Sending Hundreds of Invites to Your 30th Birthday

There’s this NY Times article that both normalizes the 30th birthday and simultaneously makes it a lot more intimidating.

The writer starts by letting us know that the 30th birthday has now become an occasion to celebrate, complete with champagne and festivities. There’s no more need to be embarrassed or to hide from this landmark birthday. Great news! The 30th has become a cool rite of passage-  the contemporary sweet 16.

Then the article takes a strange turn and inflates the birthday party to epic proportions, with celebrations so huge that entire Facebook friend lists are invited from different stages of life (the piece is from 2003, so FB isn’t referenced…but 600+ people were invited to these birthday parties using some means of communication…and I’m impressed this was done without Facebook, actually). For some of the parties, there are invitees from the “life stage”s of age 0-6, 6-18, College, Post-College, and Work. These behemoth blowouts strike me as more overwhelming than the 30th birthday itself.

I mean, I’m glad that 30th birthdays are getting to be more cause for celebration than intimidation, but I don’t think that making my birthday party into a networking event would make it any more fun. In fact, that kind of party seems terribly uncomfortable. I don’t think I’d know what to say to the hundreds of people I hadn’t spoken to in years. That is, if they even showed up.

I’m happy to celebrate with the same close group of friends I always celebrate with. For me, having my favorite people still with me after all this time is good cause for a party.

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Advice for Turning 30

So, as you may remember from an earlier post, Laura and I both love the Ask Polly advice column on NYmag.com. Reading her posts is like talking to a deep, funny, older sister who’s an incredible listener and has soul-stirring, almost life-changing advice. Once you start reading her columns, you can see how easy it is to get obsessed.

The real “Polly” behind the awesome advice is the writer Heather Havrilesky. She’s also a columnist for Bookforum, writes for the New York Times Magazine, and was Salon’s TV critic for 7 years. In 2011, she wrote a memoir titled “Disaster Preparedness,” which I just ordered on Amazon.

She recently did an AMA on Reddit. For those of you that don’t know what that is, AMA stands for “Ask Me Anything,” and basically, Reddit invites well-known folks and experts on topics to have a dialogue with users on the site. Users can ask a question and the guest can choose which questions to answer. What I love about AMA’s on Reddit is that they tend to be more off-the-cuff, relaxed than interviews.

When I read through the AMA recently, I saw that she had some AMAZING advice for a woman turning thirty. The woman was basically saying she’s having an existential crisis about turning 30 and not being where she thought she’d be in her life. As usual, ‘Polly’ had some lovely words of wisdom to share.

Well, I’m definitely better at the long-winded response that I can think about for hours than I am at firing off quick advice. But I will say that turning 30 can be insanely tough, particularly for women. I think this is mostly true because when you’re young, you think “30” means “settled” or even “successful.” It’s pretty absurd to believe that, but many of us in our late 20s believe that if we’re still lost, that means we’re doomed to be huge losers for the rest of our lives.

But life doesn’t work that way. It’s not like musical chairs, where the music turns off and you’re screwed if you can’t find a chair. Paying too much attention to big turning points and numbers and landmarks is always a bad idea. All you can do is be very clear about what you want in your life, and take tiny steps every day to get there. Sometimes a tiny step is just reading a great book or vowing not to think negative thoughts first thing in the morning. I think I’ve taken a million different tiny steps along the way, and I’m still constantly readjusting my life so that I’m living in a way that’s true to what I believe and true to what I want for myself. It’s healthy to keep looking closely at what you want and to keep recalibrating, past 30 to 40 and 50 and 60 and beyond.

I love that she says life is not like musical chairs! Isn’t that a perfect way to describe what it feels like to be a little lost in your thirties? That somehow you haven’t found the answer when everyone else seemingly has.

I also love that she says paying too much attention to “big turning points and numbers and landmarks is always a bad idea.” So true. For me, I want my decisions to marry, have children, buy real estate, etc. to all feel organic.

Hope you enjoyed this food for the sometimes-angsty thirty-something mind.

Stay Thankful

Today is Black Friday- known as the busiest shopping day of the year in the US. On Thanksgiving day, as I was walking to my hotel from work, I noticed a major line of people camped outside Target. It was around 3PM. The Black Friday sales at Target wouldn’t begin until midnight.

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday centered around giving thanks for what we have. The huge irony of Black Friday being the day after Thanksgiving isn’t lost on anyone.

