How’s Your Heart?

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For even the smallest hole may feel bottomless

if carved out by another’s less than gentle hand.

Every fluttering page, brick, case, or feast

that you’ve used to mend the hollow

only makes weary walls creak

beneath a pressure never invited,

now a (not so welcome) guest.

You’ve even learned to ration your love

into morsels no larger than pencil shavings,

feeding your ravenous craving with meager meals

not fit for any budding soul.

Were you to just abandon the dread

that you think keeps you from a famine,

you would find that full banquets of love

never diminish from returning visits,

but only surge and grow

as you help yourself to more.

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Time to Learn to Tread Water

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Anxiety is the product of unease. A cloak of insecurity pulled around the shoulders meant to hide, to warm, to comfort – but which, more often than not, does the opposite. Instead of shielding away the bad, it shields away life in its entirety. This includes the changes, the growth, the moment-to-moment portrait of time.

To reenergize your openness to love and the life within, take a moment to let your worries have their say. Let them play out the scenario of which you are afraid to examine. And, there. You’ve given the anxiety its say. You are no longer beholden to its demands for attention.

You can now shift your focus to the scenario which you would like to experience. Paint a clear image of yourself as the person you would like to be. And you will surprise yourself with how quickly such clarity can lend itself to transformation. Notice here that rushing into the future does no good – it will come whether or not you press toward it. So take stock of each moment so you are aware when one step leads you to what you want, and one step leads you away. Readjust, realign, and refocus. You decide when you’re done growing.
(Here’s a hint: you do not ever have to be finished with this one!)

Image Source: Brain Pickings

Fear Shows You a Path, Love Allows You to Walk It

Of all the four letter words,
Fear hurts the most
Not the ears, but the soul
As it freezes passageways to what might have been

“I fear what might happen”

A future paved with ice is hard to traverse

Each step unsure as the foot lightly presses

Anxiously awaiting a plunge

But oh, when letters take new form

And one word shifts its place

To allow room for another

“I love what might happen”

Of all the four letter words,
Love means the most
A flame hidden in unassuming shroud
That melts worry and reveals a path below

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How to Make Friends with Your Fear

Ready, set, uh oh. A not so friendly visitor is back again. Fear finds us all every once in a while, but there is no reason to remain frozen by it. The easiest way to face it head on is to put yourself in its shoes. By uncovering the roots, you can ensure that you nurture the kind of mental garden you covet – with weeds a thing of the past.

Put a name on that which scares you. Identify what’s getting you down – whether it’s a real challenge or a perceived slight. A target is much easier to hit when you know what it looks like.

Stop the self-chatter. For two minutes. Hopefully for ten. When the mind’s worked up it will start firing off negativity on all cylinders. Quiet everything up there. All that radio frequency is getting in the way. After a few minutes of a true mental break, you’ll realize you have a strong sense of how to handle this best.

Ask the tough questions. The ones you’ve indexed and stored away. Dig a little deeper and search for the real reason you’re unwilling to look that fear of yours in the eye. What about this situation makes it different than others? Why does this one make you grimace? What makes you feel safe?

Remind yourself of the good stuff. Think back to the last time you overcame a fear. Never stared one down before? Then remember how it feels to rock at something – whether it be dancing, drawing, speaking to others, cooking. Think of the joy you have when you approach the task that allows you to shine. Take the same mentality into the fray with you. An attitude that comes from a place of love will always win out over one of emptiness or dread.

Ask for help. Never be so proud that you stand in your own way. If you think someone may be able to offer sound advice or a helping hand, just ask. Sometimes just having just one other person believe in you is enough.

Focus on your own journey. Comparing your situation to that of others is a surefire way to start convincing yourself that it is okay to feel sorry for yourself. Life’s too short. You most likely aren’t seeing everyone else’s full picture – why compare 5% of their life to 100% of your own? Move past the moping and on to making things happen.

