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Archive for the ‘Meditation’

I Feel So Much Better

March 10, 2013 By: admin Category: Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Meditation

tasting cake and coffee better

Recently, I was talking to a new friend, a colleague who I’ve only known for a few months, about my goals in life. I was shocked to hear myself say that all I wanted from life was to be a good sister and a good friend. A good person. I reasoned that I had lived so well and so much already that I didn’t look to the future or a dream and say “I’m going for THAT.” The odd thing was that it was all true.

A few weeks ago, at this new job, I was working on a very difficult video. The subject was psychology, specifically, the construct known as “stereotype threat.” This is when a person’s performance on tests or in life is negatively affected if they fear they are being seen and judged as a stereotype. Black, gay, female = stupid, strange, bad at math. In order to understand how to deliver the message in a video I had to go deeper into the complexities of identity. Being the kind of filmmaker I am, I always put myself in the shoes of the viewer and track backward, asking “What do they NEED to know? What would make someone empathetic to what I’m saying?” The key was to communicate that we all have identities that are sometimes attacked and judged, and to use that as a universal. Easy, right? Not-so-much…

In order to help people feel vulnerable about their own identities, I had to feel vulnerable about my own. So I did a searching inventory of how I saw myself, how I “identified.” This phrase was something I was familiar with from the lesbian/queer community, but never gave much thought to. While in company I would tell people that I identified as a lesbian, it always felt false coming out of my mouth. Something in my gut would constrict, as if my body was catching my mouth in a lie. I’d always wondered about that feeling, but had chaulked it up to some unknowable fear and pushed it aside. After all, I WAS a lesbian, so the feeling couldn’t have anything to do with that.

Well…

As I delved deeper and deeper into my own identities, I kept coming up against walls. When I really got honest about How I Identified–which to me meant how do you introduce yourself at parties–I came up with only two things: human and female. After that there were what I called the “2nd Tier Identities:” daughter, sister, friend. But it felt fake and forced and false to go even there, to say nothing of “lesbian, filmmaker, TV producer.” I realized that the feeling at the center of my gut that had always clenched was there not because I might have been secretly ashamed of being a lesbian, but because I actually didn’t have any identities beyond human and female. On the one hand this was liberating–less pressure to “be” anything more specific–but on the other hand it left me cold and alone in a terrifying confusion.

I went to my therapist and told her the whole story. She helped me track back to the core of my being, journey back as far as I could remember and work forward, slowly, identifying along the way. Where I ended up was staring at a bias against gay women that I’ve held since I came out. I told my therapist that I was terrified that when I told people I was a lesbian they would immediately see me as a “fat-assed, cropped hair, mannish, softball-dyke.” Ugly. I told her that I couldn’t stand to be associated with such women, women who seemed to take no care at all in looking pretty.

[Now, I know I just walked into a feminist hornets nest with that one. “Why do we need to be pretty? Men don’t put on makeup (some do), and spend hours primping (some do). Why do WE need to put on a fake face in order to be loved? In fact, it’s a good question. For myself, I like to put on makeup and wear flattering clothes because I LOVE looking beautiful. I LOVE being one of the beautiful, attractive women in the room. And there’s noting wrong with that. Okay, moving on…]

My therapist said: “You have internalized homophobia.” All the blood rushed out of my body. I’d been caught, but I didn’t even know what internalized homophobia was. When my therapist explained it, a series of gears in my body suddenly clicked into place. In that very second, I became a different person. It was horrifying and marvelous. All of a sudden, I was no longer biased, ashamed, or afraid of being a lesbian or of being seen as anyone in the dyke community. A wash of clarity fell over me and I was reborn, lighter.  It was an incredible moment.

A couple of weeks after that session with my therapist I chatted with my dear friend Robin: lesbian, playwright, liver-of-life, partner, philosopher. She’s known me since before I came out and has watched me evolve as a sexual person. She very matter-of-factly noted that, actually, I wasn’t all the way to one side on the sexuality spectrum. She said: “Lex, you can be with guys. You love guys sometimes.” Again, the wash of clarity came over me, but with this one the final gears effortlessly fell in line and I almost toppled over. I’d been so emotionally bent for so long that finally being righted felt wobbly at first. Robin was right. I’m in a grey zone on the sexuality spectrum, and knowing that makes things so much easier.

