Mon. March 18, 2018: Kindness is not Weakness #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, March 18, 2019
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde

 

In light of the New Zealand terrorist attack, I thought it was important to talk about how kindness is not weakness.

Often, when someone is kind, it is misinterpreted as weak. Part of the premise of my not-quite-cozy Nautical Namaste mystery series (under the Ava Dunne name) hinges on the fact that my protagonist, Sophie, is mistaken for weak when in reality she is kind. She walks her talk. She does her best to live the yogic path she teaches. Part of that path is meeting the world with kindness.

That does not mean she doesn’t fight back when someone tries to hurt her or hurt someone about whom she cares. Quite the contrary. She’s strong. She can be tough without being hard.

But she is also kind. She does her best to make everyone in class feel good about where they are at that moment. It’s one of the tenets practiced at Kripalu that I admire most, and I wanted to fold that in as part of the series.

You are fine where you are. From where you are, you work for positive change to change what you know needs to change.

Offering a helping hand instead of a striking blow is not weakness.

It is something we must start practicing as individuals. If the current poison of hatred can spread the way it has, it can and must be countered with an antidote of kindness in strength.

Take a look at the Strength card in your favorite tarot deck. (If you don’t have a favorite tarot deck yet, I recommend the Robin Wood Deck or the Everyday Witch Tarot or the Steampunk Tarot). Look at the image on the Strength card. There is strength, integrity, purpose. And kindness.

We can’t change the greater world until we change our own part of it. By practicing kindness in strength, we can create a ripple effect that counters the wave of hatred that’s been the long game since the Reagan years, which is now coming into full flower.

We can stop this. We can change this. But only if we don’t turn away, pretend it doesn’t exist, and pretend that our daily interactions either enable it or counter it.

Be strong. Be kind. Make the world a better place.

 

Mon. March 11, 2019: Kindness to Self – #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, March 11, 2019
Waxing Moon
Mercury Retrograde
My birthday

Today is my birthday, which is always a mixed day. I want to have a happy day, but it’s hard not to beat myself up about not getting everything done in the previous year that I wished.

So, today, I have to be kind to myself.

That doesn’t mean lowering my standards or letting myself off the hook. But it means giving myself today as a personal holiday, and enjoying the day without bringing in unnecessary baggage.

Personal holidays are important. These are days that have nothing to do with anyone else’s calendar or traditional holidays. They are days you take for yourself, just because the day has meaning, and you get to do whatever you want. August 1 is one such day for me. I’m resolving to turn my birthday into another.

So, today, I resolve not to get caught up in other people’s drama. I’m just going to nod and smile and move on. I resolve not to focus on the half-empty, but the half-full.

On a practical level, I will write today. I will spend a few hours onsite with a client. Then, I’m going out to lunch, and then to meditation group, and then have a nice dinner and a quiet evening doing what I want with whom I want.

My kindness to myself.

How will you be kind to yourself this week?

 

Mon. March 4, 2019: Try A Little Quiet Kindness #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, March 4, 2019
Day Before Dark Moon
At the end of last week’s post, I suggested that, in the month of March, we each perform one act of kindness every day – and don’t talk about or post about it.

One of my beliefs is that genuine philanthropy is anonymous. So when people carry on about “legacy” and “naming rights” I think less of them, not more. They don’t really want to help – they want a monument to themselves that’s not in a graveyard. If it wasn’t about them, they’d name it for something or someone relevant to the mission of the organization. They’d name an arts center for an artist who broke ground, a hospital for an amazing doctor or researcher. Not themselves.

It’s along the lines of Secret Santa, or something we did backstage around Halloween called a “Boo!” To do a Boo!, an individual would buy a small gift for someone else in the company and decorate a little box or bag with it and leave it for that person with a card that said, “Boo!” The person who received the Boo! would then do something nice anonymously for someone else and so forth and so on.

Unlike our Secret Santa, where a Santa gave a specific individual a series of small gifts over a week building up to a bigger gift, the people who played Boo! never revealed to whom they gave which gifts.

It was a ton of fun.

Because it was anonymous.

So for March, I’m trying to do some small thing for someone, including strangers, every day. I’m keeping track for myself, but I’m not discussing specifics. I hope each attempt with brighten someone else’s day, and that’s the end game of it for me.

Because, especially right now, we can all do with a little more kindness.

