  I gave it up for a lot of really practical reasons that had nothing to do with the thing that made it easy for me to walk away for a while.

I walked away from theatre because it is very very very hard to be naked on a stage (METAPHOR) and then walk away and be simply happy.

And happiness is what I wanted.  Happiness is NOT what I had.

When you stand on that stage and perform, whether it's Shakespeare or avante garde brilliance or light hearted comedy, you stand there naked. Your honest and truthful nature, your authentic self is there, exposed, and awaiting the audience's approval.

And no matter what, I never could just walk away and say, "oh well, I did my best, I hope they liked it."

The thing that mattered most, I never had.  I never had the arms of someone I trusted completely wrap me up at the end of a performance and say, "I love you." I had boyfriends, and fans, and friends and peers all tell me how fabulous I was,  And I've had critics say I suck, or I was their favorite performance of the year, or something in between those two things.  But I never had someone at the end of the long nights of soul-baring performances simply put his arms around me and say, "I love you."  No judgement.  No uplifting words of encouragement.  Just someone who really loved me and didn't want to disect what I did.  Didn't care that I was naked on stage, only cared that I was there to love.

And yes, the feminist Lee knows that I am supposed to be that person.

But tonight, at the end of an opening night performance, I am reminded of why I left theatre for a long while.  I needed love.

So it serves as a reminder that I must love myself.  First. Always.

There are men I crush on, people I care greatly for -- and wouldn't it be nice to have one of them say they loved me and mean it?  Sure.

But I guess that comes at the right time, and the time, she is not yet right.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Few Lists

I've been keeping my posts private recently. I've been in a new phase of growth which has lead to a new level of self-awareness. (roll your eyes as you feel appropriate here.)

 It seemed like it would take forever to be done with the grief and pain of it all.  But as time has its way of working, the hours, minutes and seconds ticked away in their usual fashion, and here I am 2 and a half years later.

For the longest time all I could do was survive, get through the rough shit, survive some more, wait, grow, see glimmers of hope, be blessed, and begin anew.

I guess I shouldn't say "all I could do" because that's a fucking lot.  And you've seen me through it all, the good and the bad.

So, things are good.

I'm still growing and changing, but oh-thank-you-Jeezus, I do not grieve any longer.  I do not think sadly upon my life or feel burdened with a sense of loss.  I am changed, but I am no longer grieved.

What I feel is:

1.  Blessed
2.  Grateful
3.  Happy
4.  Lonely (only on occasion, not consistently or even that often)
5.  Yearning to grow
6.  Desire for the next breath
7.  Fear of the unknown, but it is not a crippling fear, just a dose of healthy nerves, really
8.  Curiosity for what it will take for me to reach my achievements (whatever they may be)
9.  Trust - I really trust the Universe.  Put it out there and the Universe will make it so, if you remain open.  I know, it sounds like mumbo jumbo hocus pocus hooey, but, Oh. My. God.  The lovely blessings I've received simply by being present and saying what I want.

I kid you not.



AND NOW FOR A SLIGHTLY OFF-TOPIC RAMBLING:

The thing I've been silently pondering (well the occasional Facebook post or Tweet, but mostly silently) is this notion of wanting a man.  

Here's a list of the top three things I used to think I needed a man for -

3.  Reaching the top shelf
2.  Business between the sheets
1. My sense of self worth

Here's a list of the top three things I think I need a man for now -

3.
2.
1.

Guess the point of this is that I don't really NEED a man.  And I'm doing okay without a partner.



I really LIKE men, though.  I mean they're so

1. hairy ,and
2.  adorable.  And
3.  they don't give a shit about how they dress (at least the ones I notice, anyway.)

Come on.  Why do they have to DOOOOOO that?  Why do they have to be so gosh darn lovable?

But...

For now...

BACK TO THE POINT(ish):

I am alone.

I've come to know that being alone is okay, and for me, as I work out my

1.  co-dependencies and
2.  issues,

sometimes it's downright necessary.

So I take full advantage of the silence of being alone.

For the first time in my life I just want to be the best version of myself.  THAT is the person who will be with someone worthwhile. With this in mind I've worked out two goals to help me achieve a deep sense of personal satisfaction and a fulfilling life,

1) focus on creating my career so that I can
         a.) support myself,
         b.)  send my daughter to college and
         c.) be able to retire when I'm too old to work.
(I've got a lot of focusing to do.)

2.)  Be loving.  Love
          a.) myself,
          b.) my family, and
          c.) send out the love.  Love, love, love.

It's entirely selfish.  My goals are rooted in the desire to feel satisfied, and for a girl like me, one who has to keep growing in self sufficiency, I know I must cultivate my assets -- and the two things I have to give are

1.)  my talents and
2.) my love.

I'm grateful for this mid-life reset.  I've been given the chance to be my best self.

Which takes me back to #1 in the first list of the day -  I am  1.)  Blessed.

