Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Conscious incompetence

My grandmother compulsively rearranges furniture. Her mother died at twelve of tuberculosis, and she moved around a lot until she fell in love and started a family with a compulsive drinker and storyteller. Boy could my grandpa play a fiddle and spin a yarn! He was an entertaining old fool. His tales were not always the good kind, though. His stories included lies that eventually broke my grandma’s heart into sharp fragments.
I hear in my mind all of these voices.
I hear in my mind all of these words.
I hear in my mind all of this music, and it breaks my heart. 
It breaks my heart.
–Regina Spektor
 I’ve been practicing music more lately because I gave up our AT&T internet for the last month I’m in Knoxville. To save a little money. Find some peace of mind. I inherited an enormous peace lily from a graduating third-year cohort at the end of my first year of school, and she’s become dear to me like a pet.
Once I understood that fostering indoor plants has enormous health benefits, I’ve always longed to have great indoor plants. I never came to keep them because I’ve moved around so much and have killed a criminal amount of aloe. Undoubtedly I’d get smothery and over-water the damned things (and I don’t say damned lightly…they were clearly in-for-it the day I earnestly bought them at some such chain store or farmer’s market or coop), or I’d clumsily burn myself multiple times and overuse the poor sucker(ulent) within months. Was their doomed destiny preventable? Maybe. But they were sacrifices in my education in negative symbiosis…something humans are kind of the worst for being best at.
I think my subconscious is aware of aloe…like the year I had AAA and locked my keys in my car a record number of times. I can’t remember exactly how many, and for a moment I was going to lie to you. I have a bad habit of embellishing, and I even caught myself senselessly, somewhat compulsively lying twice this past month. (Don’t worry, you can still trust me…it was to my sister and my husband, and I later confessed the fibs to both of them…neither of them believed me anyway so the good news is I’m not good at lying to manipulate, but it made me wonder “how much does my subconscious lie for me to preserve other people’s feelings? Or to weave a story… to make a tale more compelling or interesting?”) Umpteenth would have probably been an exaggeration about how many aloes have died at my hands because I doubt it was so bad to have reached teen proportions, but anything is possible.
 I believe.
 I think my subconscious is also aware of peace. The lily (named LilyBell by the cohort’s sweet daughter) has been such company for me these last two years, and she, too, is thriving. In cold months she lives directly next to my alter in my studio where I meditate and write. She has 5 beautiful blooms harkening (heralding?) the variant Spring warmth, and she’ll be ready to move to the front porch this weekend.
Said grandmother has the greenest thumb in all the land. She loves her roses and her dahlias and lilies and other various flowers and the occasional vegetable. Things that need her. Are dependent on her love and attention to live. It’s important to feel needed. 
But not too needed, don’tcha think?
I’m on the cusp of starting a family, and honestly I’m a little scared to be so needed. I think this fear made the first years of marriage extremely hard for me.
A friend of mine I may have leaned on a little too hard during those years wrote a song about urging a friend (who shall remain nameless) to make big decisions based on guts not fear.
And it shook me a bit. That advice (combined with my patient husband’s reminders throughout the years and days) continues to alert me how often I let fear call the shots in my life. Many of us are guilty of it. And somehow I do think women are more susceptible. Worry is the curse of a mother, I've been told. Perhaps men just repress it more due to gender norms?
I sometimes crave surrender in inappropriate ways.
Sometimes I look to people I have deemed “successful” for too much guidance. Too much support. And it gets too heavy, and they prudently distance themselves from me. My siblings look up to me because I’m the tallest, not because I’m the smartest or oldest. Because I’m probably not the smartest, and age is certainly relative. My brother is obviously more responsible and has dealt with far more adversity than I could ever truly imagine. One sister’s clearly an old soul who surpasses my own with lifetimes of wisdom, and the baby has a baby so clearly she’s matured past me in many ways I can’t even yet understand.
Today was my last singing lesson of graduate school, and I still have so much to work on. 3 years of repeating the same practices, identifying habits, attempting to inhibit them to make way for better ones. It was nice. I felt good about my progress, but I felt even better about my potential. Especially when I'll be living closer to my very own uber-talented mother-in-law is seriously the best, y'all. 
I had the craziest dream last night. Probably my subconscious reaction to the conclusion of singing lessons and the fear and stress of graduating, but it was a classic "actor nightmare." I was in a musical, but I didn't know my lines or the music or the cat was in the audience because I'd unwittingly brought him to the theater. I didn't have makeup nor a costume. And the audience was huge. And fancy. Like black tie gala motha fuckas.
Conscious incompetence is a very important step along the path to mastery. The precursor to competence. You just have mix in the right amount of practice and belief. 
That's the step I'm still on with the avoiding plastic, too, by the way. I thought, "oh, I'll be conscientious and stop buying plastic." Have you ever tried it? Please let me know if you have any tips about saline solution and dishsoap. 
I accepted a lifestyle challenge 11 days ago and have abstained from sugar and alcohol and most caffeine (which I think I’ve weened myself off slowly enough to give up without much thought this week). I’ve also meditated for 20 minutes twice a day (save one day where I only meditated once) and incorporated writing morning pages and drinking lemon/or ACV infused water 1st thing when I wake up. With the daily practice, and the fact that I am passed on to the next round for The Orchard Project Episodic Lab, I'm finally starting to believe I'm a writer. If I am accepted I'll spend 2 weeks in Saratoga, NY, this summer polishing up my pilot with some incredible writers (including one of my favorite living playwrights, Theresa Rebeck!!!!). 
The one day I was prevented from this morning routine and deprived some sleep, I crumpled into a crying mess. It was an audition day and I had a lot of emotions swirling, and we were dog/cat sitting and I got horrible sleep. It was strange though…as I was unraveling that day, I held in my mind the mantra that has taken over my meditations as of late:
I believe.
It buoyed me because I believed that the difficulty and overwhelm and fatigue would pass. I believed that no matter the outcome of said audition, I was still perfectly safe and protected and provided for.
I would say the majority of my circles are adamant (fervent even) Christians. I am a huge fan of Christ, but I don’t often like to proclaim myself Christian. I believe in many things at the same time. I am not fundamentally Christian. I am human. And flawed. And I surrender to a higher power of good orderly direction. And I recognize the manipulations and lies the Christian faith propagates because of tradition or patriarchy or greed. I praise the Lord, but I don’t pretend to understand what that Lord encompasses. Govinda Jaya Jaya. I think the "Lord" is beyond all comprehension…which I think Jesus said, but Muhammad probably did, too.
An old born-again friend of mine immediately associated her belief of God with my mantra. She’s been challenged with some health issues and her surrender is rightfully in His hands, she says...with a capital H.
I believe in the power of Mother Earth. I believe in my own power to change. I believe in love (and Cher’s life after it). I believe in the healing power of humor. I believe in creation. I believe in peace.