Yet Black Friday mayhem happens anyway- a pushing, shoving, screaming frenzy of people trying to purchase as much new stuff as they can as early as they can. Black Friday is even its own official holiday in some states.

I understand that Black Friday helps a lot of businesses make money fast. One of the origins for the name ‘Black Friday’ comes from businesses beginning to be ‘in the black’ and doing well that day because so many people begin their holiday shopping right after Thanksgiving ends.

I also understand that Black Friday  helps consumers get deals and save money on holiday gifts for family and friends. It’s always good to save money on things you’re going to buy anyway.

However, I can’t help but feel slightly sickened by Black Friday. The day is completely contradictory to Thanksgiving and occurs only one day later. And it really brings home the feeling of thankfulness being over. There’s an ‘ok we were thankful yesterday, now we’re good’ feeling in the air.

It’s important to be thankful- not just on Thanksgiving, but every day of the year. I always like to compare thankfulness to brushing your teeth – you don’t just do it one day and then you’re done. Every day you start again.

When you aren’t clamoring for the best sale or shiny new toy, it’s easier to stop and appreciate what you already have. Even if you’re feeling down, or bored, or you have the post-Thanksgiving blues, you have so much to appreciate. I’m happy I can walk and can see and have strong lungs and a healthy heart.

Be thankful every day, not just on Thanksgiving. There’s a whole lot to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our lovely readers! We are so grateful for you, our compatriots in this thirty-something journey. I know some of our readers are in Ireland, England and other countries all around the world – so you may not celebrate Thanksgiving.  But even if you don’t, there’s always a reason to be grateful, and a gratefulness practice has been proven to reduce depression, help you sleep better, and improve personal relationships.

For me, my “gratefulness” practice is to simply acknowledge moments when I’m happy and say a silent prayer for that moment. It’s guaranteed to happen at least once a day. For me, it’s sometimes after an amazing cup of coffee, a conversation with a friend, or a shared kvetching session with a fellow writer who just “gets” it after I’ve had a shitty day.

For instance, tonight. I spent the evening at my boyfriend’s dad house, in the company of my mom, his father and partner, and her son. It was a lovely evening of great company, delicious food, and relaxation. While it wasn’t a traditional family dinner, I’m grateful for this evening.

Here’s a beautiful quote by David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk –

“The root of joy is gratefulness…. It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”

Sending you all love and happiness, wherever you may be. We’ll thrilled you’re reading and wouldn’t be writing without you.

The Numerology of Thirty

What’s the significance of the number 30? In numerology, it seems like there are a lot of interpretations…some are very intense and some seem to contradict each other, but I’ve put together a list of the most interesting, and linked to a bunch of articles at the bottom where you can learn more.

  • 30 is the number of the circle- symbolizing infinity and absolute completion
  • 30 is the embodiment of the time cycle- and the clock (also in the shape of a circle).
  • Putting the last two facts together, a circle has 360 degrees, and a clock has 12 sections. 360 divided by 12 is 30. Oooh!
  • 30 represents the perfect balance in cosmic organization
  • 30 symbolizes dedication in a particular task or calling

In numerology:

  • The number 3 signifies communication, self-expression, expansion, and creativity.
  • The number 0 signifies eternity, infinity, oneness, and wholeness.
  • Together, 30 signifies creativity, communication, and spiritual awakening.

Speaking of spiritual awakening, there are a lot of spiritual references for the number 30:

  • The ancient Persia dedicated their month to 30 spirits
  • In biblical teachings, Jesus is 30  when he begins his ministry on earth.
  • Joseph was 30 when he stood before Pharaoh, King of Egypt
  • King David was 30 when he began to reign
  • Ezekiel begins his book of the same name “in the 30th year”
  • In the Torah, 30 is the age of ‘full strength’- the time we can begin transforming the world with all our strength as opposed to our training before 30.

There’s a lot more, but what I like to take from this is that 30 is a major BEGINNING. It’s not the end that I’ve always worried about.

Here are some articles that go deeper into the significance of 30:

http://www.gold-eagle.com/article/magic-number-30

http://www.betemunah.org/thirty.html

http://www.ridingthebeast.com/numbers/nu30.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/30_(number)

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Are you hosting or attending?

