When the City is Destroyed, Who is Supposed to Fix it?

Sometimes we argue with the people we love.

Sometimes the arguing happens so frequently that you’re wondering if it’s even worth trying to resolve issues with this person.

Sometimes disagreement becomes the only reality you have with an individual or loved ones. The problems just keep growing, tumbleweeding into new arguments, unresolved issues, and past faults.

Sometimes we want to blame someone or something for our unresolved issues because that is easier than looking within.

So we do.

We blame the person, the past, or the circumstances. We cling to the negative, because we are lead to believe that the hurtful parts of our lives are somehow a greater reality than the good things we are so lucky to have.

We point fingers, we scream, and we cry. Then when we get nowhere, we tell secrets or incomplete truths. We hold grudges that can last for years.

These massive problems in our lives our not just Sad Dragons on their own. They’re something bigger, something far more powerful. They’re more like a family of Sad Dragons that caught something cancerous. And because we kept feeding those Cancerous Dragons more fuel with arguments, anger, self-destruction, hatred, violence and ugliness they grew into something more powerful than us. They become these horrible mutant creatures living in a pestilent cave, only coming out occasionally to burn down villages. It’s not because they’re inherently evil. It’s because destruction is the only thing they know how to do. Anger and hatred breeds more anger and hatred.

We can’t tackle them on our own when they get this big. It takes a community, family, or group of friends to come together and acknowledge that the Dragons exist in the first place. It can be in a deliberate meeting, or it can be characterized by silent acceptance, but it HAS to happen or nothing will change.

This is not easy to do.

It’s extremely difficult.

We can’t expect everyone to acknowledge that these problems even exist in the first place.

We can’t expect everyone to take care of their Sad Dragons before they turn into violent beasts.

We can only hope for it.

But in the meantime, I encourage you to acknowledge what is in your control. Take a good, hard, look and see what exactly your Dragon is doing.

Have you neglected it? Fed it? Encouraged it? Loved it from a safe distance?

How are you taking responsibility for yourself, so that you can be a wellspring of love, rather than a pool of negativity?

Are you spending time looking within, or are you expecting someone else to do all the work?

No one can do it all alone. It takes a whole village to undo damage done to an entire city.

But it starts with you.

Take Responsibility and Say “No.”

What is it about certain personality types (myself included) that feel this desperation to say “Yes” to everyone that needs them, to always try to coddle other peoples’ unhappiness, and sacrifice their own health for the sake of someone else’s Sad Dragon?

Why is it so difficult for the People-Pleasing types to actually ADMIT that they have needs and desires in their hearts? Why does the thought of saying “No, I’d rather not deal with your problem. I need to take this day to _________.” Fill in the blank. Rather, why is it so easy to listen to a voice that says “Yes, it’s more important for you to take care of someone else’s problem than to deal with your own,” when said person is perfectly capable of taking responsibility?

It’s not my responsibility to take care of other peoples’ happiness. It is NO ONE’s responsibility to do that. PEOPLE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN SAD DRAGONS.

And, for some, a massive part of that personal responsibility is knowing when to say “No” or “Enough is Enough.”

Let’s put it this way…

Imagine a scenario in which Person A is totally giving in to their Sad Dragon. Lets say Person A’s Dragon makes them feel fat, lonely, cranky, and tired. It’s not trying to get them to do anything desperate, just making them generally feel like poop. Person A then calls on Person B for a vent session, or a self-sabotage session in which Person A encourages Person B to drink, eat ice cream, stay up late, make less than ideal choices. Person B has been battling their own Sad Dragon because they just went through a break-up and they’re swamped with work. Person B has been feeling better, but is still on the fragile side. Person B would rather stay home and take a nap, but Person A guilt trips them into coming because Person B bailed last time. Person B really wants to say “No,” but chooses to listen to the guilt. Two hours later, A and B are now sitting on the couch with wine, scrolling through the Facebook pages of their ex-lovers and talking crap about everyone online. They get drunk. They fall asleep on the couch. Person A feels better and wants to have brunch. Person B is exhausted and has work to do, but feels guilty for staying up late and drinking. Person A and B go to brunch in their sweatpants, and spend too much money on crummy omelets  and toast.

Now there are TWO people with ravenous Sad Dragons, because they let them feed each other. They listened to the Dragon’s voice— anger, frustration, guilt, victimization, sadness, worthlessness— and the cycle just continues. 

Now, who is to blame in this scenario? The immediate reaction is to say it’s Person A’s fault, but Person B is the one who gave in. Both of them chose to give in to the Sad Dragon’s voices, and so they’re both at fault, and now it’s going to be more difficult for both of them to deal with their current problem.

