Giving it up...and getting it back.

I am a planner and a worker and self motivating girl and I set goals for myself and like things to be defined and know where I am going...all this to say that clearly, I am a wee bit of a type A personality who likes to be in control of my life. So the fact that I am an artist who makes a career of acting and writing where so much is beyond my control is ironic to say the least. What I have been trying to learn is that all that I can do is my best. Sounds easy, hard to live by. Just doing my best and letting the rest be given to me, has been my mantra for a long time now, but of course like any sensible wisdom it sometimes leaves me, to make room for angsting, worrying and general scheming over how to control those things that I really can not. And then exhausted from a futile fight, my little mantra, reappears in my head and I take a deep breath, and think, right of course, all I can do is my best.

About a month ago a friend of mine gave me a really powerful bit of advice, she suggested that I take my heart out of acting and that I not turn my writing into a punishment.

I knew exactly what she meant. Not to love any of them any less, and not to work any less, but to stop letting either of these things break my heart and become poisons rather than passions. She was saying to keep it in perspective, let it breathe and not smother it, and she was right.

I have to just do what I do, the best I can and just give it up to fate, the universe, whatever ...and move on.

And I have been trying... and it has been working. Writing inspiration is returning and new ideas are brewing and on Tuesday I will be filming an episode of CSI Miami. The best part of course is that I am enjoying all of it...and my heart is still in tact.


Giving Thanks...

Well, today is Thanksgiving in America, and as I am living here, it means that I get to celebrate it all over again! Just last month I enjoyed a Canadian Thanksgiving feast, and today I am off to celebrate with friends whom I adore. One of them I met in Canada, and has been my friend for over twenty years, his wife has been my friend for sixteen years, since theater school in NYC, and we are being joined by another friend who is flying in to stay with us, whom I met in Los Angeles, but originally hails from and lives in Toronto. It's like all my favorite cities, are being represented by people I love from all different parts of my life, that have magically become one.

I am thankful for a lot of things. The love of friends and family top that list, followed by health, freedom, the ability to do what I love and get paid for it, the opportunity to keep pursuing my dreams, and the fact that I still feel like I am growing and learning along the way.

I am also really thankful that my husband, spent three and half hours last night rearranging our bedroom and hauling furniture to the garage in an effort to create a little extra space for a small desk, where I can go and work and close the door, when we have company or escape to it's air conditioned cool when the next wave of heat hits. Three and half hours. Now that is love.

Love also looks like these gorgeous flowers that were sent to us by my parents for the holiday!! And yes that small bundle is Mabel the love bug doing what she does best.


List making time...

Once upon a time I was a compulsive list maker. I made lists about the lists that I was going to make and then I would prioritize those items on the lists with another list, that ranked my "to- do's" in order of importance at which they got done. At times infuriating, like when I picked the wrong color sharpie in my color coded system that went along with the lists, it was also strangely calming. Making lists helped me keep order and focus in my self employed days that were early on in my career, a never ending day bleeding into night without a schedule, which actually makes me very anxious. And then one day I stopped. I was able to just keep lists in my brain and check things off as they got done. In fact I found not keeping a list allowed me to do more, as my lists had somehow become ways to stall and when I looked at those long columns of "things to do" on my notepad, I would become paralytic and hide them under my desk hoping that they would go away.

And now...they are back. But why are they back I began to wonder, and when did they resurface? Well, the lists came back when I moved to Los Angeles, but more significantly when I started writing on a more full time basis. When I no longer counted on auditions to mark my day by, but pages and outlines, first drafts and deadlines, and submission dates and packages to be sent...the list returned and became very important. It seems easy to spend days, weeks, months, hell even years on a writing project and not have any end goal in sight other than, please let this essay/novel/screenplay be done before it does me in!

Now I have my lists of "things to do today...and this week" and sometimes even by the end of the month, or by the end of the year. I am more flexible in my deadlines, having wisely learned that I am not a robot and that some things take more time to develop organically...like the three plus years I spent on my first novel. No longer are these little columns on varying notepads and notebooks, set as cruel reminders of all that I haven't accomplished, but all that I want to, can and eventually will accomplish.

