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

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Don’t Take It Personally

I’ve got some pretty thick skin. It’s pale, that’s for sure. But it’s also thick1300559_1383703671938_full.

I have to. I’m in the entertainment business.

I know from experience on all sorts of ends of the creative process that there are a thousand considerations that go into any decision. I know that, at the end of the day, this is a business and business decisions are made that have little to do with my personality.

So I’ve learned to take very few things personally. And I think it’s a valuable approach to most things in life.

Because here’s the thing- that guy who was an asshole to you on your drive over here? Odds are he’s just having a bad day for reasons that have nothing to do with you, you just happened to be around when he needed someone to yell at. That seems much more likely than the idea that he found out who you were, decided he didn’t like you, and has been studying you for months to know the exactly moment he could meet up with you in traffic and be an asshole to you because you personally deserve it.

Unless someone I know, love, and respect looks me in the eyes and says, “I’m going to say something to you about you personally that I hope you seriously consider…” I pretty much assume most decisions and interactions with people I have throughout the day aren’t worth taking personally.

As silly as this sounds, too, I apply this to both good and bad interactions. One of my favorite stories is about a boy and his horse (abridged version #6 here on this juicy list). I take that approach to getting too many emotions involved with people- positive or negative. People I’ve just met, even if I’ve had a great interaction with them, don’t really know me. So even if we’ve had a great interaction, I don’t really take it personally. I don’t go home thinking I’m so spectacular or amazing. I enjoy the positive energy shared, am grateful for it, and move along without investment in an outcome. For all I know, that person could only be being so kind to me because they want me to act in a certain way in the future that I may or may not comply with. and then they’ll get angry and turn on me. And, if I’ve taken their positivity towards me personally, I have to take their negativity as a personal attack, too. When the truth is, they have certain wants and needs that I don’t meet. And that’s a-ok. And it has nothing to do with me.

So let’s all just relax a little and take most things that happen less personally, eh? I know it’s fun to play the victim, but odds are whatever happened to you probably had nothing to do with you.

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.

Disappointment or Despair?

disappointment (1)I was nominated for an award a couple weeks ago for a project I created. I mentioned to a close friend I was excited about possibly winning because I thought I stood a good chance. They said, in effort to lovingly protect my feelings, “Don’t get your hopes up. I don’t want you to be disappointed.”

And I had a visceral reaction of complete disagreement.

I don’t ever want to lose the ability to hope. Because if I don’t even have hope that I can accomplish something, I’m setting myself up for a life of despair.

Spoiler alert: I didn’t win the thing I was nominated for. And truth is, I wasn’t all that disappointed. The person who won did a spectacular job and I was glad to even be considered. The cash prize attached to winning would have been delightful, but maybe it’s making way for something bigger and better. Who knows!

You never know how these things pan out and I choose to believe they happen for a reason and the universe is always conspiring to create your greatest good. So I don’t know what every small decision will lead to. All I know is I have to trust my gut, do what I think is best, and choose to believe I can achieve something spectacular if I just keep going.

When I was living in Chicago, I got this pretty great audition for an awesome opportunity. I was already considering moving, but I told myself that if I got this really cool thing, I would stay in Chicago and ride this wave out. I didn’t get it. I was a little disappointed. But that set in motion my cross-country move to a city that thrills me, and to a life that I feel very excited and satisfied by that is setting me up for the career success I’ve always wanted.  A minor disappointment turned out to be a major gift in the grand scheme of things.

I’ve got some major stuff coming down the pipeline. On Sunday, I’ll be in show where I’ll be arbitrarily evaluated based on standards I’m not told by people I don’ t know who will decide an outcome I have no control over. Do I want them to like me? Of course I do. Am I hoping to do my best and to live up to their standards? Of course I am. I’m hopeful that I’ll have the outcome I want. I’m going to do everything I can to get that outcome. But if it doesn’t happen, I’ll be disappointed. But that’s ok. Because it’s proof that I cared in the first place.

I’d rather believe in myself and my abilities and look forward to the best possible outcome than to walk around always telling myself that I probably won’t get what I hope for.

Because you never know. So I choose to stay hopeful. And I choose to continue to let myself feel- both the good and the bad. And to remind myself to keep perspective on everything because you never know what’s around the corner.

