On the Verge…

I feel my heart jumping around inside my chest, pushing against its bony restraints in erratic, desperate throbs.

I must have forgotten to breathe.

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It’s like I’m standing on the beach with the very tips of my toes kissing the edge of the icy, early morning waves.

All I can manage are goosebumps and shallow breathing.

I’m grounded for now but with each lick, lick, lick, my balance shifts. I get sucked further in.

My ears are overwhelmed by the sound of the waves- a car driving 90 miles-per-hour through a never ending traffic tunnel.

I’m on the verge of some great experience and all I can form are common, ineffective words.

What is going on?   I mutter.  Holy shit! HOLY SHIT!

This doesn’t even sound like me. My heart’s irregular beating is producing word vomit.

The sand beneath my feet finally succumbs to the convincing pull of the water; submerged.

If I look down at the sand as the water pushes beneath me, I move backward- my feet lurching and settling into the sand while everything around me glides forward with relative ease.

As I begin to breathe, I know I must regain my footing or be lost in the fog that settles around the ocean when the night comes.

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Perfectionism is Enemy #1

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.”

Anne Lamott

This is what I strive for these days, “a shitty first draft” as my fingers haltingly tromp ineffective words into the keyboard.

I tell you that I “tromp” rather than gallop around the keyboard because as I work toward “a shitty first draft” I’m also fending off the voices of failure yelling at me about, “lack of consistency” in producing said mediocre work.

Today, I’m oppressed by the thought that my goal of publishing one blog a day (into infinity) was disrupted yesterday.  I have many excuses for this.  And now, I have many mean voices chastising me for my lack of discipline.

Says an incredulous voice, “You couldn’t publish something for a measly THREE DAYS IN A ROW?!”

And then with disgust, “And you call yourself a writer!”

Perfectionism cripples my desire to go on, paralyzes my ability to craft beautiful sentences and generally cramps my writing style in every, single, way.

Anne Lamott, you’re my writing soul mate.

Adults Must be Accompanied by a Child…

A fleeting thought transforms me from waxing poetic about being a child in carefree days of summer to an individual on high alert, scouting for suspicious eyes.

Mommies at this park probably think I’m some sort of weirdo sitting here, childless, watching kids run around a place that’s obviously just a kid zone.  It’s obviously not a bird watching zone, or get some sun zone, or play Frisbee zone since it has a massive rubbery jungle-gym stationed smack dab in the middle of it.

Absurd, I think.  For all they know I’m just a negligent mommy letting her child run around unsupervised, letting him or her eat dirt and push smaller kids around.  This thought slightly horrifies me.

Maybe they think I’m some poor, childless woman who yearns for children of her own and comforts herself by stopping by the park to watch others nurture.  But then, I don’t think I look quite old enough or sad enough to fit that category.

I had been overcome with a general sense of well-being.  The sun was out, the air was crisp and I was in the middle of an incredibly insightful book…when I saw the sign that punctured my joy.

Adults must be accompanied by a child.

The dark green sign demands attention and respect.  My mind muddles over the verbiage.  Does that mean I’m not supposed to be here, I wonder?  Would park police come around and notice my diaper bag/stroller-less state and demand I leave while adults accompanied by a child tsked and shook their heads?  Did this mean a parent could report me for lollygagging around a public place unaccompanied by a child?

There was no getting back to my book after that, no way I could wax poetic about being a kid again.  I left.

Someday, I thought.  Someday I’d meet the city’s qualifications and I’d be back, kid in tow.

And…ACTION!

I feel as though I’ve inhaled five cups of espresso along with a plate of warm, chocolate-filled croissants!

I just got hired for my second online writing gig as an independent contractor! I’m starting to feel hopeful that a living might be earned with words.  It’s nearly impossible to keep myself from jumping ahead in my thought as I consider what it might be like to write full-time.  I see myself toting my laptop around the world from Miami to Milan with my husband as we travel for music, modeling, and acting jobs!  I have longed to be a part of the creative world that he belongs to and I wonder if this is my chance.  My current contracts call for about as much creativity as a script for an injury lawyer commercial but hey, it’s a start!  I can hone my craft just as easily on articles about auto insurance as I can on small works of fiction!

