Saturday morning. A day full of relaxation and rejuvenation. Except on this particular Saturday morning, they were gutting the apartment above me. Literally. They must have dragged out every appliance, floor board, and tile. I can’t confirm this for certain but with all the scraping, clunking, pounding, and drilling I can’t imagine there is even … Continue reading Loving the Present Moment Even When it is Really, Really Crappy
Something wonderful happened recently at a time that I very much needed something wonderful to happen. Spirituality and Health, one of the magazines I am an avid reader of, sent me an email saying they wanted to publish a story I had pitched.
I was over the moon. I have done some pro bono work for up and coming online magazines, but this would be my first real, PAID publications. And to a magazine that comes to me in the mail! I literally picked up my most recent copy and danced around the room with my cat trying to explain to him that Momma's words were going to be on these pages. He just looked at me funny and said, "Get off me Mom!" Or Meow. Same difference.
This article is especially near and dear to me because it is about a friend of mine, who happens to be gay and wanted to have a Catholic wedding. The series of events that made this impossible event possible was so miraculous (made me cry every time) that I knew I had to share it. So when I queried only ONE magazine and got an acceptance I thought it was another miracle. Everyone told me I would have to query 100 times or more and I was 1 for 1! Maybe there was something to be said to surrendering to God's plan and everything would fall into place.
But then, something weird happened. After I accepted the offer there has been radio silence. I submitted my article within the deadline requested but haven't heard a thing. Not even a, "Thanks! Got it!" It's gotten to the point that, after three follow up emails over the past three weeks, I have to repeatedly pull up the original acceptance email so I know I haven't gone all Girl, Interrupted, had a psychotic break, and made the whole damn thing up.
There's a new hashtag on Instagram. #TreatYoself. First, I reread that about four different times to make sure it wasn't, in fact, TREAT YOURSELF. Nope, apparently, I'm just not cool enough to drop the U. Millennials. Sigh.
In this day and age of #yolo, (You Only Live Once for those of you Millennial acronym impaired) have we actually gone too far with the treating ourselves? How much is good self care and how much is irresponsibly draining our bank accounts?
The first thing I noticed when I visited the #treatyoself page on Instagram were a lot of pictures of food. Truffle fries, donuts, and chocolate stuffed pancakes, oh my! Wait. Where were those chocolate stuffed pancakes from? Because they looked BOMB. I think a little decadent food every now and then is a great way to treat yourself. I can tell you that a good night of music and cooking at home with a good bottle of wine and fresh produce is one of the BEST things I can do to treat myself. The problem for me is knowing when to draw the line. Because it may be "treating myself" to buy that $70 bottle of wine I've always wanted to try, but will it still be treating myself if I can't pay rent at the end of the month?
I also wanted to explore other ways that I could treat myself. Like I said, I saw a lot of pictures of food on that Instagram page. I also saw a lot of travel pics. But what are a couple simple ways that I can treat myself in day to day life?
It's been a minute since I've written a blog because, well, life. And, to be honest, I've been feeling a little conflicted about my message. Last November, I was laid off from my serving job and I took it as a sign that I was done with waiting tables and on to the next stage of my life as a writer and actress. And everyone walked off into the sunset, stayed in love forever without fighting, and could eat as many pieces of dark chocolate as they liked without gaining any fat on their thighs. THE END.
But the fact of the matter is, that those six months made me extremely anxious, depressed, and more hopeless than the Cavs in the NBA finals. Sure, I had extra time. And I DID accomplish a couple small feats, like finishing my spec script and applying to a bunch of writing fellowships. But the overwhelming feeling of uncertainty about how I would continue to pay my bills started to eat away at me. What was supposed to be the best time of my life ended up being the worst.
It also turns out that I HATE freelance and copywriting. From afar it seems great. You write on your own schedule so you have time to tend to all your creative passions! Except at fifteen dollars per article about E-commerce tips or WordPress Customer Service plugins, which I know absolutely nothing about and, therefore, took a minimum of three hours to research and write, it would take me approximately NINE HOURS to make FORTY-FIVE DOLLARS. It took me about four days to quit that job with a big 'ol, "Sorry, I'm not sorry."
Meanwhile, things like headshots, acting class, and, well, FOOD, were draining the bank. Something had to give.
On a plane ride back from visiting my family in Ohio, because 1- I love them, and 2- I didn't have to pay for food while I was there, (But mostly one, family, mostly one!!!😘) I was watching the movie Paris Can Wait, which is all about food and wine throughout the Parisian countryside. I got such overwhelming JOY from watching the leading man talk about food and wine. Way more than I had felt in the past six months banging my head against my desk urging paid work to come from ANYTHING besides writing about Woocommerce (I mean, what even IS that?), that I got off that plane and IMMEDIATELY decided to go for my level one sommelier license.
