Gratitude and Blessings

I did something strange today.

It wasn’t a plan, wasn’t a decision, or really thought about in any way.

I make time every day now to meditate and pray before bed. To both listen and talk to God/The Universe, whichever title sits right in my mouth at that moment.

I sat in child’s pose, my body didn’t feel like rising up after stretching today and I chose to listen to it. I slowly felt my body sinking into the pose, my hips and chest opening and my breathing slowing down. And I open my mind and my mouth to pray and offer gratitude as I usually do.

But what came out of my mouth wasn’t thanks for the blessings you would expect, that I had expected.

I started to thank the Universe for the blemishes and curses and struggles I was dealing with. For the lessons and consequences of my mistakes and bad choices. That all of them were curable or reparable or temporary. That God had given me the consequences I deserved for my actions, but also the chance to move on. None of them would follow me into the distant future.

I had to struggle, fight, be embarrassed, and broke now but it would end. As long I learned from my mistakes and choices now, I wouldn’t have to carry them the rest of my life.

It was a warning from a benevolent partner or parent. You screwed up, you nearly screwed up badly, but you didn’t this time. Here are the consequences, the struggles, and the tools to fix them yourself. Now go and do better.

The Universe/God and I are partners in this life. They want me to succeed. I have been blessed with the struggles and challenges and reminders of how I have veered off the path and blessed with the tools to get back on it.

So I stayed there on my knees offering thanks for every difficulty I had been handed, as a result of my actions or not, because I was in awe of every one of them is pushing me back in the direction I want to be, and into the person I hope to become.

At the end of the day, I am so very blessed. By both the gifts, opportunities, and privileges I have received in life and by the very things that I fight against every day.

Anxiety can make you braver, Depression can make you kinder, carrying both can make you stronger. Obstacles can make you more determined. Illness, death, and injury can remind you that you do not have time to waste.

These all have the potential to stop you. They also have the potential to empower you.

Your move.

 

 

Culture Shock; The Reverse

I’ve been back from my 6-month stint in the Middle East about a month.

I’ve noticed several changes in my body and temperament.

To put it mildly, I came back from Dubai an Emotional Wreck.

I got off the plane and wanted to cry. My initial thought upon entering JFK that morning was “I want to go home”

But I was home. I was coming home after being gone for so long.

The boy who had waited for me brought wine and cheese to my house, all waiting for me when I arrived. I wanted to cry again, for all the wrong reasons.

I have an event that day. I sit with my business partners and run our tech rehearsal. The performers were so good, again I was nearly in tears after our Hamlet spoke.

I went to dinner with these partners and friends I hadn’t seen in 6+ months and wanted to cry in relief at being with them again.

At the event I gave a speech and raised over $400 in donations for #TimesUp and felt so alive in my skin, skilled and connected, I was brimming with pride and love and ready to cry in sheer joy.

My best friend and roommate reunite again. It’s not instantly joyous and we slowly adapt to sharing our lives again. We get there, but it takes time. In that time every bump, every brush off, feels like a burn. I forget how to live here. I feel out of place in my own home, my own city.

This is all within 18 hours of my landing in the USA.

This does not go away.

A boy who is not the boy I am dating messages me. We met in Dubai and are now 8,000 miles apart.

We talk about life and love and our separate futures.

He tells me how he misses me. He describes a woman I do not recognize. But a woman I desperately want to be.

And I realize something. I realize why I am an emotional wreck.

Because in Dubai, amidst the stress, the chaos, overstimulation, and drama, I was happy. I had a purpose and a job I enjoyed. I was eating well and doing yoga daily, I had a supportive network and professional team and was surrounded by friends and some really good people.

Somehow, I had become a happy human being. And had not recognized it.

I had spent years in NYC struggling through my anxiety and depression, finding pools of sunlight in the murky dark of my mind for so long that I had confused contentedness for being happy.

But in New York, I had been merely surviving.

In Dubai, in this job, I had thrived.

And now, my entire physical being was fighting against going back to the familiar murky depths of my broken mind. Against going back to the patterns I’ve kept up for years because they were safe, small pockets of light that allowed me to ignore the dark,

I will not be put back into survival mode.