The difficulties and insecurities I’ve felt my whole adult life stemmed from not knowing this and not giving myself permission to be as I truly was. Finding out how I truly am and then being given permission to be it has been amazing, unforgettable, and freeing beyond belief. I now know who I am and am thoroughly content with being it.

So, I have a third identity: bisexual. I feel so much better.

Complete Well-Being: A Guide to Symptoms & Cures

March 03, 2013 By: admin Category: Faith, Happiness, Health, Meditation, Molly

Halong_bay2_500

I haven’t read as many self-help books as most women my age and in my circumstances, but I’ve been aware of them and aware of how drawn I can become to them when the chips are down. Today, though, after a few days of various revelations, I see the books for what they are: gentle nudges. Sometimes not so gentle. Depends on you and your situation, level of danger of that situation, etc.

This morning I looked up at my bookshelf. This is The Magic Bookshelf. It holds books I’ve been collecting since college, over 20 years. Whenever my life is a confusion, I turn to that bookshelf because I know something will jump out at me that has answers, or that will nudge me closer to that what I need. Today, the thing that jumps out is a 3.5 x 5.5-inch, square mini-book about healthy/healthful eating. “A Guide to Symptoms & Cures.” It reminds me that everything I’m seeing and reading and working on today is somehow–in that same “Magic Bookshelf” kind of way–having direct meaning to what I’m going through at this very moment.

Wouldn’t it be great if “complete well-being” and a discovery of symptoms and cures were this easy to find?

Of course they’re not, and it’s not really the book that gets my attention. It’s the title.

In my situation, I saw and felt the symptoms, but didn’t have the resources to fully understand them or to act to heal myself. I was also totally alone at the time the worst of it was happening. To be honest, though, I can count on one hand the times when I haven’t been totally alone through the most important moments of my life. This is just part of who I am. Sometimes spending so much time alone wears on me, but other times I crave it in order to calm my mind down so I can work, be at peace, and enjoy the world. People, sometimes, can drown out all the life in a place even if they’re not talking. They just suck all the air out of a room.

This month marks 9 years since I fell down the rabbit-hole. It wasn’t a losing of myself as much as it was a sort of inevitable journey of teaching. I needed this to happen so I could understand things better once I came out of it. Today might be the first day of me finally climbing out of it. I can’t tell yet. I’m still in the phase where I’m seeing signs everywhere. Everything has meaning. And my emotional intuition is buzzing and howling like an electrical storm. If someone around me who I care deeply about is in crisis I feel it like their pain is plugged into my vascular system. This is good in that I feel thoroughly less blind, but it can be bad as these signs show me, more and more, what really happened in my past, what I really suffered.

Yesterday, driving home from work in a daze, I started crying uncontrollably. I was terrified that my instincts have been all wrong. All wrong. Since I was a kid. Thankfully, that’s turned out to not be the case. I suffered, I was blind and powerfully naive, but I’m not crazy or unintuitive. Even given the price, knowing that is a HUGE relief.

One of the hardest things to do in life is to actively, consciously let go of something you love. It’s a leap of faith. While your heart is breaking you have to trust your mind when it says “shut the door.” Today, I’m roughly the same person I was when I met Molly, but nine years wiser.

This Was Always Coming

September 26, 2011 By: admin Category: Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Meditation, Molly, Mom

1.

I won’t ever know what you meant. You have to say it like “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh…..” Type out the rhythm on the side of an upright bass. Make the dude who usually plays it hold the thing up for you. I could be moving. I could be moving. I could be moving.

Everything is possible when you realize no one is waiting for you.

2.

“the meat is you who stand aside, and do not bite. the meat within is what’s to take at end of Spring. meat’s all that we have, isn’t that sad–make it raw, rare, or now/later–i’ll eat it either way. keep it here, though. i want to touch it when it’s ready.”

