Good Enough and Better Still

as_good_as_it_getsThere’s a scene in As Good As It Gets where Melvin Udall, Jack Nicholson’s character, is sitting across a restaurant table from Carol Connelly, Helen Hunt’s character, and he says “You make me want to be a better man.” It stops her in her tracks and makes me cry every time. The reason being, Melvin Udall is a total prick through the entire movie. He is arrogant and selfish, and yet, there is still something in him that we’re rooting for. There is still something in him that allows us to like him. There is still something in him that we see in ourselves.

Life isn’t about grand sweeping gestures that bring clearer understanding or a deeper awareness in our lives. It’s about paying attention to the people and the moments that happen every day. The instances that we allow to pass us by as we wait for the more momentous occasion to shake us up or the once-in-a-lifetime miracle to happen, are the opportunities that allow us to feel and be better.

Having our antennae raised to become a better person doesn’t mean that we believe we aren’t good enough or unworthy. It’s not about self-pitying or self-loathing. It’s about having the clarity and courage to realize that we are good enough and are worthy enough. It’s our freaking birthright!

We all need someone in our life who reminds us of this and  makes us want to be better. Who makes us want to make better choices. Who makes us want to do better deeds. Who makes us want to look within ourselves and see that we have goodness in us and we need to let it out. The majority of us stick to our goals, trek through the storms and celebrate our accomplishments knowing that what we’re doing is for someone else’s benefit, as well as our own. Why? It just plain feels good.

Who makes you want to be a better person? See them clearly in your mind, thank them if you have the chance (or the nerve) and go be it. It’s whoever is in your life and motivates you to see the best in yourself and become it. Your mom? Your best friend? Your grandpa? Your son?  Your partner? Your clients? Your neighbor?

As we enter into the holiday chaos, it’s helpful to keep this person in our mind’s eye as an anchor to remind us of the good in ourselves. What happens? We shine brighter, love deeper and laugh easier.

So, thank YOU for making this bold move because, in the end, it helps us all.

“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.” – Eleanor Roosevelt


Kindness Isn’t For Pussies

“Make America Kind Again” is taking social media by storm. It’s being hashtagged, tweeted, posted, linked, shared and liked faster than a mouse to d-CON. The idea of it is … well, nice.

Just that: Nice.  Therein lies the problem.

There is a HUGE difference between nice and kind. Just as a mouse suffers a slow death from d-CON, so do incredibly rich, tangible and meaningful words when we dilute them with hashtags at a viral speed. Throwing the word “kind” into a trending phrase deflates its true meaning and makes it “nice”. Nice is what my mom calls the plumber after he fixes the toilet – which she paid him to do. Nice is what she calls the hostess at the restaurant who walked us five feet to our table. Nice is what she calls anyone who she has a two-second conversation with on a regular basis who smiles at her. My mom’s not hard to please. She also looks for the good in people. She’s a true blue believer that people are innately decent human beings. She wants the comfort, that we all do, of being around people who make us feel good.

The problem is when everyone is “nice” then no one is kind. Nice is shallow and skims the surface. It’s speedy and dodgy and on the verge of falling apart with one wrong move. Kindness, on the other hand, is deeper and more thoughtful in its action.  It’s a slower process that brings people together on an even playing field and transcends language.

When we observe, or even better yet experience, a true act of kindness we know it. We feel it. We can press “mute” and no matter our native tongue, we would still feel the same way: nourished, soulful and grounded. Deep in our souls, on a visceral level. That is kindness in its purest and simplest form.

The catch is that kindness is anything but simple. Anger is easy. Sarcasm is a breeze. Kindness is difficult. We don’t like difficult. We have peaked as a society that wants fast and easy. Fast and easy works – until it doesn’t. It keeps us moving forward at record speed without having to slow down and deal with our own shit.  We don’t have time to slow down. Slowing down is the kiss of death.  #FOMO has created a sad humor to this acceptance. We want to be everywhere at once so we become nowhere in an instant. Throw a hashtag on it and it’s laughed about instead of worked out. Need attention? Hashtag it. Feel lonely? Hashtag it? Want to punch someone in the face? Hell yeah, HashTAG it! We’d rather buy stock in Band-Aids as temporary cover-ups than take the time to sow the seeds of dealing with our own issues and patiently wait for the remedies to harvest. It takes hesitation and stronger choices. It takes the courage to feel uncomfortable to do what is right. It takes the strength to dig past our shiny public persona to uncover our own shortcomings. It takes the bravery to not say what they want to hear but what is true.

