The Difference Between Mistakes and Regrets

It’s been a big week for me. I’ve been dealing with some personal issues and I’ve had some trouble maintaining routines – including writing on this blog. So thank you for bearing with me!

I’ve been lucky enough to keep my temporary job at summer camp, and that’s provided ample work and distraction for me. Since it’s an arts camp, all the employees are artists themselves – filmmakers, writers, actors, etc. and it’s nice to be with people who feel like they are part of my ‘tribe.’ In fact, in the near two years I’ve been in LA, I haven’t had such instant connections with people as I’ve had in the camp.

One of my fellow staffers is turning 30 in August, and we’ve been talking about what that means. For her, it means taking a huge adventure to move across the globe to pursue her artistic discipline. But of course, it’s a big decision and scary one. It got me thinking about decisions we make in our 30s.

Do you ever feel like the decisions we make in our 30s are loaded? Like, they carry an exceptional amount of weight because this is a ‘do or die’ decade? We’re making choices about career and family that may have implications for the rest of our lives. That can be somewhat paralyzing when it comes to making choices.

But yesterday, a wise person told me there’s a big difference between making mistakes and having regrets. You can make a mistake and not have regrets. You make choices and in doing that, you are powerful and exercising your agency as a human being, and for that you can never have regret.

I remember a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert where she talked about not regretting decisions you’ve made in the past, because you made them with all the information you had at the time. I loved that. Regret doesn’t make sense in a life where we’re constantly evolving and growing as people.

So, here’s to not being so precious about each and every step in our 30s.

What’s On Your Summer Reading List?

I don’t know about you, but I find the summer to be the best time for reading. My mind is naturally in a more day-dreamy state (yes, I just made up a word) and I have more free time than usual. I’m excited to read a lot of books this summer, but I’m starting with The Vacationers by Emma Straub. It’s set in Mallorca, Spain and it’s about a family who is taking one of their first big vacations in years, after some pretty big issues have taken place. content

While I can only read one fiction novel at a time, I can usually read a non-fiction book at the same time. So this summer, I’m going to try and pick back up Tony Robbins’s Awaken the Giant Within. I started it a few months ago, because Laura and I deemed it our next book club pick after hearing so many people call it life-changing, but we both read a few chapters and then put it down. We both agreed that maybe it was because there are “homework” exercises after many chapters, and that deterred us. It’s not that we’re lazy and don’t want to do the homework, but usually we’re reading at night before bed, or on commutes, and it’s hard to just switch into paper and pen brainstorming mode. But the plan is to get back to it and finish it. A lot of “self-help” writers that I respect and admire are huge Tony Robbins fans.

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So, what will you be reading this summer?

Single in Your Thirties? Here’s How to Ruin a First Date

I just saw the funniest Facebook post today about how to ruin a date in only 5 words. Everyone was commenting with suggestions, and a few of them were quite genius.

In this technological modern age, there’s more online dating happening than ever before, which basically translates into more dating happening than ever before…or at least more online penpal-ing? But anyways, with the amount of dating going on nowadays, a ridiculous multitude of dating horror stories have arisen. Of course, there are lots of really good dates, and even great dates, but the funniest stories usually come from the crazy dates. From constant texting to Facebook stalking to misrepresentations on Tinder, the dating arena’s a lot more like the wild west than it ever was before. And I realized recently that there’s a whole lot more semi-blind dating happening now than it ever has in the past. OkCupid, Tinder, Hinge (have you ever even heard of that one??) and plenty more dating apps have brought a whole new series of strange events and bizarre occurrences…at the very least! But don’t be scared- interesting dating stories are happening to anyone who’s brave enough to put themselves out there! And it’s all kind of awesome.

There’s a lot I can say about dating, and I will talk more seriously about it in another post, but for tonight, just sit back and enjoy some absolutely terrible first date comments that may just make you laugh till you cry.

Here are some of the best suggestions for how to ruin a first date in just 5 words. Enjoy!

The Obvious Issues

  • It’s not contagious anymore…hopefully
  • Honestly, your friends hired me
  • They haven’t convicted me yet
  • I know where you live
  • My lawyer says no kissing
  • When will this be over?

