Sunday, July 27, 2014

no matter the weather

I'm always reminded to not go too far from her. The little me inside that will make sure I hear her if I stray. Tonight I'm babysitting a 13 month old girl in a hotel room. I started to experience some panic over my heartbeat (I felt a fluttery, weird, irregular thing as I do now and then) which led to forgetting to breathe which only added fuel to the fireball of anxiety brewing. I hadn't really experienced that type of anxiety in awhile and didn't know the trigger. And there I was, in a hotel room that felt like The Shining (dark except for a tiny light so the baby can sleep), no noise of the TV for distraction, no Carrie Bradshaw on the screen to keep me safe in the clouds. I was simply me – earth, here, weighted, and alone. Alone with my racing mind and my attempts to breathe into my belly. I got a message from a dear friend:

“Today I make room for the good that is waiting for me. No matter what the weather is, my body is always comfortable.”

As I tried to find the home in my flesh, in my machine, the baby started crying from her crib. Of course this was happening. Of course when I needed space and breath, she needed proximity and to scream. I picked her up and she fell back asleep, snuggled on me on the bed. Maybe this was good. Maybe having to tend to her would pull me out of my head funk. It did, eventually. After a few minutes I re-swaddled her and put her back in the crib. I took note of the change in my body, how it felt like the feeling of stepping off an airplane and back onto your ground. The familiarity that anxiety prys you away from.

I then happened to get on the computer and within two minutes the blog “Existential Parenting” found its way in front of my eyes. Babies. On the brain lately, along with all of the other tethers to this world. It's odd being at this age, where all of “the things” are actual things in people's real lives- not just the pretend lives of their Barbies. The thought of being pregnant is terrifying, but what isn't. I've always hoped and kind of felt that it would actually work like a balm to my anxiety. A place of constant connectedness, a portal into the miracle of existence. A home that's rooted in something real, at least for now, or nine months..I wonder if I would feel trapped or set free – probably shades of it all. What traps us, or what we fear will trap us, is often simultaneously the tunnel that leads us to freedom, to wholeness, to acceptance instead of denial. It's written about beautifully in the book The Untethered Soul (which I highly recommend and pretty much serves as my Bible).

I can't put a finger on it, and don't need to try to give it a name, but things have been stirring the past couple weeks. I've felt some deep, beautiful shifts which seem to have also kicked up some anxiety-dust. As change and transformation and transition usually does. I'm getting better at sitting back, at trusting in the opportunities for growth and in the calls to awareness. I know that the degree of resistance is equal to the degree of growth hanging in the balance, waiting on the other side. The more that I let go, the more I surrender, the more I am able to receive. Like the line I've kept close to my heart ever since the same dear friend gifted it to me: I am ready to receive the gifts of the goddess. Because it's all a gift, really; the happy, the sad, the scary, the exciting, the uncomfortable, the sweetness, nothing is real without its foil...and they are all gifts.

I start a new part-time job next week at an organization I've been married to since age 12. I'm trying to refocus on the “business” part of acting, while the actual acting part is feeling really good at the moment. I'm also taking more classes this fall (whatever I have to do in order to get a new pair of glasses, seriously). I'm a fucking wife. So many big things are going on and coming together right now and then there are the baby cravings and the strong desire for gold stacking rings from Etsy. It's slightly alarming to feel the pieces of you fuse, for the little girl me to recognize the me in the mirror from her dreamed up life so many moons ago.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

this little piggy

As some of you may know, I have been craving the addition of either a goat or a pig to our family.  And what I mean by that is, Starbelly keeps tugging my pant leg asking for one.  I couldn't believe she had such a specific idea of what she wanted in a sibling.  J brought this video to my attention last night, and I am convinced it's a sign from Britney (Spears, that is, for those of you new to the religion).


It breaks my soul that anyone could eat these animals.  The disconnection allowed between the death, abuse, torture, and just absolute evil and our plates is the definition of unethical.  SPEAKING OF I just got a part-time job working at an animal rights organization that I have loved since I was a little girl.  I want to be able to say which organization it is, but since I haven't started yet, maybe I shouldn't? Not sure how that stuff works.  I mean, after all, I'm an actress with a degree in cow-loving and banana bread baking…so.  But seriously, this organization is what changed my life when I was 12 years old.  As much as I bitch about technology and the internet, thank god for the awareness they can spread.  You can't argue when you see a video of the truth.  The internet has allowed voices that would have never been able to have been heard to flood the ears and hearts of people in pretty much any place in the world.  So for that I am very grateful.  But this organization…that sounds like a Greek food that is great with hummus…has an LA headquarters in my neighborhood and it's a part time job so I can make money while doing the work that I am so passionate about, while I pursue the career that I am so passionate about at the same time.  I know it's small but I am so proud of myself - it's such a cool feeling to feel like you are in the flow of who you actually are.  Twelve year old protesting-and-debating-and-handing-out-flyers Me would be so proud.  

