Tag Archive | balance

My Fractured Life

I have a problem. My life is fractured. Well, segmented would be a more apt word actually but I like the way fractured sounds. It captures the struggle. So for now I say my life is fractured. Maybe some of you can relate.

As much as the following statement might make many of you cringe I’ll say it anyway — our lives are becoming ever more reflected on social media. It’s not enough to create a life anymore, you must project that life on social media. This sounds horrible but I actually think it’s rather awesome. We have this amazing opportunity to document our lives for posterity in a way that might live on forever. Gone will be the days that I wished I had a picture of myself at age 4 reading a book (Curses! I wish I had that!) because from now on chances are your mom posted one like that on Facebook when you were little. I share honestly on this blog because I don’t want my cyber presence to be completely sterilized and manicured. This is a record of me, and I want it to be true, for what that’s worth.

Another rather amazing aspect of social media is how it benefits those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Most professions these days require a certain amount of self-branding to play with the pros, even if it’s just updating your Linked In profile regularly. This being the case, I envy those who have a single drive, a prevailing passion. Having such a thing would make it much easier to focus and go after one’s goals and dreams — much easier to brand oneself across cyberspace. Let’s use acting as an example. If all I wanted to be more than anything else was an actor I’d have a simple marketing plan. My Twitter account would be geared towards following and talking about actors and actor-related business. My personal website would be all about acting. My blog would be an acting blog. And that pesky Linked In profile would be rife with endorsements for “Actor” “Performer” “Theatre Artist.” There’s just one problem. I’m never ever ever, never, ever, going to be just one thing. Being one thing makes me feel like a shark that stopped swimming.

Let me cut and paste my Twitter blurb: I write kid’s stories. I act. I run. And I make pretty things with my hands. Program Administrator for The Unusual Suspects. Company member at Theatre of NOTE.

The diversified portfolio weathers the storm, right? I’m not convinced the same applies to creative endeavors. I sometimes wonder if I’m splitting my own votes. Would I gain more momentum, connections, and success if I focused only on one single thing? Some examples of my struggle:

This fragmenting all just – happened. When I started this blog Twitter was still relatively new so I started a Twitter page specifically to talk about running and promote the blog. But then I wanted one for everything else I do so along came @MsBeckyLight (SeaGirlSigl at the time). The same happened for Whimsy Do. I figured my running-specific internet friends may not have as much of an interest in my thoughts on acting, flower crowns, and children’s literature so I’ve told myself that separate accounts is a way to target my audience. Is this wrong? Should I be the tie that binds? Should I try to get my audience all in the same room?

Should I be the tie that binds? What a crazy question, right? Obviously I, Rebecca, am the thread that holds together all of my creative endeavors. They all make up one thing — me. But I’m serious about all of them, they’re not just hobbies, and so I want to promote them seriously. I want to share them with the world far and wide, and so I try to be mindful of a target audience for each creation. From a marketing perspective, should I be the tie that binds? I guess that is the ultimate question, and something I’ve attempted to do with my personal website. Maybe that can be the one place on the web where all of me exists in the same place. Just a thought.

This struggle is 35% logistical and 45% emotional. I not only struggle with the social media strategy of my unique and fractured life. Whatever, that’s just business really. I struggle with it on a deeper level. I’m in love with my various endeavors but are they sabotaging my potential? I love making fanciful flower accessories. I love writing children’s stories. I love acting. I love my job working for a non-profit. I love running. I love making theatre. But dammit, there are only 24 hours in the day and at least a few of them have to be dedicated to sleep. I’m splitting my own votes.

I hear over and over again from writers: cherish your writing time. Carve it out of your day and cherish it. If I weren’t also running half marathons, acting in plays, producing plays, making flower crowns, then I know that I could devote more time to writing. More time to write equates to more chance of success. Substitute any of my other endeavors for the first. More flowers crowns made = more flower crowns sold. More miles run = more better shape. (More better shape? Good Lord. I’m a writer. Did you know?) You see what I’m getting at? Dreams take devotion and determination. An Olympian would never make it to the Olympics if they cut their training time in half to satisfy other interests. That’s just a fact. Do I have to pick one? Or is the beautiful gift of art that varying art forms feed each other? I feel this to be true, and to be the unique privilege of being an artist, but I also feel I might be kidding myself.

