“Die, Vampires.”

Has anyone ever been tormented in their head by the things others have said about you?

Actually, you know what, that is a ridiculous question.

EVERYONE HAS BEEN TORMENTED BY THE THINGS OTHERS HAVE SAID ABOUT THEM. 

We all have had this experience, even if it was back in the third grade, when Johnny called you a stupid-face and told you to eat dirt. Johnny was an a- hole. I really hope you didn’t eat dirt… I would have been the kid that ate the dirt in silence, not told an adult, and then cried about it at home. But I digress….

Anyway, this really got me thinking about the narrative we have in our heads when our tormentors, bullies, relatives, coaches, etc., tell us things that are completely detrimental to our well-being. We may not be able to control what people say or do to us, but we have 100% responsibility for the way we react to it, and how it controls our behavior in the future.

Unfortunately, I have been a pushover most of my life. I’m still grappling with the terrible things that have been said to me. But recently, I got an idea. I read in a book that if you can imagine yourself achieving a goal as vividly as possible, you’re WAY more likely to achieve it in your life. So I thought, maybe that could work the other way around as well. Maybe I could replace my responses to the jerks with something else, something I wish I had said, and that can make me stronger now.

So lately, I’ve decided to change my narrative. Entirely through the use of imagination (yay Theater Degree!) I’m working on replacing my memory with something the a stronger, older, wiser me would say the the A-holes.

 

The following is a list of things things that have been said to me in my past, how I responded then, and the new narrative I am now using so I can move the eff on with my life.

Hater: “You’re too fat for the standards of this performance group.”  

Old Me: “Yeah I know, but it’s fine I’ll just be in the back where I can sing. I’m good at singing anyway, I’m not here because I’m good-looking.

New Me: “Hey! F*CK you! I made it just as well as anyone else. Also, I’m a beautiful, talented goddess, and my body is not your business.”

 

Hater: “I’m cutting you from this dance. You look like a horse.” 

Old Me: Continues to rehearse in silence until the tears pour out of my face uncontrollably.

New Me:  “You know, it takes a really specific kind of person to look a twelve-year-old in the eyes and compare them to a barn animal. Although, horses are majestic! So I guess that means I’m majestic! Would you like to do something else in this scene? Or can I call my mom and go home?”

 

Hater: “Do you think you could lose ten pounds before opening night? None of these costumes fit you.”

Old Me: (Awkward laughter) ” I’m sorry. I could try? ”

New Me: “I hear crash diets are really unhealthy, especially for fifth graders. So, should I put your name down for being held responsible for my early onset anorexic tendencies? I’ll just give you my therapist’s address and you can write her a check directly.”

 

Hater: “Your body is fine, it could just be… you know… firmer. More toned.” 

Old Me: Oh yeah, I agree. That’s why I’ve been trying to lift weights and eat more lean protein. Firmer definitely is better.

New Me: Continuing to eat cake. We’re breaking up.

 

 

Hater: Good luck trying to find someone who loves you as much as I do. You’re a lot to handle and I doubt anyone else will understand how to deal with you. 

Old me: Cries.

New Me: Those two sentences make absolutely NO sense! And my worth is not defined by whether or not a boyfriend can “handle” me. I can handle myself, thank you very much! Giggity!

 

 

Hater: Ugh, you’re so irresponsible and dreamy. Why can’t you pay attention and be smart?  

Old me: I don’t know. I guess my mind wanders too much. I’m sorry.

New Me: I’m a creative person and I’m very smart about a lot of things. My intelligence is defined differently than yours, and maybe you would realize that if you actually attempted to listen to me once in a while.

 

 

Hater: Your involvement in the Theater Arts is making you vulnerable to Satan. You’re doing the work of the Devil and you don’t even know it. That’s why you’re not happy, and you never will be until you change your ways. 

Old Me: Frantically searches the Bible for answers, prays to God to take away my passions and to change my heart to love more “Godly” things.  

New Me: You’re insane. If you don’t have respect for my passions, then you don’t respect me. We’re breaking up.

 

 

 

You guys, don’t get me wrong. The experiences in our past that sucked make us who we are. They are a part of ourselves that give us the fuel to live out our passions and connect to others. But if the a-holes in your past are holding you back from anything in your present, try to change the narrative and see what happens.

 

xoxox

 

 

A Public Apology About my Fattitude

If I were to break down my life into categories that describe my experiences, there would be a handful of columns or pillars, if you will…

I’d say that there are bout five or six “Life Experience Pillars,” but here are few examples:

Pillar 1: Performing life.

