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.

 

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.

I’m Going In

October was an odd month for me. Lots of ups and downs. Lots of being really in touch with my gut and lots of waking up in Cavecold anxiety-provoked sweats because something was off but I didn’t know what.

Maybe I sound dramatic. But that’s my style. So deal.

It really was an odd month. A bunch of strange things that kept making me feel more “off” than usual. For various reasons that I’m not going to get into here.

Needless to say, it was a bit of a wash of a month for me in terms of my positivity and productivity.

And I kinda just let myself wallow a little bit. And I don’t regret it. Because I didn’t want to push myself. As a woman who can easily push down her emotions and let good old denial take the reigns, I have to be careful to not just ignore how I’m feeling because it’s inconvenient and not productive.

I was tired and sad. So I let myself be tired and sad.

I was lucky that one of my bestest friends in the world and one of the most positive people I know happen to also be going through a weird month. I wasn’t lucky because I wished that on her by any means. But we both agreed it was kinda nice to have someone to wallow with. It made us both feel a little less alone.

But we decided November is the cut off. Once November starts, the name of the game is productivity, positivity, and proactivity. We’re going to distract ourselves into thinking we’re back on track. And maybe by doing so, we’ll actually get back on track.

I stayed in on Halloween and spent the whole time writing emails and making an ambitious schedule and setting clear goals for the rest of the year. And journaling. God I journaled the shit outta those emotions.

And I woke up November 1 excited and ready. I’m no longer going to wallow. I exorcised those demons on All Hallows Eve. It’s time to focus on me and focus on the things I love most- creativity and entertainment. I call this “going in” because I’m about to turn my focus into hyperdrive. I’m gonna be on a bleeping mission for the next several weeks. And I’m gonna accomplish a boat load.

I’m going into the cave of wonder and focus. If I’m not out by the holidays… just know I went down doing what I love.

My Totally 10 Year Reunion

romy and michelleLast weekend was my 10-year high school reunion. I dreamt of that day since my freshman year in high school. I couldn’t wait until I triumphantly returned to my class and got to brag about all the incredible things I’d done with my life in the past decade. I’d be like Romy and Michele except I wouldn’t have to lie because I’d actually be super successful (though if I did lie, it’d be way more believable than inventing post-its).

But, like most things in life, the past decade didn’t go as I had planned back in high school. What actually happened is that I was unable to make it back for the weekend because I couldn’t afford a plane ticket from LA to Indy and was already booked for a couple shows in LA. But I could have gotten out of the shows. Truth is, I just couldn’t afford the ticket.

Because I’m not yet financially successful. I couldn’t arrive in a limo or in a helicopter like I wanted. I couldn’t even arrive on a Southwest redeye I paid for with a credit card because I don’t have the money available on the credit card and don’t have the time to give off work. I’m far from home out here in LA so a trip like that is a commitment. I know friends who were able to make the trek to say hi. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I’m juggling too much here in LA too delicately. Too much time off and something has to give. And I’m not yet in a position to be able to give anything up. So I didn’t go.

I was class president for two years and student body president my senior year. And I didn’t make it to my 10-year high school reunion.

In case you can’t tell, I’ll just say it- I was disappointed. Not because I had anything to prove. I actually had wonderful friends in high school, many of whom I keep up with regularly. I even get to talk to some of my teachers too because social media is great for all that. And I’ve been back to my high school a couple times since graduation so it’s not like I’m a stranger around there.

I was disappointed not only because I wanted to be there but I think I wanted to be further along in my career at this point, too. I wanted to be able to tell people that I had a dream and I made it a reality and look at the cool stuff I have to show for it. But not really because I needed to show other people. I think I just wanted to prove it to myself.

I know I’ve chosen a different life path than many of my peers. And I’m happy with where I am and happy with the decisions I’ve made. I know as a result my journey is windier and weirder because it’s more unconventional. And that’s ok. But sometimes, there are clear reminders that I will miss out because of my choice. Missing my 10-year reunion was one of those reminders.

So if any of my BJPS Class of ’04 buddies are reading this, I hope the reunion was awesome. I would have loved to have been there and gotten drunk with you (since I was such a prude and a nerd and never did so in high school). I would have loved to have heard about your careers and your kids and your spouses and your sex changes and your college years and your job complaints and your future goals. Please know that I was there in spirit. And hopefully I’ll catch you at the next one. Because I swear to god if I can’t afford a friggin ticket to Indianapolis by then, I’m going to run away and join the nunnery. I hear they love comedians.

Zeekeela, the Weirdo

IMG_5079I may have mentioned before I’m a bit of a weirdo. I create alternative personalities who live lives on their own. I refuse to admit that I’m the same person as these alternative personalities. Unless you consider what I just wrote as an admission. In which case, I vehemently deny what I just wrote.

I’m confused.

The point is, one of these personalities- and arguably my weirdest by far- is a chick named Zeekeela Tloxlan. She thinks she’s an alien. Who goes on missions. And will be sent home once all her missions are complete.

Yep. That’s the gist of it.

This past Labor Day weekend, I got the joy of bringing her to life with a wonderful team of people I am lucky enough to have met who let people like Zeekeela come alive onscreen. We filmed a short documentary about what a day in her life is like. Hint: It’s weird.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to show it to the world soon. Eventually, I would love for Zeekeela to go on “missions” throughout the United States and maybe internationally. She usually believes she’s on a mission when she’s sent outside of Los Angeles anyway. She’s such a friggin’ weirdo.

I’m excited to see the final product. I was lucky to have such a spectacular team involved. I’m always lucky when I get to create because it’s what I love to do most.

Normally I’d Vlog today…

…but for those of you following the saga that is November 2013 for me, you know that nothing has been ‘normal’ about this month.

I’m not vlogging today mostly because I’ve been vlogging daily for my Cartoon Confessions National Novel Writing Month challenge. So if you’ve missed my face, you’ve got plenty of options to stare at in from many different angles and looks on that page.

And I know I owe you a podcast, friends. I know. It’s on my list. And I want to do it. It’s gonna be segment from Cartoon Confessions. But so far I haven’t recorded it because my voice sounds so low and tired from overuse.

But it’s coming, friends. It’s coming…

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: