Wednesday, September 22, 2021

I Hate People who say they Hate Musicals

 It's such a stupid thing to say. It's like saying, "I hate to be entertained." "I hate it when people try to bring joy to my life." Or really, any emotion, because I have felt them all when in the audience of a musical.

Next to Normal left me unable to walk for a few moments as I recovered from the traumas and attempts to heal. Hamilton reminds me that the only thing that has ever changed the world is a small group of people. I feel the sisterhood in Wicked, the longing to believe in The Book of Mormon, the fight for humanity in Rent, the terrifying darkness of humanity in Sweeney Todd, the magical wonder of humanity in Come From Away and the celebration of musicals in Something Rotten. What's more, it shall not be forgotten that all of life's lessons are in Into the Woods.

My daughter and I were watching the live capture of Allegiance, and I was reminded how much I miss the beauty of people standing on a stage, chests open, chins up, looking longingly at a future somewhere between the heads of audience members and the light booth above. That's all it takes: a stance (similar to a superhero stance) and a dream! Just sing your I Want song, and in less than 3 hours, you will be living the dream! 

For anyone that doesn't appreciate that EVER, we don't need to know each other. 

What's even more infuriating is that usually when someone says that, they then go on to admit to one or two (or more) musicals that they did enjoy. OH, so it's NOT the whole genre after all, IS IT? 

Superhero movies are not my thing, but I've seen Black Panther, the first Iron Man, Superman (with Christopher Reeve) and a few others. So I don't say that I HATE superhero movies. I say that they're not my thing. I'm not going to line up to be the first to see a new superhero movie. I'm not going to set up a Google alert for superhero movies. I'm not going to obsess about them. But I'm not also not going to dismiss the entire genre.

Whenever I do say I hate something in front of my father, he says "hate is such a strong word," and my response is usually, "yes, I feel strongly about this!" 

So if you feel strongly that you hate musicals, you can never visit this blog again, please and thank you. 

But if you do love musicals, I'm getting very excited about the Tonys this Sunday! And I have been loving and living for the Broadway (and off-Broadway) content appearing again!

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

New Shopping Rules

 My daughter and I are just about to complete YNAB's 34 Day Reset, and I've been thinking about my shopping habits and what I want to change. 

I've written previously about my quest to buy from women-led companies, and that's still a priority, but so is supporting businesses led by people of color, and companies that are eco-conscious. 

I do have to balance this with my other priorities, like the roof over my head! So there are still Amazon purchases in my past, present and future, but doing this reset reminded me that sometimes, I hit "checkout" a little too soon. So I'm also working on putting more time between the thought and the actual purchase, and when I can afford the time and purchase price, incorporating my values, too. 

While I'm not entirely doing Project 333, the fact that I've gained weight during this pandemic (+ menopause!) means many of my clothes just don't fit anymore. I'm slowly purging the items I know will never fit me again, and boxing up clothes that I would like to wear again someday, but getting them out of my closet for now. 

I'm also thinking about the high cost of clothes. Buying cheap means they're using either slave labor or something close to it, but I don't want to pay high prices for clothes that hopefully will be too big for me if I'm able to achieve my weight loss goals. So for now, I've decided that most of my clothing will be purchased second-hand, which is also good for the environment. I found a second-hand shop that supports women's shelters and is women-owned: triple win!

I also keep a list of businesses led by women* and POC. From now on, I'm only buying new clothing from those companies. Bonus points for women/POC-led companies that are also somehow sustainable. If I'm paying an arm and a leg, I need to feel good about who profits from my purchase. 

I'm also going to start researching B-certified corporations, companies that are legally required by such formation to consider the impact on the environment, their workers, their suppliers and their community. I know that even with the rigorous requirements, that still doesn't make them perfect, but it might be a worthwhile option for other kinds of purchases besides clothes. 

Looking back at my purchases over the 34 Day Reset, there are far fewer! I might've slipped a couple of times, but even then, the drastic decrease of receipts and orders to track was startling. I've never claimed to be a minimalist, but it opened my eyes to how much of a typical American consumer I am. Or have been. It's a work in progress.

*My definition of women includes anyone that identifies themselves as such

Saturday, September 4, 2021

I Said No and I Don't Feel Guilty!

This may not seem like a big deal to some, and I hope that's the case for most, but I was pleasantly surprised at just how easily "no" came to me recently!

A former colleague and casual acquaintance reached out to let me know about her new business venture. It's not my thing, and I wished her well, but told her I was going to pass when she offered me a "friends" package. 