Published in: on March 4, 2019 at 6:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Mon. Feb. 25, 2019: Your Own Definition of “Love” — #upbeatauthors

Monday, February 25, 2019
Waning Moon

 

In this final week of February, and the theme of love, I’ve been thinking about how other people try to influence how we define “love.”

Women who choose to remain unmarried are constantly told they’re “too picky” or if they don’t change something about themselves, “no one will want to marry you.”

First of all, we shouldn’t have to settle, and second, why is marriage considered the ultimate end game for everyone?

Marriage and love aren’t always related.

Look at history. Look how often, throughout history, people have not married for love.

It still happens, far too often. People believe that being with someone is better than being alone, and that a partner guarantees security. I know I’ve found it far lonelier to be with the wrong person that to be on my own.

You can love someone and not want or need to have sex with that individual. It’s not about repression. It’s about the sexual element not being part of the equation. Not just in cases where it’s taboo, but in cases where the love takes a different form. And no one has the right to scoff at you or tell you that you “don’t” or “can’t” feel love that isn’t equated with sexual desire. The person deriding you might not be able to feel different types of love; that doesn’t mean you don’t or can’t.

You can have sex with someone you don’t love. That happens far more than people admit. As long as both parties are honest about the expectations and the value of the time together, as long as both parties consent, as long as there aren’t other parties in the relationships that are betrayed and hurt, it’s no one else’s business.

Love can be unrequited. And then you have to be a responsible grown-up and not get all creepy and stalky about it.

You can’t MAKE someone love you. You have to LET the person love you.

That’s probably one of the most difficult lessons about love.

If they don’t, then take a deep breath, disengage, and move on. Don’t make it about power or make yourself sick over it.

Allow yourself to care. Allow the possibility that sometimes you will be hurt or disappointed. Even a relationship that seems solid for a period of time can have an expiration date. People grow and change at different rates. They want different things. Either they can work on them together, while still being individuals, or they can’t.

You can still love someone, even if you can’t do the day-to-day anymore. It’s a different type of love.

Because every individual is exactly that — individual — generalized definitions don’t work. Every relationship is different. Every relationship builds its own definitions and boundaries.

Writers are lucky, because they can express and explore different types of love in their work without putting their own relationships at risk.

Looking ahead to next month, March, the theme is “kindness.” I have a challenge for you. Each day in March, perform an unexpected act of kindness for someone. Most important: DO NOT POST ABOUT IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA, or even discuss it. But keep track, for yourself, of the way it changes the way you relate to the world.

We will explore kindness next month, and, at the end of the month, see how our anonymous acts of kindness affected our experience of the world.

 

Published in: on February 25, 2019 at 6:34 am  Leave a Comment  

Mon. February 18, 2019: Love of Country #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, February 18, 2019
Almost Full Moon
Presidents’ Day

We survived Valentine’s Day. We all deserve a prize.

On this President’s Day, on a month of essays about love, it’s appropriate to talk about love of country.

This is a contentious issue right now in the US, with two factions with opposite ideas of the definition of “love of country.”

I can’t think of any country whose history hasn’t been built on blood and pain. We keep hoping culture and society evolve into a better form of humanity. Sometimes it moves forward for a few years, and then back for a few hundred.

Too often, we don’t know actual history, just propagandized bits of history. Although it’s painfully obvious we don’t learn from it.

What inspires love of country?

For me, it is a set of ideals about humanity, justice, education, art, compassion, and inclusion that I see the country in which I currently live abandoning. Ideals that were set out by the Founding Fathers, and built on by our Founding Mothers and children, and all the rest of the anonymous people who actually did the work. There are always people devoted to their country who are willing to fight for it — be it joining the military or working on various fronts at home. But a country survives and thrives by its citizens holding a shared vision of what that country stands for, and everyone working to bring that vision into reality for ALL its members.

One can learn a great deal by re-reading documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution — and then reading diaries and letters of regular people who actually lived through those times.

One of my favorite experiences was a discovery I made in the Philadelphia Archives. I was there to research Betsy Ross, for a project for which I’m still trying to find the proper form.

By accident, I saw a diary by a Dr. James Allen. I’d gone to elementary school with a nice guy named Jamie Allen, and I thought it might be fun to read about this Dr. James Allen. So I asked for the diary, which arrived, written in absolutely gorgeous penmanship.