 

Always Room For Improvement

For the 2% of you who are still clinging to your New Years Resolutions this far into the year, good for you. I’m proud of you. Well done. Most people have already given up, so you’re already impressive.

I just wanted to address something near and dear to my own heart.

I was discussing resolutions with a friend of mine who’s made a resolution to lose a significant amount of weight. I’m super proud of him and think it will be great for his mind, body, and spirit. We got talking about fitness and I mentioned I’m also dieting for my own fitness goals right now. He- being nice- made it clear he didn’t think I needed to diet. I understand he was being sweet about it, so it didn’t bother me in the slightest.

But I want the world to know that every person has their own set of goals. When I say I’m dieting, it’s not because I’m insecure about my own body. I love my body. I’m extremely proud of it. It serves me well. I take really good care of it and I know it’s healthy, lean, and strong.

I’m “dieting” because I’m trying to improve it. There are plenty of ways I can improve it and mold it and make it even better. And it’s not because I’m unhappy with how it is now. It’s because I believe we should always be improving ourselves and working on ourselves and challeging ourselves to get to that next level.

Yes, I’m on a diet. Yes, I know I look fine. Yes, I love where my body is right now. And yes, there is room for improvement.

Just like I continue to push myself in my career. Yes, I’m fortunate to perform constantly. Yes, I love the peers I’m around and an inspired by them. Yes, I know I’ve had lots of successes. And yes, there is plenty of room for improvement.

Because if we’re not challenging ourselves to reach that next level, we’re plateauing. And nobody wants to plateau.

I also know that I don’t always reach the goals I set out for. Yes, I want to eat healthier. But sometimes your team gets their asses handed to them in the playoffs by the team you absolutely hate. So you have to have a Guinness (or three) to calm your nerves. It can be two steps forward and one step back sometimes. But as far as I can calculate, that still leaves me one step ahead of where I was before I took those steps.

Math while steppin‘ is hard.

May point is, it’s a process. That’s the beauty of life and the fact that every day we get to wake up with the opportunity to improve. And if we don’t at least approach it proactively  and positively (and forgive ourselves no matter what the outcome), we never get to move ahead.

So keep on pluggin’. Keep on chuggin’. And keep on gettin’ back up.

 

Multitasking

Despite major blockbuster hits like “I Don’t Know How She Does It” lead you to believe, multitasking is not the most effective way to get anything done.

Please. Take it from me, a gold medalist in multitasking.

In the time it’s taken to write these three sentences, I’ve gotten up to do the dishes, made my breakfast toast, and responded to three emails. Eekgads.

I’m working on focusing more lately. It’s the nature of the path I’ve chosen to have multiple projects in motion at any given time, and that’s fine. I actually relish when there’s lots of work to do and lots of sillies to create. But I’m learning that my productivity can increase exponentially if I respect the fact that giving whatever task is in front of me my complete focus.

I’m taking time at the beginning of my week to outline the week’s goals and needs. Then I put each of those in their own time slot in my schedule. When it’s time to work on them, they get my total focus. When their time is up, I move on. That way, I’m not only doing a little of each thing and thinking I’m being much more productive. It helps me see more results- and especially more results I’m proud of.

When you have a lot on your plate, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. It’s also easy, when you’re multitasking, to convince yourself you’re getting more accomplished than you actually are. I fall into this trap often, and have found that when I’m proactive about my focus, it changes everything.

I now respect the fact that my schedule- if followed correctly- will allow me to get everything I want done in a day done properly. But I have to respect the fact that if it says “write stand up jokes” it doesn’t mean “check Facebook updates” or “read that snarky Jezebel article.” It means, “write stand up jokes.” So just do that. And afterwards, there will be plenty of time for mind numbing activities.

So turn off the TV. Turn down the pop music. Dare I say it- turn off your Wifi for a while (after you finish this post, of course). Focus. Be present in the moment with the task at hand. For me, it’s a relief to know there’s only one thing that I need to do right now. Everything else can wait. It’s not as important as you think. WARNING! MAJOR LIFE SECRET! Everything else can usually wait. In fact, the distracting tasks you’re so concerned about when you should be doing something else will be done much better if you just let them wait their turn.

Gotta go. I’m three minutes behind schedule and I really want to make sure I have time to write that “HUNGRY! LOL!” Facebook status later.

Themes that are songs?

The next podcast theme is RESPECT.