I realized as I was sending that "no, thank you" that there have been many times in the past where I've felt that since someone was kind enough to think of me that I had to reciprocate by participating. This time, that thought felt foreign. In a previous life, I would've fretted about the timing and place, but felt obligated to be there. I do hope she finds success and I'm glad that she's excited about this, but I can express those feelings in a simple text instead. 

I have made some stupid, awful mistakes for the sake of "being nice." Mistakes that were meant to avoid hurting others, but inevitably led to others, as well as myself, being hurt. Turns out that being dishonest is never nice, no matter one's intention. 

It's no secret that women are conditioned to sacrifice themselves for others, and it's not always wrong to do so, but I think I've now internalized that I can say no without worry of how others will view me. 

I was tempted to say that it's because I have more self-confidence, but really, I think I've realized that people are going to think what they think, and usually, they're not thinking about me as often as I used to think they were! I'm sure my friend that invited me has just moved on and is more concerned with finding people that are interested than whether or not I am. 

Certainly, there have been plenty of times when people have said no to me, and it's been for a variety of reasons. If I noticed that people never showed, I took note of that, but ultimately, I didn't let that one note define our entire relationship. I trust (now) that's how most people will weigh my own "no." 

I told my friend, no thank you and wished her well, and she responded with appreciation. Turns out, the thought really does count! 

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Meditation So Far

I resisted mediation for a long time. I was one of those that said, "I can't sit still," "I can't do the breathing" and "My mind won't stop thinking." It's amazing how much we get wrong when we hear a few phrases and think we know what meditation is. 

Now, I am no expert, and I'm not even going to try and talk about its history or what meditation is for anyone else but me. So why bother?  I think maybe this might provide encouragement to others who think they "can't" meditate. 

My company sponsored a few virtual sessions on meditation last summer, and that was when it started to make sense to me. 

To begin with, it reminded me of the relaxation exercises we would sometimes do in acting classes. We'd lie on the floor, eyes closed, and focus on relaxing the top of our head, then the forehead, etc., all the way down. 

Meditation uses different language (that form of focusing your attention on your body top to bottom - or bottom to top - is called "scanning"), but the purpose is to give your mind a singular focus. It's not about "not thinking," but about thinking about one thing at a time. 

In the business world, people talk about "flow" state. Turning off the bells and reminders and focusing solely on the work in front of you. 

That is one of the benefits of meditation: it helps you learn to focus the mind on just one thing at a time. 

Of course, it doesn't always work. That's where "noting" comes in. You don't judge the mind for wandering, you just "note" it. And then bring your focus back on the body, the breath, whatever that one thing is. 

This has been the real revelation for me! I think many of us who consider ourselves type A personalities, those of us who strive for perfect attendance, 100%, straight As...we can be rather hard on ourselves. Sometimes, we're also hard on other people, too. 

I am learning to forgive myself. I am learning that it's okay to not be perfect at this. That's why they call it a practice. And beating myself up only takes time and effort away from doing the thing. 

I do get restless, and I want to change positions or stretch out my back. So I do! I don't get caught up in doing this "perfectly," and not moving a muscle. If I have an itch, I scratch it. Otherwise, I will be spending all my energy and focus trying not to. This way, I move, then I go back to scanning the body or counting my breaths, whatever the exercise is. I'm a beginner, and I'm not going to be perfect at this. 

The whole purpose is to help me, so it doesn't do me any good if I just mad at myself. I just have to begin again. 

This is also helping me in other areas. I've started tap dancing again, and I was getting angry at myself for not getting it quick enough - for what, I don't know! Now, I just do it, practice it, and remember that I'm doing it for fun! So I should probably have fun with it. 

And, bonus, it is helping me feel a little less anger or resentment towards others. Not all the time, of course, but sometimes. Like there was a day when I was driving, and a car totally cut me off. Rather than get angry, I just thought to myself, "that guy's an asshole - noted!" and moved on with my life. Granted, calling him an asshole is indeed a judgment, but it didn't affect my own emotional state. 

Progress: recently merging onto a freeway, I had that experience where someone decided that they needed to be in front of me, even though it was not their turn. That time, I thought, "wow, you really need this, don't you? Okay, I'll give you this win. Clearly, it means more to you." Again - not without judgment, but I didn't call them a name this time - even in my head!

BTW, sorry that both of my examples are regarding driving, but (a) I live in SoCal - we spend a LOT of time in our cars, and (b) I'm still not getting out much yet! 

Of course, I still lose my temper, I still get distracted, and I'm not consistent with my practice yet. Overall, however, I'm really glad I started! 

