Taking Up Space

At the end of a good yoga session  – wait have I ever mentioned before on this blog that I like yoga? I can’t remember…

Anyway, I like yoga. Just a reminder.

At the end of a good yoga session, the final pose is always savasana. It means “corpse pose” or “resting pose” and is basically supposed to symbolize being reborn after a good yoga session. Recently, in a rare class where we had a lot of space, my teacher encouraged us to spread out and take up as much space as possible.

I realized that I tend to go out of my way not to take up too much space. I tend to always be thinking that I’m in the way. Or at least I grew up with that mindset. I was supposed to make sure other people weren’t inconvenienced by me somehow. Make sure to always look out for them and their needs first. Make sure that I’m always looking out for them even if it means I can’t get comfortable myself.

There’s a lot of good in looking out for other people. I’m not criticizing that in itself. Part of the reason our breed of human beings survived is because we’re very good at looking out for each other.

But left unchecked, it created an unhealthy attitude about my own self worth. I’ve literally apologized to people who weren’t paying attention and ran into me at a grocery store with their cart even though they weren’t paying attention and I was the one hurt. In my instinct, I did something wrong just by being there. That is taking this idea to the extreme. It seeps into many aspects of my life and psyche. And it is not healthy.

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This small reminder in yoga class to “take up space” brought that to light even more.

Once I became aware of the mindset and how it was affecting me, I was able to start keeping it in check. I’m not saying I go around to everyone now elbowing my way through life. But I have begun embracing and recognizing that I have every much a right to be in a space and take up space as anyone else. We have to all look out for each other – but it’s not my job to make sure other people are doing that. It’s my job to do my best and to enjoy taking up space.

The universe is huge and we are tiny little specs here for just a moment of its lifetime, so we might as well breathe into (and grow into) as much of it as possible while we’ve got the chance.

Since I’ve embraced taking up space, I also realize that it means I can draw attention to myself. Not because I need attention per say, but because it’s okay to do my own thing and just be me, even if other people aren’t doing the same thing. I don’t need to just occupy as little space as possible in well worn paths. I can do my own thing and take up plenty of space while doing so.

Luckily for me, living in Los Angeles means that there’s a lot of opportunity to practice owning my own space. Even my favorite yoga studio is insanely crowded any given day. Every class is a great chance to both embrace the idea that I can be thoughtful for others (who might need me to move my mat so they can squeeze in) and also okay with taking up my own space without feeling like I need to squeeze in a corner so everyone else can have plenty of room.

It’s a balance and a challenge. It’s a balance challenge. Like a handstand. OMG we brought it back to yoga!

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(Well done, Briana. Thank you, Briana. You’re ok, Briana. Are you ok, Briana? Unclear, Briana. Let’s move on, Briana. Sounds good, Briana. Never talk about this to anyone, Briana? Agreed, Briana.)

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The Myth of the Life-Changing Moment

We have the pervasive story in our culture that is not only inaccurate, it’s destructive. We have this idea that in one given moment, everything can change. I get why we say it. And I get that there’s some truth behind it. But I’d like to at least challenge it because I think it’s unhealthy.

There’s a story about how the cast of Friends went out for drinks just before they began filming the show. The producers of the show told the whole crew that their lives would soon change. They were right. For many people, that’d be considered the life-changing moment.

In A Star is Born, Lady Gaga’s character (who cares WTF her name is in the movie itself, it’s Lady Gaga’s character) has a life-changing moment when she goes out on stage with Bradley Cooper’s character (again, I’m not going to take the time to look it up…okay I just remembered it was Jackson Maine but whatever, I’m sticking with Bradley Cooper’s character). He encourages her to sing her heart out. She does. She becomes a viral sensation and soon a superstar. All thanks to that life-changing moment.

But I believe that’s thinking of time as far too linear. There are a million small moments, opportunities, and choices that are made before that “life-changing moment” that made it possible in the first place. 

To take apart my own examples (which is why I used them in the first place), the cast of Friends didn’t have one night that everything changed. You could back up to the moment they auditioned for the show was a life-changing moment. Before that, the moment they got whatever representation that got them in the door of the audition was a life-changing moment. The day the decided to do the showcase or class or performance that got them noticed by that representation was a life-changing moment. The day they committed to becoming an actor was a life-changing moment. That time they had an intense rejection and considered quitting but didn’t is a life-changing moment. It could go on and on…

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Same with the character in A Star is Born. The day she sang was as much of a life-changing moment as the day she wrote the lyrics that Bradley Cooper’s character became enraptured by. The day she first started singing at the bar he met her at. The day she first started waitressing at the bar she’d eventually sing at. The day she met the friend who ushered Bradley Cooper into the bar and got him a drink so he’d watch her. The day she learned she liked to sing. These are all life-changing moments.