And it’s entirely possible that I just keep choosing themes that have convenient songs that I play repeatedly in my head to remind me that I need to do some podcast writing.

I don’t know. I make these themes up one day months and months in advance then I live with whatever arbitrary decision I made months and months before. And that, my friends, is called life.

Now with that wisdom imparted, I leave you with this video:

You’re Lucky

If you’re reading this, you’re lucky.

You’re alive. You have the ability to read. You’re breathing. Your body is functioning properly at least at the moment. You’re loved. By someone. I promise you that.

It’s easy to get caught up in daily annoyances. It’s easy to overlook the beauty in routine. It’s easy to get frustrated by minor, temporary issues.

But nothing easy is every worthwhile. Including losing perspective.

I’ve been reminded of this lately. Life is too short. You never know what tomorrow or next week or next month will bring. So if you do find yourself wrapped up in an annoyance, notice it, and change your perspective. It takes a tiny bit more effort than continuing to be annoyed or feel sorry for yourself, but like any small amount of effort, you’ll feel a million times better afterwards.

I’m writing this as advice to you (random internet person… maybe robot?), but it’s really for me.

I’m lucky. You’re lucky. No need to get lucky. We already are. We get a shot at this beautiful thing called life. Make the most of it.

Black Kitty

This morning I got up at 5:48 am. If you don’t know me personally, you may not know how odd that is. I went to bed around midnight and woke up at 5:48 am. Which, on west-coast time is 2:48 am. I’m on east coast time right now because I’m home visiting my family in Indianapolis. Normally, it takes me at least 20 minutes to get out of bed. If I get up early like this, I fall right back asleep once I realize what time it is.

But for some reason this morning, I couldn’t.

It was the type of wake up where you are 200% awake. I’ve gone through days where at my most awake, I felt less awake than I did this early morning. It was like the caffeine from my afternoon double shot of espresso hit me all at once. Except that I hadn’t had a double shot of espresso. At least not in the real world. Maybe in dreamland. But I’m pretty sure I was just grocery shopping in my dream. Come to think of it, maybe my dream was so boring, my mind was like “ANYTHING ELSE” and made me wide awake. Who knows.

I puttered around my house hoping to catch my dad before he went to work. Too late. It was totally dark out but his car was already gone. I saw a cat wandering around our front yard. I walked back upstairs to try and sleep again but couldn’t.

I decided to go out on the front porch and pet the cat.

My parents have been adopted by a stray black cat. In an (I believe fruitless) attempt to not become attached to it, they have not given it an official name and just call it “Black Kitty” or “BK.”

My family has never bought a cat, but we’ve had two in my lifetime. We choose dogs. We are chosen by cats.

I’ve heard tales of BK’s friendliness and cuddliness for months. I was actually excited to meet him. Because he’s still technically a stray, I was a little worried maybe he’d move on by the time I came around. But, sure enough, when we pulled into the driveway at midnight from the airport on Tuesday, there was Black Kitty on the porch waiting to greet us.

So I thought I’d go outside to let him keep me company. It’d be a win/win. He gets attention, which he wanted, and I get another warm body that’s awake, which I wanted.

I sat on the porch and looked for him but didn’t see him. I called for him a little bit but he wasn’t around. And he’s a cat. They don’t come when you call them. Especially when you don’t have a name beyond a basic description.

I thought about going back inside, then I heard the crickets. I forgot how loud the crickets are in Indiana in the darkness. So I sat down, smelled the fresh, humid, morning air and listened to the familiar sounds of the midwest in the early morning hours.

I love my new home, Los Angeles. I love the smells and sights and sounds there. But they’re different. They bring out different emotions.

Indiana smells have a thousand past memories attached to them. I just sat there taking them each in with every breath. I sat on my porch that I’ve known my entire life and looked around. It was so peaceful. I know this place. I know these smells. I know these people. I understand it.

It was that perfect twilight time just before the world wakes up and corrupts the quiet. Very few people (like my dad) are up and about during these hours. I am rarely up during these hours. It was a treat and I let myself enjoy every moment.

I still wanted to pet that cat. I thought that I could enjoy the quiet smells and sounds with a warm cat in my lap. I heard the sound of another cat meowing in the distance. I figured it was Black Kitty upset nobody was around to pet it. “I’m right here, silly!” I kept thinking and called out for him a couple times so he knew. But he didn’t come. Because he’s a cat. Who isn’t mine. And doesn’t know me. Didn’t stop me from being insulted, of course.