To be fair, I frequently think that doing something stupid (like drinking wine and trolling Instagram pictures, or whatever it may be) will make me feel better, or make it easier to bounce back into a happier, productive state the next day. But it ALWAYS just makes it harder. Once the Dragon is just sitting it’s giant butt on my heart and eating an extra large bag of kettle chips, it takes extra effort to push it off and tell it to use it’s fire-breathing for some productivity fuel instead. That being said, it really doesn’t help when someone else’s Dragon is high-fiving my own. It’s hard enough as it is.

We’re here for each other.

Take responsibility.

Learn when to say “No.”

And know the difference between the Sad Dragon’s voice and your own.

#SorryNotSorry

Lets talk about apologies!!!

Common apologies from friends:

  1. I’m sorry I can’t go out. I have a family to take care of and require me to act responsible.
  2. I’m sorry I can’t eat carbs or sugar or alcohol right now. I’m working on not feeling so sick lately.
  3. I’m sorry I slept in later than usual. I’ve been so tired and stressed out lately.
  4. I’m sorry the dish I brought to this party is not all organic. I was pressed for time.
  5. I’m sorry I’m not up to date on all of your favorite tv shows. I have other things in my life keeping me occupied. Like my job. And my family. And like, my passions.

Common apologies from colleagues:

  1. I’m sorry I don’t understand the task, and would like further clarification.
  2. I’m sorry I’m sniffling and taking so much cold medicine. I woke up very ill and figured i should still come to work.
  3. I’m sorry, but I feel I may be a victim of sexual harassment in the work place.
  4. I’m sorry I didn’t bring you Starbucks. I did not realize it was my responsibility.
  5. I’m sorry I’m late. There was an accident that could not have been predicted.
  6. I’m sorry I am not passionate about this job and I am looking for work elsewhere.
  7. I’m sorry I need time off to spend some time with my family.
  8. I’m sorry I have been so sleepy at work lately. I am very stressed in my home life.

Common Apologies I have heard myself say:

  1. I’m sorry I am tight on funds and cannot spend extra money. I am in between jobs.
  2. I’m sorry I would like to take this time to express how I am really feeling because I feel like it matters to this relationship.
  3. I’m sorry I have been exercising a lot. It makes me feel better about myself and helps me be more productive.
  4. I’m sorry I can’t eat cake and ice cream. I’m working on being my healthiest self.
  5. I’m sorry I have a specific kind of personality. I am a diverse woman with a lot of passions.
  6. I’m sorry I no longer believe the same things that you believe. My experience has led me to feel otherwise.

Now… Go back up to these lists. Take a look at the statements, and remove the “I’m Sorry” from every single one of them.

Now they have just become factual statements, explaining needs, boundaries, passions, emotions, and things we should NEVER have to apologize for.

Why do we feel like we have to live in a head space of constant apology when it’s unnecessary?  Who are we disappointing by having needs? What are we afraid of? Are we just avoiding the responsibility we have to our own hearts?

If we go around our lives saying “I’m sorry I believe in this moral code,” or “I’m sorry my body is shaped this way,” or “I’m sorry I have this passion,” then we are NEVER allowing ourselves to carry out our fullest potential. We are stopping ourselves from our divine truth for the sake of other peoples’ ideas of who we should be, or just merely out of fear. STOP IT! LIVE YOUR TRUTH!!! (I mean, don’t be a jerk either… like, don’t go around chastising anyone for living out their truth as well— They shouldn’t have to apologize for who they are either. It goes both ways, mmk?)

I am currently learning about what it truly means to live in a way in which I only need to apologize if it truly is necessary. An apology should be meaningful– used when we are truly and deeply sorry for a terrible mistake. But, in the meantime, if I stay true to who I am, stick to my own morals, and chickety-check-myself-before-I-rickety-wreck myself, I will never have to wander around my life saying “Im Sorry” for my own existence. It’s REALLY HARD. But when I commit to it, its extremely liberating. It makes goals seem so much more attainable. And frankly, it makes living joyfully a breeze.

I encourage you to catch yourself the next time you apologize for something silly. See if you can give the statement “I’m Sorry” the actual meaning it deserves. You just might be able to set yourself free from something big.

Until next time, friends!

Here’s a Post with a Whole Lot of CAPS

Hi.

So here’s something about me. I have a degree in Theater. I’m a performer before anything. I sing, I try to tell jokes, and I do musicals. Now, get ready for some news that I’m sure no one knows……

THIS IS NOT A WAY TO MAKE A LIVING.