If you’re like me, you’re a thirty-something and you’re in a somewhat in-between position when it comes to Thanksgiving. Are you hosting your own festivities or attending someone else’s event? I don’t have your own family yet (by this I mean “family” defined by the very traditional idea of kids and a partner and stuff), so you’re joining with someone else’s or maybe you and your group of pals are hosting your own shin-dig.

Whatever your plan, and however low-key the festivities, the idea is the same – being thankful in the midst of transition. We’re always in transition anyway, so the goal is to accept what it is. On that note, happy pre-Thanksgiving! Wishing you safe travels!

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Salary Calculator- Are You Getting Paid Your Worth? (And the Recent Tech Internship Salary Explosion)

Salary Calculator- Are You Getting Paid Your Worth? (And the Recent Tech Internship Salary Explosion)

Have you researched your salary compared with others in your industry?

If you haven’t, perhaps it’s time to make sure you’re getting paid what you deserve.

I’m self-employed, and I work in an industry (event and promotional marketing) where payment can fluctuate. I’ve been in this industry for a long time (more than 10 years) and I’m extremely experienced and good at what I do. I know the standard payment for events and the minimum payment that I will accept. However, everyone working in the industry has to demand to be paid what they’re worth, or the whole industry’s base payments can go down.

For example, let’s say that I usually work an event that pays $45 an hour. If next year that event suddenly starts paying $17 an dollar, I know my bottom line, and I will refuse to work it.

Now, since I refuse to work that event, a few scenarios can unfold:

1. The booking agency can call me and ask why I won’t work the event again this year, in which case I will explain why I’m not working, and we can potentially negotiate the pay close to or back to what it was.

2. The booking agency can hire someone else who will work for $17 an hour who is inexperienced and bad at the job.

3. The booking agency can hire someone else who will work for $17 an hour who is experienced and good at the job.

The first scenario is good- I have helped maintain what has been the industry standard (or even helped increase it!), and I have negotiated for what I’m worth instead of lowering my standards.

The second scenario is mediocre- if the booking agency hires someone who is bad at the job, the client will probably get upset. The agency will then potentially up the payment next time in order to hire the best workers in the industry. Sometimes the agency still won’t pay, and will just lower standards altogether, even if the client isn’t happy…this will eventually lead to the agency getting fired.

The third scenario is what causes problems- if someone experienced and good at their job accepts payment below industry standard, they will LOWER industry standard for the everyone involved! After all, if Amazon pays great computer programmers 250K a year, but start finding loads of just as great programmers who happily accept 30K a year, the salaries for all Amazon programmers will begin to decrease.

I have an accountant friend who recently figured out that the salary of her colleague DOING THE EXACT SAME JOB with WAY LESS EXPERIENCE was making 30K more than her a year! My friend only figured it out after accidentally seeing her colleague’s paystub. She didn’t realize how much money she could’ve been making, and therefore didn’t negotiate a pay raise.

I’ve known lots of interns who are working their butts off for various companies and making ZERO dollars. The other day, a woman named Jessica Shu posted a list of tech intern salaries in a group called Hackathon Hackers. The list promptly went viral. I’ve included it below:

intern salaries

Dear god!!! That’s some crazy money!

But- it’s great that interns are getting paid! They should be!!! I mean, this kind of internship money blows my mind- but it’s especially insane compared to those interns getting paid $0. ESPECIALLY if you’re an intern in the tech industry getting paid $0 – imagine seeing these numbers and realizing you’re likely getting screwed!

Know your worth…and don’t accept less! (And perhaps consider going into tech…) 😉

If you want to learn more about these numbers, lots of articles from major news sources have been written on the tech internship salaries in the last few days. See here and here and here. And don’t get down about it- just keep working to elevate yourself in your industry, know your industry salary standard, and demand the pay you deserve! You’re worth it!

The Secret Lives of Your Friends – Their Jobs

How much do you know about the nitty gritty of what your friends do at work? When you think about it, this is where your friends spend most of their waking hours. And it’s funny how we probably don’t know much about what compromises their days. Phone calls, meetings, emailing, all of that stuff, sure. But what aspect of their job do they love the most? What gets them excited to get through the day?

When we first graduated college, office jobs were something of a novelty, and I remember emailing my friends several times a day with updates from cubicle-land. “I just got inter-officed an envelope. Awesome.” “OMG, my boss is crazy.” “Ughhhh….so bored right now. Need a coffee.”