I stayed on the porch for a long time thinking I’d go inside again when the crickets sounds died down. If the cat didn’t want attention, I wasn’t going to sit around and wait for him. But, I really liked the cricket sounds and wasn’t in a hurry to go inside and miss the symphony. So I just stayed there, took deep breaths, and got lost in my own thoughts and world.

As the sun started to rise, I came to terms with the fact that I would not get my alone time to bond with the supposedly friendly black cat. I wished my parents would just let him come inside already so I could have pet him on the couch and fallen back asleep. They won’t let him yet because they’re not ready to commit to him. They just got out of a cat-lationship. They know hurt it can cause in the end. The timing has to be right for them to decide to get another cat. Even though this cat has clearly already decided he’s family, my parents feed him, give him treats, and spend hours petting him…they’re not ready to commit to another cat.

I respect that approach. I tend to go head first into anything and everything. My personality is like, “Oh, sweet a cat has been here for more than an hour- he must want to stay! Let’s let him in the house and love the shit out of him until he tears up everything and runs away because he’s feral and wants to be free!”

My parents have been around the block. They understand these things better. They know that committing to a cat is a huge emotional investment. They know the heartache it can cause. They know the responsibility it entails. They understand the depth of the investment. I take longer to catch onto these things.

I thought about all that as I got ready to go inside. I respected their patience and realized I need to employ it myself in more ways in my life. Just because a cat is around and gives you attention and clearly thinks it wants in the house, doesn’t mean it’s the right timing yet to let it in the house. When the time is right, it will be obvious to everyone.

See, I get scared the cat will change its mind and run away. I feel like you’ve got to “strike while the iron is hot” and act on impulse. I’m convinced if some other home sees this friendly cat and they let it in, we lose the chance to have a sweet cat.

But my parents are okay with that. They can love and let go. They understand that the cat is free to go wherever it wants. He’s not our cat. Not yet. If it chooses to stick around, and they decide the timing is right, he will become our cat. But until then, he’s free to do whatever he wants. He may join me on the porch or he may continue to chase mice three doors down. He does whatever he wants. He doesn’t have to answer to me. I’m not committed to him. He’s not my cat. I’m not his owner.

I’m starting to understand that concept better now. In a lot of areas of my life.

As the sun came up and the crickets got quieter, I continued to hear that cat complaining a few doors down and I thought “Well, I tried, kitty. Maybe next time.” Just as I stood up to go inside, Black Kitty joined me on the porch. He wasn’t the cat that was complaining. He was just around somewhere quietly chillin, doing his own thing.

He seemed excited to have someone to pet him. He knew why I was there. And let me tell you guys, that is a friendly, sweet, cuddly cat. He lets you pet his belly. A stray cat that lets you pet his belly! Amazing!

I think I enjoyed petting him even more because the timing was better. I had the right attitude about it. I didn’t need to pet a cat for company. I enjoyed a quiet morning to myself and had let go of needing to pet him. I pet him because I wanted to.

Though I thought I could concentrate on both the smells and sounds outside and the cat, it turns out I got completely one-track-minded when the cat was around and only focused on him.

And when I went inside a while later, leaving him on the porch, I wasn’t scared he was going to run away and I’d never see him again. I was just glad I got to spend the time that I did with him. I was glad he showed up when he did. I wouldn’t have gotten the quiet me time to take in everything if he had been there earlier. I didn’t realize what a distraction he was. A wonderful distraction, but a distraction nonetheless.

Next time I see him, I’m going to pet him because I want to. And he wants me to. Not because I need to. He certainly doesn’t need me. And that’s a-ok.

I’m going to do it when I’m willing to focus on him instead of my own world. I won’t pretend I can multi-task, because I obviously can’t. He has to enrich my world, not become the sole focus of it.

Maybe he’ll be there when I head out again. Maybe he’ll wait for me when I get back from my adventures. Maybe he’ll have moved on. No matter what the outcome, I enjoyed the heck out of our meeting and the time we got to spend together.

Almost as much as I enjoy my quiet me time when he’s not around.

Either way, I’m grateful.

And sleepy. Very, very sleepy.

BK

Oh- and I’m glad he wasn’t that loud, needy, whiny cat a few doors down. I ain’t got time for that b.s.