And sometimes because it is important to step back and be grateful for the accomplishments that one has made already... I do an end of the year list, or inventory of what I have done in the last twelve months, and kindly pat myself on the back, and live in that moment for as long as I can...before I write the next list of things to accomplish in the upcoming year.

Thanks to all these beautiful notepads, list making just got a whole lot prettier.



It is Friday...and I am thrilled. Now, I know I just had a great visit with my mama, and so it's not really like I need to take time off, on the contrary there is much to get done before the year is out. But...my friend Terry who is a wonderful writer and her husband Wally, who own the beautiful and delicious fancifull gift baskets are having a wine tasting at their shop on Melrose!!

Tonight we will be tasting Beaujolais Nouveau's and other gourmet treats that they stock and sell in beautiful baskets. There will be cheese, wine, chocolate and lots of friendly faces getting into the holiday spirit and trying these beautiful wines that are only released this time of year on the same day around the world and when they are done...they are done. I might just have to get a bottle...or two.

Check 'em out! www.fancifullgiftbaskets.com


Back at it!!!

Wow. What a great break!! I spent the last 4 days hanging with my momma, wandering the city all the way from downtown to Santa Monica, having long walks and great talks...and eating the most fabulous vegetarian food; Fatty's, Galanga, Real Food Daily...and plenty of cake...and now it is back to business!! Two deadlines await me.

Of course there was still work to do while she was here, auditions, callbacks, and freelance writing, but none of it was done in front of my laptop. Instead I kept a notepad in my purse and did all my calls while on the road...thanks to my crack berry!

My mom is absolutely one of my most favorite people in the whole world and everyone who meets her can see why!! Her visit was the perfect reward to a really hectic time, and the best break before the next whirlwind begins...which it will...in just 15 minutes.

Thanks mom for visiting us...it is always great to spend time with you and it makes L.A. so much nicer!!


Momma Time!

Yesterday I got to volunteer for John Truby at the Screenwriting Expo!! I got to go for free, sit in on Truby's seminar...and I got a credit note towards merchandise. Add to all this goodness, I met not one but two great Canadians and yes, we actually had less than six degrees of separation between us!! There was a lot of laughing involved and the day flew by.

But the capper to the day was that my Momma flew into L.A. for a visit!! So for the next four days there will be much mooching about, accompanied by great conversations, great food and great times. And yes there will be cupcakes.


The Great California Shake Out!!!

At 10:00 am today all across California, people were participating in an earthquake drill! Somehow I have become our properties "Quake Captain" and am fully expecting my crown and sash to arrive in the mail any day now! In all seriousness, my neighborhood association has assembled a checklist and has tried to organize all of us to be prepared for the inevitable. After all they say it's not if, but when, and so one has got to be organized. The Northridge Quake of '94 was a biggy and experts say to prepare for a 7.8 on the richter scale quake, next time around. I am in an old building which will suffer, but thankfully has only 8 units and 2 floors.

As Quake Captain I have begun assembling a kit; gallons of water in our garage, which even if it collapsed would be easy to navigate through, a crank operated radio, flashlight, Luna bars, baby wipes, poop bags...yup, I said poop bags, and not just for Mabel! We still need to get a change of warm clothes, a fleece blanket, dog food, and canned food. Next up is familiarizing ourselves with how to turn off the water and gas, in case the person assigned to this is unable to.

People say to prepare for 3 days of no services, no running water, and no power. Experts say to prepare for 3 weeks!! I say go to www.shakeout.org to educate yourself on the best plan of action.

I must admit that yelling "Quake, Quake" and running with Jeff and Mabel to
DROP, COVER & HOLD ON...under the dining room table and talking through where everything is, did make me feel less anxious about it all. And now I know that we all fit under our beautiful pottery barn Ryland Dining Desk...I knew it was a good buy!


Late to bed...early to rise...

