Monk Mode

I’ll keep this short and sweet since I made some ambitious deadlines for myself this week that, at the time, I thought were reasonable. Now that I’m in the thick of it, I see now that they were somewhat unreasonable.

But, hey, I like a good challenge and all this stuff is creative anyway, so I won’t complain.

In fact, I almost skipped the blog this week. I have too much on the plate. But then I remembered that most of these deadlines are somewhat arbitrary anyway (people are reasonable and everything is negotiable, right?). It would be totally understandable if I missed one and if I skipped a blog. Who would even notice?

But I would know. I would notice. And when I make a promise to myself to get something done by a certain date, just like when I make a promise to myself to get something done for someone else, I follow through.

Even if it means I skip my hour-long yoga class that I love and do ten minutes at home just to stay sane.  I will write. Because I am a writer who does yoga. I am not a yogi who writes a lot. There’s a small distinction between the two, but an important one when it comes to where I focus my time.

The past few weeks I’ve been in what I consider “Monk Mode.” I’ve been getting up early, going to bed early, in a pretty set little routine (thanks to my puppers who really like to remind me that certain times of the day mean either walk or eating or playtime or porch time or pool time). I’ve been going to my yoga class in the morning (when possible), coming back and setting up the house the way I like it before diving into some focused writing. I have a quiet lunch at home while I read the entertainment trades and then take my dogs on a walk. I take a quick nap (I’m an excellent napper – 20 minutes to a totally transformed human), then have another round of intense writing or creating before Bonnie lets me know it’s time to feed and play with the pups. Maybe after they eat and play, I have another hour or so of creative time before they need a walk. After the way, I snarf some food then, maybe eek out a few more pages before I start my pre-bedtime relax mode.

And, at the moment, that’s it. I will change up the routine if people are in town or coffees must be had. But in weeks where I’m on intense deadlines like right now, I’ll only change it up to give me more time to write (sorry yoga, you got axed today). But I’m careful and thoughtful about when I change it up. I make sure there’s still plenty of routine available to keep me balanced even when I know one day will not be as productive as the others. So I don’t do coffees daily. And I don’t do drinks every night. I keep it balanced and protect the creative boundaries I need to continue to feel my best.

If I’ve ignored your text or been hard to pin down for a meeting, this is likely why. And I would apologize for it, but honestly I don’t feel bad. It’s called setting boundaries and I’m learning it and loving it and the people closest to me respect it, as I do their own boundaries.

So why am I sharing? What does this even matter? Those mundane details of your life mean very little to me, Briana (you may be saying and I’ll pretend you are so I can answer).

Well, here’s the funny thing about Monk Mode. I really like it. I’ve spent a ton of time traveling and on wonky schedules and all over the place. I haven’t had a lot of time or space in my world for routines. And, to be fair, I often avoid them because the wrong ones focused in the wrong places can make me freak out and feel stifled.

But this routine is a happy routine. It’s a productive little routine. Even though my weekends are all over the place and it’s more of a goal than a reality most days, it makes me feel like I’m focusing on and forwarding my career.

When I’m doing things outside of the routine, I’m working on my acting craft or taking meetings for my writing. I’m not immediately seeing the results of my work, but I know that doing a little every day and maintaining my focus will eventually help me to stay sharp. I feel inspired by the productive yet quiet lives of monks who spend much of their day devoted to the work they believe in, with small tasks and chores sprinkled in throughout their day. I don’t pretend that I’m a monk. But I do enjoy the quiet and focused time working (not to mention a good Belgian beer that some monks basically perfected).

This time of year can feel particularly tumultuous for me emotionally as I round the corner to another birthday and the age demons try to pester me about what I’ve accomplished with my life. But doing my best to stay in Monk Mode has kept them at bay. And has kept my own spiritual connection to both my more intuitive and more creative self even stronger.

Straight up Monk shit, yo.

 

 

 

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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!

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.

Noir… now what?

I recently wrote and registered my very first feature screenplay (eeks!). It’s an absurdest, comedic noir. The main character,msmatthewson Margaret Mathewson, already has a twitter handle (@MsMatthewson). I registered with the WGA, it’s pending with the patent office right now, and I sent myself a copy. I’ve been sending copies to a few friends of mine who may help me produce it.

But I’ll be honest. I have no idea what to do next.

I know it needs money. Real money this time. I want this script to be done right and I’m tired of calling in favors from all my creative friends. Of course I’m grateful to even have creative friends who I can call in favors from… but I want this sucker to be done right. I want to be able to pay people so they bring their A-game. I want to be able to pay myself at least a little so I can spend more time concentrating on creating a great product rather than doing it in my (spare) free time.

Like I said, I want it done right.

And like I said, I have no idea what to do next.

But here’s the thing. I like not knowing what I’m doing. I like a good challenge. I like to be out of my comfort zone. And I like learning.

So I’ve done the only thing I can do… set up an action plan and a list of goals and start. I’ve got a list of books that I know are helpful to learn independent film production. I know some resources on the web that I can look up to learn how to learn more about film production. I can ask around and reach out to people. I have a goal for when I want to start production on this thing. And it’s coming up. Which means I have to figure out how the hell I’m gonna get the money to do it.

But I’ve done this before. Many times. So this is just another one of those times. I know it’ll take a lot of steps and a lot of hard work and a lot of uncomfortable moments where I’m out of my element and a lot of note-taking and reaching out and learning.

And I can’t wait.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a movie to figure out how to produce.

Podcast Episode 51 – Show Notes

This episode of Femoir: The Podcast was all about Quiet Time. What it means to you and me.