So now the real burning question — one I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of for years. Who has Hermione’s Time Turner and when can I get one?

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This morning I woke up an hour and half early to write. Tomorrow I’ll wake up an hour and a half early to run. Tomorrow I’m making a conscious decision not to write. Will I pay for this? Maybe. Maybe. Or maybe the deep massage my brain gets from an hour of running is vital to the creation of new ideas which turn into new stories. Maybe the hour I’ll spend prepping a Whimsy Do order on Wednesday evening instead of writing will be just the right amount of time to let that new idea stew and cook. Maybe the shade of the hydrangeas in that new crown will unlock a new feeling in me. Maybe the people I meet at NOTE on Friday while producing Orphans will say something interesting that I’ll file away to be used as dialogue in that new middle grade novel I’ve started to write. I don’t know if these things are true. So I sigh, and I say that they are. I have to do all of these things, and that is true. I have to act in order to write. I have to run in order to create. My weird little symbiotic interests make up this crazy colorful schizo quilt in my soul. They make up me.

So I didn’t finish this post with an answer I was looking for, per se. I still don’t know what the hell to do about all of my Twitter accounts. If you want to follow me, I guess just pick one.

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Balancing Act: Running vs. Friends

Today I’m struggling with balancing priorities of equal importance. My days are full. I work a 40 hour work week (sometimes more), and I come home and have approximately 4 or 5 hours to do the following: have dinner, clean the apartment, feed the cats, make and process Whimsy Do orders, write, spend quality time with the man who will be my husband, socialize with friends, do the dishes, do the laundry, and run. Somewhere in there I would like to be able to squeeze in some relaxation, when I can. I’m not complaining by any stretch of the imagination. My life is full, but it’s full of goodness. I love my life. I pinch myself daily. The problem is that there really are limited hours in the day to accomplish such massive quantities of goodness, and usually something falls by the wayside.

Lately it’s been running. Who am I kidding, also cleaning. Our apartment sometimes looks like a few empty pizza boxes away from an episode of Hoarders.

But I can’t let running fall by the wayside. It brings me too much joy, helps me feel sane, and most important of all, gets us to Tahiti! Running must be mandatory from this point out. When struggling with how to squeeze in a mandatory activity there really is only one option. Do it. If that means you have to NOT do something else, then that’s what it means. Today that something else involves friends and it’s making me wish there were two of me.

There’s a fundraiser at Theatre of NOTE tonight called “Stand Up for NOTE.” It’s an evening of stand-up featuring several friends of mine, and all of the proceeds benefit an upcoming production at the theatre. You should go! ;). BUT, we are behind on this week’s mileage and today’s run is crucial to keep us on track for the longer run this weekend. I couldn’t run this morning because I had an 8:00 am dentist appointment and I just can’t get out of bed to run before 7:00. I’m like a robot. I don’t switch on until usually 7:30.

In his book “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running,” Haruki Murakami pretty succinctly describes the struggle of balancing life’s priorities:

It’s a lifestyle, though, that doesn’t allow for much nightlife, and sometimes your relationships with other people become problematic. Some people even get mad at you, because they invite you to go somewhere or do something with them and you keep turning them down. I’m struck by how, except when you’re young, you really need to prioritize in life, figuring out in what order you should divide up your time and energy. If you don’t get that sort of system set by a certain age, you’ll lack focus and your life will be out of balance. I placed the highest priority on the sort of life that lets me focus on writing, not associating with all other people around me.

It’s a bit harsh, and many may say selfish, but there’s truth there wouldn’t you agree? There are only so many hours in the day and I have to preserve as many as I can to allocate to my personal goals. It’s the only way they’ll get accomplished. But my personal relationships are also very important to me. I don’t want them to be diminished by my aspirations.