Dr. Allen was a medical doctor. Well educated, well read, with a strong sense of justice. He was there, at Independence Hall, listening to the original public reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 2, 1776. It shook him, transformed him. He ended up joining the Army and serving under General George Washington. He was part of that Delaware Crossing.

I read his diary, knowing how it all comes out in the end, but, of course, he didn’t as he wrote it. His concerns, the times his patience and his integrity were tested — I wish I could get a grant to transcribe the diary, research his history, and publish a book about him!

I learned more from reading this man’s diary than I did from any history book.

It also reminded me how much more complex actual history is than a line in a textbook or a tweet or a sound byte.

Skipping ahead in history a bit, Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe are two of the reasons I became a writer. I admired both their work and their lives so much. As an aside, as much as I admire Emerson and Thoreau, I’m always reminded that there they were, talking and studying and writing and walking in the woods, while the practicalities of daily life were handled by the WOMEN around them. This frustration was reinforced by Susan Cheever’s terrific book, AMERICAN BLOOMSBURY (which I highly recommend).

I re-read Louisa’s diaries regularly when I get tired and discouraged.

Harriet is best known for UNCLE TOM’S CABIN. There’s plenty to discuss about that book on so many levels, both positive and negative, which could take up an entire college semester. But Harriet wrote plenty of other books, too, many of them domestic comedies. Some of her writing is very, very funny. She came from a large, lively, intellectual, daring, engaged, and flawed family. Her brother Henry Ward Beecher’s scandal when he led a church in Brooklyn, and, again, how the woman in the scandal was the one thrown under the bus, is detailed in Barbara Goldsmith’s wonderful social history, OTHER POWERS.

Both Harriet and Louisa were considered “difficult women” and
ahead of their time.” Reading their letters, their diaries, their books, one sees how they were both ahead of their time and PART of their time (and prejudices, although they were far more progressive than many of their contemporaries). We hope we’ve evolved in our understanding of humanity, although too often it feels like we’re going backwards.

History is made up of people and their messy, beautiful, terrifying lives. Societies are too often built on breaking the individuals that actually do the work to build the society. Where can you give someone room for individuality? Where does someone going too far become a threat to someone else’s basic human rights and dignity? What are basic social constructs that allow people with vastly different beliefs and points of view to co-exist in peace and dignity and prosperity for all? How does one teach people that having enough for all doesn’t necessarily mean taking away from anyone, but that everyone must contribute fairly? How can we craft laws that have more to do with justice, and less to do with religion, which, in my opinion, has been used as a tool of oppression ever since it was invented?

All of that feeds into our “love of country.”

It’s not an easy issue. Especially when competing factors have vastly different ideas of what the society that inhabits the defined “country” should believe, live, and build.

As a writer, of course, all this is fascinating. But living it (and we are all living history, every moment), can often be exhausting.

We supposedly live in a democracy (which is under serious threat), that is set up as a republic. Therefore, as part of our love of country, it is an obligation to keep up with the news (actual news, not propaganda feeds), to stay informed about upcoming legislation (you can read the text of past, present, and proposed bills on Congress.gov), and to interact with our elected officials, on local, state, and federal levels. It takes time, but the alternative is to lose our country. So it’s worth it. We need to vote. We need to serve on jury duty when called. We, as individuals and collectively, need to speak out when human rights are denied, and stop it.

This President’s Day, think about what you love about your country. Think about what you believe needs to be changed. And then take action. Because history is built by people.

Be a History Builder.

 

Mon. Feb. 11, 2019: Abstract Love vs. Specific Love #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, February 11, 2019
Waxing Moon

The theme for Upbeat Authors this month is love. This week, I’m going to share one of the struggles I have between abstract love vs. specific love.

What, exactly, do I mean by “abstract” love?

What I mean is all that “love for humanity” we’re supposed to have. I struggle with that.

I like individuals. As an introvert, I’m not all that fond of “people.”

I believe on treating people and regarding them with a basic level of human decency and respect, until they prove they don’t deserve it.

I love my family, my friends, particular colleagues with whom I’ve formed close relationships, differently from each other, as we discussed last week.

But I struggle with a basic love for humanity.

I’m too much of a cynic for that. I used to be a romantic wrapped in a shell of cynicism, but the older I get, the more the cynicism is real.

