Politics: How to Circumvent the “Us vs. Them” Mindset

Midterms. The word brings up immediate panic as visions of large pots of coffee and all night study sessions dance through my head. But in this case, we aren't talking about school. We're talking about something much more daunting. Government.

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Yes, this November marks a major election as 35 seats in the Senate and all 435 seats in The House of Representatives are up for grabs. This also serves as a type of midterm exam for the current administration. If the people like what's happening then the Republicans stay in control. If they don't, we may see a Democratic shift in power.

What concerns me most is that our government, and therefore our whole society, has adopted an "Us Vs. Them" mentality. Democrats only vote for bills proposed by Democrats. Republicans only vote for bills proposed by Republicans. Pretty soon they'll be Mean Girl-ing the new kid in the cafeteria and solving disagreements with wet willies in the bathroom. What happened to an individual mind actually listening, weighing the pros and cons, and voting on behalf of their constituents?

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After watching night after night of CNN, which more often resembles The Jersey Shore than news programming, I'm not really surprised that in every day society, and especially on social media, the general public is spouting off hate quicker than a spurned baby momma can take down her guy on Maury Povich.

But here's an idea: Let's be BETTER than our government. Let's be the change we want to see in the world. The next time we are faced with one of these situations, why don't we try something different.


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From Frozen to Flower: How I Made it Through Winter to Spring

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.

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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.

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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.

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How I Became the Best Me… and Saw Some Dance

I attended the first annual Best You Expo in Long Beach, CA this past Saturday. And IT. WAS. AWESOME.

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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.

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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.

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  • 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!

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  • 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!

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When Government Agencies Make My Head Explode (and not for the reason you think)

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.

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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.

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This Toaster Does Not Mean Anything

Day 2 of "A Course in Miracles." I've really enjoyed doing these exercises. They may seem a little nonsensical at first, but then I'll have HUGE moments of clarity throughout the day. Like yesterday, I was at a Soundology Lab at Wanderlust Hollywood (which includes an amazing sound bath full of gongs, bowls, and chimes... which also lent itself to a little light napping; awesome because I'm no longer allowing naps in my  Time Management schedules. Hooray for multi tasking!) At the end of the class we did a seven minute chant "Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung." (which I just realized was Hung instead of the HUM I was saying when I looked it up just now.) You can listen to this beautiful chant HERE . The point is, these words truly didn't mean anything. I literally had no clue what I was saying (apparently, its about life and stuff) but they made me so calm and full of joy!

I think that's a good thing. If you give something a positive meaning that works for you, great! Just be observant throughout the day of both the good or bad meanings you make about things. I'm guessing this will eventually culminate in us realizing that our judgements may or may not actually be true, and we'll finally get control of our ego minds. But, for now, just realize that the things alone really don't mean anything. Like the toaster I pulled out of my cupboard this morning. Doesn't mean anything... except that I get to eat some toast and that's pretty cool. Damn, am I giving meaning to the toaster now?

Here's Lesson Two of "A Course in Miracles":

I have given everything I see in this room (on this street, from this window, in this place) all the meaning that it has for me.
And here's my experience of this!



OK. I promise tomorrow no more cat jokes. Maybe.

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