An Ode To The Overwhelmed

An Ode To The Overwhelmed

And as you stand there

Late again

Because you forgot to allow time to park
And the elevator was slow

And you left 10 minutes late to begin with
With your shoes that pinch

And your pants that are a little too small
Since you started eating white bread again

And as you paw through your bag
Looking for the suite number
That you’re not sure you wrote down to begin with

Let us now praise you.

You, the untidy.

You, the careless.

You, the easily distracted by sparkly things.

The money you spend on late fees alone
Could feed a family in Africa –

Which reminds you that you meant to send in the kids’ Unicef money and

And that despite your best efforts,
You rarely eat a square meal,
You almost never get enough sleep

And exercise seems like a word that magazines have developed
Just to make you feel bad about yourself.

But you are good and brave.

You, flying by the seat of your pants

Making it work

Putting out fires

Saying your prayers

And dancing your dance of now and later and maybe and


As innocent as each morning’s sunrise,

You are a fount of good intentions.

Your good humor is as graceful as a baby giraffe,
Even if that joke you were trying to make to the hotel clerk fell flat
And your toast at the wedding came out sounding a little….funny.

But you have gifts that no one knows about.

You have the strength to bend in the wind

You have the joyful spirit that loves a good belly laugh,

You have the wisdom to understand that everything will all come out all right in the end and

You have the faith to light a candle rather than curse the darkness.

That is, if you could find the book of matches from that romantic restaurant that you went to for your anniversary but since you didn’t have a reservation they made you wait at the bar for half an hour during which you had two appletinis and the rest of the night is a bit of a blur.

So much for the overpriced lingerie.

You are beautiful.

You are beautiful.

Frazzled and overworked and underpaid

You are the one who forgot your wallet

And forgot your receipt for the dry cleaners

And forgot your keys which you just set down five seconds ago, so where could they possibly have gone?

But you never forget to say, “I love you”

And you never forget to give a big smile to that nice parking guy

And you never fail to show endless patience when the

Too-tightly wrapped and overly-conscientious start to offer their Oh-so-helpful suggestions about how you might feel better if you would just learn to alphabetize your spice rack.

You are beautiful.

So, wear the lingerie on Monday for no reason.

And why not just refuse to participate in the bake sale this year?

And give yourself a compliment for something you did well today.

Because you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known.

A Prayer for Hoping against Hope

A Prayer for Hoping against Hope

And as you stand there

Hands clasped in front of you

Eyes downcast

Concealing the disobedient pounding of your heart
It dawns on you:

Here we go again.

And while you no longer allow yourself the long, elaborate
daydreams in which everything works out perfectly,
You catch yourself thinking: Well, it could happen.

And though you have long since given up making bargains
with God,

You find yourself whispering: Please.

And since you have — years ago — quit telling
Anyone anything about anything
Because honestly,
The things people say, such as,

“Oh, it will happen for you, I just know it!”


“I have a friend who went through the same thing and then one
day, just like magic. . .”


“The minute you stop wanting it, that’s when it will happen.”

Oh. Okay.

So you haven’t told a soul.

Except, after long consideration, your very dearest best friend.

And you know the odds are against you.

And still

You know that life is not a numbers game and
The Lord does, indeed, move in some very mysterious ways and

Haven’t you earned —
And there you stop short.

Because life is also not about earning or deserving,

And it doesn’t matter how hard you’ve tried or how much you’ve
sacrificed or how positive your positive mental attitude has

What matters is reality.

And reality says: It’s possible.

So you dwell in possibility.

Between the dark and the daylight.

No longer storming off, slamming doors, and swearing, “Never

No longer crying out in agony because you had been so sure this
was It.

No longer elated by another promising sign.

You are here now.

Committed to enjoying the ride.

Trusting in the friendliness of the universe.

Awakened to your heart’s desire.

Knowing that there is no such thing as false hope.

All hope is real.

Real. Hope. Now.

It’s all we have.

And who knows?

Perhaps the best really is
Yet to come.

It’s Not All about Talent

It’s Not All about Talent

Here’s another hard truth: your talent doesn’t entitle you to anything.

You will not be surprised to learn that talent is not enough.

Every artist is (or believes herself to be) talented.

