Tag Archives: personal growth

The “What Do I Want?” Litany

I read somewhere recently that you’re not supposed to use the word “want”, as it implies a state of lack.

[pullquote]want [wont, wawnt]
verb (used with object)
1.to feel a need or a desire for; wish for: to want one’s dinner; always wanting something new.
2.to wish, need, crave, demand, or desire (often followed by an infinitive): I want to see you. She wants to be notified.
3.to be without or be deficient in: to want judgment; to want knowledge.[/pullquote]

See, when you’re manifesting, you’re supposed to “act as if” the object of your desire is already yours. Or something. So, instead of “want”, you’re supposed to say “desire”.

Here comes the litany…

I DESIRE income.

I DESIRE economic justice, for myself and for the rest of the world, too. How is it right that, through no fault of our own, many of us are unemployed or under-employed AND saddled with homes that are worth less than a third of what we paid for them and less than half of what we owe the bank? How is it right that those who can least afford to are responsible for paying the majority of taxes, which are used to pay for “services” from which we do not benefit, many of which we never wanted (SEE: WAR)? Talk about a lack of balance…

I DESIRE a strong, healthy body with which to sail through my next half-a-century.

I DESIRE a healthy planet, one that will be able to safely and easily house and nourish the life forms that depend upon her for survival.

I DESIRE intellectual and emotional stimulation.

I don’t want much, do I? 😉

The “Who Am I?” Litany

Does anyone really know the answer to the question “Who am I?”.

It annoys me. I’m supposed to define myself by the roles I play, I guess, and by my interests. All the while I’m reciting this litany (it’s the first question you ask yourself when practicing meditation), I have the feeling that this isn’t all there is to it.

However, I am bound by earthly things owing to the fact that I’ve got this here physical body, so without further ado – The “Who Am I?” Litany commences

I suppose a daughter is the very first role I took. Mere seconds on the heels of “daughter” closely followed sister, grand-daughter, niece, cousin, great grand-daughter, great niece, and I think that takes care of the familial roles. Almost immediately, I became a Christian; quite without my knowledge (I was probably sleeping) or consent, I might add. As time progressed, I became a BIG sister, twice. And I was also a reader and a singer very early on, long before I ever went to school.

Ah, school. That’s where I learned to love being a writer and an entertainer. I was also an easy mark, as in one who is bullied because it’s incredibly easy to make her cry. Well, that used to be true. Now, not so much. At some point, I became a friend. Post-bullying, I had many, many friends. And I was also a girlfriend. After we moved away from all those friends, I became a loner, then a friend again.

For many years, I was an actor and an opera singer. I was a wife for a while, which also meant I was a sister-in-law and a daughter-in-law. Then I became a divorcee. My brothers also made me a sister-in-law, and they each made me an aunt, 5 times over in total.

For money, I was an office worker, eventually becoming a vice president. I was a techno-geek and a business manager. I was, and I still am, a breast cancer survivor. I was an organic gardener and a compost maker extraordinaire! I became a beach-comber, a shell collector. I became a Disney lover and a writer, a blogger, a photographer, a chronicler of my adventures. Oh and I was a smoker, but I quit (thank you God!).

More recently, I’ve become a a collector of unemployment, a consultant, a runner, a conservationist, a healthy living enthusiast and a practitioner of meditation.

I am ALWAYS a student, whether formally or informally.

This all actually sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Yet I’m quite sure this is NOT all there is. There has to be more to it than simply litanizing one’s roles and interests.

Right?

Finding Erin

a picture for youBefore leaving for Disney World last week, I made a trip to Barnes & Noble to spend my Groupon. I nearly bought a Martha Beck book but suddenly had an inspiration. Why not download the audio version instead and have a listen during the 3 hour drive? So I used the Groupon to buy some other books instead, and then I downloaded Martha when I got home. I listened some on the drive up to Orlando on Thursday.

On Friday, the family visited Disney’s Animal Kingdom. At some point, we went to see “Finding Nemo: The Musical”. Incomprehensibly, I’d seen the film but I’d never been to see the live show before. In fact, I haven’t been to a live show since a couple of years ago when I treated my nieces to “The Little Mermaid” on Broadway for Christmas.

