Overthinking

I have a tendency to overthink. It’s likely the byproduct of an overactive imagination. I like to think. I like to let my mind wander and get lost in the worlds of could be’s and possibilities. It’s helpful when I really want to get the root of an issue or a problem that’s bothering me. And sometimes it can be helpful in thoroughly planning for the proper preparation of a major goal.

But it has a dark side. My overactive imagination can easily wander down dangerous dark alleys. I can often find myself certain that there’s some underlying issue to a minor problem either in myself or in a loved one. I can convince myself through overthinking that whatever excuse I’ve come up with that will keep me from doing the work I promised myself I would do is reasonable and valuable – and that I’ll certainly find time to do that work later in my schedule. I can overthink reactions and interactions and getting to action.

I overthink. A lot.

But because I’ve become aware of this trait, I’ve been able to harness it better. I can let my overthinking out to play when it comes in handy. When I’m thinking up the rules of an imaginary work I’m creating, I’ll let myself overthink. When I’m crafting a business plan for a new endeavor and want to brainstorm all the possible ways I can get myself to a new goal, I’ll let myself overthink. When I’m staring out a window on an airplane considering what I want to do with my life, I’ll let myself overthink (assuming the airplane isn’t turbulent…that’s a bad time to overthink). When I’m planning to pursue a major goal and I need to craft the foundation of a schedule that will allow for it, I’ll let myself overthink.

Part of the reason I let myself overthink is because later, when it comes time to executing all the things I’ve been thinking about, I can put my overthinking mind down and simply act. I’ll know that I already thought through all the possibilities and decided this was the best course of action. So I don’t have any more thinking to do and can devote all my time to action. Once the action is done, I can go back to the thinking and see how I feel about the action. More often than not, I’m happy I did the action and didn’t let my overthinking keep me from it.

Overthinking isn’t the same as listening to your instinct. In fact, I’ve spent much of my life trying to shut up my overthinking mind so I can get in better touch with my instinct and my intuition. I’ve spent years overthinking the “right” move rather than listening to what I wanted to do most. I’ve convinced myself multiple times that I didn’t need to do something because it didn’t make perfect sense at the time, even if I really wanted to (and visa versa). And almost every time I overthink something and don’t let my instinct have any say in the matter, I regret it.

I would say I “learn my lesson” but because I continue to do these things repeatedly, I’m not really sure I have.

The lesson I’ve really learned is that my personality and my mind enjoy tend to overthink. And once I know that, I can embrace it and watch out for it. I can start to hear the difference between simply thinking something through and overthinking myself out of something that would be good for me. Once I notice it, I can simply thank my imagination for its active work and let it take a little rest while I go ahead and do what my instinct is telling me I need to do.

This is part of the reason I meditate regularly. I appreciate guided meditations, but honestly some of my most clear moments have come with just simple music or (and often even better) silence. I’m able to let my mind just relax and know that the thoughts will pass as easily as they come. And that they’re just thoughts. The more I see them as noise, the more I can cut through to get to the more powerful instincts that will serve me better than any of the noise.

Some people don’t have an overthinking problem. I admire you. I like to be around people who just do it because they said they were going to do it, with very little judgment about the situation. I’m getting more like that, but it takes a lot of work on my end. It’s not a major shift, it’s an ongoing, small, subtle change that I’m committed to and see results of incrementally over time.

This morning while I was at the yoga sculpt class I wanted to talk myself out of going to (but didn’t), my teacher had us do a particularly difficult move at the end of a particularly difficult sequence. I hesitated and she yelled “Don’t think, just do it!” I know she wasn’t talking directly at me, but she hit the nail on the head with that direction.

To be fair, I already thought about it so I did throw my knee down for a one minute and took an extra breath. But I didn’t let myself stay down and think about it for too long before I forced myself back up to finish out the exercise.

Sometimes, it’s not about completely eradicating yourself of a certain trait or habit. That’s too much effort and asking too much of yourself. You’re setting yourself up to get frustrated, inevitably fail, and lose faith in your ability to transform in the future. Instead, as it was in this case, it’s about understanding you have a tendency to do something, recognizing it, and choosing to overcome it when it doesn’t serve the you that you want to become.

And of course when it does, let ‘er rip.

 

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Fires and Resilience

Welcome, 2019. I’m happy to see you. I always love welcoming the new year. Just like I love celebrating birthdays. As my grandpa always said, it sure beats the alternative.

I’m not going to place any judgments on 2018. It was what it was. There were all sorts of beautiful and horrifying things happening simultaneously because that’s life and it’s full of dramatic dichotomies that we have to constantly navigate.

As a resident of Southern California, 2018 sure did get me thinking a lot about fires. Mostly because there were so many incredibly destructive fires that ravaged the region leaving ashes, confusion, and sadness in their wake.