Talent is the price of admission, kids.

You’d be amazed how many agent/manager/gallery owner submission letters say, “I’m very talented and I think we should work together.”

You’re talented? Whoopee.

I mean, seriously, you’d better be. You’re going to look pretty silly calling yourself an artist if you’re not talented.

So it’s time to move on. You’re going to need to offer more than just that.

Another problem with getting too hung up on talent is that artists sometimes feel indignant because they feel — hell, they know — that they are far and away the best, most talented person for a particular job, and yet they don’t get selected.

That can be a bitter pill to swallow.

It’s hard knowing you’re the best choice and still be passed over.

But I have noticed something: people don’t always make the best choices.

In the same way that you don’t always choose the best food for your body, or the best shoes for your feet, or the best television show to watch, other people don’t always choose the best artist for the job.

The world might be a better place if we all read only the highest quality books, only screened the highest-quality movies, and only drove the best, most efficient cars.

But “best” is not our only criterion.

Sometimes convenience counts.

Sometimes what’s in fashion is important.

Sometimes it’s all about what’s sexy.

Sometimes a person wants a little schlock — a little artistic junk food.

Sometimes cheesy is perfect.

What’s best is not only relative; it’s often irrelevant.

So cut the people a little slack — you wouldn’t always choose you, either.

Sometimes We Get Stuck in Regret

Sometimes We Get Stuck in Regret

I should have done things differently.

Now it’s too late.

I’ve missed my chance.

I screwed it up.

I should have known.

 I say: baloney.

You did the very best you could do under the circumstances and with the information you had at the time.

Honestly, I’m not sweet-talking you with some feel-good mumbo jumbo here — I’m serious.

As I’ve said, in my experience everyone is always doing the best they can do — and if they could do better, they would.

So we need to bless the past. We need to settle in to the reality that the past cannot be any different from what it is.

We need to look back and realize that we have, indeed, always done the best we knew how to do — even when our best wasn’t very good. And that if the universe is friendly, we can assume it’s all been, somehow, correct.

We can wish things were different, but we might as well wish the mountains would walk down to the sea, because in this very moment, they can’t be any different.

Sometimes something happens that hurts us so deeply we think it can’t be right — it must be bad. We do something awful to someone we love. We ignore our intuition and we stay in some bad job, relationship, or situation longer than we should.

We are caught in some life circumstance that feels just horrible. I’m not saying we should paint those situations pink and call them cheerful. That would be diminishing, disrespectful, and cold.

You are allowed to feel as hurt as you are, as angry as you are, as sad as you are, as disappointed as you are.

Do whatever you need to do to express those feelings in a safe way:

bash the mattress with a whiffle bat, pray, cry, run, write, sing, apologize…

If you need help to move through those feelings, for heaven’s sake, set aside your pride/skepticism/reluctance and get some. And once we’ve worked through all our emotions, we are still left with the truth: the past is what it is, and it cannot be different.

Often, having discharged our pent-up emotion about the past, we can even see how it really was for the best — how whatever happened was a valuable (if painful) lesson for us, and we can genuinely feel grateful for the experience.

Even in the case of loved ones dying, well, we have to know that as much as it saddens us to lose time with our beloveds, we all have to die. Even with everything we know about medicine and prevention and safety, illness, death, and accidents still happen — in just the same way that unlikely healings and miracles and near misses still happen.

So we are humbled by our lack of control, and we bow our heads and still our hearts and say, “It is what it is.” And it cannot be any different, no matter how hard we wish it were so.

We can cling to the fantasy that it’s possible to change the past, or we can declare the past the past, deal with our current feelings (whatever they may be), and move on. The past is what it is, and we can move on from here.

Repeat after me: I can move on from here.

Photo credit: Khánh Hmoong via photopin cc

The Green-Eyed Monster

The Green-Eyed Monster

It isn’t the prettiest aspect of your personality, but there it is:  jealousy.

Ick. How very seventh-grade of you. But all of us, no matter how far beyond seventh grade we’ve gotten, feel jealous sometimes.

And here’s a news flash: jealousy is a gift.

Jealousy is your gut’s way of telling you that first of all, whatever it is, you want some. And moreover, you believe that you could have it. After all, you are never jealous of those who have things you don’t want.