Part of yoga practice is that we are all just fine where we are, in this moment. That doesn’t mean we don’t or shouldn’t strive to do or be better. But it means we are “enough” in this moment. This is where we are; this is where we start. We build from here.

Also part of many practices that work in tandem with yoga, especially devotional yoga, are ways to cultivate a love of humanity.

One of those is the Loving Kindness meditation. There are several versions of this, but the one I use most often is below, with different, specific focuses each time I repeat it. Turning the abstract into the specific, and working from the self into the larger world, I find, is helpful. It strips away the cynicism, even for a moment.

You start with yourself, saying,
“May I be happy;
May I be well;
May I be prosperous;
May I be at peace.”

The second time around, you replace “I” with a specific “you.” This “you” is someone for whom you have fondness, affection, or love:
“May you be happy;
May you be well;
May you be prosperous;
May you be at peace.”

The third time, it’s still “you” — but this time the “you” is someone with whom you have a fractious relationship, in the hopes of cultivating a smoother road for both of you. This can be challenging, especially in the early days. I hold that same difficult “you” in the chant for a period of days or weeks until I feel less resentful of wishing them well in the first place.

The fourth time, it’s “we.” This can mean a specific group – family, work colleagues, meditation group. I usually set it to mean my circle of family, friends, neighbors, contacts.
“May we be happy;
May we be well;
May we be prosperous;
May we be at peace.”

The fifth and final time, it’s “all.” This gets into the bigger abstract I’ve been talking about, about all humanity, or, if you want o go even further, all living beings:
“May all be happy;
May all be well;
May all be prosperous;
May all be at peace.”

If you start dissecting it and saying it’s not logical for everyone to be all those four things (which is tempting), you’re missing the point for the moment of mantra. It’s a wish to work toward that. It’s also a way to get out of poverty consciousness, feeling there will never be enough (which is what governments and corporations want you to feel, so they can take even more), and work toward prosperity in mind and tangible things.

Our minds are our most powerful tools. The Loving Kindness meditation reminds us of this.

I often say it for a few months every night before I go to bed, then give myself a break for a few weeks. I find it particularly effective when Mercury is retrograde, and everything seems to be all over the place.

It’s a way to build from specific to more abstract, so by the time you get to “all” — the all feels specific.

This is one of the tools that works for me as I work on myself and my relationship to the world, especially in these tumultuous times. I’m sharing it, because it might help you, too.

I wish you happiness, health, prosperity, and peace.

 

Published in: on February 11, 2019 at 5:52 am  Comments Off on Mon. Feb. 11, 2019: Abstract Love vs. Specific Love #UpbeatAuthors  
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Mon. Feb. 4: Defining What Love Means to You (and Your Characters) #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, February 4, 2019
New Moon

We throw around the word “love” in relation to items or people with which we barely have a relationship. So what does “love” mean to you?

It’s going to mean something different to different people. There are also different types of love: I love my friends differently than I love my cats than I love my writing than I love my family than I love my romantic partner. Yes, they all fit into the “love” category, but the sensations are different and the ways I bring different types of love out into the world are different.

Having a basic “love for humanity” is different than a love relationship with an individual (at least to me).

For me, love is about a deep, layered connection that manifests differently in different situations. It means putting the other first where appropriate (unless it becomes unhealthy, in which case one can’t use “love” as the excuse to remain in a toxic situation).

To me, it does not mean martyring myself to gain control over someone else.

I do love my writing. It expands me, fulfills me, gives me a reason to keep going every day. It is how I understand the world, how I make sense of it. Through stories, characters, words.

I love my friends. I value them, I treasure them. I am willing to go the extra mile for them on multiple levels. I trust them with tender emotions, and I keep confidences and remain loyal — even during rough periods when others flee because of what strangers “think.” My friends and I have history and shared experience. Especially friends I’ve made on shows — anyone not on that particular production will have different frames of reference.

I value and cherish the friends I make online, but if I don’t have actual life experience with them, “love” (for me) is an inappropriate word. There are people that I interact with online daily or almost daily. But I’ve never met them; even if we share confidences, it’s different than sitting across the table from each other, or visiting a museum together or working on a project together. I feel affection and warmth and want to protect them and help them — but I’m doing a disservice if I call it “love.” For me, I have to have the tangible factor as well as the emotional factor.

