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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Hollywood Pretty

It’s no big secret that I belong to LA Fitness. I typically go to one main gym nearest to me. But I like having the convenience and ability to go different locations in the city depending on my day’s schedule.

Last Tuesday, I had some time to sneak into the LA Fitness right in the heart of Hollywood. It’s literally located on Hollywood Boulevard feet away from The Chinese Theater and tons of other Hollywood landmarks.

And it is filled to the brim with actors and pretty people.

Everyone around me was beautiful. They’re in excellent shape, perfectly proportioned people with amazing skin, hair and teeth who love to watch themselves workout in the mirror. So they were clearly actors.

When I went to the cardio section, half the treadmills were filled with magazines and the other half were filled with highlighted scripts for people memorizing lines.

I even recognized some people I’d seen on TV and other’s I’d worked with around the city. So. Many. Actors.

But these are my people. I’m an actor at heart too (despite the thousand other things I also love doing). So I workout because I’m trying to look good. Sure, it feels nice to be in shape and it’s important to me that I stay healthy… but I really want and need to look good to help catapult my career. And having tons of beautiful, in-shape people kicking their butts around you is excellent motivation.

Plus! The Juice Bar even comes equipped with the ability to give you your own eating disorder! I got a post-workout shake that gave me food poisoning later that night! I totally puked up everything I ate the whole day, which inched me a little closer to my goal weight! Thanks, LA Fitness Hollywood Juice Bar! Now I know how easy it would be to be bulimic (just in case eating right and exercising regularly aren’t good enough)!

Switch Up

I got some advice from a hunky personal trainer the other day. He said that people in good shape (and I include myself in that because of my frequent gym sessions) should probably change up their routine every two weeks or so to keep their body growing and guessing. He asked me how long I’ve been doing my routines at the gym. I told him, “A while.”

The truth is, I’ve been doing them since friggin’ June or July.

To be fair, the exercising I’m doing are the classics. And there are some schools that think the classics really are all you need to improve your shape. And I’ve been going up in weight and adding moves here and there. And because of my schedule, I’m not always doing the everything every time I go.

But I’ve been basically doing the same thing. And I like it. But it’s definitely time to get creative and change things up.

So this week, I did just that. I found a workout routine on my “Workout Trainer” app called “Dedicated to Muscle.” It incorporates a lot of different great movements and weights in a different order.

And it was really challenging! And I was terrible at some of the movements! It turns out I can barely do a weighted single leg squat. I mean, like… barely. And there was this move called “Pistols”… let me tell you… I couldn’t do them like at all! I was terrible at them! I mean, terrible! The couple times I tried to do a full movement, I fell on my rump. The other times, when I tried to do less of a movement, my balance was completely off and I could barely do it. Plus, my gym boyfriend was working out right next to me, so it was even more embarrassing! (But maybe made him notice me which is actually a good thing…)

It was actually really exciting to be terrible at something again. You really do get so used to certain movements. Even if you add weight to those movements, your body is already good at them. Just by trying these other movements I have a very hard time with, I can feel muscles that haven’t been working getting a good workout. I can feel my body trying to learn this new stuff and growing. I know that it takes a bit by bit to get good at something, so I’m looking forward to a couple weeks from now when I can do a full “Pistol” and a full movement on weighted single leg squat.

And once I can do those, it’ll be time to change it up again.

Gotta keep the body guessing. Just like I keep men in my life guessing as to how I feel about them and which of my many multiple personalities might show up.

I wish I were joking about that last part.

Alas and alack.

Parking Attendant Bestie

I’ve learned to be careful what you wish for.

I said not long ago when I was talking about my new gym that one of my goals was to make best friends with the morning parking attendant.

Here’s the update.

The original guy who was the attendant and I never really became besties. But he left and was replaced by the friendliest parking guy in the world.

I think I may be one of the few people who actually acknowledges him in the morning. And as a result, I’m clearly one of his favroites. From the moment I get there and choose a parking space, he’s right next to me. He helps me park, says “Good moring hawnee” and walks with me to the staircase that leads to the gym. The other day, he gave me “pie fine” which I learned from his outstretched hand meant “Hi-Five.”

Last week, he walked me all the way to my car and opened the door for me. Every day I see him he always says “See you tomorrow, hawnee.” Because of my schedule, I don’t always make it to the gym daily. He doesn’t care. He says it every time I see him. Even Fridays. And he doesn’t work Saturdays.

It’s only a matter of time before this turns to hugging.

And as much as I’m glad to have a friendly face in the morning… it’s a little much for my sleepy, tired, sweaty self.

But…it’s not his fault. I asked for it. And the universe provides what you ask it for. Even when the results aren’t exactly what you expected.

Chatty Cathy

There are lots of different personalities I see on a daily basis. Like my gym boyfriend, of course. Or the old lady with dreadlocks and a Jamaican accent who calls me “sweetheart.” Or the guy at the check in desk who has yet to make eye contact with me when I say “Good morning.” Or the trainer with the perfectly coiffed hair that no matter what he does, never seems to look anything less than perfect.

I see all these people and more several times every week.

But there’s one personality I see that gets under my skin. She’s only there once or twice per week- thank goodness- but it’s still enough to irk me. That personality is a lady I call “Chatty Cathy.”

