How A Robot Taught Me To Be Human

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting on an airplane having just watched Wall-E for the first time. I love to work on airplanes, but I love even more to take the time to relax. I rarely relax and, when there is entertainment, I like to get caught up on all the things I’ve been meaning to see for a while.

In this case, I was very behind on Wall-E. But for some reason, it was calling to me this morning.

Let me start by answering the question I know you’re going to ask: Yes, of course I cried. I cry a lot during movies. Not just during sad parts. I sob my face off the most when people show love or work together. In this case, I was quietly wiping away tears while the derelict robots helped Wall-E and EVE (EVA?) escape the police robots. Why? Because they were all working together for something bigger than themselves and damn it, that’s beautiful.

And yes, it’s embarrassing because I’m almost always sitting next to strangers on planes and so I’ve cried in front of a lot of strangers. As Wall-E would say, “Wall-Eva.” (Say like whateva in order for the joke to land. I’m not saying it will, but I do appreciate you trying.)

View this post on Instagram

✨WALL-E✨ (25×26 mm) . "WALL-E" is one of the great silent movies. Andrew Stanton (writer/director) and his team have created a classic screen character from a metal trash compactor who rides to the rescue of a planet buried in the debris. 🌎 When hope arrives in the form of a seedling, the film blossoms into one of the great screen romances as two robots remind audiences of the beating heart in all of us that yearns for humanity – and love – in the darkest of landscapes. 🌱 . This original painting + limited edition prints will be availble on "Robots Among Us" art show at @29th_street_gallery (April 20, 2019 – May 4, 2019). I will create 9 robot miniature paintings for this show. Do you have any requests? Who is your favorite robot? 😊🤖 . . . #RobotsAmongUs #Chicago #artshow #show #robot #robots #robotart #art #watercolor #watercolour #miniature #painting #tiny #tinypainting #tinyart #miniatureart #mini #miniaturepainting #closeup #walle #disney #pixar

A post shared by watercolor miniatures ✍️ (@julialasart) on

The crazy message that I love love loved from Wall-E was the fact that this robot was reminding humans how to be human. And the fact that part of the reason Wall-E seemed to outlast so many of his robot counterparts on Earth was because he had a mission beyond simply his directive. He had his own personality. He had a genuine curiosity for the world. And he actively studied the world around him in order to attempt to live it even more fully. He found joy in things and showed empathy for the only other living creature he could find (a creepy little cockroach they made seem like his dog and it was both cute and unnerving).

Recently, a creative peer talked about how he believed strongly in quality over quantity of life. He came to that philosophy thanks to past experiences with people who were living with debilitating diseases and his understanding of how they coped with and learned from them.

Between his comments and watching Wall-E, I’m starting to better understand how to be human. Which is strange because I do feel like I’ve been only a human for the past, well, all of my life. But in many was I’ve just been reactive and going through the motions. I think that there are times when you can be more proactive, more curious, and more genuinely committed to whatever it is you’re focusing on at the moment.

Lesson here: Be more human and less robot, even if you are actually a robot.

I hope we all learned something today. You’re welcome.

Powering off.

Advertisements

Femoir the Podcast – Season 3, Episode 102: Sh*t Happens

Back again, friends.

In this episode, we talk about Mercury Retrograding. (Yeah, it happens, sorry).

I mention finding perspective.

I give a quick shout out to my hubs.

I talk traveling.

I hint about an upcoming blog post you should check out (hey, get caught up here!).

And I generally discuss chilling out.

Mostly, I’m trying to make everyone a teacher and trying to make my acting teacher proud.

Or, maybe, just make my best self proud. Who knows.

Subscribing and rating helps out, friends. But you know what helps more than anything? You being you. So keep doing that.

xo

Sweet Sweet Silence

When I was younger and I traveled, I used to have conversations with all sorts of my seat mates. Part of it was because I didn’t know how to set boundaries with people. Part of it I’m sure was thanks to my doe-eyed friendly midwestern smile that was beckoning for people to chat with me. And part of it was simply because it seemed like the polite thing to do if you’re going to be sitting next to someone for a while.

Well, things change.

I travel quite a bit at the moment. I like it. It satiates my general curiosity about humanity and what the world has to offer. It’s nothing compared to what my buddy is doing right now, but it’s still cool. Plus, I when I’m doing it, it’s usually because I’m performing at that location, and I like to perform.