3.

when it comes it’ll be a gleaming surprise. i’ll look up and go: “oh. fuck.” smiling, breathless, in the most excited way.

The Calm During The Storm

August 29, 2011 By: admin Category: Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Meditation, New Orleans, Randomosity, sustainability, The Search

I’d like to start a new PAC: Americans for the Preservation of Leisure.

Hurricane Irene has been inching it’s way toward me since early this morning and while, officially, I’m keeping my eye on the weather reports and listening for sounds in my house that I don’t readily understand, unofficially, I’m watching movies and eating popcorn. In other words, the storm has given me license to do nothing but relax. And I kinda like it. But wouldn’t it be better if it didn’t take a storm of hurricane strength for me to “go offgrid” for a day here and there to catch up on sleep and let my mind be at ease? Who gets helped by me being exhausted and stressed all the time? And therefore, I advocate a new standard: the return of Sunday.

I don’t mean to make light of hurricanes. Not at all. I was in New Orleans right after Katrina and filmed a lot of the devastation and spoke to a lot of people. I just think there’s quite a bit our culture needs to re-evaluate, and appreciation of ourselves and of silence is a good start. Humility, lack of hubris is another.

Six Years Ago Today

July 06, 2011 By: admin Category: Coal, Filmmaking, Happiness, Living, Love, Meditation, Mom, Soma Girls

Ali and I were in the Sony studio offices and he was talking to me. Even though I was looking right at him, and hearing the words, I didn’t process one, single thing he said. I was, instead, hoping and praying that I would be able to make the flight from Orlando to Boston. It was the last flight that night and I was sweating, worrying that if I missed it, I’d be driving all that long way. Hopefully, though, if it had come to that, someone would have convinced me to take the first flight out the next morning, as I would not have been in any condition to drive.

It was something in Dad’s voice, in the way he said “Well, that’s up to you” when I asked whether he thought I should come up or not. I was working and it was a critical time for the project I was on, but… my mother was in the hospital.

Tomorrow will be the anniversary of the day after I arrived–my birthday. On that day, Dad, usually never one to forget anything, caught a bit of what my brother was saying to me over the phone (he was wishing me a happy birthday), and while I was still on the phone I heard Dad say under his breath, “Oh for heaven’s sake…” He’d just realized it was my birthday. We were driving, on our way back to the hospital in the early morning.

Saying I miss her still doesn’t even scratch the surface. Of course I do, but as grief evolves it turns into other things and today my grief feels like profound loneliness. There’s no unfilled hole anymore and no wrenching pain, there’s just that feeling of my other half being gone. I am incomplete.

The meditation helps me to stay centered and objective, and even joyful, but it also strips every barrier away so that I can more clearly see how lonely I truly am. I am, indeed. It’s not a romantic relationship that I’m missing, though, it’s someone who knew me, and saw me, and cared about me every day. Someone who thought about me every day. We need that, I think, and I’m coming to realize that it might just not be in the cards for me for a long, long while, if at all. I’m certainly not looking for it because… where would I start, ya know? That’s a lot of pressure to put on someone. So instead of actively looking for someone I’m just living my life, doing my incredible projects. I am so grateful that my day job and my independent artist work are the same thing: making films. Ridiculous. :) Amazing. :) The kind of love I need and want will come if it’s supposed to. In the interim, I will enjoy the joys of those I love. Seeing joy in the face of someone I cherish is worth a lot.

Thanks for all the vanilla cakes, Mom. I miss you.

 

On This Day, Reaction to the Killing of Osama Bin Laden

May 07, 2011 By: admin Category: Meditation, Mom

This (below) is EXACTLY how I felt this morning, and I was there on 9/11. Smoke and human remains-filled ash flew into my Brooklyn apt windows. On that day the weather was still warm enough to have the windows open. On that day, if I hadn’t decided to work from home for only the 2nd time in my whole life, I would very likely have been trapped underground on the 2/3 train as it headed near the Trade Center on it’s way uptown. All the trains were fine on that day, but Mom and Dad and all of you wouldn’t have known where I was until hours later, and then only if I had been able to get a cell signal out. On that day, by 9:30am, cell service was barraged and many many many calls didn’t get through until the afternoon.

