ANXIETY, That Voice in Your Head… and Writing

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.

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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.
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Can You #TreatYoself Too Much?

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.

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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?

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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?

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How I Ate My Way Through Spain: Part 3

When we last left off on my Spanish adventure, we had completed a jam-packed, fun filled day in Valencia. And once again, on minimal sleep, we were up at 6am to make it to the train station for our next leg: Seville! (pronounced Se-bi-ya not like The Barber of Seville. Come on, don't be THAT American.)

This time we had a four hour train ride so we got in a decent nap which was good because I was dying. This was the first time that the thought, "Dear God, what have I done?!?" popped into my head. I had a dreadful feeling that I had bit off more than I could chew in my itinerary planning.

That is until we got into Seville, dropped our bags off at the hotel, and ran to a restaurant as fast as we could. We were starving. Did I mention how much I love Spanish tapas? Yes? Too bad, I'm going to say it again. I LOVE SPANISH TAPAS. OK, now I'm screaming at you. But look at this.

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Grilled octopus in squid ink. I'm getting hungry just looking at it. I will tell you that the moment they put this in front of me all my sleepiness went right out the window. Good food just makes my heart beat fast like that. And it tasted even better than it looks! We also had skirt steak with chimichurri sauce. Both were delicious.

With our stomachs full we felt recharged enough to explore beautiful Seville. Our first stop was The Plaza de Espana in the Parque de Maria Luisa. This was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929.

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If you visit make sure you have Euros to pay for the row boats, which I desperately wanted to do. We were both fresh out and hadn't had time to stop at an exchange center so I bartered with a local vendor to exchange U.S. dollars for a small fee. And, even though my boyfriend and I weren't the best rowers at first, we got the hang of it and it was so worth it!

After walking through the beautiful park we made our way to Hotel Alfonso XIII, a very expensive luxury hotel our cab driver had told us was worth the visit. He claimed they had the best cafe con leche in town so, obviously, I had to check it out. The hotel was amazing and very upscale. I felt a little like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman as I squealed in pleasure at the wide array of scented lotions in the bathroom. We sat in the central courtyard which had natural sunlight and a serene atmosphere and got ready for our pick me up.

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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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I’m Positively Positive I’m Positive (Is that how you spell Positive?)

Sometimes we think it’s funny to complain. I mean I have a whole repertoire of jokes. Like this woman came up to me and said, “You know, I saw on Dr. Phil that if you don’t make it by the time you’re 30 as a woman in the entertainment business, then you’re NEVER gonna make it.” And I’m like, “Thanks, Mom.” Because I’m already 30... ish.

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Everyone has a good laugh at my dad and his constant storm cloud of pessimism, earning him the nickname “Eeyeore” at work. He makes a joke about how nothing goes right when he’s there. Any sports game he goes to, team is gonna lose. In line for a ride at an amusement park, ride’s gonna break down. Whenever I finally get someone to marry me... uhhh Dad I’m starting to rethink this walking me down the aisle thing. (Joking! But we may have to take you to a energy shaman first. 😜)

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I'm not saying never joke. That's crazy talk. But I am saying maybe be more aware of what you're feeding into your mind. For example, one of my oldest friends reached out to me after my time management post and said we could be schedule accountability partners. So every night before bed we write out our schedules for the following day and send them to each other. (Or wake up, see she sent her schedule, then frantically write mine out that morning to send back.) When I saw her schedule, which consisted of massive amounts of child care, meal prep, and nursing, with only TWO HOURS of adult time, my immediate reaction was, "Wow I'm a selfish, narcissistic shit."  I had a good chuckle to myself about how my biggest problems today were making sure I wrote out 20 marketing postcards to casting directors and trying to make it back in time from Jazz night for a midnight bed time. BUT am I sub consciously blocking my own success because I'm spoon feeding myself, "I'm a bad girl" soup?

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