The Family Issues

  • You remind me of mom
  • My curfew is at 9
  • What’s your sister’s phone number?
  • My dad’s on his way
  • By the way, I’m married
  • My current wife is missing

The Political/ Cultural Issues

  • Have you considered Donald Trump?
  • I don’t believe in education
  • My role model’s Kim Kardashian
  • Ann Coulter is my hero
  • Theater is like live TV
  • I don’t believe in independence

The Technology Issues

  • I already Facebook stalked you
  • Those Tinder photos weren’t me
  • Wait, I’m tweeting about this
  • I’m only 40 pounds heavier
  • I just bought your domain
  • Hold on- texting my ex

The Seems Like Maybe Red Flag Issues

  • I figured, hey, free dinner!
  • You are really rich, right?
  • I’m high. Everything is funny
  • I only speak in rhyme
  • Yuck! I hate all foods
  • I heard you were desperate
  • Hurry! I have another date
  • I got that waitress pregnant
  • No one else was available
  • Meet my psychiatric service dog
  • My biological clock is ticking
  • I think I love you

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The Story of the Green Beetle

A few days ago, I was walking to the bus stop to head home from my summer camp job, and my mind was in a thousand places. I was thinking of all the emails I had to return, the laundry that had piled up, and the buzzing phone in my pocket filled with group text messages from work, and if I should eat pizza for dinner for a second time this week (resounding yes). My mind was anywhere but the present.

As I was approaching my bus stop, two enthusiastic young men stopped me, their eyes lit up with a feverish intensity. Being a New Yorker, I know what that means. Comedy club tickets, anyone? Or how an all-inclusive ‘salon package’ for the low, low cost of $69.95 but worth $200? Spend a year in Manhattan and you’ll be propositioned for both of those offers.  But these looked like international college age students, and they didn’t seem remotely threatening. So I stopped. They pointed down at the ground to a large beetle with a black body and glowing green legs.

Bugs freak me out, so I recoiled a bit. But this was magical; I have never in my life seen a bug so gorgeous and so unusual looking. It looked like it belonged in the amazon rainforest. The first thought I had was that this bug must not be real. It looked like it could be a small, robotic animal. The young men remarked that they had never seen a creature like this in their lives, and asked if I had. I shook my head and said no. We all stared at it in awe, until it jumped up and started flying, to our collective surprise.

There is no exciting end to this story – the bug flew away and I ran to grab my bus. But I was left in a new headspace, feeling curious. I spent my bus ride home searching google on my phone, trying to identify this beetle. But nothing came up that looked like the beetle. They were lots of bugs with neon green bodies, but none with just neon green legs.

People sometimes say that when you’ve got stress or anxiety in your life, you should step back and “Look at the big picture.” And sure, it’s good advice. But sometimes I think the better advice is to narrow your focus. Take in the smallest of details around you. See how the tiny details expand and become worlds onto themselves.

Has A Breakup Nearly Destroyed You In Your Thirties?

My friend Seth went through a really bad breakup a few years back. When I say bad, I mean horrendous. Bad to the point that it took him almost two years to get over it…and during that time he was anxious almost every day and couldn’t sleep. His anxiety about the breakup permeated every corner of his thoughts and dreams…and turned the act of sleeping into a constant nightmare.

I remember meeting up with him during this time and barely recognizing him. He felt like a shell of the boisterous, smiley person he usually is. Seth is a self-employed composer and lyricist who is always extremely creative and prolific, writing songs at all hours of the day and night, playing piano at auditions, and presenting showcases of his work. He even has his own webseries.

However, during the years after his breakup, he was on so many different anti-anxiety medications and sleeping pills that he could barely function…and he’s the type of person who normally never even drinks coffee because it makes him jittery. Both Seth’s nights and days were wrecked, first by his ex’s departure, and then by the constant anxiety and even panic attacks that just wouldn’t go away.

My friend Seth and I in better times.

Seth and me in later, happier times.