Then, through  tears, sweaty determination, and stick-with-it-ness, we find our own way back up to the surface again with a newfound sense of who we are and why we’re here. It takes shedding years of layers of tough, callused skin that have been built up to protect our vulnerabilities and God forbid, fear of showing who we really are. What will they think? Will she still want to hang out with me? Will they still think I’m cool? Will he still love me? 

In the literal and timeless trend setting sense:

Niceties are out. Kindness is in.

Instead of putting it out there for others to be kind, how about we drop the hammer into reverse, go inside and be kind ourselves? Take the time to do the work to practice random acts of kindness. Once you put it into practice it becomes clearer and more natural.Take it from me. The more I do it, the more I realize what a punk I am to my husband and mom. Always the closest people to us get our baggage. Not fair. Time to gain perspective and check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. Once you slow down to reflect on whether your action will be done with good intention or be thoughtless, that in itself is an act of kindness. Slowing down gives way to clarity the same way that chaos breeds confusion.

There’s a reason that “actions speak louder than words” is such an overused phrase – because it’s TRUE. 100% truth! When someone says something to you but their behavior isn’t moving to the same beat – we know they’re Milli Vanilli-ing the HELL out of the situation! Their lip-synching is losing fans instead of gaining groupies. You’re not buying anything close to what they’re selling. And the truth is, deep down inside, they’re not buying it either!

Stop talking about it and just do it! Just do it. Show don’t tell.  Then something truly freaking awesome happens. People start sincerely being kinder to each other. Know why? Because once we feel it we want to give it. We want to “share” it in the ol’ fashioned sense of the word: through flesh and blood interactions. Knock yourself out. Try it on for size. Resist the need to post anything about it and sit with the pure feeling. Yes, it may be uncomfortable at first, but it’s worth it.

Girl, you know it’s true…ooh…ooh…ooh…


Fireside Chats

I have a major internal grip. It’s a clutch that is grasping so desperately that the only logical next move is for It to let go.  We’ll call It, Josie.  So, the last thing that Josie wants to do is ease up. The minute that she feels any slip of easing control or uncertainty of any kind, she goes into emergency tree hold like a toddler koala bearing its mother’s leg. The difference here is that every single aspect of myself is wrapped up into her. It’s not just fear of abandonment or fear of failure (or success, for that matter) or fear of embarrassment or fear of exposure. It’s all of that, and then some rolled up into a complex ball. On good days, it’s the size of a golf ball. On bad days it’s a professionally packed snowball that flies down a snowy hill growing exponentially in size and picking up reckless speed. It’s not intentional. She doesn’t mean to project a threatening presence. Her aim isn’t to take out anyone who dare steps in her way. In fact, her target is always one person. Only one person. Me. The thing is, She doesn’t have a brain. (Sorry, Jose, but you don’t.) She doesn’t realize that the person she is looking for is the brain of the operation.

Funny thing neither did I.

Upon this realization, we sit down for a fireside chat. I lure her in with bottomless hot toddies and stove top popcorn. We pop a squat. I break it down that we’re not breaking up, we’re just shifting gears. She’s not being evicted. Far from it. It’s more like a house reno with a padded sledgehammer. Life as we know it is no longer in session. Old thought patterns will be realized instead of passed by. We won’t be aiming for a screeching halt awareness but more of easing into the stop. The days when old mental habits do drop the hammer and fly into automatic pilot, I will refrain from frantically Wack-a-Moling them. Rather, I will do my best to catch them like a butterfly in a net, acknowledge their purpose and beauty and release them back into the sky.  It sounds poetic in theory. I’ll do my best.

As you can imagine, Josie didn’t take this well.