But as we inched into our late twenties and early 30’s, the emails stopped as we became more focused and dedicated to our work. Now, while I know my friends’ job titles, I don’t know the specifics of their day. I love specifics. Call me nosy, but I want to know what a typical hour of their day looks like.

Well today I got to visit Laura at work and see what her job is like. She was visiting Southern California, where she was working as a Product Specialist for Ford Motors at the LA Auto Show. Laura’s job is a mixture of marketing and sales and it was pretty fascinating to see her in action. She travels across the country, presenting the new products to consumers. She’s interacting with consumers all day and getting sales leads. It’s also exciting to see what a non-office job really looks like. I think it’s pretty great that she doesn’t have to sit tied to a computer screen all day.

Here’s some pictures from my visit today.

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Laura and I in the crazy big Ford truck. Not sure which one this was.

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My dude, Me and Laura in front of the underside of a Ford Mustang

Making Friends When You’re in a Long Term Relationship

Let me preface all of this by saying, I love female friendship. I’m kind of obsessed with it, actually. From the popular Sex and the City and Golden Girls to the less well-known Walking and Talking and Heavenly Creatures, I’ve seen EVERY movie and TV show about female friendships. Maybe it’s me being an only child and craving siblings, but I find these friendships to be deeply sustaining and life-affirming.

But I realized that since I’ve been in a relationship, about five and a half years, I haven’t made many super close girlfriends. I’ve made a lot of acquaintances, but not as many really close pals. It might simply be more challenging to meet new friends in your thirties, or it’s just plain harder when you’re in a serious relationship. Most likely, it’s a combination of both of these things. But for me, there’s one more element that I think is a factor.

Talking about boys.  In high school and college, I bonded with a lot of my friends by talking about boys and dating. I don’t feel like less of a feminist for saying that I love talking about these subjects, because I enjoy talking to my female friends about other subjects too. But one of the ways I bonded with new female friends was over men. This may just be my personality, because I was the girl who ALWAYS talked about her crushes or my fear that I would never meet that special someone.

I think it touches on something deeper, though. Talking about love and dating is really intimate; it’s not just superficial talk. You expose yourself, share your hopes for the future and that’s vulnerable. When I would share a story about my crush with a new friend, most of the time, she would share her own romantic adventures with me, and often, a friendship was born. I suppose I could share stories from my relationship now, but honestly it would almost feel like a betrayal to share anything negative about my relationship to new friends, since we’ve been dating for so long.

Now I feel like I’m more of a listener, and less of a contributor to these conversations about dating, and it makes me a little nostalgic for the old days. I don’t have stories involving crazy dates, or the drunk dial from the ex I still care about,  or the cute co-worker who I kissed once…And since I met my boyfriend before the boom of Tinder, I’m bummed that I can’t share my own adventures in swiping left and right.

But I guess you trade one thing for another. I wouldn’t want to go back to dating lots of new people just for the stories I could share with my new girlfriends. It’s about finding fresh meaningful ways to connect with recent women friends….quilting, anyone?

Is Love Really Everywhere?

I’ve mentioned before that I’m newly into meditation. It’s somewhat daunting and somewhat the best thing I’ve ever discovered.

Jane and I have both been following Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s 21 day free mediation challenge, but before that, I’d discovered a podcast I love called ‘Learn to Meditate.’ It’s created by the Meditation Society of Australia, and I highly recommend downloading it (it’s free!) if you like meditation or want to try it out.

I have trouble sitting still without a guided meditation to help me, and the podcasts are amazing and extremely straightforward, if not somewhat above my normal comprehension level.

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I am not actually meditating here. But I am very happy.

The first part of these meditation podcasts are always a brief overview of a topic- for example ‘desire’ or ‘fear’ or ‘letting go’ or ‘manifesting through playfulness’ or something of the sort. A speaker talks about a topic for a few minutes before the meditation starts. I love this first part almost more than I love the meditations themselves- they’re super calming and enlightening. Maybe it’s the Australian accents, but something about the opening messages put me in a calm state of mind. I usually feel the need to hear a lesson again because I really want the message to sink in.

Almost all of the meditation podcasts mention love, especially ‘unconditional love.’ I realized from the beginning and I still realize- even after listening to all 50 of the ‘Learn To Meditate’ podcasts- that I can’t exactly comprehend what unconditional love is.

I mean, I sort of get unconditional love from a dog or cat or other pet, or possibly a baby? But from a grown up human?…It’s hard to wrap my mind around that.