I mean, it can be… but you have to have the right look, the right talent, the right agent, the right connections, and be in the right place/ right time CONSTANTLY. I’m going to be real with you for a second… I DONT HAVE THAT KIND OF STAMINA OR SUPPORT TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN. I’m sensitive, and frankly I like a lot of other things. I could never focus on my writing, my running habit, or my friends/ family if I was living the Broadway actor life 24/7. I’d love it if an audition really worked out and I got a great job out of it. But I’m not going to break my back and heart day in and day out praying that something will work out when there are ten thousand other girls just like me doing the same damn thing. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing, audition when it’s right, take amazing classes, go to shows, meet new people, and hopefully continue to make American dollars in places that I love.

So, in the meantime, I just need a job (or jobs) that make me happy and pay my bills. I’m about halfway there with that one. (Happiness? Check. Pays the bills? Almost check.)  So, I have to have what I like to call “A Patchwork of Jobs” in order to kinda sorta survive. There was a time in my life when I had six jobs at once. (200 dollars here, 350 dollars there…) I was able to make it work for a year, but I couldn’t do it after that. It was exhausting and I couldn’t enjoy my life because I was too tired.

So…. something that happens frequently is the fluctuation of jobs. In my position, i HAVE to take opportunities for employment. I HAVE to say yes to the things that will give me the most in return– the most money, the best time slot, the most benefits (financial or otherwise). And sometimes I have to turn things down and/or switch things up. A lot of employers in this industry understand this. (Thank you to my amazing bosses who have stuck with me and my schedule for a while now. You know who you are) But some of them… HOLY CRAP they will have NOTHING TO DO with those schedule changes.

Today I was yelled at (via email) and was called unprofessional for regretfully stating that I would not be able to fulfill my duties in a previously accepted position. I was apologetic and honest. I potentially have something else in the works that will pay me way more, plus, I don’t want to suddenly find myself with six jobs again. Having that many plates spinning is TERRIBLE and makes me USELESS as an employee because I’m TIRED and SICK constantly. Mind you, I hand’t even signed any paperwork yet with this potential employer. I have had ONE MEETING with this person, in which they hired me WITHOUT EVEN LOOKING AT MY RESUME. I have NOT started this job yet and did not want to have to suddenly quit after already starting my duties. So I thought I did the responsible thing by apologizing, and stating that I won’t be able to do this job.

The beginning of the reply from this employer was an all-caps “ARE YOU KIDDING ME???” followed by a description of my lack of tact.

Wow.

Now, obviously I dodged a bullet here in not working with this person… but the voices in my head are still creeping up.

You’re so unreliable.”

“Stop making promises you can’t keep.” 

“You’re incredibly irresponsible and unprofessional.” 

“This is why you can’t make it in this business. You’re too flighty.” 

“Just get used to being broke and messing up people’s lives. This is who you are.” 

SHUT UP SAD DRAGON! SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!

I am desperately trying to realize that this is a reflection on someone else. As an employer, this person should understand. There is nothing this person can do to change the situation, so what good does it do anyone to yell at me via email? Obviously this person simply wants to make me feel like s*** before she carries on with her day. That’s the only result possible from this. Even if they are disappointed and pissed off (and they’re totally allowed to be!) isn’t the right thing to do to just say “Thank you” and move on?  That’s what I’m trying to tell myself, but it’s still difficult. Very difficult.

Just wanted to share because fighting the Dragon is a never ending process. You can’t kill it. You just have to keep training it.

No, You Don’t Deserve It

Recent life circumstances have lead to me start focusing on a concept of less.

I moved from taking up space in an entire house, to downsizing to a single bedroom.

I’ve been working on eating clean, as I’m trying to focus on all aspects of health as well as not needing as much food as I normally consume.

I don’t have stable work during the Summer months and almost all of my prospective work projects this year fell through, leaving me with a few thousand dollars less than I expected to have.

I have time for what feels like the first time in my adult life– and at first that lead to going shopping and eating out, but my depleted bank account forced me to stop that as quickly as it started.

I am more broke than I have been in years. I’m not fresh out of college anymore, and I have no choice but to pay what feels like an unconquerable mountain of bills. Auto insurance, health insurance, phone bills, student loans and car payments are just not things you think about when you’re 22 or 23. When you’re that age, you’re focusing on how you’re going to conquer the world, and where your next burrito is coming from,  not how to pay boring bills. But now I am drowning in my debt that I didn’t fully realize I had until the last six months or so.

At first I categorized this poverty as extreme failure. I am 27 years old, have had relatively full time work for about two years, and just cannot get my s*** together. I sold a ton of books and electronics out of desperation. I beat myself up emotionally, outrageously embarrassed over this new concept of rationing food and properly planning my driving routes so as not to waste a single drop of gasoline. (Many tears were shed. The Sad Dragon was in full force, plus I was unable to give into my ravenous Starbucks habit, which only gave me more reason to cry.)

