Interruptions

The more you learn about listening, the more you realize what a skill it actually is. It’s something everyone can do, sure. But it’s not something everyone is necessarily good at.  And I’m not just talking about listening with your ears. There are lots of ways to listen. Yet we often do whatever is the bare minimum and whatever is easiest.

Have you ever been listened to? Like, really really listened to? The type of listened to where you can feel it in your bones? Where when you’re done speaking or communicating (however it may be) there’s a pause while the recipient takes it in and further validates that you were really listened to and not just heard?

So many times in conversations we just wait for our turn to talk. We may be thinking of something or want to steer the dialogue in one direction, so we obsess with getting our thoughts out so that we can talk about the thing we want to talk about. It’s not listening. It’s patiently waiting for your turn to scream into the void towards a specific person who is also only hearing you while they patiently wait for their turn to talk.

I hope you get listened to. It’s a wonderful feeling.

I make it a point to listen often and as much as I can. I don’t always nail it. But I do make a consistent effort. And because I’m often willing to be more patient and listen more intensely than your average bear, I find myself often interrupted by people who are so eager to get their thing out, they can’t wait another moment. My usual immediate reaction is to defensively and interrupt them back to steer the conversation where I wanted to go. My other typical reaction is to quietly get frustrated and judge the person who interrupted me. Who are they, after all, to think their ideas are more important than my own?

But I’ve recently changed tactics a bit. I’ve realized that by getting frustrated at people who constantly interrupt and judge them, I’m wasting energy wishing for them to be someone they are not. Or I’m wasting energy putting too much clout into their thought process behind the interruption. As if they meant to do so as an outward act of aggression. Or by actively waiting for them to stop talking so I can get back to my thing, I’m wasting energy sitting on pins and needles rather than just going with the flow of the conversation.

So I’ve been making an effort now to stop wasting energy. Instead, I’m going to view interruptions as an opportunity. They’re a chance to actively work on staying present. They’re a chance to practice my flexibility and willingness to just go with the flow.

And they’re a chance for me, most importantly, to listen.

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The Power of Silence

When I perform, my favorite sound in the world is laughter or giggles or some sort of visceral response (ideally not a “boo”). I like to hear it. I like when everybody hears it. I like when people hear themselves.

I like that the organized noises I make with my mouth make other humans make noises with their body. It’s fun.

I don’t usually think of performing comedy like that. It’s a weird way to phrase it, sure. But I was thinking about it in the context of silence. Of pause. Of quiet. I was thinking about how I’m obsessed with responses. I want a giggle, even if holding off a little bit might get me a bigger laugh. Over the years, I’ve had to learn to pace myself more. To slow down. To enjoy the pauses. To…

…wait for it.

Sometimes when I see excellent performances, I’m reminded of how powerful pauses are. But over the weekend, I saw a show that was done by people who never actually spoke. I saw The Blue Man Group in Las Vegas. Without ever once saying anything, they made me laugh heartily for the full show (they did have a little monitor that spoke and a voiceover every once in a while to forward the bits).

It was magic.

Throughout the course of the performance, I often had to remind myself that they had said nothing. They communicated so much with their expressions and with the games they were playing and their physicality, that I was never at a loss for what was happening. And they relished in the silences. Maybe partly because they only exist in a curious silence themselves, the quiet doesn’t bother them. Or maybe cause they so trust in the show and in themselves that they know a little quiet is just a set up for a huge laugh. Whatever it was, it was pure delight.

There’s a ton of audience interaction in the show. The fact that they never once say anything makes the interaction even more satisfying. You know what they want without them actually asking it. And seeing people play along made my little imagination squeal with joy.

I even got to go onstage and interact with them for a while.

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One of the Blue Men kept eyes on me as they wandered the crowd. I was cracking up at it and said, in my head, “Yeah sure I’m down to play if you all want.” I guess he heard it because before I knew it, I was having a bizarro Twinkie dinner with the three Blue Men onstage.

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I know I was the only one talking. Usually I was just cracking up or saying “okay, okay, okay, sure.” But at no point did I feel like I was the only one communicating. Without saying anything, they got me to (attempt to) light a candle. They got me to open Twinkie wrappers for them and then subsequently clean them up. They got me to bop my head along to some music. They got me to eat Twinkie bites with them and even feed them Twinkie bites. And they even fed me some weird banana stuff that I tried not to eat at first then was like, “Yeah, sure I’m down to play if you want” (which happened to be the very thought that likely got me onstage in the first place).