The podcasts recurrently talk about how love is flowing freely everywhere, and we just need to open ourselves to it. One talk mentioned that the love we give and receive from romantic relationships, friends and family is only 1% of the love that’s out there to give and receive, and 99% of love is actually everywhere else.  Yet 99% of the love most people experience in their life is from and to romantic partners, friends and family. That’s not to say that the love you get from and give to those people should be any less, but rather that there is just THAT MUCH MORE love out there. What??

How do we find this love?? Where is it? What is it? Is it divine? What is that exactly?

The podcast explained that meditation is a simple path to opening ourselves up to the love that is everywhere. But that kind of knowledge feels ungraspable…the same way that the universe expanding infinitely in all directions is ungraspable. The same way that string theory is ungraspable. If 99% of the love out there is untapped by us- love as strong as the love from and to our family, romantic partners and friends, where is this love and where does it live? Inside of us? In the sky? As a part of nature? How do we find it?

Even if I figure out the answer to any of these questions myself, I wonder if opening up to this kind of love would even be measurable, sustainable, or teachable. So I open up the floor to suggestions. Does this love baffle your mind? Do you agree that it’s out there? Have you found any of the other 99% of the love supposedly all around us? …And has it changed your life?

A ‘Braided’ Lifestyle

The other day I came across the idea of a “braided” career on Penelope Trunk’s website. Penelope is a founder of multiple start-ups including her most recent one Quistic, a site dedicated to helping people discover their next career moves. She now lives on a farm in Wisconsin with her husband and kids. She has a graduate degree in English, played professional beach volleyball, and taught herself to code. Umm…awesome. I was so impressed by her wide range of experiences and ability to not be pigeonholed by one experience.

About seven years ago, she wrote an article on her website in which she coined the term “braided career.” I so wish I had read this in 2007, when I was 24! I would have been three years out of college, and so in need of this advice.

In this article, she says unequivocally, “The most important thing in your life is the people you love, so you need to figure out how to create a work life that will accommodate that.” It’s an obvious statement, to me at least, but I think a lot of people neglect the nitty-gritty of what this actually means.

She goes on to coin the term “braided career,” writing:

“The best way to make sure you will have time and money to create the life you want is to have what I am going to start calling a braided career. Intertwine the needs of the people you love, with the work you are doing, and the work you are planning to do, when it’s time for a switch.” – Penelope Trunk, Letter to new graduates. And how about a braided career?

Can I just tell you how much I love this term? It’s such a perfect descriptor of this new career landscape many of us are navigating.

I get the impression that this post was tailored to millennials having quarter-life crises, BUT it’s absolutely applicable to anyone at any stage in their career. A key takeaway of this article is that a braided lifestyle is almost always going to be in transition because our needs and the needs of our loved ones are always in transition. It means we can’t be afraid to ditch a 70-hour a week job when it’s not aligning with our values for, let’s say, time with friends and family. We need to not let fear guide our decisions, and instead put our values first.

“It feels like you’re all over the place, it feels like you have no plan, it feels like you’re always about to spend your last cent. But you are learning to create stability through transition. You can become a master of transition and you are achieve the thing you want most: A work life that supports the values you hold dear – time, family, friends, community, passion, and fun.”

For me, the key takeaway is that we must learn to be okay with a constantly evolving career.  Like she says, stability through transition.

How To Be a Third Wheel

The other day I went to a Barbecue in upstate New York. It was hosted by a close friend of mine and her boyfriend. When I got there, my friend said to me apologetically, “you’re going to meet a lot of people you don’t know.” What she didn’t mention was “you’re going to meet a lot of people you don’t know…and all of their significant others who you also don’t know.”

Once I went inside, I figured out that everyone at the BBQ was either married or engaged. And I felt very, very single. And very much like a third wheel.

This made me want to hide.

This made me want to hide away. At home. Somewhere inside my hoodie.

I didn’t realize that married and engaged couples would become the majority once I turned thirty. When I was in my twenties and would go to parties, I seem to remember a fair mix of singles and couples present. I also remember lots of alcohol being thrown down, and lots of stumbling home at 3am…or later. Was it a different world back then? After the BBQ this month, I caught the Metronorth back to Queens at the wee hour of 7pm (!)…with a nice newlywed couple who held hands as they told me the story of how they met.