I definitely had “the roar of greasepaint” in my ears from nearly the moment I sat down. I found myself examining the tech setup, or what I could see of it, analyzing the vocal production of each cast member, marveling at the puppet costumes… and crying.

Tears streamed silently. I was conscious of not drawing attention from Chez Bro or SIL, so wiping them away became a furtive, covert activity. And I wondered why. I was not sad for the story, and did not feel particularly sad in general. All I could come up with, as I watched the performers, was “I used to do that”.

Valencienne in The Merry WidowYes, it is true – I used to do that. From the time I was 8 years old until maybe 2004-ish (I turned 44 that year), I used to perform. Early on, it was musical theater, but along about the time I turned 30, I started performing with local opera companies on Long Island. I studied for a bit at The Juilliard School in their opera workshop program, and I studied privately nearly every week for more than 20 years. I am a lyric mezzo soprano, most suited to the French repertoire, but I can get away with Verdi in a small hall.

All in all, I have to say that even though I was good at opera, musical theater was my first love. There came a time where I realized that I was only doing it for the 10 seconds of applause that would occur at the end of each solo number. How I discovered that fact and how it had come about are another story for another day. The point in bringing it up is that once I no longer needed those 10 seconds of applause, I had to figure out a different reason to do it, or else abandon it. So I did it for fun. If a role looked like it wasn’t going to be fun, then that meant I wouldn’t be doing it. That was liberating – no longer would I have to put up with singing jobs or conductors or other performers that were unpleasant, simply because I needed the money or wanted to put that role on my resume. Now I could accept or reject roles based upon my fun factor alone.

The Grandmother in Little RedProportionate to the sheer volume of people who have good voices and love to perform, very VERY few of them can actually make a living at it. And it’s exhausting to do something else for a living and perform on the side – although lots of people do that just for the love of it. So I went along like that for a while, until having a career and going to school and performing all at the same time became too much for me. I did that for several years before breaking down and confessing that if I was going to finish my degree, I’d have to stop performing. I kept up with my weekly voice lessons but stopped using that time to learn and polish new roles. That was pretty liberating, as it turns out. Relieved of the goal-oriented burden of role preparation, I could now sing whatever I wanted in my lessons. Out came the show tunes, the pop music, the weird little ditties I’d collected over the years but never had time to learn. Out came the French art songs that sounded so stunningly gorgeous in my voice.

About 4 months before I relocated to Southwest Florida, my voice teacher passed away. What a sad time it was for all of us who had literally grown up with her in our lives! The first memorial gathering was truly a sad affair. There were only two of Gloria’s students who managed to get up and sing. I was one of them. That was winter of 2006. I stood up and sang some karaoke one night at the Walt Disney World Swan about a year later, but that’s been the extent of my “performing” for a while. I have not really looked for any performing opportunities since I’ve been down here. It just hasn’t been on my radar.

Playing Santuzza in Cavaleria RusticanaSo I was pretty surprised to have my old love, the wicked stage, surge to the forefront so unexpectedly, without warning. Or… was it? On the way home from Orlando yesterday, I picked up Martha Beck where I’d left off. She told a story of attending a convention in Washington D.C. and related a conversation she’d had there with a woman she called “Rosario”. The woman told Martha that she’d always thought she’d eventually relocate to D.C. and began to cry – but she didn’t know why. She wasn’t particularly sad. Martha felt strongly that there was something to it, this feeling of “pull” toward D.C.

18 months later, Martha caught up to Rosario in London and asked how things were. Hectic and crazy since the move, came the reply. Oh, a move? Yes, I guess you haven’t heard – Rosario then told Martha that she’d moved to Washington D.C. because she’d been appointed Treasurer of the United States of America!

Martha uses this story to underscore the importance of being aware of and following physical cues in the quest for our authentic selves. OK, well that explains a lot. It explains why there were years during which I was ALWAYS sick – and why now I almost never am. I was emotionally and psychologically allergic to my job and my environment. Now I’m not. It explains why I never liked raw onions and why, if I try to eat them in something (like tabbouleh), I get a gawd-awful headache and feel nauseous in the head. Our bodies DO tell us what we need; not just physically but emotionally and psychologically too (and probably spiritually as well).