They took a picture at the perfect moment, of course.

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After the bit was one, they helped lead me offstage and two of them squeezed by hand twice as a signal that I felt like was a “thank you” or “good job.” Whatever it was, I just played along and continued to enjoy the rest of the show.

When the show was over, we were meandering in the lobby and one of the Blue Men ran up dramatically. He smiled and I said “Hello! I’m married but that was the best date of my life!” He smiled again (maybe it was just with his eyes? I don’t think they actually smile now that I’m thinking about it. Anyway, we took a picture and then he turned to me, covered his mouth and quietly said “That was amazing.”

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That’s all he said. That’s all he had to say. Because he had spent so much time silent, the power of those simple words were enough. I felt like my goal of being present and playful was achieved if this Blue Man was willing to break his vow of silence to let me know the energy was appreciated.

I thanked him profusely for the opportunity and the incredible work they do. He just nodded and continued pictures with the crowd that had formed around him. I then showed off my blue paint to my husband and threatened to leave him for the Blue Men.

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My point is, I’m a talker. Sure, I’m expressive and use my expressive face to get my points across and make people laugh. But talking is my security blanket. It’s the way I trust myself most to communicate. And getting laughs in response to what I’m saying makes me feel safe. Drama is terrifying to me because you don’t get laughs, you get silence. Things where you have to wait for a payoff are terrifying because you don’t get immediate responses, you have to wait in the delicious silence for the gratification.

I guess right now my life is in a bit of a silence. I’m doing things, but it’s not making enough noise to get the responses I’m comfortable with. I don’t feel validated in the ways that I get to feel when I’m onstage and throwing out jokes or listening to people laugh at something I’ve created. I have to just trust in the process. As an audience member, I enjoyed the silences. I wasn’t thinking “when’s the next laugh?” I was simply thinking, “This is wonderful I hope they keep it up.”

Maybe I should start thinking of myself as both the performer and the audience member in my own life. Rather than desperately needing the immediate validation, recognize that there are times when it’s necessary to relish in the quiet. Sometimes a little quiet for a good set up means a bigger response in the future. So just sit back and enjoy it.

And, of course, keep working.

 

Wonder Woman Shirt

IMG_8033 I got a new shirt. Can you guess what kind of shirt? I’ll give you a hint: It’s in the title of this blog post. Still not sure what kind? Hint #2: It’s pictured here. Still no idea? We need to work on your powers of deduction, friend.

This shirt was a gift. It was inspired by a conversation I had with a friend about goals. I told him how one of my goals this year was Wonder Woman related. He liked the concept immediately and adopted his own variation using Batman as a reference. And in order to be reminded of these goals, we bought some goodies to inspire us.

And I’ll be honest with you… it totally works.

I wore my Wonder Woman shirt for the first time yesterday. I loved it. It reminds me of the goal I set for the year. In fact, at one point during the day, I wanted to be lazy and skip an integral part of my routine that I know helps me and I needed to do. I started letting the resistance in and started letting my logic talk me out of what I knew was good for me.

Then I remembered what shirt I was wearing. And I solidly put my foot down and said, “No. We’re going. We’re doing this.”

I say “we” to myself when I hear the multiple voices trying to duke it out for control over my body’s actions. Also because I have multiple personalities.

Anyhoo, point is- I did it. Because I was reminded and inspired by one silly shirt.

So invest in silly shirts. And invest in silliness, you silly pants.

Silly.

 

Single Women vs. Tinder

 …the following is a transcript from a make-believe court session for a case some single women have brought against the free dating application Tinder. 

The courtroom is filled with chaos. The lawyer for Single Women has just made a strong case that the application causes people to be too judgmental, too superficial, and too narcissistic. Based on the uproar, most people watching agree with this opinion and think Tinder is an unacceptable dating application.

The judge waves her gavel several times and calls for order. Eventually, the courtroom quiets down. She calls forth the defense counsel. The lawyer for Tinder is in her late 20s, clearly hard-working, well-dressed woman. As she stands, she sets down her phone she had just been using and a hush falls over the courtroom. She smiles, looks around, and begins to make her arguments.

Ladies of the court. I understand where my opponents are coming from. I really do. An application like Tinder can seem to bring out the worst in people, causing them to make snap judgements about each other and to go out on dates based on little to no information about the other party. I get that it seems this way.

