Thinking Your Own Thoughts

I was on an airplane the other day having a hard time. I’m not a great flyer. The stress of nearly missing the flight did a toll on my body. I hadn’t slept much the night before. I was on a different timezone. The only food I had that day was hotel breakfast, coffee, beer, and some fried mac and cheese balls. I needed real food and space to move. My body was pissed.

I decided rather than trying to work or be productive on this late night flight where I felt like garbage, I’d just watch movies. I normally let a movie or a TV show on a flight be a treat rather than the norm. But on this flight, I needed to just keep my mind distracted from the various (understandable) whining happening in my body.

The only movie that looked interesting was “Leave No Trace.”

It was slow. The acting was great. The writing was refreshing. The cinematography was beautiful. And it was so different than so many blockbuster films I’ve recently seen. I loved it.

More importantly, it kept me from murdering my seat mate out of pure hungry rage. So that was nice.

leave no trace 2

There was a line in the movie that stuck out to me and has been in my head since I heard it (the sign of a really good story). In the film, the father and daughter purposely choose to live on the outskirts of society, wandering in the woods and staying off technology. At one point, their circumstances change and they have access to more technology. The daughter, who has spent more of her life completely off-the-grid, is somewhat anxious about what this means for their relationship to each other and to the world. The father assures her that, even with the distractions presented around them now, they can “still think our own thoughts.”

That line resonated with me. I’m by no means anti-technology. I participate (albeit often begrudgingly) in social media. I have a phone. I take my laptop on every trip I go on.

But I’m part of that older millennial generation that grew up in our formative years without it. I spent a lot of time looking out windows, playing in my back yard, creating stuff for the fun of it.

This is weird, but whatever – you’re here and reading this so you deserve a fun little weird tidbit. I used to love to lay upside down on a recliner and imagine that the world was flipped and the ceiling was the floor and the floor was the ceiling.

Yes, really.

The point is, I spent a lot of time thinking my own thoughts. I let my mind wander. My brain grew up with the understanding that it’s important to be present and it’s important to formulate your own thoughts and choose to spend your time in ways you feel drawn to (rather than are accidentally addicted to).

Like many people my age, I was an early adopter of texting and cellphone technology. I’ve been on YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram all almost since they started. I was even part of that generation that needed a college email in order to get a Facebook account.

Stories for another time.

The point is, I’ve let social media and technology interweave and change my brain and my lifestyle without much thought. And now that I’m realizing the repercussions of that, I’m trying to give it some thought. My own thoughts. Not the responses or reactions of other people that the web is inundated with.

When I heard that line from the movie, I realized that, out of habit, I tend to let my mind wander on other people’s thoughts and creations rather than letting it wander on my own musings and observations like it used to. I’ve swung the pendulum far too far in one direction and it’s time to come back the other way.

not a drill

A world without social media or technology isn’t a world that exists anymore. But I can choose to create a world that better balances its existence with my own priorities. I can create a world where I participate in technology but don’t let it control me.

I can choose to create a world where I still think my own thoughts.

 

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Flexible Goals

flexibilityI love goals. I write about and talk about them a lot.

One thing I’ve never included in the goal conversation, however, is the fact that I’ve learned to be flexible about my goals. Probably because I’ve only recently learned the value in maintaining that flexibility.

While I think it’s beneficial to really visualize what you want most in the world so that you can do everything you can to achieve it, I think it’s fair to recognize that you can’t force the world to bend to your every whim. You can create whatever reality you want, but it won’t always look exactly like what you expected.

I’ve got a thousand stories about this type of stuff. For example, I had created a goal for myself to essentially do more voiceover work. I didn’t know how I’d go about it. Within about two months after creating the goal, I found myself not only submitting my voiceover work to agents for critiquing weekly through VoiceRegistry.net, but also had landed my first animation gig on a short project. When I first pictured the goal, I saw myself standing in front of a mic with headphones on getting constant feedback from booth directors. And a little while later, that’s what I had.

It’s not exactly what I thought, but it was exactly what I asked for. So I enjoyed it, was grateful for the opportunities provided and went back to the drawing board to clarify the next thing I wanted.