All in all, it’s a win.

When I was younger and I traveled, I used to have conversations with all sorts of my seat mates. Part of it was because I didn’t know how to set boundaries with people. Part of it I’m sure was thanks to my doe-eyed friendly midwestern smile that was beckoning for people to chat with me. And part of it was simply because it seemed like the polite thing to do if you’re going to be sitting next to someone for a while.

True story: I met a guy supposedly part of Ghana royalty on my way back to Ohio once. I have no idea if he was telling the truth. I also have no idea why I took him up on his offer to sit by him on the plane rather than staying in my own seat. Again, no boundaries and overly polite.

Well, things change. Though I’m sure Ghana royalty continues to rule…right? I never fact checked this dude at all. Sometimes I think I made it up but I’m certain I didn’t. As sure as anyone can be when reality is fluid, of course.

Now that we have distractible devices in the palm of our hands, it’s easy to have an excuse not to talk to the person next to you. But more importantly, I often don’t want to. And I’m usually able to show that in my short responses or body language, if it ever even comes up at all.

I struggle with this because on the one hand, I really like talking to people. I love connecting with strangers and finding out more about their life and going on a sort of treasure hunt to find out what we might have in common. But on the other, I’ve discovered over the years that setting healthy boundaries for people is absolutely necessary to my own well-being. And, perhaps most importantly, I like to do my own thing on an airplane. Often, that thing means working. And if you get between me and my work…boy oh boy…you’d better watch out.

I’ve found myself perpetually grateful that I’ve sat next to people who don’t really want or need to chat. Maybe there’s a lost art form of conversation that we’re losing in the process of becoming more disconnected from each other with our technology. Or maybe people were always this way but my big eyes and friendly smile likely invited even the shyer types to start a conversation.

I like to think I still have plenty of that friendliness. And I have been known to chat with the people next to me, though it’s usually just in short spurts. I had a whole physical conversation with a guy next to me on a recent flight after I saw an intense bolt of lightning hit the side of our airplane and felt the plane shake (and the electricity pop out for a second). I needed to confirm with someone else that what I saw and felt actually happened. And I talked for a while with a woman next to me on a recent flight because she had her dog with her. Honestly? I just wanted her to pull out the dog and let me pet it. But she slept most of the time and so did the dog, so it was all in all pretty disappointing.

Point is, I think there’s balance to be had. You can retain your friendly nature while still keeping healthy boundaries up. And if the person next to you on an airplane doesn’t want to chat, it’s not your job to make small talk. It’s okay to do your own thing. Enjoy the sweet, sweet silence.

We Open Bananas Wrong

…and other thoughts on changing your perspective.

Who, on average, eats more bananas – human beings or monkeys? If cartoons have taught me anything, it’s that monkeys are way more in love with bananas. Sure, we humans eat them for potassium and because they’re a cheap, readily available snack when you’re in a hurry. But monkeys eat a lot of bananas. And they do so more regularly than we do.

So since they’re much more the connoisseur of the c-shaped fruit – more so even than the Chiquita banana lady herself – it’s fair to say we might be able to learn a thing or two from them.

Most humans growing up in western society have learned to eat bananas by pulling down from their longer stem. Even if you end up mushing part of the banana because the stem is stubborn and won’t pull down correctly, it doesn’t matter because that’s the way you open a banana.

And yet, monkeys do it differently. They gently pinch the black end of the banana open, which allows you to peel it clean and easy. 

Every morning, I have a banana in my morning shake. I usually do the “normal” pull away. Even knowing the monkey way is so much easier and often more effective. But while I was confronting a particularly stubborn banana, it occurred to me that if I just tried the monkey way, I could open this fruit the way it wanted to be opened. I could stop trying to force it my way just because that’s what I expected and was used to doing.

That’s when the lightbulb went off.

How often do we go through the motions just because it’s the thing we’ve always done? Even more so, how choose to do something – even if we know there’s a better way – simply because it’s what we’re used to doing? How much of the time are we on autopilot even if we know and see that there are ways to be more in control?