I continued with fairness and compassion as she continued sobbing into the popcorn bowl. I expected this. Josie’s M.O. is to fly straight into Eeyore victim mode. I wasn’t falling for it. The Rabbit in me wanted to bulldoze over this manipulation, reprimanding her for snotting all over the popcorn with her tears, but I resisted. I chose to take the high road and play Kanga to her Eeyore. I broke down the house rules. She can hang with me to ensure that I make sound judgments for my well-being and for my loved ones, but the minute she jumps into making petty or vicious judgments, her soap box will be kicked out from under her feet. She can play in the room as I dive into any creative endeavor, but the minute that she uses scare tactics just to get attention, she’s locked in the closet without dinner. (Okay, just kidding. My imagination just gave Josie a bear hug with that image.) Any usage of scare tactics, and I will slide open the door, releasing her into the world to run off some steam. And if all else fails, we will have a dance party (a Sauvignon Blanc dance party, depending on the day) to P!nk’s “So What”.  The lyrics will give her some much needed tough love and perspective. In the end, she will be humbled, refreshed and no longer Missundaztood.

Silence. Josie lets the new guidelines settle in.

She flat hands her mouth with the last bits of popcorn and slowly licks her fingers. I can see her mind weighing the pros and cons. She takes a deep breath and says “Why the hell not?”. We do a Babysitter’s Club style secret handshake, throw on Jorge Miguel’s, “Freedom”, and dance in unity to our newfound bond.

How Giving Birth Kicked My Ass

You may be wincing as you read this. One eyeing the screen, readying yourself for the moment that I go full on graphic and gory with my birth story. I will relieve you (or possibly disappoint you) in saying, easy there, tiger, this ain’t that kind of story. This is a different birth story altogether. This is a moral of the story kinda tale that everybody needs to hear because, to be honest, you’ll probably (hopefully) see yourself in here. Somewhere. At some point. Even a glimmer…Like it or not. After all, that’s the first step: To face it all, sleeves rolled up, ready to really see who we are – like it or not. Or as a friend perfectly states it: with warts and all.

Just showing our razzmatazz side to the world is the death of creativity. We can all smell inauthenticity like bloodhounds. It’s false advertising that keeps the stakes high in the least productive way possible. The energy that is raising the stakes to scrape the social sky needs to be redirected pronto to whatever your creative jam may be. It doesn’t need to be screamed from the rooftops, posted with a gazillion emojis or said out loud at all. It just needs to be put into motion. Hey, if you want to have a “Muse or Lose” housewarming party with your nearest and dearest because that will drop the hammer for you, then do it. Whatever we need to do (and we all know what we need to do, sorry to break it to you) has to be set in motion.

I need accountability. So do you. We all do.  No matter what shape it comes in. In my 20’s I dabbled with what I thought was accountability. From the outside it looked like I was diving right into the deep end, but in reality I barely stuck my toes in the water. The minute I would feel the creative push raring to go inside of me, I would redirect myself straight into a bar stool. I was  so terrified of the lurking rejection sharks, that I consistently stayed in the shallow end teeming with stories, ideas and characters in one hand and an overflowing vodka in the other. Not only did my self-discipline muscle begin to atrophy at record speed, but my anxiety and envy of others’ successes ballooned to the point of bursting.

What to do? What to do? (Cue: finger drum, finger drum) Well, duh? More vodka, please! Fortunately for me, the self-sabotaging ways did not stick for too long. We all know the self-applied victim label doesn’t look pretty on anyone. (Nope, not even her.)

I’ve tried it all on for size: I’ve blamed. I’ve procrastinated. I’ve bobble-headed the hell out of storylines, inciting incidents, character arcs and the best endings OF ALL TIME without writing anything. Not.One.Damn.Word. I’ve done it. Not proud of it, but there it is.

You know what got my ass in the chair? Not therapy. Not money. Not even heartbreak.

One word: Kids.

You may be deflated with that response. You may have been expecting a magical, novel tip. You may be thinking I’m saying that everyone who wants to push themselves needs to go run and pop out babies (or help pop out babies). Not at all. Wrong message completely.

Hear me out: When I was free as a bird, with no cares in the world and all the damn time I wanted, I wrote in thick doses in random moments. No consistency. No perseverance. For me, no accountability equaled no drive. Little did I know that was all about to change when I fortuitously went ahead and fell in love with another creative. Next thing I knew, I was advising, informing and spewing out witty false confident statements. When in reality, I was projecting my own fear in spades. It would cause fights, frustrations and major angst. Until finally, I realized that I needed to a) stop talking and b) heed my own advice.