So, my authentic self is a stage performer. Well, quelle surprise. Duh. OF COURSE my authentic self is a stage performer. We already knew that. We also already know that a living cannot be made at it unless one is exceptionally lucky. I am lucky at parking spaces. Not love, not stage careers. Just really awesome parking spaces.

So I’m not sure how helpful this episode has been. I still need income and I’m pretty sure the kind of income I need is not going to come from getting discovered at age 50.

LINKS:

NorthStar
Finding Your Own North Star: Claiming The Life You Were Meant To Live By Martha Beck
CLICK HERE for HARDCOVER
CLICK HERE for PAPERBACK
CLICK HERE for KINDLE EDITION

 

RosarioMarinLeading Between Two Worlds: Lessons From The First Mexican-Born Treasurer of the United States
CLICK HERE for PAPERBACK
CLICK HERE for KINDLE EDITION

 



 

The Kind Heart Will Triumph

The Kind Heart Will Triumph:
An Open Letter To A Young Girl I Know

It’s suckage when you believe that there is no one you can trust to truly have your back and never fuck with you. I think that’s what all of us want from our families, friends and lovers – the one person we can depend on not to INTENTIONALLY hurt us. I am emphasizing “intentionally” because sometimes, shit just happens. Perhaps the person does not have the necessary skills to put themselves in your place and feel what you feel. Perhaps it does not even occur to them to do so. Maybe they are not mature enough to have empathy and compassion, or maybe it was never taught to them. Maybe they are all tied up in the competition for status, for a position among the “cool” people. Maybe they are really desperate for it, they really, REALLY need it. Maybe it’s so important to their own feelings of self-worth, they cannot afford to worry about your feelings or anyone else’s. Maybe they are trying their best, but it’s YOU who isn’t being clear about what you want, what you will accept and what you will simply not tolerate insofar as their behavior toward you is concerned.

Or maybe – just maybe, they are incapable of empathy and compassion, regardless of their age or maturity level. Maybe some people really ARE just that shallow. Maybe some of them do not see anything beyond the clothes, the hair, the makeup, the number of friends they have, the things they own or the number of boys who are salivating after their insubstantial, plastic little selves. Maybe they are just mean girls; there are some kids who don’t want friends, they want worshippers. They don’t value love, they value notches on their belts (or worse, on their bedposts). They don’t hesitate to hurt someone if they stand to gain something from it – inflated sense of self-worth, status among peers, whatever else they might want in a moment of malice.

At your age, the power of that status-among-peers thing is not to be underestimated. It is so very craved, it turns even nice young people, people who were brought up to behave “better than that”, into glory junkies. It’s a rough time, the teen-into-mid-twenties years. Insecurity drives more friendships to ruin during this time than any other. It drives people to behave with unspeakable cruelty toward one another. It drives them to behave with unspeakable cruelty toward THEMSELVES. It drives kids to do things that are dangerous to their bodies as well as to their psyches, just so that others will stand in awe of them and think they are cool. It drives them to cut, to have sex before they are ready and it drives them to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol and do drugs. Worst of all, the craving for status among peers can drive kids to end up, at their own hands, dangling from the end of a rope or floating in a pool of their own blood.

I don’t know how any of us manage to escape the teen/young adult years with our lives. We’re all just so fucked up and so disoriented during this time, it’s a wonder we can see straight once it’s over. Certainly we all bear the scars when we emerge. We’ve learned some hard lessons about people. We’ve maybe learned to be a little more cautious about whose opinion we value, because placing a lot of stock in the wrong person’s esteem for you can turn you into someone you never had any intention of becoming, and it can make you feel like a worthless fool when they capriciously flat-leave your ass for some insignificant supposed infraction. Or maybe just because they ceased to think you were cool. They don’t really have to have a reason, do they? They just do what they want with your emotions.