How many things in our life do we do that we could improve with small tweaks? How many “life hacks” exist that we could implement that would genuinely improve our life? Or even just help us to feel the easy of going with the flow rather than fighting the current? If the way we’ve been taught to open bananas isn’t the easiest way to do it, yet we still teach others that’s the way to do it, what other basic foundations of our life are we taught are normal that may make our world slightly more difficult than necessary?

We understand reality only through the very small sliver with which we see it. That sliver is based slightly on our own impressions and largely on the impressions of the world others have had that have been passed down directly to us. Sometimes we think that’s the way it is simply because that’s what someone said it was. If we just open our eyes and learn from the world around us based on our own experience (combined with the intuitive knowledge many of our animal friends instinctively have), maybe there’s so much more we can learn about the true nature of reality.

Whether or not you agree, I at least hope you found most of this banana revelation a-PEEL-ling.

I’m sorry and you’re welcome.

Femoir the Podcast – Season 3, Episode 99: Finding the Pause

Hello again friends!

We’re back for an exciting 99th episode. Since I’ve found the application of finding little bits of pause in my daily routine has helped me generally maintain a bit more balance, I figured I’d chat about it in this latest podcast episode.

I talk about Buddhism.

The book I’m reading is Radical Acceptance.

I mention LA traffic and how traffic can affect your mood.

I also mention meditation and breathing exercises.

And just generally talk mindfulness.

I don’t mention it, but this is my favorite meditation app (though there are lots of great ones out there, this is just personal preference).

Oh and of course I mention my dogs.

Enjoy! (And subscribe and leave a review if you’d be so kind xoxo)

I’ve Flip Flopped on Tom Brady. Forgive me?

Be gentle with me. It’s hard on me, too. Just…you know… hear me out.

I was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. My most formative adolescent years were spent growing up in the Peyton Manning Colts Era. In fact, the owner of the Colts had a daughter my age. The year he signed Peyton Manning, everyone on the team got rookie Peyton Manning jerseys.

I gave it to my brother. I think. He cared about football. I didn’t. I was an average pre-teen girl in a state that worshipped basketball who grew up idolizing in-his-prime Reggie Miller. The Colts had never really been all that good and I didn’t play football. So the jerseys were cool and having the owner be our first base coach most games was cool but, again, I was an average pre-teen girl. I pretty much didn’t care.

 Hindsight being 20/20, of course I wish I had kept that sucker. 

Under his leadership (and massive paycheck), Peyton Manning would transform Indianapolis sports. He made the Colts worth watching. He was good. We were starting to be good. I learned the rules of football so I could enjoy the games more. We watched them together. Eventually, Reggie retired and Ron Artest (it was his name at the time) punched some dude in the face during a game and the Pacers became the embarrassment while the Colts were the city’s pride and joy.

Anyway, on the east coast a young quarterback was also coming up the ranks. The (evil) Tom Brady had his own team that he started making really good. The (evil) Patriots under the leadership of the (evil) Bill Belichick. Since both teams were in the AFC South, it started to become a little rivalry. Then it was a big rivalry. I knew that even when I didn’t care who was playing, I always wanted the Patriots to lose. It was in my genes.

View this post on Instagram

New to instagram.

A post shared by Peyton Manning (@peytonmanning4real) on

Seriously, when you form thoughts and habits in your formative years, they stick with you for life.

I remember watching intense games with now-passed family members in their homes. It was often heartbreaking but we always had hope. And sometimes that hope paid off because, as you recall, we did eventually get that Super Bowl win.

Anyway, it’s been years – maybe decades at this point – that I have despised Tom Brady and the Patriots franchise. The cheating. The scandals. Deflategate.* And he has a perfect wife? Psssht. What a dick.

I root against the Patriots no matter who they’re playing – especially in the Super Bowl. And this year it was especially easy when it was against my (now) hometown team, the Rams.

So it was heartbreaking yet again to see a team with some shady dealings in the past take yet another W on the world’s stage at the biggest game. Knowing Brady’s model smile will have another reason to be smug makes my skin crawl.

But something strange happened to me this year. And I’m still not sure how to deal with it.

I don’t think I hate Tom Brady anymore. In fact, I think I actually might respect him.

