Do You Know What a Jizo Statue Is?

A few weeks ago, a package arrived in the mail from a friend. It was a small box that was surprisingly heavy. The return address on the package said it was from The Monastery Store in Mt. Tremper, New York. Hmm. I knew a friend was mailing me a package as she had told me to be expecting something…but what was this?

When I opened the box, I discovered a small cast iron Buddha looking statue. What was this thing, I thought? A Buddha to pray with?

The packaging slip included described this little guy as “3” Cast Iron Jizo.” Okaaay. Who is that? (Sounds a little naughty too, but ahem, I digress…).

Before calling my friend to thank her for her gift, I did a little research. (Didn’t want to be completely Jizo ignorant.) So, apparently a Jizo is a Bodhisattva (Japanese Buddhist god) who plays the role as a protector of children and unborn children who died before their parents.

From Jizo Statues: The Japanese Statues Giving Closure To Women Who Have Miscarried:

“The statues are believed to be protectors of children and unborn babies in traditional Japanese Buddhist teachings. It is believed that as the babies did not have the chance to build up good karma on earth, Jizo helps smuggle the children into the afterlife in the sleeves of his robe.”

Many women who have experienced miscarriages put them in their homes as a remembrance of their unborn child. (The Japanese Art of Grieving a Miscarriage.)

But Jizo is more than that. As The Monastery Store describes on their website: “Small, yet fierce as a mother protecting her child, Jizo Bodhisattva–Ksitigarbha, or “Earth Womb”–aids all those in the six worlds of existence who need relief from suffering.”

I hadn’t experienced a miscarriage, but I have had a rough year. When that package arrived in the mail, I’d been feeling lost, unsettled and uncertain of everything for awhile, on and off. My friend, so kindly, wanted to give me a little peace.

I put my Jizo on my bedside table, where she (he? I don’t know, but I like to think of her as a woman) watches over me and provides me comfort. I do feel a small sense of relief when I look over at the statue before I go to bed and wake up in the morning.

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How It Can Be Hard To Do The Work You Love

Lately I’ve been thinking about how I get stuck when it comes to buckling down and writing my scripts. I love writing characters and dialogue, and getting absorbed in another world. It’s meditation for me. But despite that, I haven’t been writing much at all lately. I’ve been outlining a new project, and while it’s technically work, it’s not the actual page writing that I love so much.

Why? I guess I’m just waiting for that super inspired feeling that often helps me produce my best work. I’ve associated that ‘high’ feeling with starting to write. And I’m at a place in my life where so much is going on that I just want to feel good lately. I’m all about the cozy, hygge life.

But I’ll never get the work done if I’m all about hygge! So, the thing is, I’ve got to up my writing game, which may mean being uncomfortable or suffering a little. And just the other day I read that the German word for passion is “leidenschaft.” And the non-literal translation means suffering – suffering for your passion.

This post explains it well:

When (not literally) translated, “Leidenschaft” means “passion,” meaning that the word in German carries a heavier load than its English counterpart. In English, you are always encouraged to follow your passion, as it will bring you the most happiness as opposed to following the more material, tangible, and fleeting things of life, such as status, money, or fame. Passion, in the long run, conveys a feeling of achievement and joy in the English language. However, in German, there seems to be a more realistic outlook to the word; if you are passionate about something, you will have to suffer to achieve whatever you are passionate about, akin to the English saying of “no pain, no gain.”

So raise a glass to suffering a little! In the name of art, of course.

 

One Reason Being In Your Thirties Can Feel So Lonely

I’m 35, and most of my oldest friends are married without kids or with kids and/or have successful careers, or simply are content being single with a forward moving career. Most of them are pretty settled in one way or another, feeling good and grateful for where they are in their lives. They know it’s damn tough and they’ve come a long ass way to be where they are. And their lives are certainly not without struggle, be it infertility, health issues, etc. But, they’re happy to have made inroads into whatever they set out to do. And that’s awesome. It’s really inspiring seeing your friends raise kids, embark on new, challenging career goals or start a business. I’m not jealous; I know we all have unique paths to follow.

Once there was a broader path we were all on. But now the path is narrowing and more lonely than ever. Here’s the thing I’ve been thinking about. I’ve been depressed lately, and I have been remembering that I felt this same combination of ‘lost and scared’ intermittently throughout high school and college – this bleak feeling of dissociation. But what ALWAYS made it better was having friends with whom I could relate. Because in high school and college, we all felt similarly. At least I think we did.