One solution is to kill two birds, or as many birds as possible, with one stone. (I really hate that a metaphor about killing birds is so useful.) I’m grateful that Brad enjoys running with me because then I can check running and spending quality time with my man off the list at the same time. Maybe I should start a running club with my friends and bring my social life and running life together. What say you friends? Would you go for it?  I suppose combining priorities is one way to solve this problem of mine.

In the meantime, you should go to this in case I can’t. Check out that line-up! And hosted by the one and only Kirsten Vangsness. It really is going to be incredibly hilariously awesome.

How about you? Do you have trouble balancing your personal goals with other obligations? I’d love to hear what you do to get it all done.

confessions of a competitive crazy turkey trot loser

I have a confession to make. While this may seem shocking and completely out of character for someone so seemingly laid back and sunny, I am one of the most competitive people you will ever meet. This applies to games of charades, sporting events, auditions, appearances, career goals and on and on, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I intended to write a quick anecdote about last week’s turkey trot in Huntington Beach and I’m divulging down a rather personal path into my psyche and the nature of competitiveness. Ah what the hell, I think I need to write about it.

Why are we competitive? And by we I mean most humans walking the earth. We compete for love. Men compete for women, women compete for men, men compete for men and women compete for women. We all do it.

We compete for attention. Siblings compete for attention from their parents. Co-workers compete for attention from their bosses. Politicians compete for attention from the public. Students compete for attention from their teachers. Attention must be a high priority for us humans. Why?

We compete for money. We compete to find the lowest price. We compete for that coveted raise or promotion. We compete with our peers for student loans. The entire economic structure of our society competes to take our dollar and make us feel like “wow, we got a great deal” in doing so.

We compete for the glory. Sports teams compete to be the champion. Colleges compete to be the best university in the country, whatever that means. Olympians compete for the medal. Countries compete to be the first on the moon. All for the glory, the bragging rights, the intangible right to simply proclaim “we are the best.”

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that every aspect of competition has a major through line, ego. Now I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense, I really don’t. I’m certainly not foolish enough to believe that we should obliterate our egos in order to be one with the world. Ego is very important and very healthy, when it’s in check. So what am I getting at here? I’m trying to tell you in a very round about way that I have a very hard time keeping my ego in check.

I’m not conceited. I’m not full of myself. I’m not a bragger or someone who in any way thinks I’m better than you. On the contrary. I sway more to the neurotic. I’m down on myself a lot. I have an inferiority complex. I’m always certain that someone can do a better job than me. I fight those traps far more than I fight any state of what is commonly understood as egotistical. And yet I constantly feel the tug of my ego, pulling down on me, wanting to be fed.  Why? To counteract the affects of my neuroses of course. Sound crazy? That’s why it’s called neurotic! It’s totally loony. My default state seems to be that of insecurity and inferiority, so the ego inside tries to yank me in the other direction to get me out of the trenches. I guess I should thank my ego for that. It’s only trying to help. Trying to save me from drowning. And it has. I have allowed my ego to want things and desire to excel, and it truly has kept me from completely self-destructing. The problem is my ego seems to be a bit of a voracious beast. It just wants more. A balanced state between self-loathing and cocky doesn’t seem to be enough for my little ego. It wants it all. Perhaps it feels that it deserves payback for dragging my id out of the mud so many times. I guess I can’t blame it. So how does this manifest? In many ways over the years.

Scrabble. Taboo. Charades. Monolopy. Sounds silly but there was a time in my life, mostly around high school, that I played a board game as if my life depended on it. I played dirty. I played hard. And if I didn’t win, it got ugly. Don’t even think about being on my team unless you are willing to focus and take the game. I have managed to assuage this into a mild version of healthy competition over the years. I can now play a game of Scrabble without raising my voice to a 10 because some imbecile keeps questioning my perfectly acceptable words. Qi is a word! Get over it! Don’t be afraid. I’m much better now. Anyone for game night?