View this post on Instagram

Happy Saturday! 🎈😍🦄❤️

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

Don’t get me wrong. I won’t be greeting him excitedly like my dog Clyde does to every dog. I’ll be much more like my dog Bonnie. When she respects a dog, she ignores them. When she doesn’t like them, she goes after them. I’ll no longer be going after him, but he may get a small, subtle tip of my hat.

Here’s the thing: I know and remember all the B.S. the Patriots have done in the past to secure their wins. According to a Patriots fan of mine, everybody does it…they just get in trouble for it. My argument, of course, is: If you’re so good that you always win, perhaps consider not cheating in order to get the win.

But I’m not behind the scenes in these locker rooms. I don’t know the truth of what’s happening in every NFL franchise. So, you know, who knows?

All that aside, here’s why I find myself cultivating the slightest amount of respect for the man. He seems pretty genuine and pretty simple.

Excuse me while I puke from muscle memory. Thanks to years of hating him, it’s hard to give Brady a compliment without the very foundation of my body rebelling against me.

He could have retired a long time ago. He could never work again and be a millionaire forever. He could never take another paycheck from anything and be a millionaire (his wife is worth an estimated $360 million…twice his measly $180 million net worth).

But he keeps playing. He keeps his body in tip top shape. He uses the resources he has available to do the work.

That’s the crux of it. He does the damn work.

He’s been doing it for decades. He delivers in the clutch. He gets the stupid job done and follows through with what he sets out to do. He seems to genuinely be in love and even does sappy posts supporting his (reminder: worth more than him) wife.

There’s plenty to dislike about him. It’s easy to find reasons to hate him. Believe me. I’ve spent years wallowing in them. But as someone who has been finding more and more value in showing up for myself and my own craft, I’ve started to see him in a new light. He seems to really love football. He’s very good at football. He continues to work hard to keep playing football, even when he’s arguably one of the best football players of all time. It’s sort of that simple.

I used to hate that he had this supermodel wife. He must be so out-of-touch, you know? But I’ll be damned if he doesn’t go out of his way to gush about her and to make her (and his kids) feel super special after his accomplishments. This stupid group hug got me freakin’ choked up.

In Indiana, we used to pride ourselves on having a QB that married his college sweetheart and is a one-woman man. She’s a normal, down-to-earth girl who supports him and stays out of the spotlight. But I’ve lived a little. I’ve gained some perspective on what I admire in people. But I heard stories that reminded me that people aren’t always what they seem. And stupid stunning Gisele (who, again, I just love saying it, is worth twice what he is) having a happy relationship with all the pressures of fame and her own incredible career is something I stupidly admire. It’s so stupid.

Sure, maybe they know to put on a good show. They’re media savvy and worth almost a half-billion dollars combined (she’s worth more, subtle reminder). But they also seem to really enjoy each other. And he held his stupid adorable daughter while receiving the stupid awards he got at the stupid Super Bowl while she smiled her cute face off and it was all so damn touching.

View this post on Instagram

Family and Football! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

And they got that moment because he did the damn work.

Plenty of haters on the sidelines and millions of people judging, yelling at the screen have never known the pressure his stupid handsome face has known. And he’s mentally and physically maintained his ability to follow through and be a champion. Even if you want to go down the (small minded) path of him cheating (which he and his “Dynasty” have been caught for multiple times), he still throws incredible throws. He makes plays. He keeps his aging body in tip top shape. He works on his mental game. And he seems to find time for some balance in his life.

So freaking stupid.

As someone whose team you’ve run over multiple times to get your championships, Mr. Brady, I have to say you actually have my respect. (STOP CHEATING, THO K?.)

But as an athlete and a champion, you have my respect.

I respect the man in the ring more than the critics on the sidelines. Always. And when the man continuously steps in the ring with millions of critics on the sidelines trying to tear him down for over a decade, you can’t help but admire the gumption of continuing to get up and keep going.

But if you tell anyone – I mean anyone – about this, I will deny it vehemently.

Oh, and for the record, Petyon Manning still has the best SNL sketch any football player will ever have of all time. So take THAT stupid Tom Brady, whom I mildly respect.

*for the purposes of this post, I’m not going to touch the MAGA hat. It’s a whole different beast I have super strong opinions about but doesn’t really serve the lesson learned here. But just be aware, I’m aware of it. It’s very easy to dislike him, is my point. Especially when he’s egregious. 