When I heard the news this morning I burst out crying. Not for Bin Laden, but for our country and all those who celebrate(d) his death. It’s a sad day when anyone rejoices over the death of another. I also cried because all of the stresses of that day, and the many many months afterward for NYC, were so hard and changed us so much and were called back by this news of today.

I’m glad I’m alive, and I’m glad he’s dead. I just don’t think we (or anyone) has to gloat. That’s not honorable.

Much love, and thanks for reading,

Alexia

Osama bin Laden is dead. One Buddhist’s response.

“In the Shambhala warrior tradition, we say you should only have to kill an enemy once every thousand years.” –Chogyam Trungpa

So, Osama bin Laden is dead. We killed him. There really was no choice. We were clearly in an “us or them” situation and if we didn’t kill him, he was going to continue to do everything in his power to kill us.

As Buddhists, we are supposed to abhor all killing, but what do you do when someone is trying to kill you? Obviously great theologians have pondered this question for millennia and I’m not going to try to pile on with my point of view, which would be totally useless.

Instead, I’ll pose this question: How do you kill your enemy in a way that puts a stop to violence rather than escalates it?

Strangely, I keep coming back to the same rather ordinary conclusion: the answer is in our ability to face our emotions. When we know how to relate to our anger, hatred, despair, and frustration fully and properly, they self-liberate. When we don’t, when we can’t tolerate them and therefore act them out, we create enormous sorrow and confusion.

Look at your own reaction this morning.

Was there even a hint of vengefulness or gladness at Osama bin Laden’s death? If so, that is a real problem. Whatever suffering he may have experienced cannot reverse even one moment of the suffering he caused. If you believe his death is a form of compensation, you are deluded.

There has been an outpouring of misdirected jubilation, as if a contest had been won. Nothing has been won. Unlike winning a sporting event, this doesn’t mean that our team has triumphed. Far from it. There is only one team and it is us.

One of us is gone, one horrific, terrible, vicious one of us…is gone. I don’t feel regret for him or about this. I’m regretful for the rest of us who are now left thinking that this is a cause for celebration. It is not.  It is a cause for sorrow at our continued inability to realize that there is no such thing as us and them; that whatever we do to cause harm to one will harm us all.

When we hate, we cause hate. When we think we have won by vanquishing our enemy, we have lost. In killing Osama bin Laden, “they” lose because one of their leaders is gone. But we lose too, because we have deepened the causes and conditions that lead to more hatred and its consequences. This is not over.

Then, what to do? I don’t really know, but for me, rather than cheering on this day, I’m going to rededicate myself to the idea of brotherhood towards all, even those that want me dead—and not because I’m some kind of really good person. I’m not. Because I know it’s the only way to stay alive—in the only kind of world I want to inhabit.

Perhaps the way to kill your enemy as a way of putting a stop to violence rather than escalating is to shift our view of “enemy” altogether. Our enemy is not one person or country or belief system. It is our unwillingness to feel the sorrow of others—who are none other than us.

So take aim at this enemy completely and precisely. Feel your sadness for us and them so fully and completely that all boundaries are dissolved and we are left standing face to face, human to human, each feeling the other’s rage and despair as our own, one world to care for.

If you’d like to try to generate such a switch, please try loving kindness meditation. Here is audio instruction in the practice.

“…when you do not produce another force of hatred, the opposing force collapses.”– Chogyam Trungpa

 

“A Vision In A Dream. A Fragment.”

January 20, 2011 By: admin Category: Boston Beats, Family, Filmmaking, Going Home, Happiness, House, iPhone, Living, Love, Meditation, Michael, Unemployment, Video

This will be a very “meta” post, as I originally wrote part of the below in an email to my aunt, and then added to it a preface that I then, along with the email, published onto Facebook. It now here, in it’s entirety, with yet a new preface. A Pre-preface?