Some of my favorite moments of high school were spent sprawled in the aisles of Barnes & Noble (which some called Barnes & Nobles – which always made me feel silly and happy), with a stack of career books and an assortment of US Weeklies and random crap, talking about our futures and all the possibilities ahead. We were blank slates, eager and excited, and all the nervousness of uncertainty was mitigated by each other’s company. When you realize you’re not alone, a huge weight is lifted off your shoulders.

At 35, I don’t have lots of friends to sit with in B & N and kvetch about life and how uncertain everything seems. I have about 2 of those friends, and they’re back home in NYC. I’m grateful for them, because we can email and talk about life and how we feel (and sometimes I can’t even email them back because I am feeling too low). But still — the number of us who are uncertain and scared, keeps dwindling. I guess that’s good, right? That’s a phase we should be past, perhaps? But…

It can make you feel alone. To feel like everyone has got at least one anchor in their life at this point, and you don’t. It doesn’t mean I’m not grateful to be alive and striving but still.

Sometimes I wish I was back in high school, in those aisles of Barnes & Nobles, with my vanilla steamer and my best friend, uncertain but hopeful about where our lives would take us, but pretty damn confident it would be somewhere awesome.

Are you satisfied?

One of my friends from film school was recently telling me about having lunch with one of our esteemed professors from UCLA. This professor is an amazing, kind-hearted man who’s beloved by his community. He turned 80 years old last year and still teaches two classes in the Masters film program. I’d say his name here, but I feel weird about it, since I haven’t asked him if I can talk about him on this blog. (Though, I am sure he would be happy for me to share this.)

I took two classes with him while I was in school, and he talked a lot about what success and satisfaction look like for his students – aspiring directors, writers, and producers in the MFA program.

The other day, my friend reminded me of something this professor said about life satisfaction that I wanted to share here. Basically, the level of your satisfaction in life equals reality over expectations. So, essentially, you’ll be more satisfied with your life if you’re happy with your reality and don’t have expectations that you have no control over.

This equation reminds me of a fortune cookie quote I got in college –  “Expectations reduce joy.” It’s hard not to have expectations because as human beings, I think we’re hard-wired to go into most situations with a desired outcome. But if we can just focus on the actual process of doing things and being in the present with the people around us, maybe we won’t think about our expectations of outcomes so much.

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Panic In Your Thirties!

Have you heard of that band, “Panic at the Disco”? Well, I keep thinking of their name lately and how I feel panic in my thirties! 

I remember reading an article on Jezebel about how the thirties are your ‘do-or-die decade’ and that idea has always stuck with me. The gist of the article is that the thirties are your time of life when the stakes are so much higher – that what you do in your thirties will set the stage for how the rest of your life might look.

But no pressure, people.

Ha. A lot of pressure actually. For me though, the pressure for me has morphed into panic. I’m 35, and I feel like I’ve made no serious inroads in my career and I have no kids – two things in my life I really want.  Obviously, it comes and goes and isn’t a permanent state of being.

However, there is a big problem with panic. See definition below.

Sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior.

“Wildly unthinking behavior.” Yes. Been there, done that. But that’s a whole ‘nother post.

So what’s the answer? Well, I can’t say I’ve figured it out yet. But I did read something in my weekly horoscope by Chani Nicholas (best horoscopes ever, btw), and it resonated perfectly for the subject of this post. So here ya go:

“Pause instead of panicking.”

Love it. Slowing down always helps me.

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Quitting My Job and Hitting the Road

I gave my “I’m quitting” notice at my job in June. I wasn’t feeling fulfilled and certainly wasn’t having enough time to focus on my writing (which is the reason I moved to Los Angeles in the first place). My last day was July 14th. Since then, I’ve traveled to Montana, NYC, and now Iceland. I’ll be back home to Los Angeles in less than a week. I knew I’d be getting a new job once I returned (not sure what job, though!), so I wanted to take advantage of this time while I could.

Travel always clear my brain, and re-sets my mental system. Seeing how other people live helps me figure out what I might want to do with my life going forward. In NYC, I got some inspiration when I met a hospice care counselor at a brewery and talked to her for over an hour about her work. If I wasn’t aiming to be a working television and film writer, I’d be very interested in getting my social work degree.

Anyhow, I’ll share two of my favorite experiences in Iceland so far:

Dettifoss: The most powerful waterfall in all of Europe. It really is awe-inspiring. You feel the pounding of the water trembling under your feet. I imagine it’s like Niagara Falls, though I’ve never been.

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Solfataras: This is a sulphur geyser type place. It’s very, very SMELLY. Imagine bad eggs times a million. But it’s very cool, as there are a lot beautiful colors and vistas.

