Tag Archive | Thanksgiving

30 Days of Thanks – Day 7: My Lucky Penny

Yesterday a series of events occurred which reinforced my belief in serendipity and magic. Before I begin there are a few things you need to know.

Earlier this year the corporeal Earth lost one of its best creations. Scott McKinley. He was an angel on earth and as of yesterday I’m even more convinced he continues to be an angel of the universe.

I think about him often, and most often in scenarios where I ask myself “what would Scotty do?” You see he was the kindest and most loving man I’d ever met. No matter what troubles befell him or what mood he found himself in on a given day, he made everyone feel special when he saw them and he greeted them with the most warm and loving “Hey there.” I often think that he played a part in my life to teach me about kindness, to be a living example of what the Golden Rule is really all about.

Now here’s another thing you need to know before I tell the story. There was this thing he and I had with pennies. One evening at Theatre of NOTE Scott handed me a penny. I was in a grouchy and cynical mood and guffawed. I told him half sarcastically that I thought pennies were stupid and lucky pennies just perpetuated their ridiculous use in society. Of course, magical love creature that he was, he was shocked and appalled and insisted I take the lucky penny, while he proceeded to school me on their magical attributes. It all made such perfect sense. In a moment of cynicism and grumpiness, here is Scott to remind me that beauty and goodness is a better choice. From that moment on every time I saw a “lucky” penny on the ground I picked it up and thought of Scott. And the pennies have reminded me that I always have a choice, to be good, or to be a grouch. To be like Scott, or not.

The night before last he visited me in a dream. It wasn’t just a dream wherein he made an appearance. It was one of those conscious/aware dreams where I knew I was dreaming and I knew he was visiting me. I said to him “Scott! Thank you! Oh my God it’s so good to see you!” And we caught up a little, and he smirked his Scotty smirk. And then I woke up.

So that’s what you need to know. Now here’s the story:

Yesterday evening I was walking to my car after work. Traffic was heavy downtown, as it often is. I’m waiting on the corner of 8th and Olive to cross the street. It was one of those situations where cars were pulling into the intersection because they had a green light, but the traffic was so backed up there was no way they were going to make it all the way through before the light turned red, and thus the cross-traffic wouldn’t be able to make it through their green light, causing even worse traffic. This is a pet peeve. I feel like there’s a special circle of hell reserved for those who block the intersection. Back to yesterday. There is a minivan stuck in the intersection obviously hoping to get through, but her light turns red and MY light turns green to walk. What I could have done was wait a minute before I started walking and let this poor woman in the minivan who’s probably late to something important just pull through so she wouldn’t feel like a jerk for blocking the intersection. But I don’t. Like I said, I’ve got a beef. I want to teach her a lesson. The moment I walk in front of her car and grab a glance at her distressed face, I think, “This isn’t right. What would Scotty do?” i.e. what is the kind thing to do? Once he enters my mind I realize instantaneously that I should have done the right thing. I make it to the other side of the street feeling a bit like a jerk and thinking about how I failed the Scott test today. For whatever reason I look down briefly. What is the first thing my eye catches?

I’m stunned. The exact moment I’m thinking about him, there he is. I stoop down to pick up a lone penny. To make sure it’s real. I don’t know what compels me, but I check the year of the penny thinking, now THAT would be weird.

1957.

The penny was from 1957.

Same year Scott was born. This penny and he came into the world the same year.

I stand there on Olive and 8th under the lamplight and start to cry. At once sadly reminded that such a good soul has parted, and joyfully reminded that he never truly left. Serendipity. Goodness. Magic. It’s real.

lucky penny

I want to keep the penny. I want to make it into a necklace and wear it next to my heart every day. But I wonder if I shouldn’t send it back into the world. Leave it on another boulevard for the next person who needs it. I don’t want to be greedy. I do, but I don’t. What would Scott do? My heart’s desire is to take this little sign of him and hold onto it with all of my might. Should we keep such tokens? Or send them down the river? I haven’t decided yet.

