Wednesday, December 28, 2016

I Think I Can Be A Dramatic Actress

It was the day after Christmas and I needed a cry.   The feelings just sit on my chest and I can tell the energy needs to pass through.  There is so much buildup for Christmas in so many different ways.  The pressure of the season to have the "most wonderful time of the year" amidst decorating, present buying, party attending, card distribution, AND celebrating the reason for the season along with getting together with relatives.  And then it's over, just like that.

I have had to lower my expectations.

In the car the last week or so, I heard the band Alabama, singing "Angels Among Us" and I immediately started a full out ugly cry within seconds of hearing the chorus.  So this morning while the kids were still sleeping, or so I thought, I played a video to bring the feeling sitting on my chest out.  As soon as I hear the children's chorus, the tears start falling.  It's so cathartic and so needed.  My youngest walked in, sat by me, asked what was going on and I said that I missed GaGa.  She tenderly sat next to me, put her arm around me and watched the video with me, and I told her it's okay to cry.  I absolutely love that we have this moment.  She is learning that all emotions are okay.  And then we carried on with the rest of our day.

I think I have the skills to be a dramatic actress now.  (he he)  I see what actors have to tap into- to bring it, to bring that palpable depth of emotion.  It is not easy whatsoever.  And it's that vulnerability that draws the audience in.  It is some of the hardest work I have ever done to sit with the most exquisite discomfort and allow it to flow.  It has taken years of practice because I emotionally shut down after the postpartum depression I had.   And actors do this for a living.  They purposely bring up this painful stuff.  I have read and listened to actors talking about their processes and it is fascinating and therapeutic.

This is also where numbing can take place if you think the pain of whatever it is too much.  For myself and so many, numbing is the answer because it's excruciating to be with that pain.  I still numb some and it may always be part of my repertoire yet I have other coping skills now.  One of them is writing and for so many years I have been doing so in blog form and this year has not been a good year for that.  I have felt stuck and I have to do something about it.  I have begun to do handwrite in a journal and it is a much different practice than typing it on a computer.  It takes time to learn to do that practice.

This year, I went through a major shift with a person in my life.  It reached a point where I had to let go of ever connecting at the level that I so very deeply desired.  I had to let go of expectations on my part that would never be fulfilled and I was devastated.   I grieved and realized that I spent a lot of energy on something that was not producing.  It was time to move on and free up energy and see what else is out there to connect with that I'm not imagining.  Letting go can make room for something bigger?  I live with such great intention on many areas but this area tripped me up so much.   I need to stop and evaluate what is working and what is not and move on.

I have to lower my expectations for some people, places and things and move on to new areas and adventures.

Although I understand the acting technique, I don't think I will be taking any head shots or taking a Playmakers theater class anytime soon.  I don't think it is where my heart lies.   I can tap into sadness, anger and joy pretty easily.  I need a little more work with joy I think.  But I will continue to enjoy the arts as much as I always have.   There is a reason the Oscars are my favorite time of year.  It is the reason that I LOVE going to the movies.  It is the reason songs can move me to tears or happiness within seconds.   The movies I'm drawn to are the ones all about humans and their emotional entanglements.  This is who I am.


Ode To The Bravery of Carrie Fisher (not necessarily Princess Leia)

Can 2016 get any worse?  There was a joke about hiding Betty White away.  So many entertainers have died, Prince and George Michael are gone.  I really didn't know David Bowie but I liked what he had to say as a person. But I really loved what Carrie Fisher had to say.   And now she is gone and she was only 60!  I'm forty-eight and that gives me pause.  What if I never say or do what I was meant to because I am too scared of what people will think.

The author, Anne Lamott said this...
Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen. Repent just means to change direction—and NOT to be said by someone who is waggling their forefinger at you. Repentance is a blessing. Pick a new direction, one you wouldn’t mind ending up at, and aim for that. Shoot the moon.

(It thrills me that repent means to change direction and she mentions that's it's not wagging a finger in someone's face.  It's a blessing not a judgment.  I've never had that wonderful connotation of that word and I've started to rewire the definition in my head.)

Back to Carrie Fisher.  I know I watched Star Wars long ago but that is not what stuck with me about her.  The movie Postcards from The Edge stuck so I read the book.  And then I read Surrender the Pink and Wishful Drinking.  I just added The Princess Diarist to my hold's list on Overdrive.   Yesterday, I watched the "Wishful Drinking" special again On Demand.  The diagram of her family was hilarious.

It must have been in the 2008 book, Wishful Drinking, what she said about living with bi-polar:   "At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you're living with this illness and functioning at all, it's something to be proud of, not ashamed of.  They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication."