Baby steps. One step is better than none. Two is better than one. When you think you may be paralyzed by whatever it is you’re facing, keep going. The reward of your persistence alone may be enough to remind you that you really can tackle anything.

Befriend the enemy. Treat the thing that scares you as if it were something precious to you – because in fact, it is. It is what will be the catalyst for your own growth. Thank it for showing up in your life and treat it with the same respect you would a close friend. You will be stunned at how much this little shift will mean.

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The Most Surprising Most Wanted List You May Ever Read

While we have plenty to be afraid of in our daily lives, these seven killers may have never crossed your mind. Mostly because these ones don’t have a face, or even a name. But they are dangerous all the same. Husband and wife team Andrew and Gaia Grant have dubbed them the “creativity killers.”

Our generation has seen a steep drop off in creativity despite access to better resources, quicker communication, and a host of other perks. Meaning that these menacing criminals have already been stalking their prey and getting away with it for far too long. Thanks to the Grants’ book, Who Killed Creativity, we now have a forensic gameplan for how to spot these killers in action and prevent them from committing future crimes.

The best way to stay safe from them out on those mean streets? Use failure as an opportunity to learn, pick a new hobby and don’t give it up until you’ve perfected it, trust your gut, seek out new options, ask for help, take a breath and believe that what you want out of life isn’t as impossible as you may think.

Original Image Sources (left side): Chris O’Brien, Misteraitch, Alyssa L. Miller, Ding Yuin Shan, Tourist on Earth, StriaticYortw

How to Thoroughly Enjoy Your Life

1. Sing in the car. Laugh when you realize that the guy in the car next to you is watching. Smile as he turns on his radio to sing along too.

2. Stay up too late. Fill your evening with a fury of sounds and thoughts and people before heading home. Let the afterglow of exhaustion pull you into sleep.

3. Write someone a letter. On real paper. Doodle in the margins and send it off to them. Realize that written correspondence is a rare joy.

4. Travel. Doesn’t need to be far. Get in the car and drive for 30 minutes in a direction you haven’t wandered before. Get out, explore what’s there, return when you wish.

5. Forgive someone. The person who spilled coffee on you this morning or the person that “ruined your life.” This will be the most important thing you will do.

6. Try your hand at something you never thought you’d be good at. Juggling, unicycling, baking, parasailing – pick one and enjoy the thrill of something random.

7. Look up. At the tops of buildings, birds, stars. Beam when you see a plane skywrite a message of love.

8. Eat food that makes you stop in your tracks and go “mmm.” Yes, like in the commercials. Maybe that’s homemade pesto, maybe it’s Burrata cheese. Find what makes your taste buds rejoice and treat yourself often.

9. Dance a little when alone in an elevator. Grin and nod politely when the doors open to someone waiting to get on.

10. Take time for yourself everyday. Whether its a cup of tea in the morning or taking yourself out to a meal amid the hustle and bustle of others, relish in your own company. Learn to befriend yourself.

11. Get lost. Gain a newfound sense of home when you find your way back.

12. Talk to someone new. Recognize that their story is beautiful and be inspired. Think of your encounter when you start to feel like you may have done it all. Go out and talk to more people.

13. Create something. A song, story, an image, something that reminds you of who you are. Notice that it’s rewarding. Do it often.

14. Make time for people that matter to you. Treat an old friend to drinks, share favorite stories and realize that a lot has changed. Appreciate that even though things are different, you both still get along so well.

15. Fall in love. Try to stay in love. Fight for each other, not with each other.

16. Listen to music. In concert halls, at home, while walking, before you fall asleep. Find songs that shake you and make you wonder how someone knew just what you needed to hear.

17. Laugh until you cry. Make someone else do the same.

18. Share what you have. If you think you have nothing to give, share an idea, a memory, maybe your life.

19. Celebrate the things you used to take for granted. Finally understand what people meant when they babbled off “the best things in life are free.”