I will not let these small lights and glimmers of love distract me from the gloom trying to take me back.

I know better. I can be better.

I am better than my complacency and laziness. I am stronger than my darkness.

And I have a freaking awesome support network.

A week later, I end things with the boy in New York.

I admit to myself (and him) my feelings for this boy halfway around the globe in Mumbai.

We start talking about finding each other again.

I roll out my yoga mat and I attach a pen to my physical being at all times.

I start to rebuild my body and sharpen my mind.

I start to pray again.

I’m learning Hindi.

I’m writing every day.

I get a small contract to pay me for my writing and PR assistance. I’m learning how to sell my mind and get paid by the hour.

I surround myself with love. My friends, my roommate, my chosen family, my books, my stories,

And I celebrate them.

I am still far from free. But the happiness and hope I am cultivating and working on every day are real.

And they are still beating back the darkness.

I am still a weepy mess at happy news. because joy and hope in this world are so important. Sometimes the only way I can honor it is by blessing it in salt. ❤️

Working for the Weekend

If there is one thing from my early start in theatre that I am grateful for now, it’s the lack of weekends and limited time off.

(Now, this sounds like the start of a post glorifying burn-out culture. Stay with me, it’s not. I promise.)

Because since I was a 16, I’ve had work on weekends. If I wasn’t rehearsing a show, I was rehearsing a dance routine with my partner. I looked forward to the weekends only because it meant I go to focus on work that I wanted to do, instead of calculus or bio.

College was the same, tech majors had weekend lab classes, rehearsals, and technical assignments. Then my post-grad internship in Art Administration was the same, as was my apprenticeship, my first “real” job gave me weekends back but after working 50-75 hours a week at a university desk, I was desperate for a creative outlet and I started producing theatre on the side and gave up the weekends in exchange for my soul.

Relaxing is clearly something I have never been particularly good at doing.

I finally hit my breaking point of long hours at office jobs and came back to Queens last year. And started to do this freelance thing for real while finishing grad school.

The thing about freelancing and holding down multiple contracts is that you don’t follow a regular schedule, there is never a set “weekend” or “day off” that I’m holding out for, I’m not working for the weekend, I’m working to get the job done.

There was a moment when I was working abroad. My final paper for the term was done and submitted, no meetings or writings to finish, I had the entire morning off before work. I had hours to do anything I wanted. I wasn’t used to this. But I didn’t want those precious hours to be wasted in my apartment.

I packed a book and went to the infinity pool upstairs that I hadn’t seen yet. The next time this happened, I packed a lunch and went to a beach across the city, then to one of the markets, later it was on a yacht ride through the marina, or a last minute charter bus out of town arriving back in time for my 3pm bus to work.

I stopped waiting for the time I was told was my “time off”, I stopped hanging on for my one day off a week to be the day I could actually enjoy my life. TGIF was always laughable to me in the past, now it made me a bit sad.

Why would I ever want to wait until Friday night to do what I wanted to do?

If I can get there and get my work done, who says I have to wait for the weekend or the day off to have an adventure? Who made weekends sacred? Who said I can’t have a lovely adventure on a Monday morning?

I was lucky that my workaholic nature and industry never let me take time for granted. I was never able to sit still for two days, I always wanted to be doing or experiencing something. I’ve been so blessed that because of this urge I have gotten to experience so much in my 27 years, more than many people experience in their lives.

I’m off today and most of this week. My savings from abroad means that I can afford to experience life a bit more slowly than I’m used to these days, at least for a while. While I’m enjoying the time to ease back into life in NYC, I’m already looking for the next thing to try.

Today is indie bookstore day, I’m planning a walk through Queens to hit up a few of my favorite spots and find new places to read my finds. I have new museums on my list, I have things to see, I am so lucky to live in a city where it is inexpensive to explore and see and try new things.

I’m not working for the weekend. I’m not waiting for Friday, for the New Year, the new job, the new reason to start over or try something new. Or try something I’ve always wanted.

I have no excuse to not start right now.

So what are you waiting on? What’s your excuse for not starting today?