I am on full speed ahead these days, packing in big days, followed by long nights at the computer. It's what I call the end of the year crush. It's the time when advertisers want to spend what's left in their budgets, which means more commercial auditions and thankfully more freelance copy writing, and then there's jewelry to make for everyone who has started their holiday shopping early. But this year, I am moving even faster because I am planning on playing hooky for a few days starting right after my Holiday Trunk show on Saturday. Why? Because my mom is visiting! She arrives on Friday night, after my day of volunteering at the film expo in Los Angeles. (I get to go for free as a volunteer, and take classes and get credit towards merchandise...pretty sweet deal.) But it means that all my deadlines and there are six of them this week, need to be met by Friday morning, so that my mom and I can mooch about. Yikes. Good thing, I am more than halfway there. Just two more to days to go!

And hey no complaints...this is how it works, when you are self employed it's often all or nothing...and I'll take all, any day!! And I'll take it with another large coffee please...this one's almost done.


Monday's forecast...Shiny!!

Everyone needs a little sparkle for The Holidays!! For the past 5 years now I have been designing and making jewelry. I sell privately, have some incredibly lovely and loyal clients and am carried in two stores exclusively in Toronto and Los Angeles. I used to do 4 shows a year, but now I do only two, making a limited number of pieces of things that I love. I have made and sold hundreds and hundreds of pieces over the years and every holiday season I think, what else can I do? Will anyone even like these designs? And then I get in the zone and for a concentrated time, my world is all silver and gold and gemstones!!!

Designing and making jewelry uses a different part of the brain that I think is very good for a writer...the instant gratification part. Think it, make it, see it done. It is important when you are sitting at a desk all day trying to pull words out of the ether to be able to tangibly touch something that you have put your energies into.

Some people bake, some cook, some knit, I make shiny things.

Check 'em out at www.heyladydesigns.com

Sunday, ain't no day of rest!

Well, at least this Sunday wasn't a restful one. It has been busy around here lately, which is good as I have been a very moody lady.

I have been frustrated by new novel, which I haven't touched in two weeks due to issues I have with it, I have been trying to work on a new writing project; a collection of personal essay's about my hilarious family, I have been longing for NYC, and I have been angsting about my debut novel which is still being considered by a great agent...fingers and toes and eyes are crossed for that one!!!!! And I have been gratefully, so gratefully, busy with freelance work!!!

I have also been prepping for a jewelry show which I have at the end of the week, which has meant shopping, designing, photographing new pieces and building a new website!

And on top of it all...we have been fighting colds around here, and it just seems that my husband has lost.

Whenever I get sick, I cook. I make soups and stews and often keep myself busier than normal, as I have a strange reaction to getting sick which is to get upset at myself for allowing it to happen. It is a stupid and vicious cycle, as it is hard to get well, if you spending all your energy beating yourself up! Every one I know is sick right now, and we have traded back and forth our favorite cures; Oregano oil, Airborne, my own personal favorite...the Hot Toddy.

For those of you who do not know, a Hot Toddy, is hot orange juice and whisky..and it is delicious and you will sweat your cold out...and possibly even see your own future! Well, I guess that all depends on your whiskey to orange juice ratio.

But first the homemade vegetable soup I have shown here, then some more work, then an episode of True Blood and finally...a Hot Toddy before bed! Aaahhh Sunday.


Getting it wrong...

Ugh. I have offended a friend. The what and who, I will not go into, but rather it is the why that troubles me. Why I have offended this friend, is because I have wrongly assumed once again that everyone is like me! Doesn't everyone wear their hearts on their sleeves, say exactly what they are feeling, and exactly what they are thinking? Well the answer of course is no. And to assume so is just plain wrong. And why must everyone do as I do? Well for one thing there would be a lot more snack breaks and naps and cocktail hour would be called hours earlier and pets would accompany us everywhere...but of course I am kidding. I am keeping it light, which is something that a lot of people do, that my friend did, and somehow I missed it. Sigh.

This is one of those old things that comes back to haunt me...like a bad temper, or an old pattern of thinking, or an insecurity that you think you have dealt with, that returns to rear its ugly to head to haunt you. I have to ask myself why it has returned of course, this naive assumption that we all express ourselves in the same way, or more accurately, my way. And in doing so, I am reminded that it is not only unnecessary, but not what I want, so then why?