“Falling in love” for me, has multiple facets. It’s the attraction and the excitement and the warmth and the laughter and the companionship and the sex — but there also has to be a sense of building, of being able to make a journey together, of giving each other emotional and physical breathing room. If it doesn’t grow in multiple directions, if it’s not an ever-changing, growing sense of layered commitments and interactions — not going to work. I’ve never been willing to settle for long — and the older I get, the less I’m willing to settle at all. My definition of partnership is very different than many other people’s. It’s not a judgment on them and their needs, because it’s about their lives. While I am willing to compromise on certain things, I am no willing to capitulate on others. I learned, the hard way, that it is far lonelier to be with the wrong person than to be alone.

Besides, as I writer, I need a lot of solitude. I can’t be with someone who is all over the place, needs constant stimulation and noise.

Our needs and desires change over the course of a life. We have to be aware of them, in tune with them, and honest about them. We have to strike the balance between self-care (which just happens to be last month’s topic) and martyrdom.

That sounds like I believe in order to write fully-rounded characters, we need to have hit a point of self-enlightenment most of us only dream about.

What’s great about creating characters and stories and situations is that we can experience how a variety of individuals define love, define partnership, become self-aware. They are not us; they are themselves, when we do our jobs properly. But we inhabit them while we write them, so for that period of time, we are them, and we can experience the world through their eyes and hearts.

That can help us define and decide what we want and need in our own lives.

We live vicariously through our fictional characters in early drafts of the books. Then we step back and meld the craft with the art and the emotion.

As human beings, we take what we learn from the creative process, and apply what works for us in our lives, and step out of the characters who are unhealthy.

It’s one of the reasons I love being a writer; I can live many lives, and yet still maintain a core integrity. I can also learn from other writers’ works, see worlds and experience lives through their characters eyes and souls, and come away as a better person. There’s an intimacy in reading that is very different from WATCHING a production. Reading is more internal; it touches the soul – and the heart – in a different way.

Great art (in any discipline) makes it possible for me to love more and love better.

This is why what we do is so important. Why the love we feel and bring to our creative process and then share with the audience is so vital to the overall well-being of humanity.

Our love matters.

 

Published in: on February 4, 2019 at 6:31 am  Comments (2)  
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Mon. Jan. 28, 2019: Bringing Back the Artist Date #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, January 28, 2019
Waning Moon

 

How often do you do an Artist Date?

What is an Artist Date?

If you’ve ever read any of Julia Cameron’s work, you’re familiar with the concept. It is one of her tools that I find useful, although sometimes I let it slide too often.

One of my promises to myself this year is to bring back the Artist Date.

When I teach long-form workshops, that’s also one of the weekly assignments.

Her rule for the Artist Date is that it must be done on one’s own, once a week.

That’s fine, if you need the alone time. But many of us spend most of the time working alone, so sometimes we want to have companionship when we go out and do an Artist Date.

For me, the Artist Date is something I might put off doing, but which, if I commit and DO IT, will feed my soul.

Often, that means going to a museum to look at paintings or other art forms. Sometimes, it’s listening to live music or going to a play. Other times, it’s going to a bookstore to find something I didn’t know I needed, or wander through a yarn shop and find the perfect yarn for a new project. Or go to the wonderful local chocolatier and buy myself a lovely concoction.

Sometimes, it’s taking a notebook or a book and going to the beach or one of the local nature sanctuaries and just spending some time BEING there.

Committing to it once a week and doing it makes an enormous positive difference.

Yes, you might have to give something up. You have to MAKE the time for it. You know what? The laundry will still be there, waiting to be folded and put away when you get back. Or someone else in the house can take a turn helping out. Have a few hours less of television.

If you can, occasionally, take a personal day and have a daylong Artist Date where you travel somewhere you’ve always meant to go, and really give yourself a treat.

I find that making the time for a weekly Artist Date creates more pockets of time in the rest of the week. My week is less stressful and more creative when I do the date than when I skip it.

If you’ve never try it, I encourage you. If you’ve done it and let it slip away, I encourage you to reinstate it.

Enjoy!

Published in: on January 28, 2019 at 6:16 am  Comments (2)  
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Mon. Jan. 21, 2019: Sickness & Guilt – #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, January 21, 2019
Full Moon
Martin Luther King Jr. Day

 

Let’s take a few minutes today to commit to the dream of a better, more equal world that Martin Luther King Jr. believed we could achieve.