But let me share with you my own personal Tinder adventure.

I work constantly. As you can imagine, being a successful lawyer is a full-time job. I dedicate a lot of time and energy to my career. I don’t have the time right now in my life to go out to a bar every single night of the week and sit around hoping some man I find attractive will be there, come up and talk to me, and find out we have things in common. The odds aren’t in my favor for that. They’re in nobody’s favor.

But when I use Tinder, I can automatically see other men in my area who are interested in dating. I can look at their pictures and determine if I like what I see- both the type of man they look like and the types of pictures they choose to put up. And I can make that judgement easily by simply swiping my finger one way or another.

Yes, I said judgement. We are all constantly judging each other. If a man comes up to me at a bar, I immediately judge him. Even if I say I’m not doing it, thousands of years of evolution are ingrained in me to immediately assess within seconds if I’m interested in this person as a potential mate. Tinder just allows us to do it more quickly and more efficiently, so we can spread our dating net out even wider.

I only have the capability to talk to people who have also said that they might be interested in me. This way, I don’t have to waste my time or energy pursuing men who aren’t interested in me. Again- it allows for more efficiency so I don’t have to waste my precious time.

And my opponent talked about how Tinder forces you to be superficial. I completely disagree. It doesn’t force you to do anything. If all you want to do is scan people in your area and see who thinks you’re attractive by seeing how many matches you can get, you can do that. If you are just feeling low and want to be reminded that there truly are plenty of fish in the dating sea, you can just collect matches and be reminded that you’re beautiful. If you want to send flirty messages with relative strangers with no strings attached, you can do that. If you want to actually meet people and go on dates you barely had to do any work to set up, you can do that. If you want to meet an actual potential mate, you can do that. If you just want to look at random men’s instagram pages, you can do that.

It doesn’t force you to be anything. It’s whatever you want it to be.

We’re expecting more and more of our potential partners these days. We’re living longer and romance has taken over our narrative. In the old days, you married the first suitor that came to your door. And you stayed married because you didn’t have any other options. And you only lived until like 25 years old. Now we go out hoping that in a sea of billions of people, we might happen to accidentally run into our soulmate who be our everything for the next 70ish years.

I’m a practical woman, so I’m not buying it. I want to meet someone who has interests in common with me. I want to meet someone who has friends in common with me. I want to meet someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously. And I want to have options. And I want to do it all without taking away too much time from my own career and personal goals. Tinder allows me to do just that.

Yes, it’s different from our notion of dating in the past. But dating has changed immensely throughout the years anyway. This is just another evolution of dating. And it’s not the end. It just an option. One of many now available to us lucky modern women.

And all practicalities aside, Tinder is fun and it’s great for your self esteem. It’s hilarious to see some of the types of men and the pictures they choose to put online. And if you’re sitting in your sweat pants eating chocolate ice cream alone on a Saturday night, you can still feel beautiful because someone on Tinder decided to “like” you and create a match.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s an all-around win.

The court is silent for a moment as the women look at each other. Tinder’s attorney takes one last look around and begins speaking again.

And one last thing. I was in relationships for a long time. Their constant failure had me feeling low. My self-esteem had taken a beating through constantly putting up with behaviors I shouldn’t have. My latest one had left me absolutely heartbroken. I didn’t know what I wanted. And I was overwhelmed by how to re-enter the dating pool after such a long break from it.

So I joined Tinder. Just for fun. I didn’t want to take the time to create a more extensive online profile. I was open to anyone or anything.

Immediately on Tinder, I started getting “matches” that made me feel good and gave me hope for the future. I went on some dates with men I already knew I thought were cute. Most of them were duds. Some were fine but not spectacular. But one date I went on was fabulous. I liked him immediately. He made me laugh. He was everything I had asked the universe for. We’re still dating. He takes me out, shows me off, and makes me laugh. And I met him by taking a chance simply swiping right on Tinder.

What will happen with this relationship? Who knows. Only time will tell. But I do know that I’m dating him because I want to be dating him. I know there are plenty of other fish in the sea. I’ve dated many of them. None of them are like him. But I’m sure there are other wonderful ones out there, waiting for me on Tinder if this one doesn’t work.

I’m in a healthy mindset for once in my life. And that’s thanks to Tinder.

I rest my case.

The young lawyer sat down. Looking around the courtroom, everyone was looking at their phones and using their thumbs to swipe pictures either left or right.