20. Face one of your fears. Don’t look away until you’ve mastered it. You’re freer now.

Image Source: Dara Scully

How to Be Kind to Yourself

We’re all guilty of it. Self-sabotage is one of the easiest games in the book. We reprimand ourselves for embarrassments long gone by or tell our instinct to hush up because we “couldn’t possibly be right.” We come upon an idea and as soon as it begins to take shape, we shoot it down because of a fear of reproach, inability to follow through, potential reactions from those around us, the list goes on. But how to escape this recursive cycle of not-so-supportive thoughts? The first step is to recognize that two little voices are competing for stage time in your head: that of a dreamer and that of a downer. The trick is to be able to distinguish which voice has the mic when the self-talk starts up and to learn how to balance this duality.

The Downer Voice

It is important to see that the “downer voice” is not a bad one. Its job is self-preservation. It’s seen every misstep you’ve made in the past and wants to avoid any and all conflict. It would prefer that you stay static if it means that you’re free from the possibility of being hurt. Its voice is one rooted in fear and doubt, but it is a sensitive realist at heart. This sensitivity to pain is key. If your self-talk is filled with anger (e.g. “how could I do such a stupid thing?!”) check in and see if that lil guy is actually sad about the situation (e.g. “I really wanted to do that well. Now they all think I’m foolish”). Sadness is like a slip-n-slide ride down to anger. Be careful you don’t water the slide if you don’t want to wind up at the end of it.

The Dreamer Voice

An eternal optimist, the “dreamer voice” wants the world for you. It would love to see you enjoy every little bit of your life. It does not know fear. It remembers pain but doesn’t harbor on it. Sometimes it stays quiet – it’s obedient, child-like. So if you shush it, it’s liable to stay mute until you allow it to speak again. It’s the part of you that gets excited about ideas and knows how to get back up after a fall. Let it play every once in a while to replenish your energy when reserves are low.

Striking the Balance

Let the dreamer reach out to the downer when it starts to scream for attention. The downer brings up concerns that the dreamer can address. Where one sees problems, the other finds possibilities. Allow the dreamer to work in tandem with the other voice, not against it. Instead of ignoring the murmurs of the sensitive one, accept the fears that it brings up and choose to face them proudly. Invite the idealist out again if its been a while since last you spoke. Let it put a little love in your heart.

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Have to Let Yourself Down in Order to Rise Up

As you sit suspended, halfway between a thought and a feeling,

You keep your eyes level, unwilling to let your glance take in the depth below you.

You fear that its chill may stall you, its bottomless shadows may swallow you whole,

So you dangle midair above its vastness.

Easy to return, you think, but you’ve come this far.

Echos of “I can’t” seem deafening although no one speaks.

But as you breathe you find a new reserve –

A hidden store of courage, tucked away behind doubt and worry.

You inch yourself down into the darkness and take in its musk

You fill your lungs with all the things that scared you and plunge deeper into the crevasse.

And even as your feet find their footing beneath you, your eyes can still find the light above.

No unhappy end, just newfound fearlessness that propels you up again.

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Good Things Develop in Time

“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway

– Earl Nightingale

We are a culture of wanting, a generation of impatience. Without instant answers we let muddled, hurried thoughts lead us to frustration – “if not now, then when?” – and subsequently abandon the path before reaching its first curve. We want the results without the work. How can we ensure that we reach our goal when the clock on the wall seems to show time zooming by at a frightening pace?

1. Train your mind in patience. Start small, set little boundaries, challenge yourself. Promise yourself to do an extra set of crunches, try 24 hours without social media, or put your favorite guilty-pleasure food at the edge of your desk, and see if you can go 8 hours without touching it. Little successes add up to big ones in time. Each step is significant.