Everyone slips away into the cosmic dust. Maybe when we do we get to leave little signs of ourselves around the ol’ neighborhood. Little bread crumbs that we’re still there.

Thank you for being my lucky penny Scott. For being everyone’s. I’ll keep following your bread crumbs. I love you. I miss you.

Rebecca and Scotty 1

 

 

Advertisements

So Much Thanks

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. When you get right down to it, the vast majority of us in the world have a WHOLE lot to be thankful for, and with the world as whacked out as it is, I think it’s important to vocalize our thanks. Focus on the good. Be… excellent… to each other. ‘Tis the season.

This year I want to participate in the 30 days of thanks challenge. Is it a challenge? I’m not sure. I may have made that up. 30 days of thanks… extravaganza? Or maybe it’s just 30 Days of Thanks. That sounds more like it. Either way, I want to do that thing where you vocalize, literally or electronically, something you are thankful for each day.

Most people do this through a Facebook post or a tweet, but being the long-winded writer that I am I’m anticipating wanting to elaborate a bit more so I’ll use the ol’ blog to get the word out. This will also give me a true challenge, to write every day for 30 days.

Join me on a 30 day journey of reflection and deep-hearted thanks. I encourage you to join in the extravaganza!

(I’m a few days behind, so I’m going to spitfire Days 1-4 and get on track with one post per day starting tomorrow).

Day 1

This face/person/soul:

 

petal 1

 

Brad Light. I don’t know what I did to find him. Whatever celestial magic that brought him my way, to “you” I say thank you. I am thankful for his spirit, his silliness, his sense of humor, his tenderness, his gentleness, his handsomeness, his goodness, his curly brown hair, his horned-rim glasses, his love of the sea, his quest for adventure, his love of his family, his love of cats, his delicious stir-frys, his understanding, and more than anything I’m thankful that he loves me. Again, celestial magic. It’s a thing. I love you to the moon and back Brad.

Day 2

These squishy fluffy faces:

Kitties

 

It is an excellent idea to live with cuddly animals. They teach you about unconditional love. They challenge you to take care of something precious other than yourself. They encourage you to embrace empathy for non-human creatures, which then translates to empathy for human creatures too. These are truths for me. I am so grateful for my two kitties, Sharky and Mr. Wizard. Now if only they loved each other as much as we love them. Maybe next year.

Day 3

My running route:

Last night Brad and I finished a glorious 10 mile run along the beach. Around mile 4 the sun was setting over the Pacific and Brad says to me “if anyone told me when I was a kid that one day I’d get to run along the beach next to my fiance as the sun sets over the ocean, I’d have been able to suffer through a lot more pain with a smile on my face knowing where I’d eventually end up.” Isn’t that the lesson we all need. First of all, when life sucks, as it often does, you are never without the tiny kernel of knowledge that somehow it will get better. It just will. And that maybe all of the hard times are necessary, as they are leading to something more wonderful than you could imagine. So today I am grateful for where those hard times and wrong turns have landed us. In a little apartment on the Pacific with the most glorious running path two runners could ask for.

20130907_191609

Day 4

I am grateful for the fall.

13361_208564036328_537659_n

Today I woke up and I knew it would feel like fall (as much as it CAN feel like fall in Los Angeles). Brisk autumn days are something I miss so terribly living in L.A. Some people get bummed out by a lack of sunshine. I get bummed out by too much. I like the seasons to obey the seasons and Southern California is the land of eternal summer. Bummer. Today I have a scarf around my neck, and I wore a jacket to work. I noticed some leaves falling off trees, and the shadows are extra long. Today, it feels like California fall and it may only last until about 3:00 pm, but I’ll take it. I’ll savor it.

 

Sometimes I worry that acknowledging all that I’m grateful for will jinx me, and it will all fall apart. This comes from the part of my brain that is convinced I don’t deserve to be happy. Hogwash. We all deserve to be happy. But we gotta thank the universe once in a while. She won’t bite.

 

See ya tomorrow.

 

 

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.