I had been talking about taking my level one sommelier test for years but something always got in the way. Now, with no more job excuse, I put my foot on the gas. With only one month to study, (way less than I would have liked) I hit the books hard. Immediately, I felt better. I had a concrete purpose, pass this test. It's the complete opposite of acting and writing where each day you can figure out something to pursue but there is never any guaranteed outcome. Trust me, I've been acting and writing in L.A. for ten years and... let's not talk about it. This post is supposed to be about how I'm NOT depressed anymore. 😜 But with this, if I studied hard I WOULD pass the test. And I had to face the facts, there is a huge part of me that likes and needs that kind of stability.
It's spring! Thank God. I need a little sunshine in my life. OK. Yes, I live in L.A. so pretty much every day is a sunny oasis, but what my life lacked in seasonal changes on the physical plane, it definitely made up for metaphorically.
Because this past November, on the day before Thanksgiving to be exact, I was laid off from my serving job of nearly eight years. Yeah. Thanks for that corporate America. Your timing is impeccable. Despite the overwhelming amount of shadiness dealt out by my former employer at the time, I had an optimistic view of the situation. This would give me the time to finally go after what I really wanted, writing and acting.
Then the frost set in. December 21 was the first day of winter and, right on cue, I started freaking out.
- FACT #1: I had no job but Christmas shopping waits for no one
- FACT #2: I had no job and could no longer vent my problems to co-workers in lieu of therapy
- FACT #3: I HAD NO JOB! OR DIRECTION... Besides playing with my cat. I did a lot of that.
My body froze, icicles formed around my heart, and winter gales blew all my hopes and dreams down towards Shonda Rhimes' office, who probably has like 18 hit shows by now. I even called up a friend I used to work with and cried... about missing my serving job! I didn't even know who I was anymore! My whole world had been frozen, and not in the funny Disney musical way.
The thing is, I was making a lot of money at my old job. This wasn't the Denny's on the corner. This was a five star, five diamond property that charged $48 for a salmon salad! I was making more money than most college graduates right out of business school. I loved that financial freedom, and the first thing that entered my chilly little winter brain was, "Go get another high end serving job."
And I could have. But that would have kept me in my same old "safe" routine. These thoughts were my ego mind trying to keep me stuck. If I got another serving job I wouldn't be creating new beliefs that supported me deserving to make money doing what I love. This part of my winter was tough. It consisted of me challenging every belief that I have and telling it, "thank you, but I'm going to go another way." And this way came with way less money. I had to use every ounce of strength and courage to dig deep down into that barren, snowy wasteland and keep going.
I attended the first annual Best You Expo in Long Beach, CA this past Saturday. And IT. WAS. AWESOME.
But, at first, I came in skeptical because I got the tickets for free. And let's face it, how good could it REALLY be if they're handing these things out like demo tracks on Hollywood Boulevard? (And even THOSE cost $10 if you actually take one. Trust me. One time I was chased.) I received the tickets because I've taken a class on mindvalley.com and they sent me an email. I needed some kind refresher so I signed up for one along with another friend of mine.
When we first got there I still wasn't 100% sold. I was worried there would be red tape, like we could only see the speakers in the booths in the basement, who would tie us up and torture us with meditation until we bought their self help program. But it turned out we had access to everything. Still didn't know what everything was. But we had it.
The first speaker talked about basic concepts like living in the now, instead of the past or the future. I've heard that one a billion gagillion times but, still, it was fine... until he showed us the trailer of the movie he is producing based on his life. Dude, I love your passion, but 1: You had a typo on the slides you showed us, proofread; and 2: your video quality was grainy and dialogue unoriginal. I did not come here to see a similar version of my own life under florescent convention center lights. I wanted ANSWERS.
The second speaker we saw was on the Main Stage and deemed herself "The Happiness Guru." She was a very quirky lady who was OK being 100 percent herself. That in itself is a great message because I'm already second guessing my previous paragraph. Was I too mean? Will they know I'm just joking? Do you think the anonymous guy I was talking about will be one of my 57 readers? Anyway, she talked a lot about not listening to anyone else and following your own intuition. Also, don't focus on money. Focus on what makes you happy. Great. I really like writing this blog but I also need to pay rent. Suggestions, PLEASE?
Then comes Kyle Cease. Whom I am now IN LOVE with. (He has a fiance but does that REALLY matter in Hollywood? Joking. Kind of.) This isn't a physical thing, though. I love him because he is ME. He's doing what I want to do. And doing it very successfully and effortlessly. He is a stand up comic that uses his comedy to make people laugh at reality, simultaneously bringing a transformational message. I mean, he opened with ten minutes on how bad the venue was, calling the convention center an airplane hanger, calling out the other booths making noise. "Alaska airlines flight now boarding at Gate 1," he retorts when when we hear someone talking on a bullhorn off in the distance. I cannot do him justice but trust me, he was hilarious. He then went into the core of his message and I want to share the three main points I learned from him.