Sports. I’ve never been a big sports buff. It took me almost 3 decades for someone to finally explain to me in an understandable way how football works. (Thanks Danielle Ross for the lipstick metaphor). I collected baseball cards as a kid but I’m not sure why as I didn’t really follow the sport. I had quite a collection though. I finally got heavy into baseball once I went to college. You can’t avoid it when you live in Red Sox Nation. Being a mile down the street from Fenway when the Red Sox won the World Series will forever be one of the most incredible memories I have. So grateful I got to experience that. But I digress. There is one team that has always lit the competitive fire within me. One team that got me standing up and screaming at the TV as the adrenaline raised to an unhealthy level in my veins. That team is my Sacramento Kings. I will never, NEVER be a Lakers fan. I will never forget how they stole the championship from us back in ’02. The Kings taught me about useless competition at an early age. I say useless only in relation to its importance in the world. For as hyped up as I would get when the Kings won a game, you’d think the life of a nation or the well-being of a group of hostages was at stake. In relation to what it’s actually worth for the Kings to win a game, which is nothing, it’s useless. And yes I said winning is not worth anything. It’s really not. It’s not worth money except to the players and owners who will get a huge bump next season. It’s certainly not worth your money. It’s not worth anything intellectual or spiritual. What is it worth? Pride I guess. Pride that your team is the best. It’s a feeling that elevates. Makes us feel like winners. Our team won. My team. I, me, mine. Ego boost. I really hope that I don’t sound like I’m making a judgement about this. That is not my intention. I still love my Sacramento Kings, my Red Sox, and now that I understand football I can actually start to understand what the 49ers are doing and not just like them because I’m from the area.  I love sports. I just find it interesting how much energy we put into them considering the return is quite minimal.

What else am I competitive about? Career. This is a hard one for me to talk about. It’s incredibly personal and I’m not too good about being super personal on this blog. The drive to succeed in my career runs very deep and has many dark and complicated layers. I’ll just scratch the surface for you. I constantly fall into the trap of thinking that other people’s successes equal my failures. It’s absurd I know, and I fight and I fight it, but it’s so hard. Whenever I hear that someone booked something or just shot something awesome or got a new agent, etc. I feel a strong pang in my chest. What is that pang anyway? I suppose it’s jealousy, insecurity, envy, greed. How many deadly sins did I just name?

This goes both ways. Let me preface this by saying that I hate myself for what I’m about to admit. I am a terrible terrible terrible person, but I’m only human. Let me also say that this is a dirty shameful little secret of a feeling that I have almost completely grown out of, but still haunts me at times. Ok here goes. Sometimes, when something doesn’t work out for someone the way they’d hoped in regards to the entertainment industry, I feel this satisfying sense of schadenfreude. I’m terrible! God I hate myself for even saying it but I think I’m trying to spell it out for you, put it out in public, in the hopes that it will completely go away. I must not be the only person who ever felt that way or else the Germans wouldn’t have invented a word for it. Perhaps it’s just Germans that subscribe to such a horrible feeling. I attribute the ability to grow out of this horrible state to a few of my favorite things: love, running, and the general perspective and growth that comes with simply growing up.

Someone that I look up to very much subscribes to the opposite position. She is always proclaiming how happy she is to see people succeed, because it means she lives in a world where success is possible. That sentiment strikes such a strong chord with me. It’s not something that necessarily comes naturally, but I want it to. So I repeat it, like a mantra. Every time someone gets something, a part, an agent, a career, that I don’t, I remind myself that it has nothing to do with me and that their success just means that success is indeed possible. The success of others bodes well for all of us if we look at it the right way.

So why have I felt all of these awful feelings? I’m insightful and introspective enough to realize that it has nothing to do with “them” and everything to do with me. Misery loves company, and since I consider myself to be a miserable failure some of the time, I feel satisfaction when others fail with me. Sick sick sick. Every horrible thought that enters my head stems from my own insecurity that I’m not good enough, or maybe even not good at all. Thus, again, my ego comes along and tries to compensate, tries to save the day. Tries to find a way to make me feel like I’m the best, the prettiest, the most talented, the most interesting, the smartest. I’ve finally started to find enough balance and perspective in my life to know in my heart that no one is any of those things. If there is anything that my industry thrives on it’s uniqueness. The most interesting actors capitalize on their own brilliant uniqueness, and I’ve come to know that to compare myself and judge myself by others’ accomplishments cannibalizes that necessary trait. Slowly but surely I am becoming truly and deeply happy for others’ success, because it does indeed mean that success is possible.