I’ve been sick the last two weeks. Around here, we nickname it “the Cape Cod Crud.” It’s a cold, not anything that can be fixed with antibiotics, but it sticks around for weeks, especially the cough.

I had to cancel some client work and I’m behind on some other writing. I got my radio play in one time, because it’s about to go into casting, and because I did the rewrite as soon as I’d sat with the notes for a couple of days, instead of procrastinating. Of course, then it needed another rewrite, but at least I knew where I was going.

One of the self-care items on my list that I’m trying to come to terms with is to stop feeling guilty whenever I’m sick.

On an intellectual level, I know I’m sick. I know it makes more sense to stay home and get well instead of pushing and getting sicker. Also, I don’t want to expose anyone else to germs, and risk getting them sick.

But I feel guilty that I’m not getting things done.

Even though I communicate clearly and make alternate plans to make sure everything gets done when it needs to get done. I don’t just throw up my hands, announce, “I’m sick” and let it all go.

I plan, I communicate, I ask for help, I delegate.

Yet I still feel guilty.

When colleagues are sick, I’m happy to step in and help. I don’t think less of them because they’re sick. I want to lift some of the worry, take on something that needs to be done, so they can rest and not fret.

So why do I feel guilty when I’m the one asking?

It makes no sense.

All I can do is recognize that’s what’s going on, remind myself that I’ve made plans so things aren’t dropped or forgotten or ignored, and that I do my part of help when those around me are sick. The sooner I can take care of myself, the sooner I get well and can fulfill my commitments.

Because I make plans for the work that needs to be done while I’m sick, it eases the worry, and I can use the energy that would be used for worry for healing instead.

Now, if I could only do the same with the energy I waste on guilt!

How do you deal with this? Please share you ideas in the comments.

 

Published in: on January 21, 2019 at 6:08 am  Comments (5)  
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Mon. Jan. 14, 2019: Self-Care in Community #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, January 14, 2019
Waxing Moon

Since January is the Self-Care month for our group, let’s talk about self-care in community.

So often, we’re desperate for some quiet time, alone time, that we forget there can be power in self-care together.

That’s not as much of a paradox as it sounds.

My yoga instructor mentioned it last week, when a group of us began a season of Monday afternoon meditations together. This is in addition to my daily meditation practice in solitude. Once a week, a group of us get together to be quiet in company.

Fellow writers, you know how, during Nano, the write-ins are great, because you’re sitting in a group of other writers, doing your own thing, but being together?

That can work with self-care, too, in some situations.

Many of us in this meditation group were part of a 12-week session last summer of Savaskana/Savasana for 90 minutes, once a week. It was great to lie in a room with fellow mindful practitioners and not have any expectations. My yoga studio also does regular “sound baths” — where participants lie down in restorative positions while a variety of sound washes over us for an hour. As someone with extreme sound sensitivity, this is wonderful.

As much as alone time is vital to creative well-being, try something in company. Walk with a friend. Join a class in something you enjoy, or you think you might enjoy.

Care in company can play a wonderful part in healing and balance.

Namaste!

Published in: on January 14, 2019 at 6:12 am  Comments Off on Mon. Jan. 14, 2019: Self-Care in Community #UpbeatAuthors  
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Mon. Jan. 7, 2019: Long Term Practice Pays Off #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, January 7, 2018
Waxing Moon
NO RETROGRADES

Can you believe it? Nothing is in retrograde right now. We get the chance to catch our collective breath!

This month’s topic is self-care, and the first topic I’m going to tackle is how commitment to a practice over a long period of time pays off.

I’m using two long-term practices from my own life — writing and my yoga/meditation practice — as examples.

I have a commitment to write 1K day on what I call my “primary project.” Of course, as a full-time writer, who writes for others as well as creating my own work, I have to write a hell of a lot more than 1K/day to keep a roof over my head.

But that 1K/day, first thing, builds up the pages and the chapters and the books. It is the foundation of my writing career.

Before you start whining, writing 1K/day doesn’t mean you never get a day off. The difference is that you CHOOSE when you take time off instead of just letting the writing slide until days and weeks of not writing accumulate.

Uh, uh! What did I say about whining? You have a full-time job, but want to be a full-time writer? How badly do you want this? Do you simply want the idea of being a full-time writer, or do you actually want to be a full-time writer?