But then, a new thought came to mind. Maybe this is an opportunity. Maybe this is just a new lesson I very much needed to learn. Maybe this is my gateway to truly learn how to live with less because I literally have no other choice.

And then I had a thought—-speaking of finances– that there is a BIG FAT LIE we choose to believe when things are rough:

THE LIE: “I deserve it.”

And the lie has two ugly faces. Let me explain.

The First Side “The Go-Getter”: When we’re sad, angry, or frustrated, we often feel like we need to do something to make the uncomfortable pain go away. So we buy stuff. We max out our credit cards on clothes, electronics, make-up, furniture, or toys. We go out for a fancy dinner and have way too many glasses of wine because “Whatever, I deserve it.” Sometimes our friends buy into this lie when they’re trying to help. They take us out and tell us to go flirt with some guy at a club after a bad break up because “You’ve been hurt, you deserve it.” We binge and gorge a bunch of desserts after a super long and stressful day at work and claim “I work hard, I deserve it.” We flop around and complain, do destructive things that are really just a reflection of self-deprecation that we’re choosing not to deal with.

The Second Side “The Guilty Catholic”: This side is more obviously self-deprecating. This is the karma/ Old-Testament-God’s-wrath attitude we get when things go wrong. We accept that bad things are happening to us because we’re obviously awful people. We accept our failure as a result of our obvious crappiness and then go into a massively depressed shame spiral. We think we’re worthless. We get depressed. Often times we become numb and can’t get anything done at all because we can’t think of anything other than how much we suck.

When I first started dealing with this super-broke-super-scary time in my life, I definitely started out as The Go-Getter. I spent money, made a lot of rash choices, believing that I deserved it because I “spent so much time being well-behaved.” I also had just enough people telling me it was time for me to believe that I deserved to go and claim stuff and destructive experiences. I believed the lie. Thus I gave in to excess and stupidity. Then, more recently, as I started to clean up my mess and try to be more responsible, I became The Guilty Catholic. I became increasingly sad as I accepted that I deserved to have my Summer work projects to fall through. I deserved to be broke. I deserved to feel destitute and useless. I deserved to be a Grade-A Disappointment wrapped up in a young woman package.

It’s easy to believe this lie. But now that I’ve gained a little more courage and a few good nights of sleep I realized

I DONT DESERVE ANYTHING 

The Universe doesn’t owe me anything, whether that be good or bad. Stuff is going to happen. And then I get to make choices. Maybe it’s really as simple as that.

I can choose to accept that my worth is not based on my bank account.

I can choose to slow down so I can learn to be more smart with my money.

I can choose to find joy in wholesome produce and going outside so I can stay healthy.

I can choose to get rest, and schedule days where I don’t have to rush, or work, or schedule, or make spreadsheets.

I don’t deserve to live on less— I can choose to live on less and LOVE it.

Maybe I can choose to make French press coffee at home, rather than sitting in a Starbucks drive-thru every morning.

Maybe I can choose to have a really nice bottle of wine once a month, rather than going out to drink a few times a week.

Maybe I can choose to go for long runs on the beach and feel like a beautiful badass, rather than purchasing massages, expensive make up and hair appointments in attempts to feel pretty.

Maybe I can choose to stay home to read a novel rather than go shopping out of a need to be “doing something.”

Maybe I can cultivate the relationships that I truly love and value, rather than going out constantly with friends, trying to impress everyone I know.

Maybe living on less isn’t actually having less.

zoeyandmia

Until next time, Dragon Slayers!

From ‘Sad Dragon’ to Straight Up ‘Evil Demon Beast’

I’m a big believer in giving yourself a break when it comes to depression and self-deprecation. Humans are complicated creatures with varying emotions and mental states, and so sometimes less than ideal things will happen as a result of these emotions. However, if we’re lucky, we can learn to self-reflect and do everything in our power to be our best self for ourselves and for others.

So let’s say you have become pretty adequate at self-reflection. Let’s say you’re on a path to knowing yourself better than you ever have before. Let’s say you’re a pretty damn good person with a good heart and a strong moral system.

And then, for whatever reason, things go awry. Your Dragon takes over. You let Him get fierce beyond all belief, you listen to His lies, and you act upon them. You allow yourself to go to negative places about who you are and what you mean to people, and you become someone you don’t recognize.

You become destructive. You hurt people. You hurt yourself. You make yourself sick from your own actions. Finally, once the destruction is over you find yourself in a circle of rubble, strewn about by your Dragon’s chaos.

So what do you do?

I’ve been there. I’ve stared at that rubble from my self-war, totally dumbfounded that I was capable of such awfulness. It’s an awfully strange place to be because suddenly you have choices; choices of what the heck to do with all of that mess.