Fast forward to now: two kids and one marriage later…I’ve come to practice what I preach. There’s a good chance that one of our kids will be drawn into the arts (pun intended). And you know what? Even if that isn’t their path, rejection is inevitable, no matter what the future holds for them. This is especially true when you find the strength  to push yourself towards reaching your highest potential. I want our kids to reach their highest potential. I want them to brave it on through their fear and moments of self-doubt. To come out on the other side, possibly wounded, but in one piece feeling even stronger and more resilient than ever. Don’t we all want that for the people we love? Of course! So why then, am I rooting for my kids to be that way when I was having such trouble doing it myself? How can I be the role model I strive to be: showing strength through fear and growing resilience through rejection, when I’m lounging on the sidelines cheering them on? Don’t I love myself as much? Don’t I deserve to be rooted for and dusted off just the same? HELL YEAH! We ALL do!

Our children, nieces, nephews, neighbors, and future leaders are looking up to us and soaking in our behavior on a much deeper level than our words will ever permeate. If it’s not for a child in your life, then who? Yourself? Your community? Your ancestry? The greater good? Find your “who” and don’t get fooled again! Just get on it!

I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I want to be a warts and all human being who steps up to the plate even when I’m out of balls, having solid faith that if I keep practicing my swing, balls will emerge and a home run will be in my future. Batter up!

Go Hugh or Go Home

When do I break it to my husband that his biggest nightmare has turned into a reality?

That my last year’s birthday present wasn’t just a one-time deal but is being declared an annual event?

My rationale is this. One of the unanimously agreed best  movies of all time is Love Actually. It begins 5 weeks before Christmas. You know what else happens 5 weeks before Christmas? My birthday!

Put that together,  you’ve got a fine lookin jew. No, wrong…well half-wrong anyway. You’ve got an annual birthday present of decorating the house, TOGETHER (operative word here), for the holidays and ending with a fireside viewing of Love Actually. I mean, really? That sounds fantastic! Pure bliss, actually.

Now, some may say, “Whaaa? That’s WAY too early!”

To them, I say: Let’s get the shit kicked out of us by Christmas! If the entire world can shove holiday consumerism down my throat before the last fireworks explode into the sky, then I’m taking back my holiday rights. I’m taking back the warmth and coziness that Christmas is meant to be. I’m taking back the feeling of being wrapped up in one huge ass hug by all of my grandparents and their grandparents and their grandparents. I’m taking back embracing the bittersweet nostalgia of it all instead of defiantly turning a cold shoulder to a holiday that I love. I’m letting go of the put upon feeling that every decoration has to look identical to Pottery Barn’s page 27  or you’ll have a stocking full of coal. I’m squashing the stress of buy, buy, buy and blazing through with enough, enough, enough. I’m seeing through the naysayers who Bah Humbug the first sight of tinsel, and realizing that they may just need a hug and a smile. I’m realizing that we’re all our own versions of George Bailey and Clark Griswold , overwhelmed by trying to do our best and aiming to find peace in who we are and who we love. I’m listening to Seth McFarlane and Willie Nelson and Ella Fitzgerald’s Christmas records anytime I damn well please. I’m blaring Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song on a loop in the car so that I can hear the heart melt inducing squeal from my daughter when she hears her name being sung. I’m going in for the magic of it all. I’m shifting my feelings of guilt and unworthiness to pure innocence and tingling appreciation. I’m sharing space for the millions of people in the world who are grieving and recovering and dreading the holidays and I’m sitting with them. ALL of them. I’m closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, and sending them all a huge mental blanket full of love, compassion and light. I’m being truly grateful for the people in my life and the events that have brought me here. I am corralling all of my loved ones, past and present, into my mind and dedicating my thoughts to each one of them every single day.

I’m taking back my holiday, dammit.  Hugh’s comin’ with me?

5 Life Lessons in Animation

In the past month I have cried at every single animated film I’ve watched.

Every. Single. One.

Storks – water works. Zootopia – opened the flood gates. Brother Bear – forget it. Am I a pansy ass? Maybe. Do I have a case? Absolutely!

The hook for each of these toddler tearjerkers is that each protagonist achieves what every flesh and blood human craves: a genuine sense of belonging and clear purpose without the sacrifice of integrity and drive. Not to mention, solid humor! (Major bonus for the sloth bank scene in Zootopia which was a Curb Your Enthusiasm scene in animated form. And Jason Bateman voicing the fox? C’mon! Sold!)