Pillar 2: Romantic relationships.

Pillar 3: Weight Loss and Body Image

 

 

A lot of my friends think I’m absolutely nuts. The last time I could even be considered “big” was when I was ten years old. I went through a growth spurt as a pre-teen and have been a pretty healthy size my whole life. But the conversations that dominated my household during my most important years were always about the same thing:

Fat. Being big. Hating skinny people. Dieting. Low-carb. Low-fat. Size charts. measurements. Being put in the back. Feeling invisible. Size 2. Size 13. Hip size. Breast size. Hair color.

You can say that this is just how girls are as they are discovering their bodies, but in my house it was extreme. It was all we talked about. I know now that this was the result of insanely low self-esteem, and a common held belief by many of the women in my family that your worth was based on how you look, and nothing much else mattered.

This attitude sunk into the heads of the ladies around me. It really affected us and it’s infuriating.

I grew up believing I was “overweight” —and that it actually mattered.

 

 

I remember being taught in Kindergarten that it doesn’t matter what you look like, that the most important things in life were being kind and being a good friend.

So why on EARTH did that part of my growth and learning become less LOUD than the voices in my head that told me to keep losing weight?

It sure made adolescence a pain in the ass.

 

 

And you know what?

I’m 28 years old and I still bitch about it.

I still have to fight that little voice in my head that wants to start screaming any time I’m bloated.

I still look at “Lose 10 pounds in 10 Days” articles on pinterest.

I still have to quiet the part of me that wants to punch a thin woman in the face while she happily eats a donut or two.

I still look at the beautiful dancers at my theater job and ache over how I will never look like them, when all I wanted as a child was to be a ballerina. I entertain those sorrowful emotions until I knock some sense into myself for being an idiot because WE SHARE THE SAME COSTUMES and I’m being ridiculous.

Maybe I am insane.

But what I want to express is this:

I’m sorry.

I’m so SO sorry for contributing to this unhealthy culture  regarding size and body image by complaining OUT LOUD about my size or what I look like. How SHITTY is that to other people?

I am sorry that I openly talk about having “fat days” like they’re a truly negative thing. They’re not. They’re just a thing that happens to everybody when they retain water. It’s not a big deal.

I am sorry that I whined a little about finishing a half marathon and not losing any weight. (That should NOT have been a thing in my head when I made a big life accomplishment. But it was. And that is a failure on my part.)

I am sorry for the amount of time I spend on this subject when I could be doing so many other things with my time.

 

And I think, most importantly, I am sorry for believing that no one else went through this kind of struggle. I’m sorry that because I see my friends being successful in their lives, I assume that they must never have this mental fight that I have with myself almost every day…

 

THIS IS A REAL THING PEOPLE EXPERIENCE BECAUSE OF THE CULTURE OF FAT SHAMING AND SKINNY-GLORIFYING.

 

At what point are we just going to decide that what we are, in this very moment, is good enough? That our bodies do not need alterations? That the only thing that should be propelling us to eat healthy and exercise is the sheer fact that it makes us happy?

 

I try to run because it makes me happy… I like the feeling of accomplishment. It should have absolutely NOTHING to do with a desire to be skinnier.

I would really like to kill that part of my brain that still believes that I run so that I can be skinny.

It has definitely shrunk over the years, but it’s still there.

 

I’m sorry that I haven’t just made a choice to halt the negativity towards the way I look and to just have a good time living my life.

 

The self-hate is not worth the energy. It is hurtful to myself, and it is hurtful to those around me.

I’ll close with this letter.

 

Dear Sad-Fat Dragon:  

I love you. I love that you have given me the passion and fire to encourage other women to love and accept themselves. I love that what once started as a negativity toward my body eventually led me to love physical activity. However, it’s time for you to shut the eff up and let me be happy with the way I look. 

Thanks,

 Jess 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Live Your Truth (Explained with Tacos)

Live Your Truth.

What the heck does that mean?

It’s such a complicated little sentence because truth (if we are speaking away from any religious principles) ebbs and flows for a person.

When I was eight years old, I wanted to survive on cold bologna sandwiches and hamburger helper until the day I died.

As a high schooler, I was convinced that by the time I reached my twenties, I would be living the high life in New York City on the brink of my first Broadway production.

As a young college student, I had intense disdain for all things that could even remotely be considered lazy, took 18 units a semester, had a part time job, a boyfriend, and an incessant need to do more with my life.