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Would You Use A Relationship Contract?

Last week, there was an column in the beloved Modern Love section of the NY Times in which the author Mandy Len Catron described the ‘relationship contract’ she has with her boyfriend. The name pretty much describes what it is, but basically, the idea is that you create a contract between you and your significant other that details terms of your romantic relationship.

Here’s a bit from the article:

The terms range from the familiar (“We will take care of each other when one of us is sick”) to the fanciful (“If we’re both sick, it’s all up to the dog”). In fact, Roscoe gets an entire section, detailing his walking schedules, vet visits and even how sweet we think he is.

We have a houseguest section (guests can stay for up to two weeks but must be mutually vetted) and an item that deals with Mark’s sweaty running clothes (“He agrees to hang these up in the spare room or on the back of the bathroom door but he wants Mandy to know that this may be a fairly common occurrence”).

We agree to split the bill when eating out with one exception: “Special meals (date night, celebrations, etc.) will not be split so one person can treat the other.”

Most couples would probably tackle these types of issues in their contracts:

  • Sex
  • Cleaning
  • Frequency of date nights
  • How often they see other friends alone

I love the idea of this! So much can go unsaid in a relationship, and these unexpressed feelings can eventually cause resentment and even worse – a breakup.

So. Would you create a relationship contract?

At this very moment, it seems a little too formal for me. It’s not even that I find it unromantic. It’s more that I tend to fluctuate in what I need from month to month. And I hate the idea that I don’t have fluidity in my relationships, especially one of the most important ones. But I realize I also have a problem in firmly sticking to plans; I like the idea that I can change my mind if the mood strikes (maybe that’s selfish, I don’t know?).

While the contract idea seems a little too rigid for my taste, I LOVE the idea of creating a couple mission statement. In the article, Len Catron writes:

Our contract addresses much of what must be negotiated in any relationship, especially when cohabitating. It begins with our reasons for being together: “We aspire to help each other be more ethically-minded and generous friends, community members and global citizens.” I know it sounds idealistic, but I’ve had relationships that left me feeling lonely and small. This time I wanted to be more intentional about looking outward as much as we look in.

This is beautiful. I often wonder what my boyfriend and I can do together to make the world a better place. As in, what benefits do we bring to the world when we are united?

In my relationship, my boyfriend pushes me to reach out to people more. In fact, just this afternoon, I was feeling lonely and depressed about my life in LA, and explaining to him how I don’t have the same connections I do in NY, and he reminded me that I’ve met a few women who I really liked and thought had close-friend potential. But I didn’t reach out enough to make that connection blossom. He encouraged me to reach out to them which is something I might be too timid to do on my own. Because of our relationship and his values that prioritize family and friends and loyalty, I’ve made a stronger effort to overcome social insecurity and connect more with people.

So, our mission statement would probably include helping each other foster connections and build a community in Los Angeles.

What are your thoughts on relationship contracts and mission statements?

 

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Are You One of the 9 to 11% of Americans Who…?

…would report feeling “daily worry and stress without a lot of happiness and enjoyment” in your life? Because according to the long-standing Gallup “U.S. Mood” Poll, 9 to 11 percent of Americans feel that way. Apparently and not surprisingly, the numbers were even higher immediately following the 2016 election, reaching a four-year high of 13.1%.

Personally, I fall into that depressing bucket now. But I’m also dealing with a lot of stress – fights with my boyfriend, anxiety about my career not moving forward fast enough (I’m 35), drinking too much to deal with the stress of uncertainty, and the general fear of Trump and losing access to Obamacare.

I used to be a lot more excited about life and my career in my twenties. The upside of the fact that I’m less happy now is that the happiness in my twenties made me somewhat dreamy and complacent, and so I wasn’t working as hard as I should have at my writing. Now, the fire is lit under my a** and I have been writing a ton more to deal with the anger at myself for not being further ahead.

While I don’t always experience daily stress and worries, because I do have amazing days where I feel recharged and refreshed, I do think I’d put myself in the 9 – 11% bucket of Americans who are struggling to find fulfillment.

So, what do you do if, like me, you realize that you would put yourself in that bucket?

Well, for me it’s all about testing variables to improve. Experimenting with your life. Making small changes and tweaks to see if you feel happier or more fulfilled from them.

Here are some things I’ve done and/or plan to do in the future:

  • Really analyzing my interactions with people to see if they uplift me
  • Trying natural anxiety relief supplements, like Omega 3 pills (heavy on the EPA and less on DHA)
  • Spending less time staring at my phone in public places
  • Writing EVERY DAY to push my career forward
  • Exercising at least once a week (wasn’t doing that before, d’oh!)