So what does this have to do with running? Gosh at this point nothing! I’ve gone down the rabbit hole and it seems silly to come back up to talk about running, but I wanna. I want to tell you all about the Cause Life Turkey Trot. Because cooking for three days straight for a Thanksgiving feast of 16 people is not enough for me, and because I’m crazy, I felt it necessary to run a 10k the morning of Thanksgiving before preparing for the big day. Did I mention that I can be a bit of an over-achiever sometimes? The great thing about being madly in love is that, with my feminine wiles and irresistible charm, I managed to successfully rope Brad into doing it with me. So we woke up at 6:00 am and trudged down to Huntington Beach to run a sunrise 10k. The only other official race I’ve ever run is the Disneyland Half Marathon which as I’ve mentioned before is an intimate race with me and 20,000 of my closest friends. I assumed that most races would be on a somewhat large scale. I didn’t expect the Turkey Trot to hit those numbers but I figured about 1,000 at least. Uh uh. We get to the starting line and there couldn’t have been more than 100 people there. I suddenly think about the running shirt I almost wore to this race. Thank God I didn’t:

please god

Thinking about this shirt that I wore in the Disneyland Half Marathon, it occurred to me that in this particular 10k there very well could be NO ONE behind me to read this. The shirt was never meant to be true! This was a pretty serious group of runners and I knew we’d be towards the back. For the first mile I feel good. The pros had run ahead but we still have about 20-30 people behind us that I know I can lick.  What does not occur to me is that this is a 5k/10k race. In other words, about half of the people running are going to turn around at a mile and a half and only the die-hards are here to do the full 10k. Few minutes later and we hit the 5k turnaround. It starts to get quiet, too quiet. I turn around to take a look and there is no one behind us! Everyone who is slower than us did the 5k, i.e. we were in last place for the 10k! This is not happening. My competitive streak kicks in. I will NOT be last. Brad meanwhile, totally doesn’t care. He’s giggling at me and enjoying our leisurely morning run. To be honest I think he is more interested in watching the pro surfers than finishing the run. Huntington Beach is a world destination for surfing so I can’t blame him. It just highlights how Brad is the opposite of me in so many ways. He’s so laid back and hardly competitive at all. He thinks it’s hilarious how worked up I can get. I, in the moment, do not feel there is anything to laugh about. I will NOT be last!I really push myself the last 2 miles, a bit too hard. I’ve got a long long long day of cooking staring at me in the face and I do not have time to get sick or exhausted from running. Brad tries to remind me of this but I can’t see reason. Once we finally pass a couple of people with bibs on their shirts I slow down a bit, knowing we won’t cross the finish line dead last.

Races are fun. I love running because it is generally not competitive, which is good for me. When I go for a jog alone or with Brad, the only person I’m competing against is myself, and that is exactly the life lesson I need. Not to sound obnoxious but running has really helped me to zen me out and create balance in my life. It has taught me to focus my energy on the strength within myself. Obsessing over what others do or do not accomplish diffuses what I’m capable of and drains my potential. In learning to harness what I’m capable of, I truly do feel joy when I see others do the same. Because that’s why we’re all here right? To realize our potential? And no one can do that for us. No one can find mine, and I can’t find yours. And certainly no one can take mine from me, and I can’t steal anyone elses’s, so what’s the point in being jealous? All we can do is support each other’s journeys. I guess I’m not such a horrible person after all. I’m growing. Every now and then though I have to admit it’s pretty to fun to whip out the old competitive streak and run a race. The only finish time that matters is still my own personal finish time, but it sure feels good to pass people every now and then. Now that I’m growing out of the neurotic psycho Gemini I once was, I find myself smiling at the folks who finished before me and cheering on those who finish after. Healthy competition. I rarely run races, but that little ego of mine has saved my life so many times, I think it’s ok to throw a treat her way every now and then.