 

 

For Brittany

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I used to be a pretty petty, jealous person. Hopefully by being self aware enough to see how much of this type of person I was in the past, I can truthfully say that I’ve grown. I’m usually able to see when these old patterns and thoughts creep back up and keep them at bay. But that skill has taken years of work and practice. It used to be second nature for me to judge and dislike people, especially those who were really similar to me.

I don’t know why. Then again, we never really know why we make the choices we do, do we? Especially when they end up making us unbalanced, unsatisfied, and unhappy. Those are always the most confusing of the choices. I heard once in a movie it’s because humans are self destructive by nature. But that movie was fiction so I refuse to believe it (even though there might have been enough truth in the statement to make me at least remember it years later).

I got thinking about how silly this pettiness is recently when I heard a girl I knew (who I used to be jealous of) took her own life.

I’ve always known life is short and precious. And I’ve usually at least attempted to keep a positive perspective and to recognize that we are all on our own paths. But when I met Brittany, I was in a much more insecure internal place and it was in an insecure external environment. I genuinely liked her. And I admired her work. I thought she was funny and talented and really nice. But I was jealous because she was younger than me and I saw her as a threat. I thought there can only be one adorable, young, funny, talented midwesterner in the room. How dare she take that throne from me. How dare she be better at some of the creative exercises we were doing. How dare she smile so much and be so friendly with everyone.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BiGNXbOgCc1/
brittanybelland/Instagram

How gross this all feels to admit it later.

I got to know her throughout the course of our class and became aware that she was actually as nice as she seemed. That let some of my jealousy dissipate. Of course, it didn’t help that the class was set up as a cut-throat pass or fail style course that made you feel like everyone in the class was your competition (even though that’s not how either comedy or life actually works).

Anyway, we were Facebook friends for a while and pleasant acquaintances. As I distanced myself from the theater that had made me so competitive and worked a bit on my own perspective, I became more supportive and excited for her when I saw she was working. I’d see her in commercials or stuff would pop up on social media. I realized that I had a lot more in common with her than I ever had to criticize, and began quietly cheering on her successes.

Several years later, a group she was in hosted a comedy night and invited me to perform. It was actually a friend of hers in the group who asked me to come, but I was pleasantly surprised when Brittany was at the show. They called it a “House Party” and spent the first hour of the show pretending their parents were out of town and they needed to drink like high schoolers. I walked in on Brittany chugging beer in flip cup and laughing while cheering the rest of her team on. She gave me a hug and was as happy to see me as I was to see her.

After the show, which was a lot of fun, she gave me a ton of compliments on how my style has grown and changed and strengthened since we last saw each other.

She was a genuinely nice human being. And this past fall, she took her own life, losing an ongoing and open battle she had to depression.

Just a couple months before, she had staged a one-woman show that gave all its proceeds to suicide prevention charities.

The news hit me hard not because we were close, but because I realized that a bright light had been extinguished from the world at a time when we need all the light we can get. And I kicked myself for ever having wasted any time or energy being “jealous” of this incredible human. Every moment I spent quietly stewing could have been spent being grateful to be around someone so inspiring.

But above all the personal stuff, the news hit me hard as a reminder that you simply don’t know what’s happening in someone’s personal life. Though Brittany was open about her struggles with depression, even championing causes to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She was smiling and seemingly happy. Yet she fought hard against her mental illness, eventually losing the battle.

For those of us who are lucky enough to have brains that don’t rebel on such a massive level on a daily basis, we can’t fathom what it must feel like to feel so low that you just want it to be over. And yet, as humans, we all need to have empathy and recognize each one of us is on our own journey, fighting our own battles, and here on this earth for a blink of an eye.

So there’s no need to waste any of that time looking at your fellow soul-travelers with envy. See them for the bright shining lights they are and know that every little bit of light can help illuminate someone else so they can see more clearly. And they, in turn, can help illuminate your path when you’re fighting your own darkness.

Brittany will be missed intensely by those who knew her well. And as for people like me who only got to know her in passing, she will continue to be a beautiful inspiration and a reminder to be kind to everyone because, seriously, you just never know.

Fires and Resilience

Welcome, 2019. I’m happy to see you. I always love welcoming the new year. Just like I love celebrating birthdays. As my grandpa always said, it sure beats the alternative.