Would you put yourself in the 9-11% bucket, and if so, how do you plan to change it?

Women In Their 30s Now Having More Babies Than Women in Their 20s

For the first time in over three decades in the US, women in their 30s are having more babies than women in their 20s.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention released data last Wednesday that the birth rate among women aged 30 to 34 last year was slightly higher than that of women aged 25 to 29. Also according to the data, women are having their first child at age 28 on average. Consider that in 2014, the average age for women having their first child was 26.3 according to the CDC. That seems like a pretty high jump in age to me, considering it’s been only 3 years since 2014!

Experts say that the change is partially due to a reduction in teen pregnancy rates. But that’s only part of the story. A lot of women, including myself, feel it’s okay to have children later. I’m 35, and I want children and haven’t had them yet. I don’t feel societal pressure to have children, only biological. And even that biological pressure is somewhat tempered by knowing many women who have had babies over 40, and the fertility options that new technology brings. I’ve definitely calmed down a bit more in the past year or so, because I know I’m just not ready yet and that it’s better to feel that I have the right partner and financial situation to raise a child than to ‘just do it.’

But, for my own peace of mind, I’ll be making an appointment for fertility diagnostic testing at USC.

Skin Discoloration In Your 30s

Have you noticed any skin discolorations since reaching your 30s? I have, namely brown spots and patches on my face (maybe only noticeable to me at the moment). I’ve started my own personal investigation into what’s going on (by that I mean obsessive Googling!).

Strangely, the first time I noticed it wasn’t while looking in a mirror. It was while doing FaceTime on my Mac. There was a little brown patch above my lip. When I looked in the mirror, I could barely make out this brown-ish area. I guess it was something with the light on the Mac.

Soon after noticing that first discoloration above my lips, I spotted a small brown spot on my cheek, and then…oh wow…what’s that? Small brown dots on my nose. Oy.

It kind looks something like these images below:

Looking at this spots jogged something in my memory – namely, a conversation I had with a friend a few months ago. She told me she has some discoloration on her skin, and said it was melasma. I figured that perhaps that could be what I had too. So I dived into some internet research, and sure enough (according to my own self-diagnosis, thanks Dr. Jane!), it seems like melasma to me.

What’s melasma, you ask? Well, according to medicinenet.com, melasma is:

A very common patchy brown, tan, or blue-gray facial skin discoloration, usually seen in women in the reproductive years. It typically appears on the upper cheeks, upper lip, forehead, and chin of women 20-50 years of age

And what’s it caused by? Many times it’s hormones. This is why pregnant women and those women on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) have melasma. It can also be caused by sun exposure. Personally, I only started to notice these spots in the past two years, and since I moved from NYC to LA about three and a half years ago, maybe that’s been the cause of my own discoloration.

So what can you do about it? Well, you can get a prescription for hydroquinone cream or lotion – which works by blocking the natural chemical process in your skin responsible for creating melanin, which produces dark skin pigmentation. You can also get a chemical peel or microdermabrasion.

And of course, wearing sunscreen will definitely help delay melasma outbreaks. Holistic healers also say that trying meditation and yoga can be helpful, as they can help re-balance your hormones.

I’ve yet to try any of these remedies myself, but I’m planning on making a dermatologist appointment soon.

Fear of Loss in Relationships

When it comes to sustaining peaceful romantic relationships, I’m not the best. I try really hard, but I have bad anxiety, and that makes me fear the worst. My brain can get caught in a negative thought loop pretty quickly — “Will this last?” “Does he love me enough?” “What if he learns more about me and doesn’t want to be with me anymore?” Or worst, I place too much emphasis on the micro-moments of the relationship (like, what does it mean that he normally texts me around this time, but today he didn’t?) that I forget about to be present.  GAH! It’s enough to drive anyone insane.

So, basically, I’m terrified of losing, to the point where I may self-sabotage myself to subconsciously have the relationship end. Stupid, right?

I’m not sure how to get rid of this nagging feeling, other than the normal things, like going to therapy and obsessively googling self-help websites for fixes. I’ve read a lot of Buddhist teachings about how you need to recognize that you can’t be attached to anything forever. And by truly accepting that, you won’t suffer. But still, it’s hard to not feel deep attachment to someone you love.

I just know that I can’t act from that place of fear – from the fear of the relationship ending at any point. I have to remind myself that acting out of fear is destined to cause problems in any relationship I may have, because I’m not present.

