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Archive for the ‘Health’

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.

I’m Looking At You

April 07, 2012 By: admin Category: Family, Filmmaking, Happiness, Health, House, Living, Love

I finally understand what the Buddhists mean when they say “learning to stay.” In my case it does seem as if I’m translating it literally, but that’s only because not everyone can see beyond the surface.

I’ve been studying and studying and studying for YEARS. Odd, I know, for a woman who almost flunked out of both high school and college. True story. To say that I was never close to those things is to deny the truth in order to feel less bad that I was passed on and helped enormously because I’m pretty, privileged, and White, but that’s not what this post is about…

Mom used to get so pissed about me being “a late bloomer.” I would “simmer” on life decisions and it drove her crazy. I tried and tried and tried to get her to see into me, see how I saw things–we were so kindred I thought it was a given–but she couldn’t. One of the greatest realizations I ever came to as an adult was finally admitting she didn’t see the world the way I did, that she never could, and that that was okay. BUT!, while she was alive, I never stopped trying…

My simmering has finally come into it’s own. I can call it up at will now, and it’s never wrong. I simmer on something until the only answer possible–the RIGHT answer–comes through, allowing me to move forward and act with confidence. I’m speaking, of course, of filmmaking. The technique sometimes works in social life, but as there’s a lot more at stake in those situations, it can also become MUCH more difficult to grasp and sway… :)

Lately, I’ve been simmering on my next films. There are three, in particular: “Viriditas,” “Coal 2,” (admittedly, a shitty working title), and “In The Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried.” The last one is a short fiction film, my first foray into non-documentary, and is based on a short story I do not yet have the rights to. I keep promising myself that once I shoot some scenes I’ll edit them, craft them into perfection, and then contact the author to see about finishing it. I have high hopes. The writer is an incredible artist, and also a bit of a loner so I think she’ll vibe with my lonerness and get what I’m going for. And, anyway, it would be a good vehicle for her–I’ll argue–to tour with to teach, give lectures, etc. “Contrast the written with the film,” something like that…

In the last few days I made a decision so many of us never have the luxury to make: I’m going to stay right where I am. Literally. I’m going to do everything I can to not move to San Francisco for a wonderful job with wonderful people that would pay me a shitload of money. Why, you ask, am I being such a dumbass? Cuz it’s the right decision, and not a dumbass one at all. I have deep family and friend ties here, opportunities to make beautiful films, a house I can’t stop adoring, a chance to fall in love…

My whole career I’ve made choices based on money, ignoring quality of life. Quality of life eventually always showed up because I was young, energetic, and still striving for something to call “an achievement.” But that struggle is thankfully over. When SOMA GIRLS aired on PBS nationwide a few weeks ago, including the venerated WGBH, I was done with struggling. “The achievement” had been attained. For most American documentary filmmakers, having your film on PBS is the great goal. Having your film on one of the big PBS stations like WGBH, is summiting Everest. And so as a result of this milestone I have decided to stop worrying about my career. Completely. I have a career, and one that’s been legitimized by the mainstream. Any artist telling you that that’s not a little important is either Jean Michel Basquiat or lying.

So, then, it occurred to me that if I don’t have anything to strive for, I can do anything I want. No more looking over my shoulder, second-guessing, blah, blah, blah. It’s time to stop working only 50% for others and start working 100% for others. I want to take responsibility for being a resident of this time, and choose to use my filmmaking skills exclusively for good. And to me, “for good” means moving viewers emotionally. There’s no feeling like changing someone’s mind about themselves for the better. I seem to have a gift for that and I wanna take it out for a spin…

 

No More Haze

February 04, 2012 By: admin Category: Abandonment Journal, Faith, Family, Happiness, Health, House, Living, Love, Molly, Mom

For such a long, long time, I’ve been unable to see the way others see. There’s been a haze, born in my heart, that affected my vision. I literally saw things and felt them as if at a distance. A friend recently told me “You dissociated,” but that word has a lot of power for someone else in my life, and anyway, I have no idea what it could mean for me. All I know is that on Thanksgiving I could suddenly see and feel again.

Something happened on that day that doesn’t need to be detailed for the result to be conveyed here. I was hurt in a small, really, insignificant way, but that very moment somehow broke through years of piled-up hurt that were causing the dissociation and haze-vision. I went home that night and cried the way I cried in Molly’s arms months after Mom died. I fell through my front door and collapsed on the stairs in convulsing sobs. It was painful, but also so so FREEING. I could feel all this weight and negativity and guilt and pressure, etc, etc, etc, leave my body and mind and when the sobbing was done, I could see again. I looked around the house and I could finally FEEL myself in it. It was incredible.