Thanks for List -ening.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

A New Can of Worms

Sometimes life hands you an open can of worms.

I was pulling into the parking garage of my temp job and who do you think was walking down the sidewalk?  Yep.  My ex-husband.  I stared in disbelief.  He looked up, right at me, without an ounce of recognition.  I gave a little, stupid, oops-you-saw-me wave.  He kept looking at me like, who the eff are you?  Then I pulled into the garage.  He must have looked at the license plate - it's distinctively personalized - because when I got to work I had an email from him saying he was surprised to see me.

Yeah.

I know.

How long has it been since we've seen each other?  A year?  More?

So much bad blood.

But...

I had been dreaming a lot last week.  He kept showing up, kept appearing in my dreams.

Every time I went to work, I felt haunted by him.  I thought it was cyclical, tied to the anniversary of our divorce, but no, -it was actual proximity.  He works in a building near me I guess, because he was clearly on his way to work when I saw him.

So I saw him.  So what?  So. What.

Every time it happens, I feel kicked in the gut.  I feel raw.  I feel grief-stricken.

That night, for about two minutes, I found myself sobbing wretchedly and before I knew it I was punching the bathroom wall.  If you know me at all, then you know that's not a part of my character, but there's something about him, something about how we related to one another, that brings out a genuine fury in me.

Today as I edited some old films into a director's reel, I stumbled across footage of the two of us.  And I once again found myself heaving great gulping sobs.

But it wasn't anger.

For the first time in two years, I feel like I was expressing grief over the loss of the real love that existed between us.  I don't know when it died for sure - I believe his love for me died a long time before mine died for him, but for a while, for many years, that love was real.

Yes.  I know.

We are bad for each other.  He did some really awful and unkind things. And I did too.

But before all that.

We loved each other the best way we knew how.

It wasn't very good love overall, neither one of us knew how to do that.  But it was love.  And it was real.

And I finally find myself grieving that loss.

Everything else to this point was anger and resentment and hatred peppered with betrayal and injustice.

Now it's grief.  It's real, pure and painful.

I grieve the love that died so many years ago because if we had jigged left instead of right, or taken recovery seriously, or dealt with our problems at all, we might - we MIGHT- both have gotten what we wanted.

So fucking sad.

I can dwell on the daddy issues for a while and put the whole relationship into a neat little package, blaming my need for my father's acceptance, Aaron's similarities to my father, my desperation to be loved by a man who will never love me.  Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera.

But you know what?  Aaron did love me.  He did.  My ex-husband once loved me.

Even though I didn't love myself.

Now I'm working on loving myself, on doing what makes me whole.

That's supposed to be enough.

I have a feeling it will be.

Eventually.

But once in a while I remember how he loved me years ago and I wish we had done things differently.

I wish I had tried.

I wish he had, too.

Maybe we'd be exactly where we are now, but at least we would have given our love a chance.

If there's anything I regret, it's that I didn't do it right.  I didn't try hard enough.  I don't know how I could have, given the tool set that I had, but I wish it anyway.

I hope someday to find happiness.

But for now, I grieve that I couldn't find happiness with the man I loved.

What a missed opportunity.

And yet, that missed opportunity brings forth so many other chances in life.

Here I stand with an open can of worms, crying, sobbing, sniffling, being my usual dramatic self in the isolation of my own home.

I guess I'll dig out my fishing rod and put that wriggling can of worms to good use.




Sunday, April 6, 2014

Drill Down to the Details

I tell my acting students to drill down to the core, to the center of their motivations in every  single moment of their work.

This is no accident.  I find that being aware of the most seemingly insignificant detail provides the level of understanding necessary, not only to act well on stage, but to live well in life.

I love Phoenix.  It is a city that, on the surface, is not so pretty.  The architecture is a mish mash of incongruent themes and decades, but the detail -- ahhhhhhhh the detail of Phoenix is surprising and touching.

With this in mind, please allow me to present some details from my photo journey through Phoenix today.































Friday, April 4, 2014

Reclaiming My Space

Once in a while when I was married, my husband would take a hike in Papago Park with me.

The last time we did this, he was waiting to tell me he wanted to end the marriage.  He was waiting to let me know he was having an affair.  He wouldn't talk to me about anything.  He was just waiting.

The wait was so painful for me.  For years I had defined myself through my husband's eyes.  And for the past several years the distance between us had grown so great - he engrossed in his addiction, I in my own. His evenings were spent alone in his office, reading.  And when I was gone to bed, his nights were spent having phone sex or texting his mistresses.  I knew that we were in bad shape, but I somehow thought that eventually he would change. For me.

I was wrong.  It was I who needed to change.  I needed to stop defining myself through him.  I needed to stop finding bits of self-esteem in the tiniest bit of attention I could scrape from him.