Imagine that your best friend just added an amazing rare frog to her rare frog collection. Feel jealous? I didn’t think so.

If you have no interest in frog husbandry, you don’t feel jealous. Mystified, maybe, about why she might want to collect frogs to begin with (in much the same way your family might feel about you and your choice of a career in the arts), but in no way jealous.

Now, if that same friend suddenly lucked into an all-expenses paid six-month artist’s retreat in a villa in Provence, you might feel jealous. Because that, you want.

This is part one of the gift: the simple acknowledgment of desire.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes pretend that I don’t want what I want. I pretend that things are okay with me when they aren’t. I pretend to be patient when I feel impatient. I pretend I don’t mind being passed over when, in fact, I mind very much.

Have you done that? Tried to quiet that “I want” voice? Hurts a bit, no?

The second half of the equation, and perhaps the more important half, is this: you believe you are capable of getting it. You are only ever jealous of things you believe you could do or have yourself.

What if your frog-loving best friend just swam the English Channel? Still not jealous, are you? Of course not, because not only do you not want to do that, but you also don’t think you have the ability.

But if that friend wins an award in something you think you could do, or reaches some milestone you aspire to, or obtains some neat thing that you’re pretty sure you could obtain if only the circumstances were right, then that green-eyed monster light is likely to start flashing.

Exercise : Harnessing the Power of Jealousy

Jealousy is a signal from within about desire and will. Add a little anger (also known by its polite name, frustration) and the recipe is complete.

Again, it’s not pretty, but it is an important message from your inner self — ignore it at your peril.

So the next time you find yourself trying to muzzle that nasty little voice of jealousy, take a moment and ask yourself:

1. Do I want that?

2. Why do I want that? What will getting that thing mean
to me?

3. Do I think I could have it?

4. What do I think is standing in the way of my obtaining that?

5. What fifteen-minute baby steps could I take today toward

See if making a little progress toward your own goals doesn’t turn that jealous-monster voice into a happy-cheering-look-at-me go voice.

Keep making those baby steps toward your goal, and I bet that someday soon someone might just be jealous of you.

I was at an audition today…

I was at an audition today…

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So I’m at an audition for a network TV show this morning (good show, good little part – I’ll let you know if I book it : ) and into the quiet waiting room barrels in this actress – let’s call her “Sally” – and she flops herself in a chair and immediately starts complaining. Loudly.

She’s complaining about the heat and the parking and her hurt ankle and the show she used to be on that got cancelled and her mechanic who’s probably a crook and this famous film director who’s a horse’s ass and were they running late because she hated it when she had to wait around in a casting office especially for such a dumb little part…

Shocking, right?

To walk into what is, basically, a JOB INTERVIEW and do nothing but 1) complain and 2) play the victim and then 3) bad-mouth other people in the industry?!?!?


You don’t have to be an actor to know that kind of behavior is unacceptable. Poisonous, even.

But here’s the thing: I don’t think Sally thought she was being rude. I think she thought she was – honestly – just making conversation.

I think Sally is so caught up in the little punishments of life that she’s completely forgotten to focus on the good stuff.

(Do you find yourself complaining and commiserating just to make small talk?)

I think Sally has been disappointed so many times that she’s started to predict doom no matter what.

(Do you guard yourself from good, not wanting to get your hopes up?)

And Sally didn’t look very healthy to me; I suspect her weight makes her physically uncomfortable which also darkens her mood.

(Is your body making you miserable?)

Here’s what’s funny: when I think about it, everything Sally said was basically true.

I also had noticed that it was really hot outside and the parking was kind of confusing and I’m sure that famous film director really is a horse’s ass… BUT NONE OF THAT BOTHERS ME.

I was happy to be at the audition. I’ll be happy if I get the part and just as happy if I don’t. I like my life. I like my body. I like acting. I like writing emails to you all. I even liked my long drive into LA, because I got to listen to one of my favorite inspirational CDs.

None of it feels like a chore because it all feels like a blessing.

My happiness is not circumstantial.

I have taught myself to be joyful pretty much no matter what. And I see the results of that joy in my work, in my bank account, in my relationships and in my environment.

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