Ah the why. What is it that drives me to turn my thoughts and feelings inside out? Well I suppose that is for me and me alone, and that's the point really. Everyone has their own way, and before reacting, it is important to consider and respect the source. Otherwise you may end up hurting someones feelings like I have, and that is never the goal. And to that person, please know that I am sorry.

Sigh. Time to take it out on the page.


Exhausted, Elated, Inspired...

A sigh of relief. This photo is of Mabel basking in the glory of Obama and America's Victory last night. At her feet is her friend Margie, eating a celebratory swizzle chew stick, it seemed only fair as we were all celebrating with copious amounts of wine and cake!!

The night started early, earlier than planned. Dinner was scheduled for 6:30, but our door was open and the scent of curried split pea soup and Quinoa stew filled the complex. Our first friend arrived at 5:30 and kept me company with wine and chatter in the kitchen. We had CNN on in the background, but it was still too early to tell and the first reports coming in were of States that McCain would win. Then the rest of our friends started coming in, and it was clear that we were all nervous and excited, and eager to share what we hoped would be an historic night. We huddled around the living room, eating and drinking and sharing stories, stopping every now and then to turn up the volume and listen to the pundits as the polls came in. We were hopeful, but to be honest more than a few of us were reluctant to believe that it would actually happen.

We wanted to believe, but after the last 8 years we were more ready to be disappointed than encouraged. I for one couldn't celebrate until it was clear that there would be no way that McCain could catch up, that the gap was too big to contest, that there wasn't going to be any last minute trickery. And then it happened. McCain conceded and congratulated Obama. Obama took the stage. Obama gave his beautiful moving speech, and left the stage with Biden and their families, triumphant and safe. And I cried. Who would have thought, not that it wasn't possible, not that it wasn't right, but that it would be a reality. That States that were red would turn blue, that people would choose hope over fear, that America would regain it's status as a World leader, as a beacon of inspiration as a country where anything is possible.

We came to the United States, because of the many possibilities that America has to offer, and the last few years have been so disappointing and heartbreaking for this country...but last night, thanks to those who voted for change, my faith has been restored and with it not just the possibilities for greatness in this country, but the reality of greatness as well.


Vittles and Votes...

November 4th. Election Day. Breathe. Eat. Repeat.

I am so nervous for today's election. My mind is full of static and I have found it hard to concentrate on anything that requires too much of my attention. A friend of mine is so nervous she can not eat. When I get nervous, I turn into a human vacuum. Sigh.

There is not much I can do. I am not a citizen, but a resident and as such can not vote here in America. This year I couldn't even vote in Canada, which made me crazy. My absentee application required me to state when I planned on returning, but I do not know when that is. Furthermore, you needed to photocopy your passport, but passports were being renewed which means that they were mailed in and not in our possession. I was full of guilt and angst at my poor planning, and only mildly comforted that my local riding had a lock on my candidate and with or without me, that would not change, and thankfully it didn't. I take my right to vote so seriously, it was hard earned and hard won, and I remember this from my days performing as a very young girl in "Nellie McClung and the female suffragettes." It was a proud moment. But even I was foiled by bureaucracy this year. I can not even imagine how many people suffer the frustration of not being properly registered, or finding out that there is some technicality that prevents them from voting...like having to mail in your about to expire passport. Sigh.

As a Canadian living in the United States, I have contributed to the campaign of my choice, blogged about my concerns, participated in great political debates...okay, they were mainly one sided, this is Obama country after all. The only other thing I know to do, that makes me feel remotely useful, is to cook.

So tonight we are having our neighbors over for Vittles and Votes! We will all huddle together in front of the television and enjoy Quinoa vegetable stew, split pea soup, salad, bread, cheese, and wine. Yes there must be wine to either calm our nerves, drown our spirits or hopefully celebrate with.

Fingers crossed that the voting is fair and square, and that this time the votes actually get counted. And if you can vote. Please do it.


Friends and family, far away...