The evenings alone and the nights abandoned for masturbation and 1-800 numbers were only survivable because I had a blind faith that he would never do what I knew in my heart he was doing.  I lied to myself on a very deep level.  I believed in the good man I had married, not the man who was living with me.  I wanted the good man to come back, and I waited.

Now, living in the same town still, I find myself trying to avoid old haunts.  Not an easy thing to do, really.  I only live a few miles away from our old home.  So I pass places full of dark memories on a daily basis.

Since my divorce, I haven't gone back to Papago Park.  The last time we were there together was just days before we decided to divorce, almost two years ago to the date.  The desperate feeling of abandonment was palpable to me.  He was so angry with me and wouldn't speak a word of his anger. Instead he seethed it.  And I, being engrossed in my own fear, could not fathom what was about to come.

That hike sticks with me.  It was a typical happening in our marriage.  I was up at 7 a.m. in the desert in spring.  A perfect time to hike.  I had asked him to join me and he said he would.  He rose at 2:30 p.m.  A NOT perfect time to hike in the desert in spring.  By the time we were near the trail's end, I had heat stroke.  He was furious with me. I should never have been in the desert sun at 3 in the afternoon.  I am not capable of handling the heat.  But to him, my heat stroke was proof of my character flaws.  And he was angry. Not concerned.  Just livid.

I never wanted to go back to that park again.  I never wanted to remember the horrible pain of that final moment in our marriage. His disgust with me.  His hatred of me.

But today.  Today I needed to hike.  Today I needed to do something for me.

Where better to do it than the place I once loved?

Where better to do it than the place I felt so much grief?

I must reclaim my space.  I must no longer let myself be defined by the bad relationship I lived through.

I am my own self, full of possibility.

Today I reclaimed Papago Park as my own.  It is a space that carries memories, but it is not a space to be avoided any longer.

I am defined now, not by my husband's opinion of me.  I am defined by my own actions.

Today I took action.

Today I hiked Papago Park.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Five Percent Course Adjustment

I recently read this article about not setting goals because that's how we set ourselves up for failure.

Huh.

Then I thought about the biggest goals I've had in my life and how they've never stuck.  I had a goal to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle.  Instead I became what I lovingly refer to as The Thousand Pound Woman having yo-yo'd my way through many dress sizes in my life.  Why?  Why didn't it work?  Because it was a goal.  I would strive momentarily for a goal and then I would achieve it and quit behaving in the forced manner that had gotten me there.  I could do step aerobics, a torture best left in the 80's, but only for a finite amount of time.  The community class I signed up for ended, the holidays arrived, the spandex-y glitterbomb of a teacher was dreadful -- you see, I can do anything for a little bit of time.  But the problem was that the goal was reached in a forced manner.  As soon as I stopped trying to force myself to reach the goal because it had been achieved, it was right back to the way of living that I knew best. It might not be what was best for me, but it was what I knew.

I tend to be a broad strokes, big sweeping gestures kinda' gal.  My friend Candy used to always say to me, "baby steps," to which I replied, "pish posh."

But now I am beginning to get the baby steps thing.  It's not the goal and a giant leap that gets me magically transported to The New Lee.  It's the system I put into play every day.

So instead of saying, "I want to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle," I must simply put into play in my daily life systems that will create the space for happiness each day and that will point me down a healthy road.  It's NOT a GOAL though.  Got that?

Systems are not forced things, will power or regimes.  Systems allow you to find, in your own happy way, a lifestyle that is different, yet satisfying and joyful.  After they have been booted up, systems operate in a practically unnoticeable manner (like your pulmonary system.  See what I did there?)

Systems will not overwhelm you or discourage you or leave you feeling restricted.  Systems give you freedom.

But setting up an entirely new system can be overwhelming, too.  It seems so much like a goal.  I have a friend who recommends the 5% course adjustment.  This is a conscious decision to make a small change.  I've seen it work in other people's lives.  The 5% course adjustment is skim milk instead of whole milk, or walking an extra half mile on your constitutional.  The 5% course adjustment is saying yes to a sorbet and no to an ice cream.  It's the little things that add up to a lot of things.

I never understood this on a personal level.  I, being bold move Betty, thought, "If you're going to change, then change dammit."  But I discounted the fact that even a 5% adjustment to the path you are walking eventually will take you miles off the course you trod.  Ultimately the change that occurs, because it is barely noticeable, means that it is likely to be permanent.  And the battle of will power does not have to be your burden.

The dialect of all or nothing disappears with the 5% course adjustment.  It is no longer, "I MUST do this thing every day for the rest of my life." The dialogue between my choices and my habits is now, "Just do this little thing right now; no one's going to be much bothered by it." So I can walk that extra few yards, drink that extra glass of water, stretch in the morning, or walk around the block on my break.  It all adds up.

And change that takes place over a long period of time adds up.  You have a new system of living life.  It was not a forced conscious decision, it just happened gradually.

Without setting a goal.