I’m not going to place any judgments on 2018. It was what it was. There were all sorts of beautiful and horrifying things happening simultaneously because that’s life and it’s full of dramatic dichotomies that we have to constantly navigate.

As a resident of Southern California, 2018 sure did get me thinking a lot about fires. Mostly because there were so many incredibly destructive fires that ravaged the region leaving ashes, confusion, and sadness in their wake.

Lives and homes were lost. There’s no getting those back. And there’s no part of me that wants to at all mitigate the genuine loss so many people affected by them felt. And we, as a global community, also felt through some of our precious natural resources being forever changed.

As the last fire of the year, the Woolsey Fire, overtook some favorite ares of my beloved Malibu – an area I have always adored visiting for its relaxed vibe and natural beauty. I found myself feeling what I can only imagine lots of humans felt…powerless and overwhelmed by sadness. Even though I understand fire is sometimes natural, I felt like we’ve done so much to hurt and destroy our gorgeous planet at this point that it always feels like we might be watching a natural disaster unfold that may be the turning point to keep us from having the balanced nature we need to survive as a species.

Maybe I’m being dramatic. But there’s some science to back up my notions.

But I’ve never been a dweller. I hate dwelling. You can stew for a minute if you need. You can let off steam occasionally. I don’t have issues with being in touch with your honest emotions. But I do have issues dwelling.

Rather than dwell, I started to think about what it could mean. What could I do to help and what does it mean to watch parts of the world I love burn down?

What I could do was start genuinely giving back to this planet in small and large ways. When I can, volunteer to help clean it up. Choose more green alternatives whenever possible with every purchase I make. Not only change elements of my lifestyle but change the companies that I support to make sure they have more environmentally conscious approaches to their output.

Say what you will about veganism and vegetarianism, but if the entire human population chose to do it for a single decade, we would give our earth a much needed reprieve from global warming. Then, maybe, when we reintroduce eating meat, we could do so in a more sustainable way. Nobody is asking for you to give up your lifestyle in any way – from what you eat to what you drive to what you choose to purchase or do.

It’s simply a matter of becoming aware that our planet has limited resources and maybe small decisions you make within the confines of those resources could help out your fellow humans so that we can continue to use those resources for longer without losing or ruining the ability to have them forever.

So there’s that. There’s small choices and lifestyle changes that could be made.

But even in embracing those and slowly weaving them into every day life, it doesn’t change the fact that, for at least a while longer, the earth will be mad at us and enacting a number of natural disasters as a result of our own manipulation of its resources. Maybe I shouldn’t say mad. That means that somehow we’ve angered it and it’s personifying something that, though I love referring to it as Mother Earth, it doesn’t need to have an human emotion attached. It’s simply reacting to years of human actions that have, at least so far, gone relatively unchecked. And, of course, none of this changes the fact that fires burned down people’s homes, livelihoods, and took lives.

That’s where it’s time to get a bit more philosophical about what it means. It’s easy – and easier to keep your heart stone and your emotions on an island away from everyone else – to say it means nothing. Nothing means anything and we’re all just feathers in the wind attempting to survive until our time floating around is done. But, at least for me, down that way lies madness. So I refuse to accept it.

Instead, I like to think of how to make it a positive thing. No, what happened isn’t inherently positive. And no, I don’t wish fire upon anyone so they can find the “meaning” behind it. But for fellow feathers still floating in the wind, I choose to see a beautiful symbolism behind the fires. There’s a chance to completely rebuild from the ground up. The old ways have been razed and it’s time we choose to rebuild them with a new perspective in mind.

I heard about these large trees who sprout seeds that often die because the roots of the trees they come from are too large and the forests they’d be sprouting in are too shaded from the massive trees. But if there’s a fire, those seeds not only survive, but need the fire to be planted into the ground. So the tree basically ensures its own survival from a fire.

Some brush needs fire in order for it to clear the old and grow new seedlings. Fire is natural and, at times, necessary. Knowing that, the question then become: What can we do to embrace it, learn from it, and grow into a culture that doesn’t become completely at its whim, but knows how to work with it for sustainable growth?