To be fair, I was half of a couple for just about the entirety of my twenties…a serial monogamist from 21 to 29. And I basically saw the world of my twenties through ‘couple-eyes’ (yes, this is a thing)…which for me then meant: half of a couple = the definition of who I am.

So I didn’t totally get the whole third wheel stigma thing.

When I was part of a couple, I actually loved hanging out with single friends. I mean, it was fun to double date, but when I had a single friend hang out with me and my boyfriend at the time, I loved it just as much. All I wanted was for my friend to feel welcome and comfortable, single or not. A third wheel has this strange solo definition- they’re an extra piece- suddenly we have… a tricycle? A whole new entity. But that entity doesn’t have to be bad. I never thought it was bad before.

Of course, I very much understand the third wheel stigma- ‘couple-alone-time’ is important (as much as regular alone-time)- and a third person tagging along uninvited to a date night walk along the beach would probably not be the best. But the key word here is ‘uninvited.’ When you’re a third person invited along with a couple, you’re not a tag-along, you’re a guest. You’re a friend.

But when I first became single again, a few months ago, I didn’t feel like a guest. No matter how much a couple tried to make me feel included, I felt like I was invading their space and time. I felt like a lonely half who needed another. A missing piece. An extra part.

It took me awhile to remember how much I enjoyed hanging with single people when I was half of a couple…how much I wanted them to NOT feel like third wheels. It took me awhile to remember that they weren’t third wheels to me then…I saw them as full people- totally complete on their own. It’s weird how hard it is to see yourself the way you see others. Why would a couple be better than a single? What does that even mean?

I didn’t end up having a bad time at the barbecue. I’ll admit, I felt sad at first…wistful for coupledom. But then I started to have fun, once I settled in. I began to ask questions. I talked to my friend…and her boyfriend. I relaxed and ate barbecue. And I started to let go of looking at myself as an extra. I listened to stories… how couples met, where they lived, what they did. I enjoyed my ride home on the Metronorth with the newlyweds, who had a great first-meeting story and were both super nice. And I stopped feeling like a third wheel. And I stopped feeling alone. I didn’t feel like half a couple. I just felt like me.

 

 

When and “If” to Course-Correct your Career

How certain are you that the career path you’re working towards is one that will make you happy? When I worked at film studios after college, the question I asked myself was: “Would I want the job my boss or VP of the department has?” For me, that answer was always no. That’s one of the ways I realized I needed to find a way to write full-time or just find something that would make me feel at least somewhat fulfilled. This basically led to my decision to go to graduate school.

But now, I find myself again unsure if what I’m working so desperately towards (writing for movies and TV) is what will make me happy. Because continuing on, I’d most likely have to live in LA for at least five more years, and I don’t love it here, in fact, at points I think it makes me downright unhappy. Also, from what I’ve seen about how television shows and movies get made, all of the requisite bullshit might drive me to an early grave, or at least to indulge in an unhealthy amount of gin and tonics.

I keep asking myself, why do I find myself so unhappy this quarter at school? What I once found incredible joy and release in (writing) brings me great anxiety now. I’ve been told it’s because I’m in a very competitive program where we’re constantly talking about writing and the industry, and that that environment is not conductive to writing.

I don’t have a definitive answer. Friends tell me to soul-search. But how does one soul search to get to the answer? Should I take a long weekend of meditation or a solo hike down the Pacific Coast Trail like Cheryl Strayed in Wild? I’m a bit of a weenie when it comes to camping, and too antsy to do a weekend of meditation. So I think for me, the answer is closest to this lovely piece of advice from the poet Rilke, who has always been a personal favorite writer of mine:

“…I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”

Maybe you just have to keep going, making teeny-tiny course corrections every day. Because course-correcting allows for growth. It’s also a really important life skill to master.

So the question I leave you with is this: Are you sure where you want to go is worth it? This is an important question to ask, and if you’ve been chugging ahead towards a specific goal for a long time, you may neglect even re-evaluating this question, thinking to yourself like I did, “Of course this is what I want, I’ve wanted this for so long.”

But you’re not who you were five years ago, even last week. So maybe it’s worth another look.

Charity Fundraising Ideas in your Thirties

Tonight I’m directing a charity concert called Broadway Can that features Broadway actors singing as part of a benefit to raise money for City Harvest. I direct this concert just about every year if I’m not out of town working. In the summer, I also usually direct another charity concert called Broadway Meows to raise money for the Humane Society. I’m really happy to be a part of both of these events- they’re for two great causes, and are also really fun to work on. In fact, even if the concerts weren’t to raise money for charity, I’d still enjoy being part of them. I like the people I’m working with and also like theater.