I think a key to happiness is allowing yourself to see the good and not being blinded by only seeing one fixed outcome. So you want the love of your life to show up and sweep you off your feet? Awesome. That’ll likely happen. And it’ll likely come along with some conditions you didn’t see coming. So do you say, “Screw you, Universe! That’s not what I meant!” and throw away a perfectly wonderful opportunity. Or do you say, “Sweet. Let’s see what the heck happens in this…” and figure it out as you go along.

If you’re so obsessed with the outcome looking exactly like you expected, you’re setting yourself up for perpetual disappointment. Maybe the outcome you’re obsessed with isn’t what will actually serve you best. Maybe by missing out on that one opportunity, the universe is leaving you open and available to the life-changing one around the corner. But ending that relationship, it’s making room for the more amazing one that’s waiting behind the corner. By having you “fail” in one area, it’s lighting a fire under you that will fuel your motivation to do even more. And in that motivation, you end up creating three projects that will launch your career. Maybe by hitting that red light you don’t get side-swiped by the person who’s going to run the red two lights down from now.

I don’t know about you,  but I know when I set a goal or have any specific outcome I desire, I allow myself to visualize it as best I can and let the universe fill in the rest. And as long as I’m listening to my gut and living in perpetual gratitude for the good and the bad shiz thrown my way, I think I’m doing alright. Or as they’d say in the hood, “aiiite.”

Podcast Episode 65: Happiness Habits – Show Notes

This Femoir: The Podcast episode was apparently sponsored by the letter P. letter pListen and you’ll hear why.

I discuss how this was originally replaced by a more “raw” podcast because of some things I was going through at the time. That podcast episode was the “Emotions” episode. And the best part? I never published it. Probably for the best…

Here are the four basic Happiness Habits I discuss:

  1. 1. Patience
  2. Perspective
  3. Positivity
  4. Practice

I talk about The Magic of Believing and a great Phyllis Diller interview related to it.

And I discuss my latest podcast Metaphysical Comedy.

I also mention the following: Getting “turnt up,” Pollyanna, Renaissance Faires, Tourgasm, Gary Gulman, Larry Bird and free throws, the song “Back At One,” how I play saxophone, and how I used to run a lot.

13 Signs He’s Not Good Enough For You

This year has been a roller coaster for me and many of my very close girlfriends in the world of romance. In an effort to add a small sliver of advice for women about my own experience in finding “Mr. Right,” I give you yet another list of things to think about in your search. Enjoy.

1. He makes you feel bad at any point before, during, or after your first date.

It doesn’t get any better than the first 24 hours before and after meeting someone. If you felt even a little bad then, it’s only gonna get worse.

Drop him like it’s hooooooooot.

2. He seems like a loser.

That’s because he probably is.

Find a winner.

3. He’s boring.

What would you rather do, hang out with a boring dude that makes you want to stick icicles in your eyes to prove you can still feel or watch Netflix by yourself in your sweats? Netflix every time, baby.

Grab the ice cream, cheap beer and your fat pants. You’re about to have the happiest night of your life.

4. You think you’re better than him.

That’s because you probably are. You should respect your significant other as an equal. If he doesn’t earn that respect, get rid of him.

Sorry. No time to date you. Too busy being way more awesome than you.

5. He thinks he’s better than you.

Gross. He’s gonna act like he’s doing you a favor by dating you. Do yourself a favor and dump his ass.

I can’t go out tonight or ever again. I’m too busy doing anything else.

6. Your friends unanimously agree he’s not good enough for you.

That’s because he’s not. Your friends love you and want you to be happy. They’ve seen you at your highest and your lowest. They were there before this guy, they’ll be there after this guy. If they don’t like him, it’s for a very good reason.

Neeeeeeeeeeeeext. 

7. He’s shitty to the other women in his life.

He talks poorly to his momma? He’s condescending to his sister? And… you think he’s gonna be nice to you? Yeah. Right. Good luck with that.

If this were Tinder, I would swipe you to the left in a heartbeat.

8. He doesn’t have his shit together.

You can’t fix that. Don’t fall in love with the potential. You’ll waste your time and energy wanting him to be better and he’ll resent you for wanting him to change. Let him go and get it together. If he’s lucky, he can do it and you may consider giving it another shot. More likely, you let him go and three weeks later meet someone who has his shit together who’s absolutely awesome in every way. And shitless guy misses out. And that’s life.

I’d rather have a guy who thinks his shit doesn’t stink than a guy who doesn’t even know where his shit is.