Some choices I made included:

  1. Sitting in the chaos and just bathing in it. I accepted that I am the Sad Dragon and I celebrated it. I metaphorically announced to the universe that I identified with the Dragon and there’s no going back.
  2. Numbing myself to the chaos and pretending it wasn’t there. Some great numbing agents include copious amounts of vodka and whiskey. It’s pretty amazing– when you’re so drunk from alcohol your brain can’t comprehend anything except it’s drunkenness, and your emotional pain goes away. (Somebody’s gotta be making money off of this concept somewhere… )
  3. Claiming the “I DESERVE IT” lie. This is a typical Sad Dragon whisper. It’s the little voice that tells you you’re WORTH getting an enormous hot fudge sundae instead of a healthy meal. It’s the voice that says you’re allowed to binge watch Netflix for 8 hours on a Saturday because you partied too hard the night before. It’s the voice that says you are above everyone else because you struggled over something. It’s Sad Dragon bullshit. “I Deserve it” is the lie that takes the place of the truthful sentence “It’s ok to mess up once in a while, but I want to be better than this.” They are very different messages. (I think I dislike this choice the most)
  4. Staring at the rubble and crying in disbelief and total, utter sorrow. This was the choice of acceptance. It was allowing myself to feel the despair once the high wore off.
  5. Drying my eyes, cleaning up the rubble, and apologizing to it that it will never look quite as pristine as it did before. Asking forgiveness, but not expecting it, and then walking away so the space could heal from my Sad Dragon’s hissy fit.

Now, in a perfect world, I wouldn’t let the Sad Dragon get as fierce as it did in the first place. In an almost perfect world, I would have jumped straight to choices #4 and #5. But that’s not what I did. When a person really messes up, it’s extremely tough to dig into acceptance and get back to the way life is supposed to be. It’s a process.   Everyone’s process is different, and I would never judge a person for dealing with their Sad Dragon’s hot mess in a way that works for them.

My only Soap Box Advice is This: DO NOT LIVE IN THE FALSE REALITY OF CHOICES 1-3 

Those choices are of pain. They are choices of loneliness. They are choices of letting the Sad Dragon win. Then, the Dragon becomes not just a cute Sad Dragon that hangs out with you sometimes, but a terrifying demonic beast that will just continue to widen the circumference of its chaos.

Clean up the mess, apologize, and don’t look back. YOU ARE BETTER THAN YOUR CHAOS.

In fact, you are BEAUTIFUL. Now go on and get yourself a good nap, a green smoothie, and some journaling so you can heal faster.

Learning to Love Your Butt

Learning to Love Your Butt

My Butt and I… we have been through a lot together. And I’m going to be very honest. It’s taken me a long time to stop feeling so self-conscious about it. Because here’s the thing. Its BIG.

It’s always going to be BIG. I could get all the way down to a tiny 125 pounds, and my hips will still be super wide, and I’ll still probably carry most of that weight in my butt. I’m half Mexican– it is what it is! It will always jiggle when I jump-rope, and it will always bounce when I boogie. (Yeah, alliteration… WHAT!?)

But this used to be a really big issue for me. I remember one night when I was about thirteen years old, I sobbed on the floor because I came to the realization that my hips were always going to be wide. I could no longer fit into any of my jeans, and I made the choice that my life was over.

I had nicknames all throughout high school from my stupid friends (Biggie, Backshelf, Round Thang.. none of them were very clever) and I despised the attention I got for my butt. I remember pretending to laugh when I walked into my friend’s room and she started playing “Fat Bottomed Girls” by Queen and yelled “THIS SONG IS ABOUT YOU!” Nowadays I find that funny, but as a teenager, it made me writhe.

I wanted to do anything I possibly could to get super thin so I would stop being so embarrassed by my Butt— (I.E. giving in to the Sad Dragon.) But no amount of dieting or exercising made my butt get any smaller.

Jump forward about ten years, and you will find a woman who no longer cries about her butt. I thankfully have learned to love my butt for a number of reasons.

LIST OF REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD LOVE YOUR BUTT: 

1.  Potential mates (for me, DUDES.. mmmm) love it. Maybe not every guy out there is a butt guy, but there is absolutely no denying that there is a large population of people who love dat booty! And the big butts are here to give their love a destination.

2.Your butt allows you to look super cute in A-line dresses. You know the dresses that get really snug in the middle and flare out at the bottom? Your butt is what makes that flare happen. Thank your butt for the flare.

2014-04-20 18.45.18-2

Thanks, Boo-tay! Without you this dress would hang limp!

3. You get to eat more! To fuel your butt muscles! The gluteal muscles are the biggest muscles in the human body because it has to keep everything from the hips up totally erect. That’s a big job and it requires fuel! So eat a plateful of deliciousness and realize that you’re allowing your butt to work to it’s full potential.