Have you ever gone through a breakup that leaves you reeling for far longer than you think it should? Have you ever felt like you were the only one who just couldn’t let it go? Did you think you were going to marry the person who left, or did the person end up leaving the marriage you already had? Have you ever had even your absolute best friends wonder when you were going to get over it? This happens to people way more often than you think.

There’s no set timeline on grief, and a breakup is legitimately a loss. Breakups can feel kind of like mini deaths that you have to grieve and eventually move on from. Any act of grieving can take quite awhile, leading to intense discomfort, especially around your friends and family who may just want you to ‘get over it.’

It’s hard to just get over something on a timeline, and the time needed for grieving any particular loss is personal and unknown.This recovery time includes breakups as well as deaths- any type of loss can take a very long time to get over, really. Sometimes grief can even go away for awhile and then return as an intense sneak attack!

When Seth finally started to recover, and even during his grieving process, he attempted to open up to others about what he was going through. Little by little, he heard similar stories from friends who experienced similar breakups that brought them to the ground.

Seth and I after his recovery, when I directed his concert, Broadway Meows, benefitting the Humane Society

Seth and me after his recovery. I directed his Humane Society benefit concert, Broadway Meows

Seth realized how helpful it was to have friends around him and people who understood his situation. And it was extremely helpful to realize that other people had gone through similar situations after a breakup.

So he wrote a book to share his experiences.

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The book is called Sleep. Write. Nowand it chronicles his entire spiral into depression and insomnia after the breakup, and his very, very slow recovery. The book is breathtakingly open and vulnerable regarding the painful moments that occur after a breakup, from the embarrassing (private journal entries of positive affirmations that all don’t work) to the horrendous (loss of friends after recovery ‘took too long’ and he was ‘still too obsessed with her’) to the hilarious and touching (how his cat helped him through some of his darkest moments.)

I highly recommend Sleep.Write. Now, and it’s easy to grab on Amazon. The book is an amazing read for anyone who’s gone through or is going through a traumatizing breakup and feels alone. Remember, grieving takes time and it can take a lot more time than you think it will. Breakups are a natural part of life (you can’t marry everyone you date!) and rejection happens to everyone.

Always remember- you are not alone.

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There Were 10, now 6, then 3…Friendship in Your 30s

Today, I got to thinking about the “oldest” friends we all have, and friendships in general after my fiancé told me about his fantasy football league. Let me explain. Basically, the leader/organizer person (I know nothing about fantasy football) had decided to shut down their decade long running league because he was having a child and had too much responsibility. My fiancé, understandably, was sad. These were tons of his old college buddies who were spread across the country, and this online game was a way to connect to them. Even though I have no ties to the team and have no clue how one would even play ‘fantasy football,’ it made me sad to hear about a group dissolving. I always feel sad when a group of mine dis-integrates – from a book club ending to summer pot lucks winding down when the season ends….

I started thinking about how in our 30s, our close friend group gets smaller and smaller, until we realize someday that we’ve ended up with a circle much smaller than in our 20s. There are the obvious reasons for that: getting married and settling down, having children, job responsibilities, etc. But I believe we all need lots of different types of love in our life – and a few people cannot sustain or fulfill all those needs. All of our primary, most supportive relationships must have buoys and support around them. In the same way it’s been said that “it takes a village’ to raise children, it takes a group of people to sustain our deepest relationships. Your marriage or closest friendship gets oxygen from mutual friends, from family visits, and from the outside interaction you get at places like work.

I speak to a lot less friends than I did when I was 25. About half less I would say. The bright side is that I feel the quality of these remaining friendships has improved. They’ve been through the ups and downs with me. The past July 4th weekend, I got to have long conversations with old high school and even (gasp!) elementary school, and it made me incredibly happy and left me feeling physically lighter. Our friends can help us carry our loads.

So what do we do with less friendships in our 30s? Obviously, we hold onto the ones we love with a vice grip! But we must always be open to new friendships, coming at any age. Your next ‘soul mate’ friend could be just around the corner. Sometimes I feel like we’ve been taught that we would have met all our best friends in the world by now. But maybe that’s only encouraging us to keep ourself guarded. Instead, maybe we should always keep out heart opens to new friends – even with the new responsibilities the thirties place on us.

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