It was a quick podcast. Not much to report.

This was the quote I referenced

In order to be open to creativity, one must have the capacity for constructive use of solitude. One must overcome the fear of being alone.

Take a listen. Catch up on the other episodes on iTunes for free.

Tell me what you think and what you want me to ramble on about in the future.

Podcast Episode 47- Forgiveness (Show Notes)

The latest episode of Femoir: The Podcast is available now here or on iTunes. We’re talking all about Forgiveness!

A couple people who know a lot on this topic were brought up:

The Dalai Lama

Thich Nhach Hahn

One more food for thought:

Also I sang this song:

…poorly

Next week’s podcast will focus on the power of our thoughts. Yeayer.

Thanks for listening. I’d love to hear back from you, friends.

What do you wanna talk about? What’s bothering you? Can I help?

xoxo

 

Little Things Add Up

In every aspect of life.

My friend is getting back into fitness. We’ve been working on her gym plan for weeks. We’re trying to find the right combination of attainable and effective that fits into her schedule. Just the other day, she told me she did that day’s workout in about twenty minutes. She seemed to say it in a tone that indicated she hadn’t done something right. I asked her if she did the exercises and challenged herself. She said yes. I told her great- you did it perfectly.

I think we sometimes can get the wrong impression that big changes have to happen through big shifts. When really- in fitness and in life- they happen through small, slow yet steady steps.

Some of the most beautiful natural wonders come from slow yet steady changes. Like the rainbow mountains in China:

rainbow mountains

Or precious gems. Or magnificent careers. Or successful partnerships. Or… you name it.

Anything worthwhile is built through small yet steady steps. 

It isn’t an easy concept to accept- especially in a culture that thrives on immediate feedback and results. But I think it’s one of life’s most valuable lessons.

I intuitively know it, but it’s difficult to accept. I’ve embraced it more as I’ve been steadily working out for the past several months. I haven’t made dramatic lifestyle changes. But I have been dedicated to working hard and going to the gym regularly. As a result, my body looks different. It’s stronger and more toned. I like the way my pants fit me. I like the way I feel in the morning. I like the energy I have throughout the day. I like the peace of mind that steady breathing brings me.

I didn’t set out one day to make a huge dramatic change, but dramatic changes are happening. And they’re happening because I’m dedicated to slow and steady steps.

In seeing this in my own body through fitness, I’m starting to embrace it in my own career. I’ve been working for years as a creative mind. I’ve put myself out there in tons of different venues, mediums and shows and attached myself to numerous successful and unsuccessful projects. Yet, as of right now, my parents still have to buy my plane ticket home for Christmas because money is extremely tight.

But it’s starting to feel different. I’m relentless in my creative pursuits. I don’t know when it happened, but I’ve suddenly gotten good. I feel comfortable auditioning in any setting. I’m comfortable with almost any improvised or scripted situation. I can get in the zone quickly and easily. I have confidence on and off stage with my work. I’m tapping into my abilities to write and really taking advantage of it as a vehicle for showing my voice. I’m attracting inspiring people into my circles who excite me. I don’t know when it happened- but I see the change. And it’s dramatic. And it’s exciting.

It’s the same with relationships.

I’ve started really cherishing the relationships I have that have withstood the test of time. There are plenty of people who serve different small purposes in a person’s life. And those are to be relished and cherished in the moment as much as any other life experience. But the people that truly matter to you- the one’s in your inner circle – the one’s you let in… those relationships take time. It takes time to build trust. It takes time to see someone grow and change and to understand how the person they were can inform the person they are (and will affect the person they will become).

It’s fun to meet new people and it’s fun to make new connections. And often, you can immediately feel it when you meet someone who will serve an important purpose in your life- even if you don’t know it yet. But it’s not until time has passed that you get to see that purpose, and only then can you really appreciate that person’s presence in your life.

In any of these aspects, binging is possible. I can easily go on a crazy diet and workout for hours and I will see dramatic results. I can work myself to utter exhaustion thinking everyone around me is crazy and I will believe that I am the world’s best actress and writer. I can meet tons of new people and go out to lots of drinks and have lots of fun conversations getting to know them, and I will feel like I have more friends.

But when any sort of balance is introduced into a binge, the results lessen and you lose your perspective on all the things you accomplished. They came too quickly and easily. They’ll go just as quickly and easily. The returns on your investment are directly proportionate to the amount you’re willing to invest.

It’s so much more rewarding, lasting, and believable when you get the see the little things add up. When you go to the gym steadily and start realizing your body looks dramatically different. When you allow yourself to be honest and open about the work that you do, only to realize you’re finally only approaching the starting gate (and it’s taken this long because you weren’t ready and there will still lessons to learn). When you call an old friend to talk to them for the first time in months and you pick up right where you last left off. Because you know each other- not just know things about each other. You’ve built up years of trust and love that have bonded you so strong, nothing can break it now.

Become unbreakable in all aspects of you life. Slowly and steadily take steps to build yourself into the person you want to be who is surrounded by people who you want around.

There’s a confidence in small, slow and steady. You know that you’ll get where you want to go eventually. And, because it took you longer, you’ll appreciate it more and continue to work to keep whatever it is in your life.

That’s what I’m trying to do at least. And believe me, as an ambitious, high-energy, over-achiever… it’s not easy.

Have you ever done anything in your life that you built slowly and steadily, only to look back and be amazed at what you’ve accomplished? Tell me. I want to hear about it.

I’m tired of listening to myself talk. Even if it is just in my own head.

Your turn.