Lives and homes were lost. There’s no getting those back. And there’s no part of me that wants to at all mitigate the genuine loss so many people affected by them felt. And we, as a global community, also felt through some of our precious natural resources being forever changed.

As the last fire of the year, the Woolsey Fire, overtook some favorite ares of my beloved Malibu – an area I have always adored visiting for its relaxed vibe and natural beauty. I found myself feeling what I can only imagine lots of humans felt…powerless and overwhelmed by sadness. Even though I understand fire is sometimes natural, I felt like we’ve done so much to hurt and destroy our gorgeous planet at this point that it always feels like we might be watching a natural disaster unfold that may be the turning point to keep us from having the balanced nature we need to survive as a species.

Maybe I’m being dramatic. But there’s some science to back up my notions.

But I’ve never been a dweller. I hate dwelling. You can stew for a minute if you need. You can let off steam occasionally. I don’t have issues with being in touch with your honest emotions. But I do have issues dwelling.

Rather than dwell, I started to think about what it could mean. What could I do to help and what does it mean to watch parts of the world I love burn down?

What I could do was start genuinely giving back to this planet in small and large ways. When I can, volunteer to help clean it up. Choose more green alternatives whenever possible with every purchase I make. Not only change elements of my lifestyle but change the companies that I support to make sure they have more environmentally conscious approaches to their output.

Say what you will about veganism and vegetarianism, but if the entire human population chose to do it for a single decade, we would give our earth a much needed reprieve from global warming. Then, maybe, when we reintroduce eating meat, we could do so in a more sustainable way. Nobody is asking for you to give up your lifestyle in any way – from what you eat to what you drive to what you choose to purchase or do.

It’s simply a matter of becoming aware that our planet has limited resources and maybe small decisions you make within the confines of those resources could help out your fellow humans so that we can continue to use those resources for longer without losing or ruining the ability to have them forever.

So there’s that. There’s small choices and lifestyle changes that could be made.

But even in embracing those and slowly weaving them into every day life, it doesn’t change the fact that, for at least a while longer, the earth will be mad at us and enacting a number of natural disasters as a result of our own manipulation of its resources. Maybe I shouldn’t say mad. That means that somehow we’ve angered it and it’s personifying something that, though I love referring to it as Mother Earth, it doesn’t need to have an human emotion attached. It’s simply reacting to years of human actions that have, at least so far, gone relatively unchecked. And, of course, none of this changes the fact that fires burned down people’s homes, livelihoods, and took lives.

That’s where it’s time to get a bit more philosophical about what it means. It’s easy – and easier to keep your heart stone and your emotions on an island away from everyone else – to say it means nothing. Nothing means anything and we’re all just feathers in the wind attempting to survive until our time floating around is done. But, at least for me, down that way lies madness. So I refuse to accept it.

Instead, I like to think of how to make it a positive thing. No, what happened isn’t inherently positive. And no, I don’t wish fire upon anyone so they can find the “meaning” behind it. But for fellow feathers still floating in the wind, I choose to see a beautiful symbolism behind the fires. There’s a chance to completely rebuild from the ground up. The old ways have been razed and it’s time we choose to rebuild them with a new perspective in mind.

I heard about these large trees who sprout seeds that often die because the roots of the trees they come from are too large and the forests they’d be sprouting in are too shaded from the massive trees. But if there’s a fire, those seeds not only survive, but need the fire to be planted into the ground. So the tree basically ensures its own survival from a fire.

Some brush needs fire in order for it to clear the old and grow new seedlings. Fire is natural and, at times, necessary. Knowing that, the question then become: What can we do to embrace it, learn from it, and grow into a culture that doesn’t become completely at its whim, but knows how to work with it for sustainable growth?

We get the chance not only to rebuild and to rethink, but to show resilience. Not to get all Batman on you, but we fall so that we may learn how to get back up. We’re creatures that are meant to be in movement. And movement means risk of failure and risk of falling. We’re not just risking failure when we choose to be in movement, we’re almost guaranteed it. But every time we get back up, we teach ourselves that we can. We remind ourselves that we can be strong and we can make new choices and we can learn, grow, and improve.

So, as Smokey the Bear would say, only you can prevent forest fires. Love nature and respect it. Let’s learn from our cumulative mistakes and agree to see the world for what it is – a community that is inherently interconnected with each other. Within that recognition and understanding, we may choose to help each other out by making small but meaningful decisions that will give the earth a chance to rebuild and give future generations a fighting chance of experiencing the beauty and balance that the world naturally wants to give us.

Oh, and more on bears next week…

Mirror Love

baby mirrorI play a little trick on myself.

It’s not an easy trick. And it’s not a mean trick. But it’s still a trick.