Anyway, I think the message contained herein should be shared far and wide, and so I’m publishing on the interwebs in the two places where I know it’ll do the most good. :) Enjoy.

“Hey everyone. This is my first FB note. It’s actually an email I wrote to my aunt who is a dream worker. I am adding it here because my situation is universal, and I thought maybe some of you are feeling the same way. I thought sharing might help some of you to not feel so alone and scared–as I do sometimes–and might help me let go of some of the hope I have that I will be able to keep my sweet, safe life exactly the way it is right now: sweet & safe. I’ve been studying Buddhist meditation and philosophy for over a year and have been resisting the concept of impermanence since the beginning. :) I guess sharing this note is my way of finally accepting it.

Anyway, I hope you can get something out of this. This is a terrible, terrible time for so many of us, but something I’ve learned recently is that the love in the artist community here in Boston is a-s-t-o-u-n-d-i-n-g. You all have helped me so much I almost don’t know what to say except that I am grateful. You are all so beautiful it actually brings tears to my eyes as I write this, and makes it sooooo clear to me why I’m a filmmaker: I have a classic excuse to stare at all of you FOR HOURS, and have the skills necessary to help share your beauty with the world. :)

Enjoy, and thank you so much for your grace and vulnerability. We are giants. :)

With love,

Alexia

“I had an intense dream the other night that I haven’t been able to forget. Thats impressive for two reasons: 1-I haven’t been dreaming much in the last few weeks, and 2-I think I can count on one hand the dreams that have lingered in my mind days after having had them.

The dream is very simple in imagery: my iPhone broke. That’s it. Here are the details…. I was talking with someone about the iPhone being very rugged, and that I’d dropped it a lot and had only incurred minor scratches and cracks. As I was talking I accidentally (truly an accident) dropped my phone. It crashed to the floor and looked fine from my vantage point of just bending my head to look. But then I bent my whole body to pick it up, and when I grasped it I saw that it had been split in two, vertically. This is almost completely impossible for an iPhone. In order to achieve this kind of break, you’d have to put the phone between two vice grips and forcibly snap it. Even then, you’d never get the straight-up-and-down break that I got.

I picked up the phone and rose. The edges of the breaks were jagged, but I could still push the pieces together and have them fit. So I did just that, and what do you know, the phone still worked. I had to hold the pieces together very tightly, but my friend and I thought it was pretty amazing that it still worked even in that scenario. Still within the dream, as I looked down at the blinking, broken phone, I thought to myself, ‘Well, there it is, I have to get the new iPhone 4.’ 😉

That was the end of the dream.

There was an ominousness to that last thought, however funny, about needing to get the new phone. This thought has it’s origins in my very scary economic situation… For two years I haven’t been buying anything. At all. Food and gas and the occasional beer. That’s it. I haven’t gone out to eat, haven’t gone to the movies, haven’t bought a book, haven’t gone to see any of my friends’ bands play if there was a cover charge. The only times I’ve left the house, actually, have been when I was able to arrange for several meetings and events to occur on the same day so I wouldn’t waste gas. You get the idea… My current iPhone-a used one given as a gift to me from Michael (my brother)-has been testy and slow for over a year. I have needed a replacement for a long, long time, but haven’t dared spend $300 to get it for fear of not being able to make the following month’s mortgage payment. This is a fear that’s been with me for a while. It’s no longer a paralytic fear, but still there none-the-less.

Anyway, the fateful day has finally come: it’s January 20th and I don’t have enough money to pay for February’s mortgage so I have to open up one of my retirement accounts. I only have two and the one I’ll be opening was started for me in 2003 when I was at Harvard-Smithsonian. They contributed to the fund, I never did, so, in a sense, all the money in there is “free.” Taking any of it out, though, before I’m 65, will incur a tax penalty. So for something like $4000 I have to remove $5000 and lose $1000. Again, as this is essentially “free money” I’m not stressing too much. I AM stressing about what will happen if I don’t get a job before April 1st. Because if that happens, then it will mean that I have to go into my second retirement account, the only one I have left, the one I’ve been adding to and growing since I was 23, and the one that I hoped would be my nest egg. If I have to go into that one, then the small life I have come to know, the tiny life here that I have worked and saved so long to build around me, will slowly evaporate.