In the weeks since then I’ve been on a high of living in the present moment. It really is as exhilarating as all the yoga and meditation books say. :)

So, a breakthrough, indeed. Today I can read painful things from the past and not fall down. I’m looking toward the future, MY future. I have no plans, and it’s just fine. Kind of a funny, unexpected, but none-the-less joyful phase I’m in.

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.

Enter Title Here

September 14, 2010 By: admin Category: Filmmaking, Going Home, Happiness, Health, House, PlumTV

I remember it clear as day. As if it was childhood I was calling back. For so long I lived alone without a care in the world…

But those were the days before The Economic Crisis, before “9/11,” before i lost my job, my relationship, and my home to a world falling apart.

How many of us are there? How many of us 40-somethings struggle to “put something together” to make a living? How many of us have moved back in with our aging parents? The luck ones, I think.

Anyway, the summer bandaid job has ended and I couldn’t be more relieved. I thought working at Oxygen, a startup REAL network, was tough, but the standard 16-hour days at Plum TV on Martha’s Vineyard put the big city network startup to shame. In my last week, the week where we covered the local film festival, I worked 82 hours, and then came back to the office and had my soon-to-be-ex boss tell me I took on too much, that I wasn’t a good delegator. Jeez, if she’d wanted the show to suck, she could have just told me. I would have happily delegated what she she’d wanted me to. But that wouldn’t have helped. Then I would have been beaten down and fired for not doing a good enough job.

Sometimes production is just hard, and if you’re not in production what’s even harder is understanding why it’s so hard. My EP is a good woman and a good manager, but she’s not a producer and I guess that’s where she and I got tripped up. There were just some things she wouldn’t understand unless she did them.

Anyway, greener pastures. In my own EPs words “At least you’re getting out.” Indeed. Plum is cute, but they’re spending their money unwisely, as I suppose many startups do. I hope I get a chance to start a company so I can how tough it really is. I’m curious because it seems as though if you’re detailed and efficient about how you spend your budget, and don’t let your ego get in the way, it should be fundamental.

Anyway, I’m off to pick up my fixed car. Then to the Mac store to pick up my new HDs, then back to the house to pack, clean and apply for an LEF grant for my next film “18 Months.” No, it’s never too early to start working on a new film. :)

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. :)

Address the Front

August 17, 2010 By: admin Category: Faith, Family, Filmmaking, Going Home, Happiness, Health, House, India, Living, Love, PlumTV, Unemployment, Valet Battleship Parking

"Untitled" by ImaginationRoom (http://imaginationroom.posterous.com/)

I don’t know where to start. This morning I’m feeling a lot of fear mixed with stress mixed with the intellectual knowledge of peace and relaxation. This job is just too much, I think. There is literally NO BREAK. I have one or two weekend days each week and they don’t even help me to catch up on sleep anymore. Tina was right, I need to train someone to share the load. I thought I had been doing that. Looking back now at May, June and the first part of July, I can’t understand at all how Hannah survived overseeing the show as well as ads creation. Insanity.

I spoke last night with a woman who is back from the brink. She has Lyme disease and mercury poisoning, but because she has a lot of money, she is alive. I’m afraid to watch the documentary about Lyme that she financed. I’m afraid for my friend Su, who has Lyme, and afraid for myself that I may not have the courage to help her the way she needs to be helped. At the moment I am stressed out enough just watching over my own life. The mortgage. Always the mortgage. But for me that struggle is worth it because I am surviving and my house is my life-raft.

Could I do this job again next summer? I might not physically or psychologically be able to handle it. If Courtney stays then I could train her in May and June and then, hopefully, something will have turned for me so that I can leave as Hannah left this past July. I just can’t imagine doing this all again. Not without someone like me to share the full load.

I saw “Eat.Pray.Love” last night–the Hollywood representation of one of my favorite books. The movie, frankly, sucked. I’d needed it to not. I’ve needed some kind of heart vacation for a while. Not romantic, something to help me feel at peace. I stayed in the movie while others left, not because I had hope, but because the images, at least, were something I’ll be able to hold on to later. And, hell, Julia Roberts is pretty, so…

There’s no one way to tell a story, but if you’re going to try, you have to settle on a direction. The director of Eat.Pray.Love, I think, shot a 6-hour film. Pity we didn’t see that version. Another film, “The Kids Are Alright,” reinvigorated my love of movies and visual story, and showed a decent, hard-working, loving family. Two lesbian parents and their teenage kids. I thought ti was wonderful. A friend thought it was insulting to lesbians worldwide because of something that happens in the story. Her anger and staunch position nearly destroyed the tender story for me. I got sad listening to her just not letting it go. There isn’t just one way to tell a story, and so you shouldn’t get mad at one interpretation.

I’m exhausted. This post is one, fucking stream-of-semiconsciousness, isn’t it? Sorry about that. I’ll try again tomorrow. If anyone sees a thruline here, please comment so I’ll know what the hell I’m talking about. :)

Cheers.

“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.”