4. Because the gluteal muscles keep the body up, they help you climb stairs, ladders, and jungle gyms, they are also known as the “Anti-Gravity Muscles.” So, basically your butt is a super hero. You’re welcome.

5. DID YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY? YOUR BUTT IS A SUPERHERO!

6. It aids vocal power. I had a voice teacher way back when that said I had a good shape for vocal projection because my lower half was large enough to create powerful vocal vibration. Now, I don’t know if this is science…. but… Beyonce. Think about it.

7. It aids in pushing out babies. Ever heard the phrase “Child-bearing hips”? Your hips, your curves, your lower half allows your body to be capable of bringing life into this universe. Now, I’ve never had kids myself, but I’ll be damned if this wasn’t one of the most (if not THE most) magical thing about being a woman. Say thanks to your Anti-Gravity Super Butt because it is a huge part of giving life.

I’m sure you wonderful people out there can think of more reasons why your butt is excellent. Or why your thighs are excellent. Or your abdomen. Or your eyes. Or your hair. Or your feet….. The point is, loving your body for what it allows you to do (and not just how it looks) is outrageously important. Give that body part that you dislike some credit. It’s a part of you, and it helps make you who you are. Love the crap out of it. (See what I did there?)

Until next time, friends.

I-love-you-with-all-my-butt

Fear, My Dear Old Friend

Fear, My Dear Old Friend

IMG_0756

Last week I had the wonderful opportunity to take a class at The Second City, Hollywood for free at their open house. I took a two-hour Musical Theater Improvisation Class. (I also like to call it Heaven.)

I shared the afternoon with about twenty other wonderfully brave individuals who wanted to explore one of the most terrifying art forms ever created.  It takes a specific type of weirdo to be able to get up in front of a group of strangers and sing a song that has no established melody, no established words, and no established story. You have to make it up. You have to trust that the people around you will support and contribute to your song. And the only way to learn or get better, is to get over your mental road blocks, trust yourself, and recognize that you are not going to die. And it is TERRIFYING.

Now, I have been lucky. I have been fortunate that my life and my training has taken me to this point. This point in which I know that getting on stage, choosing a character, and trusting myself is a better choice than letting fear take over. I have been lucky that I was taught to fight against my nerves, and to ignore the concern of whether or not I will be “good enough” on stage. But that took a lot of practice and patience.

That being said, I have been having so much trouble watching my peers, colleagues, and friends give in to their mental roadblocks on stage. I have been watching many performers lately in classes, auditions, and karaoke nights, succumbing to their fear. I can see in their eyes the message “I DO NOT DESERVE TO BE HERE,” “PLEASE GET ME OFF THIS STAGE,” “WHY AM I NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO SHARE THIS SPACE WITH YOU?”… And thus, the story becomes about those messages behind their eyes. The audience’s experience (if they are supportive) is being on the edge of their seats, hoping that this individual succeeds in getting through to the end of the scene, rather than the story the player is so desperately trying to tell.

Furthermore, I keep seeing this fear-mentality in people who are not performers as well. People who are too afraid to go for a new relationship, or talk to a stranger, or quit the job that they hate, or end a toxic relationship, or go on a trip to see new things. They always seem to come up with a reason why they are afraid, or why they don’t deserve that thing they want to go after, which is really outrageously silly.

Why do we do this to ourselves? And not just performers, but people? Why do some people with strong Sad Dragons walk into a space, or approach a new situation with deep inferiority? Most people with these types of Sad Dragons can tell you why.

“It was my upbringing.”

“It’s just in my blood.”

“I’m destined to be a depressed person, so there you go.”

“I’m going through a lot right now, so I just feel self-conscious all the time.”

“I’m not smart enough.”

“I’m not pretty enough.”

“I’m not talented enough.”

“I’m not thin enough.”

“I AM NOT ENOUGH.”

I empathize with these statements. They’re in my head all the time too. And these statements can either be speed bumps, stop signs, or straight-up brick walls in the way of a person’s joy. There’s no way on this planet I could have gotten up to sing improv if I listened to all of the voices in my head, and accepted them as truth.

My solution? Practice Accepting the Inner Monologue of the Sad Dragon, Noticing it’s Presence, and Using it for Motivation to Move. 

Negativity and self-doubt ARE in your head for a reason, but they don’t have to be manifested into a Stop Sign or a Brick Wall. Let’s explore further.

Let’s say you have a mental roadblock with running your first 5K.

Sad Dragon: “I will never be good enough to pull this off. I am too unhealthy and I will never have enough motivation to look as good as everyone else out there. I tried once before, and I’m going to fail again, so why try?” 

That’s some nasty mind-language. How can you change it?