9. You argue all the time.

That’s probably because you don’t have anything worthwhile to actually communicate about. Likely because of #3 above. No matter what the reason, find someone who enjoys much more pleasant activities than arguing.

That’s an A and B relationship so you should C your way out of it.

10. He talks about himself nonstop.

You’re not that great. Stop. Tell me about your projects and your passions and your ideas. And then ask me about mine. And then let’s both shut up. Deal? Deal.

Blah blah blah I’m bored bored bored.

11. He doesn’t introduce you to his friends.

That’s because he either doesn’t have any or he’s trying to hide you for some reason. If you’ve been dating for a long time and you’re never invited when he’s hanging out with his friends casually, move on. He’s a jerk who’s hiding something. Find someone who will be proud and excited to show you off.

This one hits a little too close to home for me to have a hilarious quip.

12. He’s passive aggressive.

Here’s the only time I will ever put up with passive aggression: When my husband has had a long and stressful day earning money to help support our beautiful family and he’s exhausted and stressed and I, unknowingly, push a button that makes him accidentally snap at me passive aggressively. I will bite my tongue and let it slide. But we will discuss later when he’s feeling better. And we will both apologize. And that’s it. Otherwise, just tell me how you feel. Don’t beat around the bush, manipulate, or belittle me.

Plenty of fish in the sea who won’t be passively fishy to you.

13. He says he isn’t good enough for you.

That’s because he’s not.

Find someone who is.

Everyone’s so friendly?!

The past two weeks at my gym have been odd. Not  because I have to choose odd exercises to compensate for this hurting foot, though that hasn’t been spectacular.

It’s been odd at my gym because…everyone’s being so nice to each other.

Normally, I’m totally anonymous. And I kinda like it that way. I like being quietly left to my workout so I can lose myself in my breath and my awesome music. I can get oddly anxious about things most people don’t think twice about. If I think someone is watching me, I inherently put on a small show. Whether or not they actually are watching. It’s the performer that comes out. And I love the performer- she’s my favorite version of myself- but she gets a lot of time already in Briana-world. Sometimes, I like to be the quiet, awkward, unfriendly, poorly dressed girl who clearly didn’t brush her hair this morning that’s lifting in the corner while everyone around her swears she’s a lesbian. I like her because she’s totally different than my somewhat put-together, friendly, out-going funny flirty girl. I’m very much both people- just different versions of myself depending on my circumstances.

What does any of this have to do with the people around me being friendlier? Well, if I know them by name and see them often, I could start feeling self-conscious when I’m around them. Because I know them. We’ve had a conversation. I’m expected to be friendly now. I should probably make small talk. At some point, we may talk about what we both do outside the gym. I’ve got to always be sure I wave hello and goodbye if I’m waking by because I’m midwestern and we’re really polite and that’s just what you do with people you know. I can’t just be lost in my own thoughts anymore, I now have to be aware in case someone I know is around.

I’ve seen this one guy several times. He works at the gym. He’s often there when I am. Last week, he smiled at me. Then a few days later, he half waved when he saw me. Then the next time I came in, he scanned my card introduced himself. Now I know his name. And he knows mine. He smiled at me again when I walked out of the locker room and headed to my workout. As I write this, I realize this could sound flirty. It’s not. It’s just friendly. But the point is, he knows me know. And I know him. We’ve got eye contact established. Now I have to be nice to him.

The last time I went to the gym, a new guy was working the desk. When he scanned me in, he made small talk then said “Have a nice workout, Briana” and smiled again. Now I gotta be nice to this guy, too.

It’s confusing. I don’t know if I like it or not. We’ll see.

Maybe it’ll make me workout harder, though, if I think people are watching me.

That is, of course, when my foot starts cooperating again and I can return to my normal routine.

Until then, I drink a Bud Light Lime and I write about working out.

Give hugs freely

Maybe it goes along with my lovey-dovey themes lately, but there is something that’s been on my mind lately and I wanna share it.

You guys…we all need to give our hugs more freely.

Why? Because you never know who could use it.

A couple weeks ago I lost a friend. She suffered for years from severe depression.  On the outside, she was extremely bubbly and full of life and loving and passionate. But she had demons. Legitimate demons. She struggled for years with them.

I don’t for a minute believe that a single hug would have made a difference. This woman was surrounded by people who truly loved her and showed it often. She had a medical condition that she battled for years. And eventually, her condition won.