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Balancing the Game of Life

 We use gaming terms effortlessly in our everyday language. "She's on a roll!" "I'm a loser." "He needs a win." And, of course, every parent's favorite: "It's not fair!"

I get it. Sports are popular. Games are popular. Many people thrive from their competitive nature. It's a natural analogy or metaphor that most people understand. 

Unfortunately, it can also create an "us" against "them" atmosphere. It makes it instinctive to think that someone else's win means that you've lost something, when that's not always true. 

Yes, it can mean that you didn't get a promotion that went to a colleague instead, or someone outbid you on a house. But even then, it doesn't mean that you'll never get a promotion or a house. 

When we think of something as a zero sum game, it can create resentment that's not only possibly unfair, it hurts us more than it hurts them. 

Quite simply, it's just not a good use of our time. 

Now, I'm still about balance here. There is such a thing as healthy competition, and sometimes we can strive for more by seeing where we are compared to others. 

But when it starts making you feel bad, it's no longer useful. 

Get back to your personal goal. In the housing example, maybe it's not the right time or market for you. Could you look for something smaller or further away? Maybe wait another year and save more or pay down more debt. If you didn't get a promotion, ask for feedback on what skills you need to gain. 

Let's also remember that games are supposed to be fun! If striving for your goal no longer motivates you, is it time to re-examine that goal? 

I don't necessarily mean to give up entirely, but maybe it needs a tweak here and there. If home ownership isn't viable right now, could you move to a better apartment with more amenities? If it looks like you're at a dead end in your career, could you make a lateral move with more opportunities down the line? 

Thinking about those areas that are in your own locus of control will be way more productive than focusing your attention and energy on those that "beat" you. 

In the name of balance, go ahead and take a happy hour to vent with your friends. Everyone is allowed some time to process. 

The next day, give yourself some time to brainstorm other avenues to score your own goal! 

Yeah, couldn't help it. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

A New Chapter

While the pandemic delayed this chapter, it seems that it might be real this time. Sylvia has once again left home for her cruise ship job, and the nest is empty!

Riley moved into her own apartment about a year ago now, so she’s fully launched, even though she’s still in college. 

Alas, I have become a cliche of sorts. I adopted two cats during the pandemic. Why do I insist upon being outnumbered? Still, I’m really glad they’re here. And they love each other deeply. My IG is all them.

I have been trying really hard to figure out what’s next, and then I was reminded how much this blog gave to me the last time I felt lost. It might be foolish to expect blogging to solve everything, but I do love to write so here I am. 

I know, nobody blogs anymore. I’m not paying attention to SEO or followers or anything like that. I just miss having this platform to process. And oh my goodness, there’s a lot to process!

I didn’t make sourdough, I didn’t buy a Peloton, and while I tried regular walks, it just didn’t click for me. I did find a few things, though. 

I started meditating. And then I stopped, and now I’m starting again. Last summer was the first time I enjoyed the practice. It reminded me of the breathing and relaxation exercises we would do in acting classes when I was younger. I finally started to appreciate this opportunity to do nothing. Well, nothing else, anyway. 

Riley got me back into bullet journaling - something else I tried before, but stopped.

I’m realizing how many times I’ve started and stopped a variety of activities, but I’m trying not to judge myself for it. I’m finding my way back to those things that I enjoy.

I almost said “bring me joy,” but that term just doesn’t work for me. I am beginning to appreciate my own pursuit of happiness in a new way.

I find that I don’t beat myself up as much when I’m blogging. I don’t call myself an idiot here, or berate myself for making stupid mistakes. Particularly now, when the world outside and in have undergone so many changes, I appreciate this place where I can focus on growing without the judgment.

A few years ago, I realized I was an introvert so most of the time, I love being home alone! I love singing whenever I want, playing my podcasts, cooking what I like to eat. I cherish living alone. 

But I need to balance that with some outside accountability. I can get into my head too much sometimes. Pushing that publish button helps. 

Oh, something else that I used to do that I’ve started again is tap dancing! I found this online workout tap thing that I am just loving. And I really needed to find something because the weight gain is out of control! I can accept some changes to my body because of menopause. I can even accept some weight gain due to the lockdown. Unfortunately, the combination was overwhelming. 

And yet, overall, this is probably the least stressful my life has been in a few decades. 

I still can’t believe I’m a homeowner! And I was able to refinance and get my interest rate below 3%. I kept working (from home) this entire time. Heck, I even got to watch Hamilton multiple times! And while a few family members did get COVID, thankfully, everyone recovered without having to go to the hospital. And I remained well. 

There is so much to be thankful for, and so much to improve. I still believe, it’s all about balance.