That Josiah is in an acting class this morning gives me a sense of happy anticipation.  A potential acting agent he spoke with last week signed him up to audit a class taught by an instructor who works with some pretty big names. The last time he took an acting class was in New York which resulted in an audition to be a fleeting love interest of Blake Lively’s character, Serena Van Der Woodsen, on “Gossip Girl.”

We ran lines together over the phone.  He had to stand in front of a bathroom mirror in a cramped NYC apartment he was crashing and I sat at home in Nashville on a couch that had become a NYC taxi.  I’d seen the episode of “Gossip Girl” that the casting director was using as a script for the audition, so I let myself  become Serena Van Der Woodsen (I know, we are SO similar in every way) and encouraged Josiah as he tried to say with ease the kinds of things he would never say in real life.

In preparation for his class this morning we watched “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”  People in the entertainment industry are constantly asking Josiah to define who he is in reference to actors or musicians who have already found success.  Someone mentioned that he might pick up a few things from Robert Redford in his earlier years-maybe watch “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” or “The Natural.”  If someone asked me, I would say Josiah has the earnestness of Ryan Gosling, the wholesomeness of Harry Connick Jr., and the ability to surprise his audience as much as Leonardo DiCaprio.

It’s another perfect day in Southern California and I am feeling optimistic.

Heavy on the Sleaze…

“I’m very impatient,” I tell them conspiratorially but might as well have said, “I’m very important and don’t have time to wait like other people.”

I’ve noticed that sometimes I celebrate my flaws.  When I tell someone that I’m impatient or that I don’t like to wait it’s almost as though I’m proud of my inability to take a breath and wait my turn.  I think the reason behind this is that I equate impatience with action.  If I announce to someone that “I’m impatient” this means I have bigger and better things to do. I don’t wait for things to happen I make things happen.
I am very impatient to see what God  has in store for us in Los Angeles.
It’s pilot season here, which means serious actors will descend on the city for the next three months to audition for their big break.  A critical decision facing Josiah is what theatrical management company will represent him.
His modeling agents are in the process of setting-up interviews.  They scheduled a meeting this week with a manager with whom they have a good working relationship.  As Josiah prepared for the meeting, we asked God to reveal the manager’s character.
When he got home, Josiah told me that he felt immediately uneasy when he met the manager face-to-face, “He seemed cutthroat, said he clawed his way to the top and started his own company because he was tired of all the corporate bull-****,” and then a side note, “He was a bit on the sleazy side…”
In light of how we prayed, you’d think my initial reaction to Josiah’s impression of the guy was relief!  Instead, I felt a combination of disappointment, relief, and impatience!  Alright, so this guy was not for us-who was the next manager Josiah could interview? How was he going to start pilot season without a theatrical manager? Why hadn’t Josiah’s agency set another meeting already?  Had he called his modeling agency to tell them what he thought and what he wanted in a manager?
It’s exhausting being impatient.  But that’s what God’s word tells us through Isaiah, “Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength” (New American Standard Bible, Isa 40:30-31).  God amazes me with his practicality on a daily basis.  I think that algebraic theorem if A, then B applies perfectly here!  If we persist in vigorously pursuing decisions out of our own knowledge and strength and abilities; we will stumble and wear ourselves out! If we ask God for guidance then stop revisiting the issue with our own plans; we will see God’s answers to our prayers without exhausting ourselves along the way.
Above: head-shots by S. Girard

Macaroni and Cheese

I’m having one of those, “nudge-nudge, push-push” moments as Josiah mouths the words, “I think we need to have him over for dinner” at me.  I nod soundlessly, which prompts my husband to say, “Yeah man,” into the phone, “Come on over.”  I’m working on part three of a final exam essay for my graduate level marketing class while monitoring the poor man’s soup Josiah and I have made for dinner; so my thoughts are everywhere.  My initial instinct is to let a twinge of frustration cross my face, but the thoughtful look on Josiah’s stops me.  It doesn’t matter if we have rock solid plans in place as of ten minutes ago or ten days ago.  That look means whatever just came up is happening.