In the dream, when I looked down at my phone I thought: ‘If you hold it together very tightly, it’s definitely still a phone, but you can’t ignore that if you let go… it just won’t work any more…’ “

Touchdown

December 20, 2010 By: admin Category: Coal, Filmmaking, Love, Meditation

The first stop on what has been a very, very, very long journey came yesterday. I finished the stringout/1st roughcut of my second documentary, “The Dirty Truth About Coal.”

This journey began in August 2007 when I read an article that got me hopping mad. You can read all the backstory about the film on the website: www.thedirtytruthaboutcoal.com. I began researching everything I could about coal production and the dangerous and expensive options Big Coal and lobbied legislators were proposing for how to deal with the carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants that were contributing disproportionately to global warming. After a couple of months I realized how little the average American knew about the dangers associated with coal-fired power plants. We all know enough about the horrors of mining coal, but once it’s out of the ground the troubles are harder to see.

In September of that year I met the man who would change my life: Scott Terrell. Scott was from Truckee, CA and worked for the local branch of the major utility there. As a result of his job he heard that the utility was proposing to build a coal-fired power plant right there in Truckee. Scott freaked out. He knew about the dangers and so, putting his job in jeopardy, he told his neighbors, and before long a grassroots campaign sprang up to oppose the building of the coal plant. Here’s the kicker: they were successful.

I met Scott in San Francisco at a green building conference called “West Coast Green.” I was in the media room waiting for my next interview, which wasn’t for another hour. Scott walked in and said he had a story to tell about coal. I said, “have a seat.” And that’s where everything started.

At the end of the interview Scott connected me with Tim Wagner, then the head of the Utah Chapter of the Sierra Club’s Clean Energy Campaign. He was living in Salt Lake City and traveling all over the state educating small communities about the dangers of coal-fired power plants, and helping them to organize protests. We talked over email for a few months and then I moved back to the East coast in June 2008. On my way driving cross-country, I stopped in Salt Lake and interviewed Tim and a bunch of local farmer activists. And got some amazing and horrific b roll of HUGE coal-fired power plants in otherwise gorgeous and unspoiled rugged terrain of rural Utah. Some of that footage is in the current roughcut. On that trip I also stopped in Chicago and interviewed a young activist, Dorian Breuer of Chicago’s P.E.R.R.O. activist group, who would tell me about Dr. Jonathan Levy, a public health scientist at Harvard who had written a definitive report on the effects on public health of emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Up until that interview with Dorian, I had no idea that the pollution from the coal stacks was so harmful.

At a media conference in Boston in February the following year, I met the VP of programming for PBS’ wonderful series, “POV.” I pitched her the film, which at that point was very broad but did include what I had discovered from reading Dr. Levy’s report. I told the VP that it was likely that anyone under the age of 50 in the United States hadn’t take a clean breath of air in their lives. Immediately, I saw her eyes sparkle. “This is definitely something we would be interested in,” she said, but also advised me to review the coal-related films POV had already aired and see if I could come up with something new.

Terrified, but up for the challenge given her interest, I did more research on the health effects of pollution… and the rest, they say, is history. :)

I’ve been editing the film for just over one year. In October, 2009 I went back to Chicago and captured three of the interviews that would become crucial aspects to the current film: Brian Urbaszewski (Respiratory Health Association of Metro Chicago); Dr. Susan Buchanan (MD with specialty in enviro health); and Kim Wasserman, coordinator of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization–a neighborhood youth org. that educates the low-income community of Little Village about air and other kinds of pollution in their neighborhood. Little Village sits 100 feet (across the street) from the Fisk Generating Station (coal plant). I have footage taken from a public park across from Fisk where kids play on a jungle gym in the shadow of the stack.