I do believe that it’s good to be reminded that you’re not alone in the world. It’s good to be reminded that somebody cares about you. It’s good to be reminded that you’ve got support of people around you. It’s good to be reminded that people- though they do mean things- are inherently good.  And sometimes, it’s good to be reminded of all this without excessive wordiness. Just through a single, simple action. Like a hug.

Now, I’m not advocating you go out with open arms and hug everyone in sight. Mostly because, as a person with a self-described “stranger magnet,” I do not want to be attacked by more strangers who know I will politely accommodate to almost all their odd requests.

I’m advocating we all take a moment and recognize that the people around us are human beings with their own unique stories, problems, issues, strengths, and demons. No matter how put-together someone might seem on the inside, they could be struggling with some deep-seeded issues. And maybe- just maybe- you taking the time to truly listen to them or ask about their day  or smile or even give a hug, could make a world of difference.

Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. But I’d venture to say that if you actually take the time to do a small kindness in your day in some capacity, you’ll feel calmer and more rewarded and connected to the world as well. So really, you can only gain from the gesture.

So if you feel like the moment calls for it, give someone a hug. It’s pretty much accepted among my friends that they could at any given moment get a hug from me. And if they introduce me to someone important to them, that person’s getting a hug. Why? Because you’re important to my friend so you’re important to me. I don’t care if it makes them uncomfortable. Unless the situation is totally inappropriate (and there are some, you guys, I’m not total hippie dippie), my go-to move is the hug.

I’m a hugger, for sure. I happily give hello and goodbye hugs freely. I think people come to expect it at this point from me and I don’t mind meeting those expectations. It’s nice. It’s a reminder that I have a community of people who care. It’s a reminder of closeness. It’s a reminder of sameness. Plus, it’s healthy!

People need to be touched (appropriately). So why not be the instigator to do it?

So, you guys… open those arms and bring it in. HUG TIME!

Ticket perspective

Last night, I came out to my car from an open mic in Santa Monica only to find I had a $53 ticket waiting for me. I made a mistake. I thought my meter had an hour more than it did. It was just an honest mistake. But it didn’t make the ticket suck any less.

I’m not exactly swimming in extra cash right now. I’m strapping up for an intense summer of car payments, credit card payments,  and a few weeks missing work to go home and visit. A ticket is not something I have in the budget right now.

I could choose to be very worried or upset and let the whole thing ruin my mood/day/week.

Or I could choose to have a little perspective on the situation.

While I’m not going to pretend that I was jumping for joy when I saw the ticket sitting on my car, I took a breath and thought about it. I was mere feet away from the ocean (a place I love) in one of the most beautiful cities on the planet (that I have worked hard to get to and continue to work hard to stay in). I just spent the past couple hours hanging out with like-minded spirits (comedians) and got to do what I love most (perform). I’m currently driving someone else’s car ( a close friend while he’s in Japan because he knows my card needs some work I can’t afford at the moment). He even gave me his credit card to give it a tank of gas for the month, even though I would be the one driving it. I was heading to another open mic that night because I’m lucky enough to live in a world where the chances to perform are plentiful and the ceiling for what you can accomplish is limited only to your imagination. I’m young. I’m healthy. I’m free. I know what I love to do and I get to do it often. I am constantly meeting new and interesting people and learning more about them and myself daily. I’m extremely lucky to live the life that I live, and am grateful for the joy and energy that surrounds me. I have a job. I can pay bills. I can pick up more babysitting if push comes to shove. I’m lucky to know some great families out here and have worked for some awesome references in the past. I’m also lucky to love children and not mind taking care of them for a little extra cash to help me pursue my dreams. I get to laugh all the time. I live in a world filled with people who love laughter and love to make others laugh. I also have awesome friends and family are are hilarious in their own right and give me unwavering support.

A $53 is just a minor inconvenience in a world filled to the brim with positivity and magic.

I’m lucky. And I know it.

And one little ticket is not going to screw all that up.

Besides, as I took the ticket off my window, a guy with a sweet, friendly golden retriever came up and started a quick conversation. His dog attacked me with kisses and affection and I loved every moment of it.

So jokes on you, City of Santa Monica. Your ticket didn’t ruin my day  at all.

But let’s not make this a habit, ok?

Thanks.