Step 1: START THE THING. Put on your running shoes and go outside, even if you feel like crap about it.

Step 2: DO THE THING. Start moving. Even if it’s just a walk. Just go.

Step 3: SAY HI TO THE DRAGON Acknowledge your Sad Dragon’s monologue in your head. Say hello to it, and try to separate your emotions from it. Remember, you are NOT your Sad Dragon. It’s just one little piece of you.

Step 4: DONT STOP DOING THE THING  Keep moving.

Step 5: THANK THE DRAGON Give that sad language a mental hug and THANK IT. Offer it some GRATITUDE for being there to give you the motivation to get outside and try something that’s hard. (Because remember, you’re already outside, aren’t you?)

Step 6: CHANGE THE DRAGON’S LANGUAGE (This is the tough part, so be patient with yourself.)  The hard part is to switch the language in your head. “I acknowledge that I don’t feel as healthy as I would like to be, and that’s why I have these negative feelings about myself. But I signed up for a 5K which is a step in the right direction. I am so glad I took this chance on myself because I am giving myself an opportunity to grow.”

Step 7: LEARN AS MUCH ABOUT THE THING AS YOU CAN Do your homework, and find new ways to improve and get motivated. For this case, get a new running app, subscribe to a blog, or find a super fun race you can do with a buddy.

Step 8: KICK SOME ASS Run your race and watch change happen.

Never EVER EVVEEERRR let fear or self-doubt stop you from running after something that you want or need. No matter how small that little thing is, you will never get to sing your song for others if you’re too scared. Your voice matters. So give your Sad Dragon a hug, tell it to speak the right language, and give yourself the chance to sing your face off.

Keep training, my friends.

Your Life is Not a Math Problem

Something odd happened to me the other night that I felt might be relevant to the interest of potential readers. I was set up to visit someone I had not seen in a long time– an old flame, if you will. He contacted me. We texted a little bit. And then he said he wanted to “catch up and get a beer.” Now to be honest, this is NOT what I’m focusing on at this point in my life. I am genuinely trying to zero in on my career, my blog, my own personal growth AWAY from all things that have to do with dating. But, I’m a girl… no…. I’m a HUMAN …. and when a person decides to show interest in spending an evening with me, I am going to want to follow up. Who wouldn’t?

So, the evening of our meeting came up and I strutted around my room, planned a little extra time to get ready, thought about all of the questions he might ask, and the questions I wanted to ask him.

I left my house feeling optimistic and excited to share how successful I have been the past few years because DUDE, I work for a CHILDREN’S THEATER COMPANY (Putting my Theatre Arts B.A. to work, WHAT?!?)

Also, I’ve been running 10Ks, and lifting weights… so let’s go ahead and entertain the idea that I might look better in my jeans than the last time I saw this person.

I hadn’t felt so confident in weeks, and I was enjoying the crap out of it.

Finally, I got the place where this old flame was (a gathering with many old friends). I smiled and said hello. He gave me a hug– the first hug between us in probably four or five years. I waited for him to bring up where we might meet later.

Nothing happened.

Hours went by.

I kept looking at my phone to see if he was trying to be coy about it, and text me instead of asking in front of everyone.

Nothing.

I continued to talk to my old friends, catching up, pretending as hard as I could that I was interested in everything they had to say, when really I was just mortified at the idea that I was being ignored by the one person who I came to see— because HE SAID HE WANTED TO SEE ME.

Needless to say, it became apparent that he was 100% uninterested in catching up with me. He was distracted. He didn’t make much eye contact. He was heavily hanging all over some other girl, and she quickly turned into the personification of my insecurity. Because, you know, she was pretty.

After another half an hour or so of inner-turmoil, I decided to say a quick farewell, and I walked back to my car, alone.

I walked away feeling vague and disappointed that I even entertained the idea of “going out” with someone in the first place.

And then, the Sad Dragon showed up.

You are an idiot. 

Oh, hey there Sad Dragon.

You told yourself you weren’t interested in dating. This is just karma for going back on your word. How could you be such a moron? 

Shut up, I was just trying to do something fun.

A lot of good that did you. Nobody even wanted to talk to you. These people were not your friends then, and they’re not your friends now. You’re the same loser you were back in college, just trying to get attention from some guy. You’re repeating your old mistakes! So much for your journey on personal growth!  

Shit. You’re right. I’m a failure. This has been a failure of an evening. I could have been writing, practicing, exercising… anything but this.

But you didn’t! You chose to be stupid! Congratulations, Stupid Face! Now you and me get to feel stupid together! Now who wants a gallon of Ben and Jerry’s and a bottle of red wine? 

My Sad Dragon wanted to eat me from the inside out and I did everything I could to stop crying– tears mostly from disappointment in myself, rather than the situation at hand.