Even after all these interviews and then finding the legal activist treasure-trove of Conservation Law Foundation here in Boston, I still didn’t really think that I would actually figure out how to make a film that would have a real impact on society. After all, I thought, I’m not Spike Lee, this isn’t “When The Levees Broke.”

And yet, it is.

Somehow, after a year of editing and more interviews, and researching, and white-boarding and finally deciding to settle on a trajectory, I have finished the first roughcut… and it’s fucking GREAT.

This month I’ll add some placeholder b roll to cover all the talking heads, and then will send that out for the first round of feedback. I’ll also submit the film to festivals and grants. This is going to be quite a few months…

In the midst of all this there have been other changes and today brings about punctuation points to them too. Sometimes we have to let things go. It’s not giving up, persay, it’s saying to yourself, “This is no longer something that is helping me to see clearly,” and so if you have the courage you stand up and face your fear about leaving this thing by the side of the road. I’ve done that in a few small ways this past week and already feel lighter. I reorganized my bookshelves, picked stuff up off the floor, ate the leftovers, and sat down for ten hours and cranked out a film. As a result of letting some things go, I am seeing more clearly.

It’s important to remember that losses aren’t deaths. They’re just losses. We should take from what was what helps us and leave the rest. Not even deaths are deaths. The idea that death means the end of someone is silly. People live forever in our hearts and memories, and, if we choose, in actions we perform to honor them and the gifts they gave us. Today I choose to honor those I’ve lost by staying in the present moment and really seeing everything I see.

I also want to thank all of you who read this for your incredible support over these last years. It has made ALL the difference. :)

Happy Solstice!

Love,

Alexia

There’s A Post I Won’t Publish

August 27, 2010 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Coal, Faith, Family, Filmmaking, Going Home, Happiness, Health, House, India, Living, Love, Meditation, Molly, Mom, PlumTV, Uncategorized, Valet Battleship Parking

A few days ago I received a message about something very painful that happened in the past, something that I had done. The event was horrible and was my fault, but what had led up to it was just as horrible and hadn’t been my fault, but the message I got didn’t mention any of that. It just tore open the old wound for all to see.

I’ve been exhausted. Like, really, really, hit-the-wall kind of exhausted, and so when the note came I faltered a little bit because I didn’t have any resources, any strength, to bear up against it. Now, after a few days and some small successes, I’m feeling much better, much stronger, and the note doesn’t have the same impact. I can see it for what it is now: just a big mistake that will end up hurting the writer far more than it ever could me. That said, the note did change something profound in me. Something snapped and finally released, and as I finished reading I knew it was time to put some things away.

I’m apparently going on a long trip, but I think it’s one of mind and not of body. My meditation practice slipped in the last two weeks because we’ve been working just too damned hard. The President & First Family have been on-island and we’ve been all over them, filming, editing shows together quickly, and wringing ourselves out. Well, it’s done now. The “Obama Shows” have aired and the crazy summer season is drawing to a close–which is why I can write this from home at 9:30am on a Friday. :)

One of the things I have to put away are the cats. I spoke to the Animal Shelter here and will likely be dropping the cats off in another week and a half. This will be terribly difficult for me. I care for them very much and am not, as we know, at all good with letting go of things I love. But I don’t want to care for them any more. I just don’t want to. They’re hard in terms of upkeep, and remind me too much of a past I want to turn away from so I can finally move forward in a brand new direction. I’ve been in limbo for over two years. Two years. A lot of that was the economic crisis, but at least 50% was due to raw wounds that have been taking too long to heal.

In mid-Sept. I’ll finally “move” back home and have some serious time to work on the coal film. THAT’S where I live now: in my work. I’ll try to craft a happy life despite the hole in it where Mom used to be, but the main focus will be doing what I do: making stories that I hope will have some impact on even just a few people. And I’ll travel. I’ll go to all the places Mom always talked about but was too afraid to visit. I’ll stay longer than one does for “vacation,” and I’ll get to know new cultures.  I’ll read and I’ll write, and make sure–as much as I can–that my friends are healthy and know that I love them.