I believe in bravery in the face of fear. And I believe I’m finding it.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

slow down jo

Anybody ever tell you that you move too fast?
Anybody ever tell you how to make a good thing last?
'Cause it ain't like that. 
-Monsters of Folk
Now that I've established a few priorities with you guys (my blog audience...blodience?), we can really get down to it. Accountability. But...
No buts.
We're doin this.
I mean, you're here. So we're doin this.
Ahhh, shit.
Don't freak out.
We can go slow.
I practice slowing down time.
Mainly by riding my bike. It's pretty gray and rainy today and I had to come to the library to get some things done online. I canceled my AT&T home wifi service slightly earlier than my departure date with purpose. I often waste less time on the internet if I have a limited amount of time to get things accomplished, and I sleep better not having tv to watch with the Roku or interactions with screens before bedtime. 
There can also be a loneliness to quietude, but it's not a loneliness I fear.
It's a din that drowns out the song I'm trying to hum. The story I'm trying to tell.

Anyway, I biked here even though it was far more appealing to drive.
Especially since I'm getting over a nasty cold and I went out drinking with my cohorts last night as we finished up some data entry/organization for our digital showcase we're launching tomorrow. But I forced myself to gather the poncho and appropriate gear, and it felt so good. It always does. And daily it makes me mourn the society we could cultivate but don't.

I've been somewhat successful at creating some new habits, and I have to say starting the day with writing and meditating and [more often than not] making my bed has been lovely and helpful, but my relationship with time is bigger and more complex than a few good days. Or even a few bad ones for that matter. I say somewhat successful because there was travel and a wedding and cohabitation with a large group of people last weekend, and I have not yet mastered taking these habits with me on the go.
They're my home habits. But I'm looking to change that.
I want you to hold me accountable, but who are you?
And why in the hell would that be your job?
I gotta do this myself.
And that can be overwhelming. 
Having my own back was sort of the theme of my thesis project, and a "lifestyle challenge" I'm taking on for the next 30 days. I am abstaining from sugar and adding an evening mediation to my daily habits. 
I have not successfully avoided plastic altogether as I'd hoped, and I admittedly got a little depressed about the futility of my paltry attempt at avoiding it when yesterday, I not only forgot to say "no straw" at the restaurant, someone at my table requested a straw. If I weren't sick, I would've insisted he take mine, but I am so...and earlier in the day I used plasticware when it was offered because I was unprepared and happy to accept free food and didn't want to be that person eating with my hands. And I witnessed someone unnecessarily use extra plasticware. 
It seemed a glaring reminder that not only am I not living the way I feel it is important to live (in this case using less plastic), I am having little to no affect on the people with whom I'm closest on their decisions around this topic.

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. 
I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be.
This is the interrelated structure of reality.
-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The "lifestyle challenge," is part of a network marketing brand, and I hate that I have such strong reticence in joining these campaigns, but I do. They inspire folks to spread healthy habits, require the planting and regard for many plants, and aspire to create wealth among networks through sharing eco-friendly products.
And yet, I can't dive in. Join the club. Get others to join the club.
This was one of our favorite games to play as kids. Giving each other roles ("You're treasurer." "But I wanna be President, I'm always treasurer!"), pretending to have influence or control. I watch modern politics and realize it's the same with these grown-ass men in their red ties and their blue suits. Pretense. 
Of control and/or influence.
We all know commerce is king.
And so I guess the hard thing to swallow about these network marketing companies is just that. I don't need more things to buy. I need less. It doesn't matter that their products are often the ones I wouldn't mind having, that they may be healthy or enhance my life...they still seem beyond my most basic needs and therefor a bit of a...well, a sell. 
And I'm in the process of distilling exactly what it is I have to sell here.
So you'll buy it.
(Not the blodience you, the figurative you.)
I think after three years of growth, I'm ready to sell myself as an actress. So I'm trying not to get distracted by the side-hustle of "easy money" networking, but if I were, you could click here to buy some Norwex or Doterra or Rodan and Fields products.
I happen to think these companies are doing great things for women in business, and the history of this type of commerce is rife with badass women like Madam C.J. Walker, so I am far from knocking them. I recently had a heart-to-heart with my sister about why these companies seem so annoying at times, and I think it has to do with blurred lines between personal connection and professional ambition, but if you can mix it up just right in a network marketing cocktail that tastes good to you, I say DO IT! And I might be in your downline once I have 2 pennies to rub together, but until then, I'm gonna work at making my living at what I've invested the most in...and for now it's this acting schtick.
And writing. My reach? My aim? My message? Buy less, not more. And don't forget to say "no straw, please."