2. Make a list. Of 10 things you would do if time were no issue, if no obstacles stood in your way. Look again at the list. Realize that each one of these things is possible – the obstacles are the excuses we make for ourselves. Pick one and commit 30 days to getting closer to that goal. You reach the end of a month and it’s still not done? Well, you’re 30 days closer than you would have been had the idea just stayed on paper. Put time into it, get something out of it.

3. Refrain from patting yourself on the back. Studies actually show that if you tell everyone that you’re planning on doing something, you get the same emotional response as if you had actually completed the task. Ex. if you say “I’m going to run a marathon,” and everyone gives you a thumbs up and says “great” before you’ve even bought a pair of running shoes, this little convo can stop you from following through with your initial plan; you already received validation. So be hard on yourself. Keep chugging along whether or not others cheer you on. The reward comes from the journey itself, not only the result.

4. Acknowledge those who doubt you, but don’t let them slow you down.  There will always be people that think what you are doing is crazy/not worth your time/impossible/silly/whatever – but that’s why it’s your dream, not theirs. Use any concern and skepticism as fuel. Just like a drill sergeant who whips you into shape, let their words ring in your ears just long enough to light a fire under you. Then go. Do, create, be, and never look back.

5. Keep going. No matter what. Even if the path does not take you where you expected it would, you’ve learned something. And your brain thanks you for it, I’m sure of it.

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Up, Up, and Away – Flying High on Gratitude

Hey all, hope your weekend was grand.

Today’s officially the last day to vote for the Finalists for a Skydiving Package with Skydive San Diego. I found out I was in the running for this contest two weeks ago, and the polls close at 5PM tonight. If you haven’t had a chance to vote yet, I would love your help! The winner gets a free tandem skydiving adventure.

If you guys want to lend a hand, you can click on the photo below, then hit any of the social media buttons under “Share and Enjoy.” The winner of the contest will be the one with the most “likes”, “tweets” or other “mentions” under their profile on Bucket List Publications. Your support would mean the world to me!

If I win, I promise to share any and all embarrassing photographs. Thank you all!

Also I was thrilled this weekend to find that George of Vertical Tales had passed on the Beautiful Blog Award to Thoughts on Theatre! Thank you so much George for the award kudos!

Instructions for the award can be found here.  

In the spirit of the award, I would like to nominate a few other beautiful blogs that are doing some wonderful, inspiring work:

http://365til30.com – Lovely lady with a plan to accomplish all the things on her bucket list before her 30th birthday
http://patcegan.wordpress – Inspiration, daily affirmations, and a wonderful blog overall
http://mathiaslphotos.wordpress.com – A fantastic photo blogger with a knack for capturing ordinary moments in a beautiful light
http://barbaraelka.com – Features great photos and by a blogger with a beautiful way of expressing herself
http://sloppybuddhist.com – Really dig this blogger’s style and openminded mantra
http://kraylfunch.wordpress.com – This one, An Appealing Plan, is a fantastic lifestyle blog
http://bcommanderinchic.com – Always a fun, fascinating, or enlightening post.

Thank you again for the award, George! I’m incredibly grateful that you thought of Thoughts on Theatre.

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Into the Wild Blue Yonder

Guys! Guys. Exciting news!

This past weekend, I found out that I am one of 15 Finalists for a Skydiving Package with Skydive San Diego! The winner gets a free tandem skydiving adventure. Over 200 submissions came in, and it looks like I’m in the final running for what would be the flight of a lifetime!

But while my part’s now over, now I need your help. The winner of the contest will be the one with the most “likes”, “tweets” or other “mentions” under their profile on Bucket List Publications. Contest ends March 12th.

If you guys want to help, you can click on the photo below, then hit any of the social media buttons under “Share and Enjoy.” Your support would mean the world to me!

If I win, I promise to share any and all embarrassing photographs. Thank you all who continue to be wonderfully impassioned readers of Thoughts on Theatre, and a big welcome to new subscribers as well!

Image Sources: 1,2
For more about the contest: Bucket List Publications

Seven Good Reasons to Stop Whatever You’re Doing and Go for It

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. 