We’re all in limbo, in transition. Chogyam Trungpa, the late Buddhist teacher used to talk a lot about negative/uncomfortable emotions being preferable to straight-up happiness because there’s so much energy in them. He said it’s better to walk right into the center of ill feelings and just hang out quietly because what you’ll learn will blow your mind.

Bon voyage, everyone. :)

“we were all given gifts and the idea is to use them”

August 16, 2010 By: admin Category: Faith, Family, Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Meditation, Mom

I was inspired this morning–as I am every time I read her–by my old Oxygen pal, Nancy Colasurdo. Here she is making sense of the Jet Blue guy, and “Jenny” the fictional disgruntled almost-broker:

http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2010/08/13/vote-graceful-exits/

What Nancy’s post makes me think of is the many people I know who don’t have the proper support from family or friends to take the leaps Nancy’s talking about. Courage only comes out of thin air sometimes. Most times, it comes from the encouragement, over time, of others. That’s what happened to my mother. She was horribly neglected by her father and abused by her stepmother, but she had her aunt and older brother who saw in her the light of the world, and never let her forget it. As humans, we don’t need much to hang onto, but we do need something.

I’ve been called judgmental a lot. Like A LOT, a lot. I’m opinionated and decisive and I speak up and sometimes that translates as judgmental. That said, I can see what people are talking about. So, in the last few years–between a horrid final few months in CA, to an emotionally destructive breakup, one soul-crushing year of unemployment, to a painful rebound–I’ve taken the time to look at what this “judgmental” thing is all about.

The first thing I discovered was that, yes, I was given to snap judgments about people and situations. I would assess and determine too quickly. But I’m smart, so it never got in my way except in intimate circumstances–i.e., when I told my partner what I thought and felt about someone. Over time, after hearing enough from my partners that I was being too quick to put people into a box, I learned to slow down and reserve judgment until I’d hung out with people for a while. And what I learned, mostly, is that it doesn’t work for me. I was getting tripped up by what I hoped people would do, and they disappointed me too much of the time. Since that experience my navigation of this territory has evolved to just allowing myself to meet people and not really put any stock in them until it’s naturally necessary, like in a job of friend situation. There, the personalities emerge organically and we both come to know each other better in a safe environment. Maybe I’m late coming to this, but this is the way my path has been. This doesn’t mean I’ve gone back to being judgmental socially in the sense of being critical (I was never critical, just cautious), it’s just one of the tools I use to survive. And that’s what my partners haven’t realized.

One friend isn’t judgmental enough. She doesn’t see how/who anyone is until they’ve pretty much fucked her over. Her father used to say he’d rather be kind and get screwed than not be kind at all. I wouldn’t encourage this as a way to be even if you do, after many years of suffrage and failure, come out smelling like “the good guy.” I’d prefer to be thought of slightly less and still have roof over my head.

Another friend is a doormat and she won’t admit to herself why. She feels self-hating and sad pretty much all the time and won’t go to the dark places of her soul to fix it, even though she’s plenty strong enough.

In both cases, strong family support was missing. Michael and I are by no means the stars of the world, but we’re both doing what we love, and are surrounded by supportive, vibrant people. We’re not holding ourselves back, and we’re happy.

For a long, long time I wasn’t happy, and that was my own fault. I allowed the situation I was in to consume my joy. Along that path I made several mistakes for which I am sorely sorry, but the only thing I can do to try to make up for it is to CHANGE. And this is where most people get tripped-up. There’s this terrible, terrible myth in our repressed culture that change = the death of joy. Nothing could be further from the truth. All religions talk about “releasing,” “letting go,” and “going to God.” Call it whatever you like but it’s all code for: “Get up off your ass. If you’re hearing this then you’re alive, you’re human, and you have choices, so suck it up!” Of course there are situations that are too hard: poverty, illness, homelessness. But if you’re able-bodied, for goodness sake, take a chance on yourself. You simply cannot fail because, as Nancy puts it:

“”we were all given gifts and the idea is to use them.”