We get the chance not only to rebuild and to rethink, but to show resilience. Not to get all Batman on you, but we fall so that we may learn how to get back up. We’re creatures that are meant to be in movement. And movement means risk of failure and risk of falling. We’re not just risking failure when we choose to be in movement, we’re almost guaranteed it. But every time we get back up, we teach ourselves that we can. We remind ourselves that we can be strong and we can make new choices and we can learn, grow, and improve.

So, as Smokey the Bear would say, only you can prevent forest fires. Love nature and respect it. Let’s learn from our cumulative mistakes and agree to see the world for what it is – a community that is inherently interconnected with each other. Within that recognition and understanding, we may choose to help each other out by making small but meaningful decisions that will give the earth a chance to rebuild and give future generations a fighting chance of experiencing the beauty and balance that the world naturally wants to give us.

Oh, and more on bears next week…

A Year Ago

back in timeA year ago, I got some news that surprised me. Someone tried to tell me I wasn’t good enough for something. Well, the truth was, they did tell me that they didn’t think I was good enough for something. He basically told me I didn’t make the cut.

After I got over the initial shock since I found the assessment completely unfounded, I thought about the deliverer and I thought about the actual outcome of this news and its impact on the rest of my life. I realized that the deliverer wasn’t someone I admired who’s opinion I needed to listen to and the outcome I thought I wanted was absolutely unnecessary to the goals I had in my own life. Another outcome would have allowed me to check off a box that didn’t need checking in order to prove I live up to arbitrary standards of a system that’s becoming more archaic daily.

But rejection is never fun no matter what perspective you can later spin it into. It can bother you. And, despite the fact that I am now more relieved and well-aware that world is not one I want to be a part of, this one still bothered me for a while.

I mean, you want to get in an invite to the party even if you have no intention of attending.

So I was going to write a whole article in response going into detail about all the things I’ve done in the year since this day. But when this day neared, I lost my edge to write a vengeance-filled post bragging about all my accomplishments. First of all, it’s not really my style. And secondly, I just didn’t care enough. The truth is, this mattered so little to me by the time the day came and went, that I just let it go and forgot about it. I was too busy actually doing the things that I love to take time out of my day to focus on telling people that I’m doing the things that I love.

And when I realized I missed my chance for my year-later response, I couldn’t find a shred of me that really cared. It all felt so long ago and my life has been progressively getting better, more fulfilling, and happier since that day.

When the issue comes up, of course I’m candid and honest about how I felt about the whole situation. But the underlying truth of the matter is that I care about it a lot less now that I thought I would. Which, for the most part, is liberating. But a little part of me still wishes I were angry so that I could let their rejection continue to fuel me.

But I’m not angry. While initial frustrations and rejections can make for good tinder for a fire, they ultimately cannot sustain the flames. They can provide a little help making it burn brighter, but they flare up and burn out quickly. It’s the thick logs and constant care that keep a fire burning. For me, those thick logs are my own passion for creativity and storytelling, and the constant care is the diligence and consistency with which I approach turning my passion into a daily, viable reality.

To put it bluntly, I realized that the best way to show ’em up is to show ’em you don’t even need ’em. Cuz you don’t.

Inside Out Shirt

success kid shirtYou’ll notice that I do my best on this blog to never gym shame anyone. Unless it has to do with basic gym etiquette (or sometimes basic human etiquette).

But you won’t hear me making fun of people. Part of that is I just in general have a policy of kindness. But part of it is because I recognize that I often don’t have all my sh*t together, so far be it from me to point out somebody else’s shortcomings.

Case in point: I saw a woman the other day with her shirt inside out. I thought, “Come on lady. Check your shirt.” Then I caught myself judging, realized it was just because I was exhausted while working out and trying to find something else to think about, and made myself find three things about her to compliment in my mind. I felt guilty for passing judgement (I’m Midwestern. Feeling guilty comes naturally.), so I made myself do kindness penance.

And, wouldn’t you know it, a couple weeks later, I’m at the gym and realize midway through my workout that I had my shirt on inside out.

I could have gone and changed, but I figured “Meh. Such is life” and let it go.

Because we’re all human and we have days we’re more “off” than others. And I figured anyone who noticed wouldn’t care. And anyone who would notice and care about such things wasn’t worth my time anyway, so I shouldn’t care.

Because…

be-who-you-are-and-say-what-you-feel-because-those-who-mind-dont-matter-and-those-who-matter-dont-mind-11