– Samuel Beckett

What is it that stops us from doing exactly what we want to in life? Most of it can be chalked up to some sort of fear – of failure, of reproach, of uncertainty. Here’s a quick list to help determine if that big risk of yours is worth trying.

1. You can’t stop thinking about it. The idea pervades your thoughts. You smile every time it crosses your mind. You’ve already worked out the best-possible scenario in your head, and you think you have the tools to make it work.

2. You’re unhappy with the status quo. Remember that little voice in your head? The one that reminds you when you’re feeling down and that now is the time to do something about it? Yeah, listen this time.

3. You’re willing to put in the work. No doubt what you’ve been dreaming about will require you to put in some effort. But that’s what has made it so elusive thus far right? It’s up to you to decide whether you want to live a life where you look back and say “I’m so glad I tried that” or one where you admit “I really wish I had done that.”

4. You’re clinging to an illusion of safety.  You’ve created a false cocoon of security in a world where no such thing actually exists. “But this way I don’t get hurt!” you convince yourself. Well, newsflash: you hurt yourself more by holding yourself  back than by mustering up the courage to change. Do what you actually want to do. Be who you actually want to be.

5. You want to. Passion is the number one ingredient in making a dream a reality. And ultimately the decision is yours, and yours alone. If you’re taking the leap solely for the reason that it will impress someone else, reevaluate.

6. You attempted to before but it didn’t work out. As a baby, did you give up on walking after the first few times resulted in a happy marriage of your forehead and the hardwood floor? Nope. You pushed yourself and tried again. Somewhere along the line, in our efforts to grow up and act like adults, we learn to stop “trying again”. We rid ourselves of the spirit that allows us to tackle anything in favor of one that promotes mental barriers and excuses. Chances are you learned something from that failed attempt. Time to put those lessons to good use.

7. It completely terrifies you. Good. You will grow 1 million times over if you look that fear in the face and mutter through gritted teeth: “bring it on.” Who knows, you may surprise yourself. And what beauty there is in such surprises.


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I Have a Dream, or two, or three

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

In honor of MLK day.

No better way to pay homage than by sharing a dream or two:

I have a dream that the people of this nation recognize that history repeats itself. I hope that we can open our eyes and see that the struggles of the gay rights movement are no different than the struggles of the civil rights movement. Individuals are  fighting to get equal and fair treatment owed to them under the law. I hope we may soon be able to look back and shake our heads over the folly of not recognizing this truth sooner.

I have a dream that we may realize that the “American Dream” never included a provision on blatant arrogance and egoism. I hope that as other nations progress and potentially surpass our status as global superpower, we takes notes on how to improve rather than try to cut down their success. If we attack other nations verbally, physically, or ideologically simply because they stand a chance to rival us, we only promote xenophobia.

I have a dream that future generations may be able to live in a country that champions the health and wellness of its citizens. I hope to see families who ensure that their children stay active, schools that offer vegetables other than pizza to their students, and prescription medications that cost less than the price of  summer beach home on the southern coast.

I have a dream that we all may come to understand that protecting and caring for this earth is a global responsibility. This shared gift is one with an expiration date. If we continue to treat the planet like garbage, that is all it will become.

I have a dream that even with all of the entertainment and ease of communication technology can provide, we acknowledge that there is no substitute for human connection. I hope that we continue to see value in face-to-face conversations, hand-written notes, and random acts of kindness in the future. Even if every three year old starts toting along an iPod to preschool one day, I hope we never forget the importance of forging real relationships and learning from others.

I have a dream that we may finally free ourselves from the shackles of prejudice. I hope we can understand the difference between one “bad person” and an entire community. I hope that we can see that fear begets hatred. And if we allow fear to control us, we will shrink our perspective day by day. We will see only a fraction of options when there are a multitude. May we choose freedom now.

I have a dream today.

Let freedom ring.

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