Now lets put a magnifying glass on this situation. What did I do to let the Sad Dragon out? Because believe it or not, I have control over the things it says to me… because, let’s face it… it IS me. What about this situation ruined me for an evening? Why did I beat myself up with self-hatred when all I was doing was dealing with the information that I had?

In my head was a simple equation:

Single Girl Trying to Get the Most Out of Life + Ex From the Past Wants to Hang Out =  A Super Duper Great Time!

But, here’s the thing. Life is not a Math Problem. Life is more like improvisation. We write the story as we go. We can’t control the outcome of our situation because we can’t control the people around us. All we can do is say yes to the facts we have at hand, and make a choice. We don’t always know how people are going to act, how we are going to be treated, or what our choices might amount to in a given day.

The equation is closer to this:

Single Girl  + Ex = Potential for a Great time  OR  Getting ignored  OR Being manipulated OR All the Bars are Closed  OR  We Have a Heated Argument  OR  We Fall in Love and Get Married  OR  I Get Sick and Throw Up all Over Him  OR  He Gets Sick and Throws Up All Over Me   OR  We Get Eaten by a Giant Spider  OR  He Kidnaps Me and Takes Me to Vegas

….. The list of possible outcomes is endless. Sure, some are more likely outcomes than others… but the best way I could have shut up my Sad Dragon that night, would be to simply celebrate the fact that I said YES to something.

I chose to open myself up to some kind of potential. The results weren’t great… but I went somewhere, instead of staying home. I caught up with people I haven’t seen in years. I confidently walked up to a building, and actually felt attractive. I made like, three new Facebook friends! It’s not all bad. So I didn’t get a beer with Mr. Whatever-His-Face. It doesn’t matter. I can move on. I can keep saying “Yes” and keep making new choices in every single moment.

And the Sad Dragon can’t win if I stay open to all possible outcomes of any given event.

Life is still fine.

And I can still say “yes” to any equation that comes my way.

The Day I Got to Slay a Dragon

The Day I Got to Slay a Dragon
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Every once in a while I truly feel like God, the Universe, Destiny, the Higher Power (whatever it is you prefer to call it) taps me on the shoulder and says “Hello.” This story we performed at work made me pause, for obvious reasons.
I work for a children’s theater company that takes story submissions from schools, and then surprises the authors by bringing their stories to life. It’s a really fun, creative job. And I get to play a myriad of different characters in a single day!
Now, the fact that I got to play the girl, and not the dragon was magical indeed. I’m tall. I have long, lanky limbs, and a big loud voice. Thus, I usually have to play the dragon. But on this day I got to be the little girl. Mia. The Dragon Slayer. Yes, I was performing for a bunch of little kids. Yes, it was really silly as I pretended to shove an imaginary sword through my scene partner while he pretended to light the city on fire.
But, damn, did I feel like a badass playing that character.
My favorite part of this child’s story is:
She got her armor on and went to slay the dragon. She tried but she knew she couldn’t do it. Although she knew that if she didn’t it would terrorize the city.”
It’s quite a no-brainer concept, but it speaks volumes to me and the story I’m attempting to write for my life.
Then, she said to herself ‘I can’t let that happen’ so she didn’t give up.” 
SHE DIDNT GIVE UP. 
Even this little eight-year-old girl gets it! She understands in her sweet, young mind, that we have to do something to stand up to evil when no one else is willing to stand up! She understands that it’s ok for us to have doubts about our abilities. She understands that we need to stop self-doubting because others need us to put on our amor. Or our big girl pants. And she understands that when we fight, incredible results will come from them.
It’s amazing to me how much we innately understand about ourselves when we are young, and yet as we get older, we get affected by the world and start overcomplicating our lives.
We give up on relationships.
We get lazy.
We stop imagining.
We stop believing in the vibrancy of existence.
We give up.
When I was a little girl, I remember putting on dresses, prancing around my living room, and feeling like the most gorgeous creature on the planet. I dreamed of being strong and of running free in open meadows. And then I became a teenager, and got angry, and got interested in boys, and started caring about what other people thought of me, instead of living my own damn life. I chose not to fight the dragons of my city anymore, because it was more important to impress boys, or impress teachers, or impress parents. Life was about proving a point, rather than fighting for what truly mattered.
Stupid dragons trying to mess up my village for me.
I just don’t have the patience for that crap anymore.
I encourage everyone to think like they did when they were young. Spend some time thinking about what your life might look like if you un-learn all of the crap and self-hatred and dejectedness.
Even when things get ugly and stupid, DONT GIVE UP.
It’s one thing when the Dragon is terrorizing you. But when it goes rogue, you better put your armor on and fight that thing.
You never know who is depending on you.
Until next time, friends!