- FALL IN LOVE WITH NOT KNOWING
Fall in love with anything that is happening. Remember, what you resist persists. I instantly know this is why I was called to this Expo. He goes on to say that you'll never be happy WHEN something happens. First, BE happy, then something happens. Don't worry about being right or wrong. We only do that because we're trying to get something. If we're trying to get something that puts us in a place of lack and pushes it away. Translation in my head: Stop worrying about how many people read this. I do this because it's a passion of mine and makes ME happy. And like five people consistently read it.
Also stop worrying about what's going to happen. He points out that we get anxious by the thought, "I don't know what's going to happen." That's because we have a belief that we SHOULD know what's going to happen. Instead, feel your anxiety or your control issue, love it, and let it go! FALL IN LOVE WITH NOT KNOWING! That's when freedom happens!
- TAP IN TO YOUR INNER APPLE TREE
We've all heard that we can go inside and access the infinite, unconditional love that we are. That's the basis of meditation, getting in touch with God and hearing the truth from our souls. But how often do we REALLY trust this? Kyle assures us that we all have an Oprah or a Ghandi inside us so stop trying to be successful. Trust and let God and life flow. Stop being addicted to controlling things we can't control. Go inside and ask yourself, "what feels light and expands me?" Then follow that passionately. Stop caring what everyone else thinks! He asked us, "Do you think Elvis passed out comment cards after a show?" Do you think he cared? NO! He was freaking Elvis!
It's 7:38 am. I open a letter from Blue Shield Health insurance which tells me my insurance is being denied/and or cancelled because they have not received my whole payment. Which IS A LIE. And it starts. My heart starts beating faster. I can literally feel the heat run down my veins. My shoulder tightens. I soon grow to the size of The Incredible Hulk. And I basically take on the mentality of this Kramer.
I am lucky enough to get some government assistance on my health insurance because I'm currently unemployed. This is awesome and I'm totally grateful. Except for the part where I have to rely on a bureaucracy to do something right, and in a timely manner. It also tests my tendencies to want to be in CONTROL OF EVERYTHING!!
Here's the story. I originally called to inquire about the Covered California plans late December. At this point I was on a Cobra plan from my previous job and just getting information. But some IDIOT... wait. I'm sorry. That's not loving or enlightened. Some (grimaces in pain trying to come up with something nice) very misguided lady, who was very busy with other important things so she couldn't fully listen to what I was saying, entered me into the computer with a start date of January 1. But I had just called to get a quote for how much government assistance I qualified for. I HAD ALREADY PAID FOR COBRA THROUGH FEBRUARY.
When I realized this, I called back and some other COMPLETE MORON, I mean super nice lady who thought she was being helpful but didn't know what the hell she was talking about, assured me that this was not a problem because I hadn't even picked a health care plan yet so that didn't matter. For my plan to start March 1 I just needed to pick a plan by February 20. This made perfect sense to me so I continued about my business.
So I did pick a plan early February, and when I went to make the first payment it said I OWED TRIPLE for January, February, and March. How I could pay for the month of January on a plan that I didn't even pick until February 15 is beyond all constraints of logic I possess. So. First stage of hulkness began and I called Covered California, the government run agency that pays for a portion of health insurance for low income residents. I explained the situation to a really understanding and helpful man, who unbeknownst to me was still a HUGE NITWIT. He said he saw what happened and would amend that plan for a March 1 start date. I went onto my online profile for Covered California and it now said I only owed one payment for my insurance to start March 1. Crisis averted.
Except it wasn't. This agent never contacted the insurance companies with the change (I told you he was a nitwit! I mean, a well meaning man who just didn't know he had to follow through.) So I then start getting letters from the insurance companies saying I owe three months of payments. I STILL want to know how they expect me to pay for January and February when I hadn't even received my health insurance cards, therefore couldn't actually use the product they were selling. If this is how consumerism works, clearly I am doing something wrong. And everyone owes me $25 for my book that's coming out next year. I haven't started it yet, but trust me, it's gonna be GOOD.
So I called Covered California AGAIN. And some nice lady (nice, gotta trust nice, because my brain is screaming HALFWIT) told me that they would "accelerate my claim" and send a letter to the insurance companies. But this morning I open the letter from Blue Shield saying my plan was being cancelled for lack of payment. I literally felt like the floor was splitting open and I was pummeling down into fiery lava. Because, surely, this is what Hell feels like. I immediately pick up the phone to call them but, of course, it's still only7:48 in the morning and they aren't open yet. So. I. Have. To. Wait.