If it’s the latter, then treat your writing as your second job until it’s your ONLY job. That doesn’t negate the passion, the fun, or the creativity. It makes you a professional.

The other thing that separates pros (especially in the arts) from the rest is that the only purpose of the day job is to support the writing. That is, if you actually WANT to be a full-time writer. It means you change day jobs whenever you need to, and whenever it gets in the way of the writing.

When I worked in theatre (and I wrote then, too), I’d take non-theatre jobs in between shows. A show closed, I’d take a job. Usually with something arts-related. Trust me, you never, EVER want me as your waitress. I waitressed for two days, swore off, and haven’t had to work that gig since. I leave that to actors, who, you know, actually like people.

Anyway, I’d take a day job, and when I landed another theatre job, either the day job would let me work a flexible schedule that didn’t interfere with rehearsals, techs, shows, matinees, put-ins, etc. — or I’d quit the day job.

Until I reached the position where there was no down time between shows. I went from show-to-show-to-show, and then, on Broadway, I was lucky enough to land slots on long-running shows, such as MISS SAIGON, where I worked the last five years of the ten year Broadway run. 8 shows/week. Nights, weekends, holidays. I took my two weeks’ vacation once a year (usually a week twice a year). A couple of times, I took a leave for a month when one of the shows I wrote was produced overseas. But I was there. 8 shows/week for five years.

Theatre (and writing) always came first. ALWAYS. The work must always be protected. ALWAYS.

“But I have a family! I have responsibilities!”

So do I. But my family and my partners needed to be fully supportive, carry their weight, too (although, most of my life, I have been the primary breadwinner in any relationship). Any partner who didn’t carry his share of the physical and emotional work? Or, more importantly, who got in the way of it? Gone.

Because the RIGHT partner doesn’t get in the way of the work.

For me, it’s lonelier to be with the wrong person than to be single.

It paid off in theatre. I worked my way up to Broadway. And it was wonderful. And when it was time to leave and do something else, I accepted it, and did so.

It is paying off in writing (which is always a journey). Writing is my business as well as my vocation and my passion. It is not my hobby.

I am not rich (working on that–sort of a joke, sort of not). I’m not famous (thank goodness, and some of that is a choice, much of that is luck, and some of my decisions that may cost me cash that fame would bring, but buy me the peace to do the work — we’ll see how they’ve turned out at the end of my life/career).

I’ve given up plenty that society considers “normal.”

I don’t regret it.

I wanted it badly enough.

I show up and do the work.

I am relentless when I have to be. Ruthless when I have to be.

Long-term practice pays off.

Moving to the yoga/meditation practice, which I’m sure is more along the lines of what you expected from a self-care post, this past year of practice has caused a huge positive shift in my life.

Every single day of 2018, I did at least a short meditation. I admit, I skipped yoga on some days (and regretted it, every time).

But every single day, and often more than once a day, I maintained my meditation practice. Even when I had a session with a meditation group on any particular day. I kept up my own practice.

It helped my focus. It increased my concentration. It lowered my stress, which improved my health.

But I didn’t realize the full impact until New Year’s Eve.

This was the first New Year’s Eve in years where I wasn’t miserable.

I talk about that misery in detail in the January 3rd, post, so I won’t go back into it here.

I didn’t have it this year. I didn’t have the misery, the desperation, or any of that. I wasn’t happy and dancing around, but I was content. For the first time in years of New Year’s Eves, I was content.

Be where you are. Start where you are. You’re fine right now.

That’s what we work on at Kripalu.

That’s what I work on in the daily yoga and meditation practice.

It doesn’t mean to stop striving to be better or do more. But it means to stop hating yourself in the moment. It doesn’t mean give up and feel like nothing can or will ever change. It means taking stock of the moment.

Accept yourself.

Take care of yourself.

You are fine where you are.

Once you hit that point, then, THEN you can build something positive for the future.

Commit to something that makes you feel happy or content or serene or fulfilled. Do it, even for a few minutes every single day this year. When you’re tired, when you’re sick, when you’re overwhelmed.

Do one good thing for yourself for a few minutes every day.

Chart the difference until next year. You’ll be surprised.

You’ll be content.

You might even be happy.

Published in: on January 7, 2019 at 6:25 am  Comments Off on Mon. Jan. 7, 2019: Long Term Practice Pays Off #UpbeatAuthors  
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