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The reason I find the myth of the life-changing moment so destructive is because I think it makes us spend our whole lives anxiously anticipating some big magic moment that really never comes because life is full of little magic moments happening constantly.

Sure, there are bigger opportunities that can exacerbate changes more dramatically – no denying that. But for the most part, those opportunities only come along because of a series of tiny decisions you make beforehand. And you’re only able to see and capture them because of the same series of tiny decisions you made up to that point.

We can never know where the magic will lead. So don’t miss out on the joy and excitement of the small miracles in hopes seeing a major one. The major one might feel even more joyous if you’ve recognized the small ones along the way.

Femoir the Podcast – Season 3, Episode 106: Trust Fall

I think one of the hardest parts about making changes is making space for them. I know that I am (very) guilty of not ever wanting to give anything up.

…Then I get overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted and go back to the same patterns I did before and, pretty soon, wonder why nothing every changes.

Hello again, friends.

I think one of the hardest parts about making changes is making space for them. I know that I am (very) guilty of not ever wanting to give anything up. Thanks to a lot of work, I’ve learned to be less of a hoarder of physical things. But when it comes to emotional patterns or routines that I’ve become comfortable in, I very much like to keep as much of everything as possible and just add on rather than taking way. I’m always convincing myself that I can make changes by just willing them into place and forcing myself to take on too much.

Then I get overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted and go back to the same patterns I did before and, pretty soon, wonder why nothing every changes.

We have to learn to let go. We have to learn to trust our gut when it’s asking us to let something go. We have to learn that, like in any trust fall, there’s a moment between being balanced and being caught that feels terrifying. But we have to trust that there’s something catching us after that free fall moment.

That’s what this episode is all about.

I discuss trust falls, leadership building, and how I gave up two things that were both very precious to me in order to make space for new adventures.

I also talk about relationship break ups, choosing happiness, and trusting yourself.

Plus, little Clydie makes audible cameos while chewing stuff and it’s pretty adorable, if I do say so myself.

Subscribing and rating helps the show grow. Listening keeps it going.

Thank you friends!

Femoir the Podcast – Season 3, Episode 104: The Marathon

Hello again faithful friends!

Another Friday, another episode of Femoir the Podcast. This time we’re running with the theme of a marathon, inspired by the LA Marathon (ALL PUNS INTENDED).

I discuss auditions for a comedy show I’m part of, talk about general marathon training (mostly metaphorically), and when we face rejection we have to try, try again.

It’s a short and sweet episode, as these show notes reflect.

Subscribing and rating the show helps, but listening keeps me inspired to keep a’going so thank you!

Enjoy!

Not My Pig, Not My Farm

Not My Pig, Not My Farm

I’m a pretty big fan of the show Letterkenny. If you haven’t checked it out on Hulu yet, I suggest watching the pilot episode.

Fair warning: If the pilot episode doesn’t hook you, don’t move on. They’re all really variations on a theme so if it’s not your style in that first episode, none of the following ones will be.

Also fair warning: I enjoy the show immensely but there are times when it is very Canadian to me and I honestly don’t even understand what they’re saying because they have strong accents and are purposely using intense Canadian slang.

All that aside, I think the show is delightful and uses a lot of really fun phrases and vocabulary. One of my favorite phrases of the whole show on both a comedic and a life-lessons level is – yep, you guessed it from the title – “Not my pig, not my farm.”

When Letterkenny’s protagonist confronted about certain issues in their small town throughout the series that he’s told he needs to take care of in some way, he often says “Not my pig, not my farm” which is a much more playful and colorful way of saying “Not my problem.”

As a person who is learning (and re-learning) how to set up healthy boundaries on a lot of levels, the idea of not taking on an issue that people come to you for help with is something I want (need?) to learn. Seeing that you can say no to someone, even if they’re asking for help, is so helpful. And, hey, you can even say it in a fun way by saying “Not my pig, not my farm,” because then they’ll be like “I didn’t say anything about pigs, are you even listening?” and then you repeat yourself and they’re like “Are you ok?” and then you repeat yourself again and soon they think you have a problem and retract asking you for help because you’re obviously going through something so you’ve both not had to help out and you probably won’t get asked in the future. A win/win!