Fresh out of college I had physical and emotional trouble, and ached for socializing as much as possible.

Today I like to run 10Ks, and take naps so I don’t have to talk to anyone.

 

So when someone tells me to “live my truth” or asks “What do you want?”  I sort of cock my head to the side, shrug, and say “I don’t know. Tacos?”

My truth has become tacos.

 

There has to be a bigger question here.

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In all serious, the fact of the matter is that I (like SO many other people out there) adjust their wants and needs based on the expectations of others.

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Maybe it’s the recovering Catholic in me, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation:

A: What would you like to do?

B: I don’t know. Whatever you want makes me happy.

A: That’s not what I asked.

B: But that’s my answer.

A: Okay, I want to go watch a movie and eat pizza.

B: Great. I’ll do that with you. That will make me happy. (But I will silently be thinking about how badly I wanted to go to mini-golf and  have tacos. I will be distracted all night about it, and then I will start to get passive aggressive, blaming the other person for not knowing my needs that I never asked for in the first place.)  

 

This example is of course on a small scale, but once it becomes a habit, it ends up being applied to the big things in life as well.

Your religion.

Your sexuality.

Your marriage.

Your passions.

Your morality.

 

THAT stuff is your truth. That is the stardust inside of you that can’t be changed or altered, no matter how hard you try to ignore it. At some point or another, if you ignore it long enough, it’s going to explode out of your face and get all over everyone. You will want to blame everyone who has ever influenced you for the outcome of your life, but the fact of the matter is, you are the only one who has real control of your life!

So…

lets live our truth! Ask yourself what it is inside of you that you NEED to listen to.

Dig. Ask questions. Try different things.

Throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks.

DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR IT.

Share the things you discover about yourself. Those who love you will stick around and support these things. Those who don’t will fall away. But it won’t matter because you’re being honest about who you are.

 

Then put that sh*t into practice. Stop denying yourself and start speaking up.

 

It may seem trivial, but it actually does help to start by saying:

“I do not want pizza. I want tacos.”

 

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It becomes a habit.

And then you learn how to ask for what you want.

And then you learn how to ask for what you need.

And then you learn how to know what you need, and declare that you’re going to go get it.

 

 

And then suddenly, we’re all eating tacos, and EVERYONE is happy.

 

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When the Fear Dragon Buries Your Dreams in the Dirt

When the Fear Dragon Buries Your Dreams in the Dirt

I have so many things on my body at any given time that remind me to stop being afraid.

I have a runners bracelet that says “Live Fearlessly.”

I have a necklace I wear almost every day that says “Fearless”

I have a tattoo on my left wrist that says “Courage, 1st John 4:18.” (This verse states “There is no fear in love.” I got that one after my abusive relationship in college)

 

I am very aware that I am constantly terrified.

And I’m trying to figure out what it is that scares me so much. I mean, I have the fear of people being upset with me. I am afraid of disappointing others. I am afraid that people will find out that I’m not all smiles, optimism, and kindness. I am afraid that I don’t deserve the job that I have. I am afraid that I don’t deserve to dream bigger. I am afraid of rejection. I am afraid of choosing the wrong “right” as I try to figure out my own right and wrong. I am afraid of being overweight. I am afraid of depression. I am afraid of being unhappy.  I am afraid I will someday be a terrible mother. I am afraid I won’t be able to finish my half marathon.

I’m afraid that I don’t deserve what I have, and that eventually someone will find out that I am not deserving of it, and it will all be taken from me.

 

Usually I use humor and creativity to deal with all of this.

But lately things don’t feel so funny or creative.

Lately it just feels like work. Being social feels like work. Talking about anything other than the mountain of emotion that I have buried myself under feels like work. I’m not allowing myself to have any fun because the fear has turned into imposter syndrome, which has turned into a belief that I don’t deserve what I have, which has turned into self-destruction and lack of motivation.

I like to think that maybe I’m just exhausted.

Or maybe I am selfishly trying to blame someone for these flaws… Recently I caught myself in a very ugly state, while I was watching some kids doing a wonderful performance, and my thoughts were “Wow, I wonder what MY life would have been like if someone gave a crap about how badly I wanted to perform as a kid, and didn’t berate me for wanting to do things that cost money outside of school.”

Now, of course this isn’t true, but somewhere deep down, there is a little girl in my heart who still feels like her dreams and hopes are not worth anyone’s time. She put them in a box and buried them, so they wouldn’t bother anybody. (Let me clarify– SHE put them there. It’s no one else’s fault.)