Tinder wins.

Gap

I always notice a bit of a gap when I wait too long to get the latest podcast out.

When I’m on a roll, I feel like I get chunks of downloads all at once when the podcasts come out.

When I’m not, I feel like the only trickle in.

But that’s ok. Such is life. Sometimes, opportunities are overwhelming and you’re in high demand. Sometimes, nobody cares.

That’s why you gotta keep creating  no matter what the outside stimulus is. It’s the process of creating that’s the most important part.

Oh, and in case you missed it, the latest podcast #40 is available on iTunes for free.

Teeheehee.

Be careful what you wish for…

…because you just might get it.

I need to babysit some plants. I was thinking how the only way they stand a chance to survive five weeks in my garden apartment with very little light is if I get a little shelf to put them up on my patio. I thought about the shelf for a couple weeks, knowing full well I wouldn’t spend my little bit of extra cash on a shelf for plants. Next thing I know, there’s a shelf outside my dumpster by where I park my car on night as I pull up. SWEET.

Same thing with a fan I found. I have one fan in my apartment. Summer is coming and I will melt from heat without another fan. Two fans would make for great circulation, but I’m not going to go buy another fan right now because money is really tight. A few days of really wanting a fan, and boom- one is waiting for me outside my dumpster late at night. True, I have a pretty SWEET dumpster. I agree with that.

I had a serious chocolate craving one night. The type that takes over my entire body and it’s all I can think about. Unfortunately, I was in UCB class, so I had to try and concentrate until our break. I was about to book it out of class and go buy over-priced chocolate at a convenience store next door, when someone in class announced he brought brownies to celebrate another student’s birthday. They were double chocolate. He brought plenty for everyone to have a few. I had my fair share. Literally and figuratively… SWEET.

I had an audition last week. I knew I would get a callback. I had no doubt in my mind. I even told my friends, “I’m surprised they haven’t called me yet since I know I’m definitely getting a callback.” It should be noted, this would be my first commercial audition callback in LA with my new (great) agency, so it’s not like this happens all the time. A few days later, I got a call from my agency- I’d gotten a callback. I knew it. I had already seen the phone call vividly in my head.

Am I sharing these things because I want you to be impressed? Maybe. But I always want you to be impressed.

I’m sharing them because I believe that the universe is very responsive to our wishes. When we want something to happen and we truly obsess over it or know it to be true in our heart, the universe makes it a reality.

I believe- through my own experiences (beyond the few I’ve shared here) that we have to be clear and proactive about what we’re asking of the universe. If we don’t know what we want, we can’t get frustrated when nothing in our life is changing. Our mind is stagnant, so of course the world around us is the same.

When you’re really clear on what you want, and you’re specific about how it will feel when you get it- like it’s already happened- the universe will respond in full and make it a reality.

Sometimes, it manifests itself exactly like you thought. Sometimes, it manifests itself in completely different ways, but you get the same result you were asking for. Sometimes, as you focus completely on one specific goal, your gut starts to realize that’s not what you want after all- but the journey of seeking that goal has made you realize something wonderful you really want instead. So you can shift your focus and embrace the new world the universe has provided.

And it’s important to realize that in the process of asking for change within your world, you’re going to get it in all sorts of unpredictable ways.

I’m going through a number of major transitions myself- some “good” and some “not so good,” but throughout the process I’m trying to embrace the fact that life is changing in major ways for me on several fronts.

Life as I know it will soon look completely different from the way it did several months ago. And I know it will more closely resemble what I’ve been asking the universe for. So I need to continue to focus on what I want and recognize that foundations are built from breaking ground. I need to embrace the chaos and major changes- and know that each one of them has an opportunity to learn within it. And each one of them is part of the bigger visualization I’ve been so clear about asking the universe for.

You can’t experience the view of the mountain top without climbing the mountain.

And maybe it’s all random b.s. that doesn’t mean anything and I have no control and there is no magic and people are just animals trying to survive and meet their own selfish needs while keeping the rest of the species alive. Maybe none of it matters. But I choose to believe that it does.

And I choose to be excited while it’s all unfolding.

I’m writing this to share it with the world because I believe it’s true. I’m also writing this as an affirmation for my own purposes. If you don’t believe any of it, that’s just fine by me. If you do, that’s just fine either. I hope either way you can find joy and happiness in your life perspective. This is just a slice of mine.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” -Albert Einstein