[pullquote]We learn that what gives a person value is this and only this – your value is measured by how you behave toward others, particularly toward those who are less fortunate than you are.[/pullquote]

Hopefully, what we learn from all this is how to measure a person’s value, how to measure your OWN. We learn that what gives a person value is this and only this – your value is measured by how you behave toward others, particularly toward those who are less fortunate than you are. I don’t mean that just materially. I mean it emotionally too. If someone is more unhappy than you are, then they are less fortunate. When you throw that person some pixie dust, it will make their day and they will always remember you for that. They will remember that you were kind to them when they needed it the most.

Those who matter, the people who you really want on your side through thick and thin, will measure your value by HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL. Not by what lip gloss or shoes you wore. Not by your cool phone or your car or your status as an brainiac, athlete, whatever. They will measure you by how you behaved toward them.

I’m not saying that you should eschew material things. If it makes you happy to wear cute clothes and have cool toys , then have at it. You know that I’ve never denied myself anything I really wanted. But you also know, if you’ve taken the trouble to observe, that I have a shitload of friends; people who come running to wish me a Happy Birthday, people who clamor to be the ones I come to see when I’m home on Long Island, people who sorrow with me, hold me up when I’m down, rejoice with me when I’m happy. I would one million times a million rather have them in my life than anything else. Yeah, I’d flush my smartphone for them. I would. And they know it. That’s why they’re my friends.

You will get past this time when transient, meaningless things seem to be defining you and your relationships. It will happen sooner than later, if you let it. It will, if you can muster the courage to start choosing friends from the people who maybe aren’t so “cool” by school standards but who are smart, funny, compassionate people. Kind people. People who have a heart, like you do. You will attract these people to yourself by your own behavior. If you aren’t ready to do this yet, it’s ok. It’s a lot to ask of a person in your position, and it takes practice.

Start small. I remember one time being in an amusement park with a little person, many years ago. We looked across the street and I observed that some little kid’s stuffed animal had fallen out of the stroller and was just lying there in the street. Well the little person I was with, she saw this and she rushed across the street, picked up the stuffed animal, and lovingly tucked it into the stroller to await the return of it’s young owner.

That single random act of kindness and compassion is what I remember most about who you REALLY are underneath all this horrible but apparently necessary teen angst you’ve got to go through. I have faith that sometime very soon, you will start to collect friends who will always love you, who will always have your back and never fuck with you. I have faith that your kind heart will rise up and beat back all this meaningless bullshit, and that you will grow into the kind of woman everyone wants for a friend – smart, funny, gracious toward others.

And with really cool toys, cause that’s just how we roll 😉

Am I A Cracked Jar?

IMG_3472-WDW-EPCOT-shady-glade-on-rosewalk The cracked jar « Paulo Coelho’s Blog.

So, maybe we’re not SUPPOSED to have just one career throughout our lifetimes. Maybe careers are supposed to be age-appropriate. The trick might be in identifying age-related “cracks” and then blooming them into into services; something that’s useful, beautiful or both.

While I have plenty of flaws that I can identify, I’m not sure I can readily see which of them came with age. Can’t possibly get to the next part – making that same flaw USEFUL (and, let’s face it, lucrative) – until I know what it is I’m supposed to be working with.

This one’s going to take some thought!

The Pre-Crushed Soul

The Minimalist Guide to Leaving Your Soul-Crushing Day Job.

The author points out protestations about age, about the established versus the unencumbered.  I think it’s more than that.  Anyone past their 20s has had shit happen to them.  Therefore, they come with a pre-crushed soul.  We KNOW that bad stuff can and does happen to good people.  We KNOW that happy endings are not only optional, they are rare.  Even the soul-crushing day jobs are rare birds these days. So if one cannot get one of those, what makes one think one can get a dream job?

See?  The fact that I even typed that sentence is evidence of my own pre-crushed soul.  How can you un-learn what life has taught you?  How can you un-know the certain knowledge that life sucks and then you die, and that everything else is a lie, a fantasy that you use to soothe yourself?

Defeat, thy name is “Self”.

Sorry, having a low, non-believing day.