Another reason I really like the idea behind “Not my pig, not my farm” aside from basic boundaries is because I love the idea of not having an opinion about everything, especially in a world that is begging me to have opinions about every damn thing.

Go to the grocery? Rate it! Sitting in a waiting room? Share thoughts about the experience! Something random happen to someone famous? Respond with your thoughts so people think you’re clever!

Don’t get me wrong – I think sharing and having opinions is great. But boy oh boy we are inundated with opinions right now. And we’re expected to have them all the time about everything. And I honestly don’t know how much it serves us.

The most obvious place I’ve forced myself to quit opinion-ing on a regular basis is in my car. I found that I started criticizing people who have nothing to do with my own driving or who have no affect on my ride at all. And for what? So I could feel better about myself? These people can’t hear me. My opinion makes no difference in what they’re deciding to do. And as long as they don’t endanger me, what does it matter? Why even waste the energy having an opinion?

I’d rather spend the precious time I have on this earth doing literally anything else than uselessly judging people with whom I’m sure I have more in common with than difference from, even if I don’t yet know it.

I remember the first time I realized I didn’t need to have an opinion. Someone did something in a car far away from me. I started making judgments about the person and forming conclusions about their basic driving skills and, of course, their intellect. Then a little quiet voice can into my head and whispered, “Why? What’ the point of this?”. And I didn’t have an answer. It wasn’t serving anything. This person wasn’t bothering me. And rather than somehow, somewhere, somewhy (I want it to be a word so I’m keeping it) deciding I knew everything about this human, I figured I’d just leave it be. Things happen. This human made decisions. That’s all there is to it. Doesn’t need to be something I get all worried about.

Small decisions like that help me to create healthier boundaries, too. When and if people do come to me with ideas or with their problems in search of either help or opinions, I can decide if it’s something that genuinely needs my attention. And because I’ve been practicing discerning what things do or do not warrant my attention, I can hopefully do so even more effectively. But if I’ve been spending all my time judging and forming opinions about everything, I’ll think that I need to continue to care about every little thing that’s happening and continue to spread my energy and focus too thin.

I’d rather focus on my own pigs in my own farm.

And, hey, I get it. Other people’s pigs and other farms an affect mine. I’m not advocating that we all turn into little islands and pretend that we don’t live in a social construct of an ever growing community that can and should be respected and recognized. But that doesn’t mean every single person needs to get involved with – physically or even energetically – in every other person’s actions.

Plus, the times that you do actively get involved, you’ll have more energy to do so. And the times that you do have opinions, they’ll be listened to with a little more weight since you’re not constantly forming and forcing opinions upon people all the time.

That’s my opinion about opinions. I’d ask you for yours, but honestly I’ll respect you just as much if you choose not to have one (for obvious reasons).

Keep pig farming, folks. But also, consider going vegetarian.

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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.

Femoir the Podcast – Season 3, Episode 98: Fairweather Fans

This episode is how I’ve learned from being a fairweather fan in my own career, and how that knowledge can help me (and you?) be more voracious and loyal even on the off days in your own life.

Hello friends!

This episode is how I’ve learned from being a fairweather fan in my own career, and how that knowledge can help me (and you?) be more voracious and loyal even on the off days in your own life.

I talk about the Super Bowl, the podcast Off Camera with Sam Jones (specifically the second episode with Matt Damon), the Boston Red Sox winning (and how they beat the Dodgers), the Cleveland Browns and their loyal fanbase, and the fact that I want you to take me to sports games, please and thank you.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

 

 

Femoir the Podcast – Season 3, Episode 97: Goo Goo for Goggins

My podcasting platform, though reliable for years, has been acting like a real douchebag this morning. So I apologize in advance if these show notes are published before the episode finally figures itself out. How embarrassing would that be!?

Anyhoo, this episode I focus on all things David Goggins. I talk about his book, Can’t Hurt Me and reference one of my favorite recent obsessions, Jocko.

We talk about why you might want to listen to bullies, how to properly stare at yourself in the mirror, and I say “asterisk” multiple different ways.

Don’t forget to rate and subscribe!