Me and the awesome cast and crew of Broadway Meows this past summer!

Me and the awesome cast and crew of Broadway Meows this past summer!

It’s great to find causes that fit your personality- things you care about. When I used to think about giving money to charity, I’d feel guilty. I’d think, ‘I’ve never served meals to the homeless on Thanksgiving…I probably should’ and ‘I probably need to make time to work in a soup kitchen one day in order to give back.’ But those thoughts just fleetingly crossed my mind and I didn’t do either of them.

For most of my life, I never really focused on charity…I guess because I felt like I didn’t know exactly where to donate, or felt like I had no money or that every spare dollar I had needed to go toward my student loan, or I didn’t know which cause I should focus on or whether charities were really putting the money to good use.

But lately, I’ve started to see causes all around me where I can easily, happily give back- and in some cases, such as directing the concerts, have already been giving back.

I have dozens of friends putting up theater all over the city. There’s always a fundraising campaign and various fundraising ideas underway for these projects. I usually try to donate what I can- supporting the arts is important to me, especially when I know the people creating the art. Also, I have lots of friends who run or walk to raise money for a cause, and I donate what I can to their fundraising campaigns. It all adds up- even small amounts.

So I don’t need to necessarily be at a soup kitchen serving meals to help others. There are so many different ways to give back that I hadn’t thought of before, even if I have no time, or no money to spare.

Here are some ideas for giving back when you have more time than money:

Some ideas for when you have more money than time, but aren’t sure what organizations to choose, or are suspicious of where your money is actually going:

  • Donate to a friend’s fundraising page for their theater or artistic project, or their charity walk or run for a cause. There are many fundraising ideas- check out their Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaigns!
  • Charity Navigator – Tracks charitable Organizations’ performance and effectiveness, so you can find the most effective charities.
  • Guidestar.org – Similar to Charity Navigator above.
  • GreatNonprofits.org – This is like the Yelp of nonprofits! Read lots of charity reviews.
  • Philanthropedia– Charity ratings by a group of experts in over 35 different fields.

I hope these lists help you help others…and I strongly believe you’ll end up helping yourself along the way!

 

What’s your re-charge routine?

How do you re-energize and center yourself when your emotional batteries are low? Personally, I’m a big fan of alone time spent reading novels, watching movies and TV, and drinking a glass of wine. I guess you could call that escapist re-charging and for me, that’s phase 1. For me, this helps because alone time is an essential, non-negotiable part of my life. In case you haven’t heard this before, the prime difference between introverts and extroverts is where each get their energy. Introverts get energy from being alone, while extroverts get energy from being around people.

Phase 2 re-charging is a bit more active and involves taking care of my body. So, hitting a Pilates class or the gym and eating a healthy meal.

Phase 3 recharging is after my alone, quiet quota has been filled and I can focus on the “lifters” in my life – the people that make me feel energized, motivated, and importantly, loved. So that normally means a coffee, wine, or long-distance phone call date with a close friend. Once I’ve accomplished these three phases, my battery is juiced and I’m ready to begin again.

For some reason, I love visualizing myself as containing an internal phone battery who need to ‘charge up’  from time to time. I imagine watching the green light on my human body iPhone progress further and further to the right of the screen. While we know our phones are dying because we see that lovely percentage indicator going down, how do we know that it’s time for us to plug in and charge up? It’s so easy to keep pushing and pushing and pushing…to the neglect of ourselves. Should we have warning signs for ourselves?

I have three main red flags that mean I’m need of juicing up: when I find myself being snappy with people, I know it’s time for a re-charge because I’m not normally a snappy person. Secondly, if I find that I’m starting to see things in a consistently negative light, I know it’s time for a break. And thirdly, if I just find that I’m not finding joy in things I normally enjoy, I know it’s time to settle in and let myself relax.

The funny paradox about re-charging is that it’s not about ‘vegging out’ or totally relaxing yourself into a comatose state (though sometimes that’s both nice and needed), it’s about re-connecting to yourself. Finding your ‘zone’ as it were, finding that motivated excited self.

So, here’s a little drawing of what my battery re-charging looks like. What would yours look like?

Pardon my super dorky rendering! Never said I went to art school.

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