What stood out the most (besides that sloth scene –  wow, that was a doozy!) was that each of these movies’ main players were grounded in perseverance, perspective and  passion. When they veered off course they pivoted back through self-forgiveness and love. (Yes, self-forgiveness and love. If this is too much to handle, dock your Mother Ship of Resistance so you can make a little more room for some S & L in your own life. I struggle with this area so I’ll give a full-on self-forgiveness focus in a future piece. And yes, I forgive myself for not concisely fitting it all in this article. See? Baby steps.)

In some non-animated circles, the beauty of the three P’s are embraced and celebrated. In others, perseverance is too aggressive, perspective is too disloyal and passion is too dramatic. To those circles I say: “It’s not your fault… It’s not your fault.” I call it the Good Will Hunting moment. The moment that we need to drop our guards, get out of our own way, and admit that we are human beings who want and need to be seen. One step further – seen for who we are, not how others want us to be.

The funny thing is, once we take the uncharted steps towards showing our true selves a few marvelous things happen:

1. You realize that it’s more freeing than you can imagine. A hundred pound imaginary weight is lifted and you feel lighter and clearer. Major revamp of energy. The fear of uncertainty is diminished. Notice, I didn’t say it’s gone, just diminished. You don’t allow fear to hold as much power as it once did. You may even begin to look at fear as a friend not a foe. You may create a new relationship with fear, finding clear lines for distinguishing  when it rises out of safety for your life or preservation of your ego.

2. You find your keepers. The ones who stick around are the partners who are there for you, not just when you need a shoulder to cry on for mishaps and challenges, but when you need a hand to cheer  for your successes and accomplishments. These are the people who are your bona fide tribe.  These are also the people who you can tell that you’ve been wanting to write a cookbook all about turnips, or go back to school at 50, or take a year sabbatical and travel, or open a business that has nothing to do with your current job, or make any other unfulfilled dream come true. These are also the ones you can call when you were a total jack ass to your partner and you’re not sure how to fix it. These are the ones who will call you out when you need to be called out. These are the people who will have your back when you don’t have your own. Find these people. They are life savers and game changers!

3. You understand what all of the cliché bumper stickers and magnets are talking about. When they root you on to be brave in the face of adversity and step into the world with your head held high and the wind at your brow? Or your back? The wind is somewhere and it’s helping stabilize you and support your every turn. You finally get it! Know why? Because you’re not just taking it in anymore. You’re actually acting on something. This allows you to make room in your life for more of the “keepers”. You won’t have to go searching because once you show yourself, they will too.

4. You have a a renewed love of life. You actually find yourself taking better care of yourself. You are no longer on the back burner.  You still ( or start to) show up to the gym, or your mat, or the pavement without indignation and a pout-fest. You do it with a new found grace and dignity. A 15 minute walk instead of nothing? Sure. 3 solid deep breaths because life responsibilities have you missing your yoga class? Better than nothing.

You don’t berate yourself for missing a day but actually forgive yourself. You have self-forgiveness (there it is again!) on your shoulders instead of the boot camp instructor, or Mussolini, depending on the day.

Which leads to a decrease in mindless consumption and an increase in mindful creation.

The scrolls, shops, scones, smokes, or sauce don’t have as much of a hold on you as they used to. You will feel resistance to go back to your old ways but you will actually find it easier to shift yourself away. Because you know that what you have to offer the world is through output not intake.  And hey, when you don’t have the will power in you, go back to #2 and call one of your “keepers”.

5. Then finally, you know what crazy thing happens? You’re not as pissed off. You’re not. You don’t feel angry at the world or your partner or neighbors or friends or your mom or the Facebook comment or the grocery clerk. You become more compassionate and light-hearted.  It’s as if resentment and frustrations begin to thaw and melt away. Now, we do live in Upstate NY so sometimes as in nature, it takes awhile for us to thaw, but it happens. It totally happens. You don’t have room anymore for the petty thoughts and hang-ups that took up space in your mind. You’re not forcing them out. That’s the thing. You’re not consciously not thinking about them. You just stop doing it as much because your focus is on what you can and want to offer.

It’s a beautiful thing.

“Our fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it.” – Brave


Wander to Wonder

Sitting on a  park bench watching the passersby. Wandering, wondering, what is happening? Where are they going? What’s the point to go down one street and not the other? What if you make a wrong turn? What happens then? What do all of these people have in common? Fear? Focus? Confusion? Fogginess? What is it? What is it that makes us all tick? Do we need to slow down or speed up to hear it? To feel it…When is enough enough.