Now that I’ve learned this about myself, pulling that box out of that mound of dirt sometimes feels like the most difficult thing in the effing universe. I have to dig my hands into the dry, cracked, soil that has grown solid over time. I feel like I’m sobbing into the ground , screaming at my younger self for ignoring that box for all of this time. Meanwhile the grime gets under my fingernails, I can’t stop staring at this dirt, and while I dig, people in my life walk by, and get dirt thrown in their face.

 

That’s a very dramatic metaphor.

But it’s sort of what I feel like lately.

 

Every time I didn’t stick up for myself, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I chose to stay up late on the phone for the sake of someone else’s problems, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I put someone else’s needs before my own, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I watered down my creative ideas out of fear of judgement, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I lived according to someone else’s wishes and demands, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I didn’t ask for what I needed, I put more dirt on that box.

Every time I chose to drink too much, and punish myself by locking myself in a bathroom, I put more dirt on that box.

 

Nobody else DID this to me. I let them do it, and thus I put the dirt there.

 

 

At the moment, I’m choosing to take the time so I can just pause, and write all this down. Earlier in the week I posted that “Get Money” quote on instagram, because I was in all of this pain, but didn’t have the time to feel it, give it the attention it deserves, and attempt to figure it out. So I used humor to deal. Sometimes, that’s the best I’ve got.

 

Right now, I’m tired of digging. I’m tired of trying to answer the question “What do you want?” because I don’t know how to answer it. I don’t remember what’s in that box in the dirt. I was always too scared to really look at it.

How do you ever know, really?  Maybe there’s nothing in it. If I learned anything from ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ and Dr. Seuss, the point is the journey, not the destination.

And maybe the journey doesn’t have to be all sunshine and rainbows.

And maybe that’s why I haven’t stopped digging.

 

 

Huh.

That’s deep shit.

(See what I did there?… Deep? … Like, ‘Dig Deep’?…No? MMk.)

 

 

 

Self-Deprecation: A Big Waste of Everyone’s Time

Something has been on my mind lately.

I know a lot of people that spend a significant amount of time self-deprecating.

“I’m just not that smart.”

“I wish my hair looked like yours.”

“That’s what I get for being short and fat.”

“I’ll never look good no matter how much I diet.”

“I mean, I’m obviously the least intelligent person in this room.”

“Could I be any more useless?”

“What good will it do if I try to communicate my feelings?”

“I’m not worth anyone’s time.”

(S/he says as s/he tries to backtrack the severity of this blanket, self-hate statement with a nervous laugh.)

My Response?

Shut. The hell. Up.

 

I refuse to any longer be the type of friend or family member that pats you on the head and tells you how pretty and perfect you are, despite how horribly you speak about yourself.

Do you know why?

Because I love you.

Because I believe we are so much better than just fishing for compliments.

I believe that there are FAR MORE INTERESTING things to talk about rather than our inability to lose ten pounds.

I believe that we are lovely, capable human beings who (just like every other human on this planet) may go through some awful times, but are courageous enough to put on their big girl pants and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

I believe that we spend so much time worrying and whining about what we aren’t,  that we don’t even get to scratch the surface of everything that we could be.

 

I am SO TIRED of this conversation. I’m tired of hearing it, and I’m tired of it being in my own head.  And you know what? Here’s the thing…

THE VOICES ARE ALWAYS GOING TO BE THERE.

There’s no magical little “off” switch that will suddenly make us feel perfectly confident and content. There will always be a time when we will feel like we aren’t enough. We will fall short. We will be forced to look at ourselves. We will fail.

So, we can choose to dwell on our failings, shamefully staring at our shortcomings OR we can use our failure as fuel.

Let your failure be your motivator.

So, maybe you’re saying “Jessica, the voices are so loud. I always hear them, causing so much anxiety and depression for me. They stunt me and make me feel terrible about myself. They make me want to quit my job and hide in a corner forever.”

I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve been there more often than I would like to admit. But I made the decision that I don’t want to be crying in a corner forever. I want to be useful to my community. I want to know what it’s like to feel like Superwoman. I want to know how to reach my full potential. I chose TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

For me, it’s running, writing, eating well, going to bed early, loving people as hard as I can, and laughing at myself.

Example: I used to hate the fact that I’m tall. Sometimes it is still a source of insecurity, but when it starts to bother me, I make a joke and say “Watch out, here comes the big gorilla” in a stupid voice  we all laugh about it.

