Panorama of San Bernardino

Saturday, September 26, 2020

The year of being content

I pledge starting today to be content. Happy. Grateful.

It's 1 am and I'm lying with my dog Frodo at my feet. My other fur monster Chewie is snoring.

I'm reading and writing. I just started my part-time online MFA program and even though I'm only taking one class, it is rejuvenating me. I'm happy.

Writing has always been one of my great loves. Nonfiction memoir is my genre and it moves me. Writing, reading and editing is my passion. It's so much fun. The energy of it. The brain power it requires. The focus.

I woke up at midnight tonight and started reading a book about a garden in France called "French Dirt". It was written by my writing professor. The book made me remember how much my Dad loved gardening. And it made me think of my trip to France last year.

I decided to start writing this piece to capture what I am feeling. The feeling that, for the first time in a long time, I'm content. To just be.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

My shadow self

The other day, I had a meltdown. My poor computer suffered. I screamed at her. My dog Chewie shivered watching me. My husband ran upstairs and asked, "Are you OK?" He saw that I was crying angry tears. 

The work issue was resolved eventually, but that night, I called a close adviser and she gave me a reading. That reading showed me that I still have a lot of work to do on myself.

I often talk about my best self. That I am who I portray and who I aim to be. But for me, what is in (what Carl Jung called) my shadow self? The shadow self is that self that we hide from even ourselves. Shadow work is notoriously difficult. But, it's time.

In my shadow, I know that I am angry and resentful. I want to do for others and then complain about it. I'm not always fully present. I'm critical and neurotic. I obsess. 

I say that I'm positive, but inside can be very negative. Even with my homework for my MFA program. I get it done early, but then obsess over whether it was perfect. It's not just that I'm being hard on myself, it's that I'm hurting myself. That needs to change. I need to take back my power and spiritual energy because it is draining me. This post is my way of creating the intention.

I'm so tired of not being my best self. Look, I know that I am a happy and positive person. That is me. But what the pandemic has taught me is that left to my own devices, without the distraction of running around all the time, my bad traits come out. 

Are others experiencing this?

Perhaps, I have too much time to think because although I'm busy at home all weekend editing, writing and doing homework, I'm not filling up my days running around here or there. Plus, stress creates emotional triggers that may bring out my worst qualities. And maybe, my coping mechanisms have shrunk along with my world.

Working on myself will be hard. But I will grow spiritually and isn't that the point? In the end, I hope to become a kinder, nicer and gentler person. I want to be kinder to myself and gentle on others, especially the ones I love.

Monday, September 14, 2020

It's a small world after all

My world has turned so small in ways. At the house, it's me, my husband and my mother in law. Oh and my two shih tzus. I see my best friend occasionally for lunch outside and have my mom over for a sleepover once a week.

But, my life is also bigger in some ways. I have my podcast and my online grad school which, when coupled with my more than full time job, keeps me very busy.

Although I dabble with reading for class on Wednesday and Friday nights, Saturday is my homework day. I down a couple espressos so I am extra focused. I usually start early, at 6 am. I'm only taking one class so I am keeping up. This Saturday, I started at 7 am and was finished by 1 pm. Adrian is learning not to talk to me when I'm doing my homework because I can be curt when bothered.

This Saturday, I was able to get a week ahead. All of the discipline I put into becoming an organized lawyer is paying dividends with my MFA in creative writing. I worked on the two pieces I am submitting next week for workshop and plan on letting them sit for a couple of days. 

The best writing marinates. I'll go back to them on Wednesday, them submit them early. Deadlines are calming for me. My calendar on my phone is full of them. 

I can't help but think back pre-pandemic when my world seemed so big. 

My husband and I had recently traveled to France. I can still taste the chocolate and pistachio croissants at the French bakery by my cousin's house. In my mind's eye, I picture myself walking through the Louvre, peering at books at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris and having high tea at the Ritz. 

In February, we had met all my sisters in Mexico for a long weekend and if I concentrate hard enough, I can almost hear the crowd cheering as we watched the half-time Super Bowl show at a bar with my sisters and our husbands. I miss bars and concerts the most I think.

Yet, is my life any less fulfilling? I am going for my passions. Turning toward them, grabbing at them. Life still whizzes by in an instant and you must be present and conscious to catch the precious moments as they fly by.

What I'm saying in a rather long-winded way is to gather your rosebuds my friends, however you can and however you may. Create a garden in your mind and heart. There's an old cliche that rings true here: home is where the heart is. And yours is beating right now, right where you are.

Monday, September 7, 2020

JEM's Drag

Confession time, I am obsessed with Ru Paul. I am way late to the game, I know. But I've been binging everything drag race related since the pandemic panic began.

It has helped me in ways you can't imagine. Much like how I spoke on my last video podcast with my tarot card reading friend Gina, we must have confidence to succeed in life. Much of life is visualization and negative self talk is counter productive. Ru Paul reaffirms everything I knew in my head and heart about living one's dreams. Plus, I have a huge girl crush on Michelle Visage. 

Recently, with everything I've been trying to accomplish, what I call my recent attempt to rule the world, I've been imaging it happening. I know we all want to rule the world, but I want it bad. (Had to give a Tears for Fears shout out...).

For example, I pictured myself on screen with guests, and guess what? It happened. I pictured myself looking and sounding epic. And, while everything is a work in progress, I have met my own high expectations.

Sometimes, not everything goes as planned. In producing my recent mass incarceration course for UCR, I had lighting and technical issues. I beat myself up mentally about it for about a week, and didn't sleep much. 

But then I said to myself, you know technology is not your strong suit. That's why you have a producer on your own video podcast! But maybe you can fix most of this in the editing room and we did. Of course, it helps to have people you trust to help you. And I'm buying a Zoom light for my next production at a college next month. It's a learning experience and I will get better at the technology side. Trust.

What I am saying is, know your strengths. I know that my performance side is strong but that I must work extra hard on the asthetics. Hence, every podcast, I take my time doing my makeup and hair. I'm trying to work on my weight too. 

It's my runway bitches!

The person inside of me is JEM you see. She's my drag persona in a way. Someone asked me recently if she is my alter ego. But I think she's really my best self.

JEM is the face I put out to the world. The confident identity who has opinions and a voice that the world needs to hear. 

The sad and anxious girl stays out of the frame. The negative girl hides away. 

JEM is all about love and positivity (along with music and dancing of course).

JEM is the culmination of many years of self work. She's the butterfly emerging from her cocoon. Finally. She's here. And, as a wise gorgeous person named Ru Paul once said, if you can't love yourself, how can you love anyone else?