That resonated with me so deeply and clinched me as a fan.  I suffered terribly with Postpartum depression and anxiety after my first child.  It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through.  I felt so very alone and there were so many days, weeks,  and sometimes just a moment felt like a struggle.  Making it through an hour was sometimes way too much to comprehend.   I was so alone and felt so hopeless with a helpless infant who needed me, just me.  It was the lowest of lows and the anxiety and the crying were endless.  (Mine and Riley's!)  It took me months to understand that I needed to take an anti-depressant to get back on track.  And it took at least a year to begin to feel like myself again.  The hiccup was that the first night I took an anti-depressant, it lit me up even higher with anxiety than I already was experiencing.   I didn't sleep a wink and I thought that they were going to have to lock me away because I couldn't sleep nor could I function anymore.  I can recall the terror of that period instantly and that night permanently and forever scarred me.  In hindsight, I  should have taken an anti-anxiety along with the anti-depressant until my body adjusted to the anti-depressant.   That bout with PPD changed my life and started me on the journey I am now on.

I can't imagine living with a daily struggle of bipolar that is so merciless that leads to electric-shock therapy.  But you have to do what you have to do.  One can overcome so many odds.

When I read that passage in Wishful Drinking, I thought, oh my gosh, yes!  Instead of looking down on people with mental illness, they really should be applauded because it can be an ongoing, daily, sometimes hourly struggle.  And Carrie Fisher said this out loud!!  Wow!  Bravo!  Through the pages of a book, it made me feel not so alone for what I had gone through.  Sometimes, a connection can be made by reading a book, and now it can be online.

I will miss her wit and her courage and seeing her dog, Gary. I will miss that she stood up for herself and body image for many of us when they shamed her for not looking like her 19 year old self in a bikini.  Carrie wrote about the despair of mental illness but also made it funny.  Princess Leia was a formidable opponent, but it is Carrie Fisher who was the bravest bad ass to me.   Someone who speaks up for those who have no voice.   RIP Carrie Fisher.  You are gone too soon.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Annie Ruined the Carpet and I Despised Her

Annie was our family's first dog.  It was quite the experience when we adopted her in 2012.  She peed on the carpet in our spare room and in Mallory's room repeatedly and I despised her.  I truly, truly despised her and didn't see what having a dog was about at all.  George and I would have disagreements about how to handle the situation, that were worse than disagreeing about parenting.  I think for me because it was a freaking dog and we didn't have to have her or this stress in the first place.  I will admit that I would resent Mallory who wanted the dog in the first place.    I remember Annie trying to run away and I thought, GO!  (Though, she had a chip and would eventually be returned to us.)  It was very ugly in the beginning.  And in hindsight, it was all about boundaries.  I had to learn to have some...with a dog.  I had to learn boundaries with her and it was a great indicator of how to do it with humans as well.

Annie is not an affectionate kind of dog either unlike Brinkley who is a true unconditional loving dog.   Annie has her own way, but I'm learning to respect her for who she is because she can be freaking funny when she is falling asleep.  Brinkley will follow me into the closet when I'm having an ugly cry.  He doesn't lick my face but he sits with me.  What other creature will do that?  Annie, on the other hand,  only pays attention to you when you have the promise of food, or when she is frightened of the weather or the cats.  The rest of the time, she is asleep and loudly snoring.  She is
who she is.

Boundaries.  Anger is a sign that your boundaries aren't being respected or that you need to set some up!!  And it's not easy work and there is much practice, practice, practice.

The picture to the left is from the book, "The Artist's Way."  As you can see it spoke to me.  Anger is not about the other person or dog!!!  It's about going inward and not acting out, but acting upon, making a change, unless you like to stay angry?  I was very angry at Annie with all the ruining of the carpet but I needed to think out of the box.  I had never had a dog, an old "set in her ways" dog at that and had no idea how to have an inside dog.  We had put her in a crate early on and she yelped.  So we backed down and didn't do that anymore.  In hindsight, that was the very thing we needed to do.  And use treats.  Treats are the bomb!  She may have yelped at the crate but she would have acclimated.  When we adopted Brinkley over a year later with urinating problems still going on,  we had bigger issues of biting, etc so we finally got a dog trainer in our lives.  I needed outside assistance to help us think out the box.  We eventually made our way around to crating Annie at night.  I don't even remember if she disliked it, but she now goes into the "sleeping box" as George calls it.   I know George thought it was harsh to put her in there and separate her from us.  He is such the softie.  But that has been the trick as well as taking her outside in the morning  and at other times of the day with the treat and demanding she "go potty."  This training takes time and practice.

Learning this big lesson that went on for more than a year with a dog, has been such the example of how to deal with people as well.  Thinking outside the box, not being entrenched in one way of doing things, letting go of expectations, and getting outside assistance if needed. Old dogs and I mean me   can learn new tricks.

And, so often, I am so thankful that my old soul Mallory, incessantly begged for a dog, not once but twice.  These four leggeds are members of our family.  I totally understand dog people now.  It took a while but I finally do.  And not all dogs are the same, just like children.