The voices can’t control me if I am always aware that I control them.  

But that’s me. That’s my therapy.

For another person, it might be a different story. Maybe it’s taking up an interest like cooking, spending more time with kids, meditating, doing something useful in the community…(I’m a big believer in doing something charitable if you want to stop feeling like a Big Sad Screw-Up. It’s kind of impossible to feel like one when you’re focusing on giving.)

 

But, please. For everyone’s sake.

Find a way to get over it.

Find a way to start embracing the failure, and staring it dead in the face. If it’s something that’s really causing big problems to your health or your relationships, make a change.

Try something new and open your mind to different possibilities.

Ask yourself what you could be if you let go of the bull crap that clouds your head, and go become it.

It’s that simple.

You are in charge of the life that you live.

Whine a little if you have to, but find a way to get over it.

You deserve it.

The Dragon’s Voice Needs to Be Heard

Panic attacks run in my family.

Let me rephrase that… panic attacks are RAMPANT in my family. And anyone who has ever had one understands how awful and ridiculous they can feel.

I know they are different and come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are so massive they can make you feel like you only have a few minutes to live. Others feel like a heart attack. Mine usually start with a nervous feeling in my gut which spreads to my mind, makes me start feeling like the biggest failure on the planet, gives me the shakes and cause the irrational fear that I am about to vomit in public. Also I usually can’t stop crying.

 

Yeah. They suck.

 

But I have been working hard to have a relationship with the thing (or things) that ignite my anxiety. I try to figure out why they start in the first place. I ask myself—

What did I do today?

Was I productive or did I neglect something important?

Did I eat to fuel my body and soul, or did I eat poorly?

Did I get enough sleep?

Did I focus on the good things in my life?

Did I achieve (or set) any goals?

How is my relationship with myself right now?

Am I being self-deprecating, or practicing gratitude and self-love?

 

I find, more often than not, that the overwhelming feeling of dread and sorrow stems from not saying “Yes” to what’s happening in my heart and mind. It often comes from self-neglect– in other words, letting the Dragon roar as loud as it wants and letting it win. Whether that is from not giving myself a break from hours of work, putting junk in my body, not getting enough rest, or dwelling on past mistakes.

These things are all just anxiety fuel.  Sad Dragon meat and potatoes with a side of vodka and an extra large slice of cheesecake.

 

So, what do you do when anxiety is running rampant? Personally, I don’t think it’s useful for anyone to hate or ignore the panicky uneasiness. In fact, it should be looked at as a message that your Dragon is trying to tell you something important. Something is causing the hurt, so it would be detrimental to neglect it. Otherwise, it will just start roaring louder and louder until you cant decipher the messages.

Combating anxiety is different for everybody, but I’m going to start by saying “Yes” to the things my body and mind really need. And now that I’ve had an anxiety-ridden conversation (well, more like a kicking-and-screaming-break-up-fight with my Sad Dragon) with myself, I’m starting to hear what the Dragon is trying to tell me.

So, I’m focusing on three things for the next few months:

  1. Cutting Back on Work. I find that I don’t know who I am when I am not working. At any given time, I usually have five or six jobs, mostly because I am terrified of being broke. That is very unhealthy fear-based mentality and I need to let it go. If I focus on staying minimalist, and loving living on less, I will be absolutely fine. I must trust this process.
  2. Running My First Half Marathon I have been running now for a little over a year (mostly 5Ks and 10Ks) and I love it. It calms my mind, elevates my mood, and makes me feel like the Super Hero I have longed to be since I was a teenager. I have had this goal for a while now, and I need to stop putting it off because of work. In April, it’s on. I will be running 13.1 miles for the first time.
  3. Traveling and Seeing as Much as Possible because it’s FUN The last time I truly went somewhere far away and different from home was in high school on a bus with a chaperone. I am a theater-loving Californian and I have never experienced San Francisco, have only seen Yosemite once (when I was eleven), and VERY rarely get out to see live entertainment. I don’t give myself permission to see things, just for the sake of seeing them. Again, it’s usually because I’m working.

 

I need to stop saying that I’m too busy to experience my own life. I need to stop letting my Dragon win. I am in control of my emotions. Sometimes I just have to remind myself of that, and that’s ok.

 

What is your Dragon trying to tell you?

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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.

Fear, My Dear Old Friend

Fear, My Dear Old Friend

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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.

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!