I have been having an on-line conversation with a friend of mine, whom I didn't get to see when I snuck into Toronto for Rosh Hashanna last month. I feel terrible about not seeing her. She is not making me feel terrible, but I feel terrible, none the less. I feel terrible about not seeing so many of my friends, but in a 3 day visit that involves a major holiday, my nieces birthday party, a dinner out with siblings and spouses and parents who work totally different schedules, I spend my time trying to fit into windows of time that they have to spend with me. It usually means that if anyone wants to see me, they need to stop by, but that means hanging out with my family too, because there isn't time for both, and with me home for just a few days, my family isn't going anywhere!

Having long distance relationships are hard...whether they be with a lover, a spouse, parents, siblings, or friends. There is a certain amount of missing that happens all the time, even when you are with the person. Inevitably the question, "When will I see you again?" comes up...and I always answer, "What about now, we are seeing each other now...can't we make the most of this?"
It's hard being the one that goes away, as the majority of the responsibility to maintain that relationship somehow falls on the person who left, and yet maintaing that relationship in a way that makes everyone feel satisfied is an impossible task. Impossible, expensive, and time consuming. The visits are never long enough and everyone feels shortchanged, the people you don't see, and even the people you do see lament that your visit isn't longer. I lament it too. But the truth is, I don't live in Toronto anymore, I live in L.A. and how many people actually get to take as much time off to visit as I do? If I had a real 9-5 job...I would only get two weeks a year! I try to talk regularly, e-mail, facebook, i-chat...I devote hours a day to staying in touch with friends and family afar, and still don't get around to everyone...and yet it is never enough and I know this. I know this. Nothing can take the place of just hanging in the same city as the ones you love. But I try, as do they. More and more now, we get visitors of friends and family making the trip to see us, staying in our little place and mucking in with our schedules as we try to wring out every little bit of time we have together.

And when they go, we always say..."When are you coming back?"

What about you, what do you do, to keep those long distance relationships happy and healthy?


Sleepy Dreamy Saturday...

This photo was taken a few years back by my dear friend Gail. Gail is a talented director, photographer, producer and all around fabulous person. Next to her is her equally fabulous daughter Katie. They are like family, and I adore them. This week Katie was visiting and snapping photos herself, adding talented photographer to her list of many talents. I love this picture, a snapshot of me caught day dreaming, although what I am dreaming about is hidden behind my sunglasses.

Today is one of those dreamy, gray days and my tired eyes and mind keep wandering away from the tasks at hand and into the future.

To be fair, it was a busy week and I got a lot accomplished. There was freelance, and research, and I started work on my Holiday jewelry line, and last night I trick or treated with my neighbors and their kids, while sipping the most amazing home made Margarita, (thanks Libby) ...hey it's candy for adults. And although I still have a list of things to do, my brain seems to only have space for the NY Times real estate section.

What is the matter with me? I can not stop studying listings. And yes, I mean studying. I am thorough with my searches for the perfect apartment that I am not actually going to buy, with money that I do not actually have. My future apartment must allow pets, be on the Upper West or Upper East Side, or in Gramercy Park...Mabel needs her outdoor space after all...I'd like one to two bedrooms, a sunny view, a short walk to the subway and easy access to Central Park and a Whole Foods or Trader Joes. I put in all my criteria in the listing forms of several real estate firms, Warburg, Ellisman, Bond...Craiglist, and my budget of 300,000 to 600,000 imaginary dollars and see what comes up. I only look at listings that have pictures. Of course this begs the question, if my money is imaginary, why am I budgeting? It seems that even when dreaming, I have a tendency to dream within reason. This can mean two things, one is that I don't dream big enough, the other is that I dream within the realm of possibility. I prefer to think that I do the latter, after all I like to dream and think positive and put my intentions out there as much as the next dreamer, but I think that I have always done so without the considerations of a possible windfall, lottery or unbelievably lucky break. Blame it on my immigrant work ethic, that dictates that hard work is the only way. And of course the harder I work the luckier I get.Time to get back to working then.

What about you, how do you dream...with or without limits?
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