Cathy works out with perfectly-coiffed hair trainer some mornings. And by works out, I mean she works the muscles in her jaw and her lungs. She talks. And talks. And talks. And then does an exercise. Then talks some more. Sometimes, she even talks during the exercises, which makes me want her trainer to increase her intensity so that she’ll give us all a break for a minute.

I can’t tell if her trainer is so used to this that he zones out or if he enjoys the fact that he doesn’t have to do all that much during their training sessions because she continues on nonstop. Either way, he doesn’t anything to stop her from talking incessantly.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love a good gossip session. And I love listening in on a good gossip session even more than dishing. But when I’m in the zone in the weightroom and I have my earphones in and I can still hear the shrill sound of your voice droning on about nothing… I need you to tone it down a little.

This morning, I thought about giving a nasty look to make it clear I didn’t like that she was talking. But I figured maybe she’s really lonely and this is the only company she gets all week. So I turned up my headphones, finished up what I needed to do and went into the multi-purpose room to go stretch while my gym boyfriend worked his butt off with his trainer. He doesn’t say much. He just works hard.

That’s why we’re so in love.

Gym Boyfriend

You guys. I totally have a boyfriend. A real one.

At least… he’s totally real. The boyfriend part might be a stretch. At least in his mind. Since he doesn’t really know I exist.

Let me explain.

I’ve been trying to go to the gym at about the same time every day in an effort to create a better routine for myself. I started going around the same time every morning. I did this before my favorite gym closed. While I was over there, I noticed a guy who was getting personal training around this time of day. I mostly noticed him because he boxes and does intense exercises with his trainer in the same room where I’m trying to stretch, relax, and act like I’m bettering myself. He made me feel bad for working so hard, so I didn’t like him. But isn’t that how every great romantic comedy starts?

I probably saw him twice before my gym closed down and I had to start going at the same time  to another nearby gym.

And you guys… He’s made the move to this gym, too.

I was so excited to see a familiar face from my old gym that I think I may have started thinking we were closer than we are. Because now while I’m doing my stretches in the other gym’s multi-purpose room and he’s working really hard with his trainer, I feel like we’re bonding. Like it’s a date or something.

He’s like super strong and sweaty. I like a man who works hard. He doesn’t look up much from his workout because he’s so focused. But I like a man who can focus. He usually wears the same outfit or variations on it. I like a man who keeps his style simple.

I even told my girlfriends about him. I told them that we meet at the same time every morning for our gym dates. So far it’s Monday through Thursday. I’m not sure about Fridays. I’ve missed our last few dates. Shame on me, I know. I’m sure he has been like totally heartbroken.

One day, I walked to the women’s locker room and accidentally caught him as he was walking out of the men’s locker room right across the hall. I smiled and blushed. I didn’t want him to think I was following him! But I couldn’t miss out on my opportunity for contact! He made eye contact with me then looked away. I marked the date on my calendar because I know he’ll appreciate me keeping track of stuff we need to celebrate like that. You know, once we’re married and everything.

I saw his trainer last Saturday when I was at the gym. I think his trainer may actually be starting to recognize me. Which is embarrassing… though I’m not quite sure why. But it is. He was not training my gym boyfriend that day. He was training some other lady. We made eye contact, but I quickly looked away. I didn’t want him telling my gym boyfriend that I’ll just make eye contact with anyone! I’m totally taken, dude. Back off.

I highly suggest everyone get a gym significant other. It’s great motivation to get yourself to the gym. Then you, too, can be as happy as I clearly am in my delusion.

Routine

I’m trying to get myself on a more consistent routine. I think routines breed productivity and creativity.

They take a lot of motivation and discipline. I’m motivated and disciplined about a lot of things- but waking up early to do specific tasks isn’t one of them. At least not yet.

The only reason I haven’t really in the past is because my mind tends to work in strange stretches- at 11:30 pm I’ll suddenly get on a writing roll and stay up until 3 am without realizing what time it is. Suddenly, my supposed 6 o’clock wake up time doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore.

But with so much on my docket in the upcoming weeks, I’m really working on getting into that routine. It feels good. You start to feel in a groove. Within that groove, you get confidence you can and will have time to accomplish everything you need. And if you don’t accomplish everything you wanted that day, you know you’ve created time tomorrow to try again.

Anyone who knows me well knows I like schedules. I have about four to five calendars I maintain with all my different activities and goals. It doesn’t make sense to the casual observer why one person would need so many, but it has served me well over the past several years.

Plus, it’s part of my personality. I preferred the office supply store over the toy store when I was little. Binders, highlighters, calendars, oh my!

I’m going to attempt to put myself in a serious routine. Up every day at the same time, no matter what time I go to bed. Go to the gym daily at the same time. Write during certain periods of the day. Check off a specific list of small daily goals and see how they help serve me.

There’s some room for flexibility- as there always should be- but most of it is after 11 am (because who knows what the day will bring!). My mornings, though… those should be routine. Even if it’s just for this one month. And even if it’s just in the mornings. I think that little kick every day with make a big difference.

Then again, I could just turn cranky and crabby. Who knows! You never know until you try!

Anybody have any suggestions on good morning rituals?