When I catch myself finding flaws and critiquing myself in the mirror, I stop and start giving myself compliments. Repeatedly. Out loud. Until I feel better. Then I walk away feeling a lot better about myself than if I had kept finding all the flaws.

I started doing this not long ago when I found myself engaging in some bad habits as a result of my own perfectionism and nit-picky-ness attacking my appearance. I’ve always been lucky in that I can keep a pretty balanced head about things. When I do go deep into that rabbit hole, I’ve got some fantastic support systems who get me out quickly.

But it’s still not easy to make this choice. It’s not easy to be proactive about my positivity. It’s not easy to stop critiquing and start talking to myself like a best friend. And to forgive myself for my flaws.

That sh*t ain’t easy.

But it’s worth it. It’s worth looking like a doofus to the imaginary friends who are watching me talk to myself alone in my apartment. It’s worth feeling really cheesy as I repeat affirmations to myself in a mirror like a comedy sketch making fun of self-help gurus. It’s worth it sharing that I do this with you even though now you all know that I am as weird as you imagine I am.

Because down the other path lies madness. The other path doesn’t serve me. The other path doesn’t make me happy. But I can’t just ignore the impulse. I have to replace it with something positive. I can’t just tell myself “Don’t look at yourself in the mirror because you’re always hyper-critical.” I have to tell myself, “If you’re gonna look in the mirror, we’re gonna be loving about it. And that’s that.”

And… I’ll be honest with you all… it really does make a difference. I feel a whole lot happier and healthier after every one of my mirror lovin’ sessions. Which is nice since they could have gone the other way and made me feel a whole lot crummier.

Try it. Let me know how it goes. If you want a jumping off point of the how-to’s of this process, please refer to the following classic video:

Attitude Adjustment

attitudeI had to check myself before I wrecked myself the other day.

It was the first Saturday of the New Year and I went to the gym in late morning. And, to no surprise, it was packed.

And, unfortunately also no surprise, I immediately became a brat about it.

As I walked in and looked at the crowds of people on the machines and on the equipment, I got testy. I kept thinking somehow they were in my way. I felt so self-righteous that this gym was my gym. And that they were in my way. And how dare they even consider slightly inconveniencing me.

In short, I was a little biatch about it.

But halfway through my workout (when the endorphins started kicking in and I was calmer than before), I realized I was the one with the problem. Here are a bunch of people who, sure, don’t really know what they’re doing yet at the gym. But you’ve got to start somewhere. They were not at all getting in my way. It’s not like I go there with a really clear training plan of certain exercises I have to hit and certain goals that have to be attained. Usually I go with a body group that I’m going to focus on for the day. And then I look around and see what’s available.

These people weren’t my enemies. They were my new friends.

Sure, many of them may not stick around past February. But some of them will. Some of these people will have made it their New Years Resolution to get in shape and go to the gym all the time, and this will be the very exciting start of that journey for them. These are more people I now have something in common with. New people with whom I can talk working out with. New people who can complain about the lazy people who don’t return their free weights with.

It’s so easy to think you’re entitled to something. So much of our world today makes you believe you are entitled to whatever you want in the exact circumstances you want it and exactly when you want it. IWWIWWIWI, I believe is what it’s called (I Want What I Want When I Want It). I wanted to have the gym completely quiet and to myself. I wanted to be able to choose any time and go without any convenience to me. I wanted to have access to all the equipment I could possibly want for my workout at any given time even if I wasn’t using it or didn’t end up needing it.

Entitlement is gross.

I’m not proud of my attitude that day. But I am glad to be reminded that it’s so easy to fall back into a negative mindset. It’s easy to forget that other people are not your enemy. I live in Los Angeles…like millions of other people. If I start getting frustrated at crowds or traffic or whatever, I’ll never be satisfied in this city. Or any city. In fact, if I start wanting everything in my environment to be exactly how I want it without any distractions, I might as well move to a tiny hermit shack in Montana and hide from the world.

I’m not proud to say that I’ve considered this at times.

Then I remember, I love people. I love LA. I love being out of my comfort zone and having shared experiences and the excitement of a crowd. The only reason there’s even a gym close to me is because there are lots of other people who are members. I don’t keep it alive on my tiny membership fee alone. If there weren’t lots of people who belonged, I’d have to go somewhere else.

We need each other.

So I have to wait an extra few minutes for the leg press machine in January because some girl is doing 20 sets of 10 lbs. Whatever. No big deal. She’s gotta start somewhere. And I’m not going anywhere. So I’ll wait.

And I’ll be sure to check myself before I wreck myself.

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.

More Than Talent

talent quoteI heard someone talking about Ariana Grande the other day. They were saying how she may have the same range as Mariah Carey.

People seem to like to do that. Compare new people to living legends.

Love or hate her, Mariah Carey has a legendary voice. But before we go comparing all the newbies with great range to someone with an established career, I want to remind everyone of a lesson that is near and dear to my heart.