I’m just wondering and wandering in my brain. What the hell is going on? I wonder and wander and wither into a tiny sense of who I am until like complete magic, I rise up like the phoenix back into the world with a whirlwind of energy and humanity and understanding. Every time.  It happens. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure how. I just know it happens. So there it is. So there. Can you be two places at once? Mentally and physically? Sure. You sit there wondering while your eyes are wandering. You’re here and there and there and here. You know it’s not right. You know you’re clutching out of total fear that if you leave your post, loosen your grasp, it will all just fall apart. Unravel in seconds. Everything will fade away. Chaos will ensue. How to manage it? What to do? Do you have the answer? Do I ? Yes to both. We do. We both do. We all do. And then we don’t.

It IS about slowing down. Dammit. I know, right? We don’t want to slow down. We don’t want to press pause or mute our world. We just want to keep running and working and waking and waning until we can’t take it anymore and everyone around us is flying through the air at record speed. We stand still and watch as everyone flips and flaps and whips and raps. We feel glued to the ground to our seats to our feet. We feel stuck and trapped and confined and straitjacketed. We feel…oh how we feel!

God knows how we don’t want to feel. Feeling means reality. Feeling means identity. Feeling means unacceptability and accountability and action.

So here’s the thing, if action is what we want to be doing all along then why are we so afraid to stop so that we can act CORRECTLY and RESPOND instead of reACT? Hmm… Something to think about it. Something to talk about. Something to discuss. Let’s discuss. Let’s do that. Let’s put it all out there and see what happens. Why not? What the hell do you have to lose? Your image? Your ideal? If we can’t put it out there and be real and honest with our fears and our confusions and our frustrations then the world will just keep rotating on a stilted axis instead of naturally shifting back into the nooks and crannies that were made for it – meant for it. We all need to buy into the truth that we are all in this together. What we do matters. What we say matters. Having intention and understanding MATTERS.

I ask of you, for all of us, please stop. Please pause. Please take a moment to understand what you’re doing. Because, know what? If you don’t know what you’re doing, join the club.  That’s the first step to find out – by pausing and dealing with the trembling beneath.

Thank you for all that you do because when you take a moment to pause and regroup in the most honest way possible, it nudges us all to do the same.


Meditation Schmeditation

I am not a trend setter.

Not even close.

I admittedly have a thick, solid chip on my shoulder that grows at lightning speed when I hear the word “trendy”.

I jump ship. Fly out the window. Run for the hills when a trend is in the air.

I’m an optimistic skeptic with a questioning mind. I thoroughly enjoy movements that are making the world a better place but when the masses jump on board…eyebrows are raised.

Until now.

Yes, I realize that meditating has been around for a bazillion years, but for some reason it is HOT right now. It is resurfacing like the classic nerdy girl in cliché rom-coms who has always been in your life, but when she takes off her glasses and whips her hair out of a pony tail  she is suddenly having jocks and emos alike, pitching tents in their pants like champs!

So, of course, I resisted it. Any time that tiny voice would pop up in my head and innocently say, I mean we could just try it, I mocked, patronized and bullied the hell out of that  voice until it withered away defeated and needing a hug. I turned into a defiant teenager, digging my feet deeper in the mud, even though I knew way down inside that this time the masses weren’t asses.

Hard horse pill swallowed.

As much as I am a firm believer in the results that meditation does provide, (yes, I know there are not just many, but overwhelming evidence that it positively changes your brain in little as eight weeks) anytime that there is a constant media bombardment with the trends of the times, my antenna are raised sky high and a don’t drink the Kool-aid defense flies into overdrive. The meanings of the words “mindfulness”, “deep breathing”, “present”, even “mat” for God’s sake, all began to turn into one huge blob  diluted with saccharine sweet syrup whenever they were read or uttered.  I couldn’t take it anymore. If I saw one more Instagram picture with #blessed I was going to lose it. If I exasperatedly dropped my head back one more time , I was going to have self-inflicted whip lash.  I was morphing  from a skeptic to a crotchety cynic, and I didn’t like it, didn’t like it at all. Something had to give.

Little did I know that the something was me.