And in other news, I sometimes pretend I'm Robin Wright when I jog now, and I'm ready for Christmas already.  

Friday, July 18, 2014

our honeymoon in Costa Rica

J has always been the travel-planner in the duo (of she and I).  I am great at planning too, as long as plans aren't needed, money flows freely, and cake is somehow involved.

We went to Costa Rica for 9 days right after our wedding weekend in Boulder, Colorado.  I'm not the best flier in the world (and by that I mean it's probably the most terrifying thing on the planet to me, even scarier than Mitt Romney) so it was a bit of a struggle for me to take the Red-Eye, overnight, as in, when it's dark outside, and how do they know where to fly?? And is the pilot drunk, people?!? Do people check these things? Anyway.  We took the red-eye and landed in San Jose Monday morning, bright and early.  We drove through beautiful countryside and likely in and out of consciousness due to extreme fatigue.  I'm not going to write about how I promptly came down with a cold that lasted five days and started my period early - not writing about that.  

We spent the first four nights in Manuel Antonio by the Pacific Ocean.  J magically found this amazing private villa to stay in, called Prana Rainforest Retreat.  It's owners, Mark and John, are so spectacular and warm and full of hospitality.  Mark, who is an insanely creative and brilliant chef, cooked organic, healthy, amazing surprise breakfasts every morning for us.  Well, we knew they were coming, they weren't a total surprise but the menu part was.  It was no problem that I was vegan whatsoever, he was even excited that he would get to experiment with inventive vegan recipes.  The villa is cozied up into the rainforest and we regularly saw monkeys and beautiful birds and gekos- oh, and chickens and peacocks.

The beach at Manuel Antonio

Our private pool at Prana Rainforest Retreat

My first Sex on the Beach

Manuel Antonio National Park Beach

check out that wedding band.

We were going to go white water rafting, which I was sooo excited about, but with my impending sickness I thought it was best to not push it and risk getting worse.  So we hung out at the beach, and watched the World Cup underneath a palapa during a booming, pouring thunderstorm (my favorite).  We also got about 57,000 pictures of a sloth.  We met a sweet couple from Texas and an older lady from Winston Salem - small world.

We spent the second half of our trip at the Tabacon Hot Springs Thermal Resort and Spa.  It's a little resort at the base of the volcano snuggled around hot springs that are fed by it.  And their spa is AMAZING with open air cabanas by the hot springs...

The natural hot springs at Tabacon. 

We found Starbelly's place of origin.

The base of Arenal Volcano
Right before walking the hanging bridges

All in all, it was a beautiful trip.  I myself thoroughly enjoyed the rain and the storms. OH the storms! Living in LA, but being from North Carolina, I miss thunderstorms soooooo badly.  It's the one real problem I have with LA.  I miss the boom of thunder, the smell of the grass in the rain…the warm breeze before a storm.  We got some awesome storms in Costa Rica.  

I also noticed when my anxiety would start to swell up.  As a whole, I am so much more grounded and at peace with my anxiety compared to a year ago and I am quite happy and proud of my progress and all that I have learned.  So it was interesting (and annoying) to notice on our honeymoon it start to bubble up again and to have the fear thoughts start to swirl playing scenarios in my head.  Ironically, when we got back to LA, Sheryl Paul posted this blog post about travel anxiety.  Always creepily perfect timing.  That's the next arena I really want to work on.  I watch my spouse be so calm and relaxed while I have scenes from Blood Diamond playing in my head.  I want to go so many places with her and to be able to really enjoy and appreciate them all.  I'm thankful, though, for what the anxiety brings to my attention; it's always calling me to grow, to surrender, and to overall become a more mindful and empowered being.  

But back to Costa Rica.

A few of my favorite things:

  • The storms
  • Getting to semi-practice my "Spanish" again.  I put quotations around it because I have just as much "Spanish" as Britney Spears has privacy.
  • The scenery; I mean, the views, the lush jungle, how green everything is, how rich with natural life.
  • The warm oceans
  • Meeting the cute American couple from Texas and watching the World Cup under a hut in the middle of a storm
  • Hands down, having a moment to connect with a beautiful and soulful cow on the side of the road. (Despite the heartbreak that comes from the reality of the situation)
  • Being a wife (although I get to do that anywhere now)
  • Soaking in the hot springs. The insane couples massage we got at the Tabacon Spa!!
  • Listening to our wedding songs in the 4.5 hour car ride to Fortuna
  • The adorable Volcan Arenal who kept showing its face for us.
  • The huge full moon.