We’re making a tasty but random soup that we lovingly call “poor man’s soup” because it’s what we eat when we get to the end of our grocery budget. It has morsels of things like ground turkey and left-over vegetables, all simmered down into chicken broth.  It’s the last thing I’d want to share with a guest, especially a person I’ve never met.  It’s ugly, it’s hodge-podge!  What kind of people will he think we are, serving-up the stuff?  Josiah would undoubtedly yell out, “Poor!  We’re poor!”  And I’d laugh and mimic him because it’s what we do when we feel a little tight on funds and don’t want the levity of whatever is looming over us to catch-up with our attitudes.  It usually happens at the grocery store when it would be nice to pick-up a few things that we don’t need.  Dessert usually triggers it for me.  “Babe, I really want to get this Tiramisu (pause for dramatic effect) but I won’t…because we’re POOR!”

It turns out that the friend Josiah invited over is a singer/songwriter who recently moved to Los Angeles.  The boys met each other at a gig they played on Sunset Boulevard a few months ago- before either of them made the move to L.A.

As we settle-in to talk, it doesn’t surprise me that the “nudge-nudge, push-push” sensation is from God.  The best way I can describe this guy from South Carolina is that his personality is as warm and straight-forward as a bowl of mac ‘n cheese!  He tells us point-blank that he needs encouragement from friends who are seeking God more than fame and knowing the “right” people.  Hearing him talk about his transition to L.A., I am reminded that no matter where I go or how uncertain I may feel in a new experience;  there is an immediate sense of being at home when I meet someone who believes in Christ as I do.

Got to get away…

Have you ever wanted to just pick-up your stuff, pack up your life, and go somewhere new?  Yes, you, the person who has long been encumbered by a lifelong obsession with mapping out every minute of every day?  You, the “responsible one,” suddenly overcome by an undeniable desire to leave everything and everyone you know behind?

If you’ve never experienced anything like this before, I’ll describe it to you.  It can start with a dream you can’t shake off in the morning, a passing thought, a something someone mentions during dinner out with friends.  But it’s the inception of something that now can not be ignored.  You start to feel antsy and a little breathless from the sheer excitement of the idea.  You begin to see metaphorical dead ends in the life you’ve built for yourself and you have GOT TO GET AWAY!

I’ve always been the responsible one.  I’ve kept steady jobs, I’ve never done anything drastic and certainly nothing on a whim (well, other than the occasional McDonald’s french fry run) and I’m the kind of person who loves surprises but deeply appreciates predictability.  I’m one of those people who has a five-year plan.

Granted, my five-year plan has always (well, since the advent of my handsome husband) been riddled with many “what ifs” (I mean, it’s unavoidable when one is married to a male model slash rock singer slash aspiring actor) but I STILL had a five-year plan that included a house, a golden retriever (they are such noble creatures), and at least one kid by the time I am the age I am now.  I saw that these things could come to pass in Nashville, the city we’ve lovingly called home for the last seven years.

But I did have one of those dreams I just couldn’t shake off one morning in November and after getting past the in-credulousness of the idea, my husband and I decided to take the dream seriously.  We prayed.  We discussed.  We budgeted.  We made a list of pros and cons. We prayed without ceasing.

At first, I thought that if God provided a job transfer with my current employer in southern California, that would serve as the writing on the wall.  So for a couple of weeks, we waited for the transfer.  And then we realized, why are we waiting?  If California is the place we need to be, why are we waiting for a job transfer to make that happen?  If God says “go”…we should GO right?

So we prayed about a move date.  Lord, show us when to move.  It’s comical how short prayers become when you’ve petitioned Him so many times before.  When? When? WHEN?  Then Josiah’s dad, who owns a concrete construction business in Arkansas said that he and the family could move us to California at the first of the year.

We made a miniature garage sale of our already second-and third-hand items, said good-by to even more of our well-loved stuff on the first leg of our journey, then said good-by to even more on our way to the golden state!

It’s enlightening how burdensome stuff you’ve had forever gets, when you can only take the stuff that’s most important.  Because what’s MOST important is getting to the place God has for you…with or without stuff, a job, or an apartment!

So…we’ve made a big move.  We’re here.  And we are doing our best to seek what is most important.  I realize it’s cheesy, but when I think about California, I think Hollywood which is fifteen minutes from where we currently live and I remember the opening and ending scene of Pretty Woman where a random man walking across the street hollers out, “Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don’t; but keep on dreamin’…”

I don’t know if we will realize our dreams here, but I do know that we are meant to be here, at this place, at this time.  And I have that antsy feeling again, just thinking about what is in store for us in this golden state where dreams come to dazzle or die.