See, here’s the thing. I flew through life like a high-strung wind-up toy  all the way through my late 20’s. I was so terrified of slowing down that I actually bailed on an acting class where I had to play a woman suffering from sleep paralysis. Yeah, I know. I’m not proud of it. But there it is.

Everything came to a screeching halt when I ventured out west to dabble in a cross country move. The brink of a nervous breakdown paired with an impromptu trip to the Hoover Dam, (thank you Rox and Pat for your timely Vegas vacation.). pinged clarity in my brain to move back home. Not  New York City “back home” but Mom and Dad Up(up)state NY home.

Driving through the Nevada desert, the phone call went something like this…

Me: Mom, it’s me.

Mom: Hi, sweetie.

Me: I’m moving back home.

Mom: What? Um, you’ve barely been in L.A. for two months

Me: I know. I feel like I’m losing it.

Mom: Okay. So, you’re going back to New York?

Me: No, Mom. I’m coming home.

Mom: (hard whisper) Tony, get on the phone! (back to me) Okay, sweetie. Just wait a sec…

Me: I didn’t call to discuss it. I called to tell you.

This whole conversation came out of one mini “ping” of clarity. I was so out of my sense of sanity that I based my whole move back east on one “sign”. While driving back to L.A. from Vegas I turned on the radio and the song playing was Chris Daughtry’s “I’m Going Home”. I was basing a major life decision on an American Idol contestant. He didn’t even win. I didn’t even care. Get me the fuck out of dodge and into comfort, safety. Anywhere but here. Little did I know that this was a pop hit at the time and had no real magical timeliness of being on the radio.

As I cruised along with my trusted co-pilot, Chris, I had a Jerry Maguire moment. Daughtry was the Petty to my Cruise. I blared the music, belted it out and felt free as a Goddamn bird.

Fast forward 10 years later with one move back east, one marriage and two kids, and I’ve come to the realization that I actually want to slow down. I want to shut my brain off from thinking about anything. My brain moves fast. Really fast. These aren’t bragging rights, it’s actually pure terror at times. Somehow the monkey in my brain got its hands on a bottle of bourbon and a bag of speed and We need more avocadosDoctor’s appointment on TuesdayMom’s birthday is in two weeksClient meeting on Thursday morningThe laundry is still in the washing machine and is starting to smell like wet dog all blur into one HUGE continuous thought. No matter if you’re working or a parent or both, you know that responsibilities can form such a thick fog in your brain that you can easily forget what day it is. Being grateful and not overwhelmed is much easier said than done when you’re moving faster than a speed racer.

The cherry on top of this massive sundae flurry is that I’ve grown to be a worrier. Worried about the state of the world. Worried that I just had a dream about my sister, so does that mean that something is going to happen to her? Worried that people will think I’m a self-indulgent brat if I follow my creative pursuits. Worried about as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, daughter-in-law, friend, am I doing enough??

My book shelves, bed side table, coffee tables are covered in personal development books. I crave self-actualization. The thought of it gets me hopped up and ready to roll. Thing is, all of the worry inside of me isn’t being calmed and cleared from these books. I’m consuming more than I am creating. And that ain’t good. I am creating meaningful work but  I’m also creating problems, worries, a tight jaw and cramped shoulders. A routine couple glasses of wine and an end of the night smoke aren’t going to cut it anymore. I’m jumping off of the hamster wheel of anxiety and confusion. I’m ready for the leap.I’m waving the white flag high and wide.

My change of heart came from reading about the Maharishi Effect. It’s a scientific study that pretty much proved that if as little as 1% of populations practiced Transcendental Meditation, the rest of the population is positively and peacefully impacted. Specifically, one popular study showed an actual significant reverse in crime rates in one population that was studied.  Imagine that? Meditating actually effects the greater good! Wha?? Incredible! Which brings me back to booing on trends. If this “trend” stays and people are meditating in masses for the rest of humanity’s existence – whoa. Envision the change that we can all make together, even when we feel separate and alone. I was so self-absorbed in my thinking that I was resisting everything about it.

Now? Hell yeah! Sign me up! I’m on day 25 and can say with certainty that I’m completely jumping on board this trend train! If I can’t end genocide in Darfur, put healthy food in every school, clean water in every town, or bring a screeching halt to domestic violence, then at least parking my butt for a few minutes a day will be my contribution.

Love you, Monkey Brain, but your stop is next!