A few of my not-so-favorite things:

  • Bug bites.  I re-lived my Southern childhood with about 6.6 million mosquito bites.
  • I love Costa Rica but it needs to be said - food ain't her strong point.  Luckily, rice and beans and veggies are a huge staple of their diet, but having the same exact meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner gets slightly old.  I was excited to get back to LA's food.
  • These two things are not Costa Rica's fault, but as I stated before: getting sick with a cold and getting my period early (woohoo!)

Monday, July 14, 2014

the chosen one

The past two weeks have been full of lots of things.

 Right now I'm wearing a side bun and blue pumps so you know things are getting serious.  I have jury duty tomorrow, that's right - all those hours of watching Dateline, 48 Hour Mystery, and IDHD are finally paying off.  The dinner table conversation about my dad's clients growing up.  Scandal.  Orange is the New Black.  It's all happening people.  I'm preparing for a lot of nodding, throat clearing, and trying to block out the fact that tomorrow morning might involve an elevator.  I am even thinking of "picking up" a coffee (SANS a bagel) before I report to the courthouse.  And maybe a few hours later I will say something like, "I haven't eaten all day!" as I become the girl from The Killing and get a bag of chips from the vending machine.  I think this will be really great for me, I am clearly qualified for the job, but I'm just hoping they don't think I'm a better fit for prison instead of juror.  I hope they think I'm good.

This weekend was also J's birthday weekend and I made vegan, gluten-free key lime pie bars.  They were awesome.  If I was cool enough, and on top of it, I would have taken cute pictures along the way to post here and describe the journey from canvas grocery bag to charming glass container "chilling" in the fridge.  You would see just why those oats were so old fashioned.  Maybe I'll try to post a picture of the end result…not that you're going to, what, hunt for the recipe and make them yourself because the picture is just THAT good?  But they were awesome, like good enough for a restaurant if you ask me, J, and the people at her work.

We tried out this gorgeous yummy candlelit (i am aware of the lack of comma there) Italian restaurant for her birthday dinner which we had never been too.  The wine- holy shit- wine I've had in a long time.  And I got spaghetti with gluten free pasta, and the bread, oh the bread with the dips and the oils….and we had a salad of fennel, arugula, pine nuts, and pear. I felt so Carolyn Bessette in that one picture:

This blogpost was brought to you by waiting on my spouse to get home from work so we can finally get dinner and the rude eyes the bag of Salt & Vinegar chips inside the cabinet is making at me.  Don't worry, I will most certainly be back to update on what life is like behind bars, in the system, jury duty whatever.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

marching on

Photograph by Jamie Fischer Phtography

I was driving home the other night, listening to the mix I made of songs from the wedding.  I remember feeling so deeply in my gut that everything is so good.  So, so good.  It's scary, it's unsettling.  It's the snake-like unease that slithers in when things are peaceful.  The voice in the quiet.  The calm knowing that the soil is so rich that I find myself afraid of over-planting.  And this delicate feeling that softens my grown-up bones into childlike limbs rides shotgun for life.  I've always known it, but I've spent years afraid of it.  I didn't understand that this is who rides along with me.  And she's meant to be here, she's part of me- and I asked for it when I opened my heart so much. 

 I've been afraid of the moment.  Because the moment means I'm passing through, like the hours, like the seasons.  No matter what I choose to acknowledge, reality doesn't change.  The unknown doesn't reveal herself, the minutes don't organize themselves in satin boxes for me to relive whenever I choose. The only thing that changes is the feeling I experience.  I've been terrified of my sadness, terrified that it will just be too much, that it will cause me to explode right along with my illusion of safety.  But there's one piece that my protective self needed to learn: my feelings are not predictive.  They have no hold on whatever happens in the future.  I am not jinxing myself if I allow sadness or grief over a possible scenario in the future.  I am also not taking things for granted when I surrender to simple joy.  I'm not arrogant if I'm happy.  Happiness is brave, it's a march, it's the surrender to struggle and the stillness despite it.  Happiness isn't arrogance, it's acceptance.  It's love for the present moment, for the depth of each minute; it's love for the depth of pain as well as the depth of joy.  It's not conditional, it simply is.  It's a mindful embrace of now, and of all of the feelings that come along with it.