It takes a lot more than talent to become a standout success in any career.

I’m not knocking down Ariana Grande. Nor am I trying to build up Mariah Carey. I just want to make it clear that people talk a lot about talent as if the best talent will always shine through. But truth be told, you’ve gotta work your ass off and have talent in order to break through. Then you’ve gotta continue to work your ass off for years in order to continue having a great career. In my example (that I’m not super proud of at this point), Mariah Carey is extremely talented. No doubt. But she also has worked her ass off to become a household name and near-legend. And she’s done it for years. So could Ariana Grande be the next Mariah Carey? Time and her work ethic will only tell.

I’m not writing this because I care anything really about these people. It’s really a reflection of my own work and my own ambition. I know I’ve got talent. And so do tons of people around me. Which is spectacular because they challenge me to be even better. But in order to really stand out and have the type of career and success I want, I have to be willing to work hard and work for a long time. And that means actually doing the work.

Which reminds me, I gotta jet to a meeting where I have to go show someone who might be able to help me that I’m talented. Likely they’ll just say “thank you” and and move along. So I’ll have to do even more work. And that’s ok with me. I’m ready, willing, and able.

Let’s do the damn thing.

 

Podcast Episode 67: Balance – Show Notes

elephant-balanceThe biggest takeaway from this Femoir: The Podcast episode, friends, is that finding balance is a journey not a destination.

I mention my day job. I work at the most fun Law Office in existence. I’m a lucky lady.

I talk about working out. If you read this blog, you know that I do that a lot anyway.

I also mention counting calories. I’ve written about how much I hate it before. I still hate it.

I mention the “All In” previous Femoir podcast, too.

 

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.

Watch Your Words

I wrote this article called “6 Verbal Changes that can change your mood” for the awesome online magazine Ms. In the Biz.

Click on the link above to check it out and let me know what you think.

Rainy Day Fund

Imm be honest wichu, readers. I ain’t got tons a’ cash rite nah. I also ain’t knowin why I writin like dis. Feelz right. Feelz tite.PiggyBank_page-bg_16009

*ahem*

Sorry. I lost myself for a second there.

I was trying to tell you that my pockets aren’t “Rollin’ in the Deep” Adele style. I have to watch what comes in and what goes out carefully at this point in my life. I’m not super proud of it, but I’m proud of all the creative stuff I accomplish and recognize it as an investment in the future. Sure, I’ve been investing for a very long time. Sure, I don’t exactly know if every investment I make has a 1:1 ratio on return. And sure, I just pretended to understand returns on investments in the form of make-believe ratios and have no idea if it even makes sense.

It’s one of the only places in my life that I can still feel stressed to the point of frustration and helplessness. It’s the only place left in my life that will actually make me respond passionately, immediately and very emotionally before I’ve actually taken a moment to think. Just ask the terrible “doctor” I went to see for a basic office visit who sent me a ridiculous bill for services. If he doesn’t remember me, tell I’m I’m the chick who left a message. He’ll know. I’m not proud of that message…but it happened.

In the past couple weeks I’ve had to do what we all have to do and look over my finances and try and figure out my financial situation for next year to get a better grip on it. And as often happens, it can be overwhelming and frustrating. Especially when random bills come out of nowhere and you google it and it turns out you have to pay it because you didn’t know you could opt out and the date to fill out the opt out form is already passed. (Luckily for all of us, this particular bill had an office that was already closed and didn’t have the option to leave a voicemail. Otherwise, I’d be notorious in two different offices for my *ahem* passionate voicemails).

So in thinking about what I can do to remedy this situation that often leaves me feeling helpless, I’ve decided to do the only thing within my power and just change my attitude. Rather than being overwhelmed at the amount of money I seem to owe or frustrated by my ignorance of tax systems and bills and deductions and everything… I’m just going to breathe and take it one step at a time. I’m going to go to the tax office and pay what I owe the city of LA. I’m going to call my heath insurance and let them know they need to cover the quack doctor office visit because it’s part of my plan. And I’m going to use part of my rainy day fund to help me pay rent and groceries next month thanks to all these extra expenses. That’s why you keep a rainy day fund. In case of a rainy day.

I’m going to approach them one at a time and look at every situation from the perspective of what’s actually in my control. I don’t like owing money- hence why taxes and surprising bills stress me out. But it’s a fact of life. And it’s a fact of my own situation that I’ve chosen a creative and less lucrative path (at list at this point) so I’m going to have to rely on credit cards, coupons, and kindness for a little bit longer.

And that’s ok. It’s just money. It comes and goes.

I’m not gonna let it stop me from doing what I love or being who I am.

And- for the record- I’ll be paying all my taxes and bills with Care Bears checks. So I still win a small victory.

So bak up, tax man. Imma smack yo ass silly.