One mind trick that helps me when I’m feeling anxious about my relationship is to think about the absolute worst case scenario. And when I think about how it’s not life or death, I know I will be okay.

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Rebooting Old Friendships

As an only child, I’ve been fascinated by friendship since pre-school, when I had the opportunity to make my very first real friend.  Whose name I don’t remember…oops!

On my birthday two weeks ago, an old college friend who I haven’t spoken to in maybe 5 years reached out to me. There was never a falling-out between us. Rather, she mysteriously disappeared. She stopping returned emails, texts, calls and just vanished. A group of her friends from med school and I tried to figure out what was going on, but we couldn’t track her down. Because we knew she had disappeared on other people at an earlier stage in her life, and that there had been recent drama in her life, we didn’t think she was kidnapped or anything crazy like that. We knew she must have chosen to leave of her own volition. Also, one friend heard from her and passed along the information that she was safe but not looking to be contacted.

Back to my birthday. I got an email from this old friend who disappeared. It was a very simple message – she wished me a happy birthday and apologized for missing so much of my live/events in my life, etc. and asked if I’d be willing to open up a friendship again. She didn’t mention why she disappeared or what happened.

While some people might have been hurt to have been left by a friend, I was excited to hear from her. She was someone who I didn’t depend on completely for emotional support, and I something I loved about her was her independence and free spirited nature. While we never had that much in common, I always enjoyed spending time with her and loved her intellect and passion for life. She inspired me because she gave 100% to everything she did – becoming a neurosurgeon, going to residency, and then deciding to quit it all to write. She’s now got a book published. It’s pretty amazing. She’s already accomplished so many big deal things in her life.

We’ve been emailing back and forth a few times, but we haven’t gotten to meaty subjects yet, though I’m sure that is coming in time.

I read an article this week about how to deal with re-building these sorts of friendships – ones that disappear and then re-emerge: A Psychologist Explains How to Revive a Dead Friendship.

The most important take-away from the article for me was this: when re-building an old friendship, you need to be willing to see that person with a completely fresh set of eyes. Easier said than done, but I think it’s the only way to have an authentically honest new friendship.

It’s like if an artist were to paint another painting on top of an already used canvas. Like, when art historians discover than underneath a Picasso was an older Picasso painting he painted years prior.

I’m not sure what will happen with my new/old friend, especially because we don’t live in the same city, but I’m curious to find out.

Turning 35 and A Great Relationship Analogy

Today I’m turning 35. I can hardly believe it. There’s something substantial about this age. It feels like I’m a real adult in the prime of my life. And the government must think so too, because, guys, I’m eligible to run for President now. Ha!

Anyway, birthday aside- I wanted to share something my co-worker told me yesterday that resonated.

I work in the film industry as a website editor, and my passion is screenwriting and television writing. Yesterday, my co-worker made an amazing analogy between what makes a successful film and what makes a successful relationship. Here goes the gist of what she said…

A film is ultimately art, right? The end goal is to make the audience feel something, touch their hearts in some way (even if it’s terrifying someone, as in the case of a horror movie). When I write, it’s to make people laugh and understand our shared humanity and maybe make them feel less alone. That’s what a good movie or TV show does for me.

But making films is also a business. You need to make money to be able to continue making films. The whole art and commerce thing…

So my co-worker’s analogy was this – the relationship between art and film is similar to the one between your heart and your head in a romantic partnership. Your heart may love the person you’re with, but your head may say that person is unhealthy for you. Ultimately, you want to find someone that you both love and is logically right for you.

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How Much Money Do You Spend Per Day?

According to yesterday’s (2/20/2017) Gallup polls, the average dollar amount Americans report spending or charging on a daily basis (not counting the purchase of a home, motor vehicle, or normal household bills) is $101.

What do you think of that? That number blew me away, primarily because I don’t make nearly enough money to spend that kind of money. I realize though that the number probably reflects people who have children and other dependents.

I used to try to live in about $30 a day. Which seems like a lot of money, but in actuality, isn’t at all. If you want to go out to dinner with friends, you may be spending $50 or above for drinks and dinner. Before I let go of the $30 per day thing, the $30 balanced out in my mind – because some nights I’d stay in and cook, and be spending only $10 a day, and then other nights I’d use the leftover money to pay for the dinners and nights out. But then I started spending more nights out and treating myself to self-care things like massages and the occasional self-help book on Amazon and I couldn’t keep myself within that $30 per day rule. And then I’d feel bad about myself.

So, I try not to think about how much money I’m spending each day. That’s probably not the best approach, but for now, it’s the best thing for my mental health. I try to be conservative obviously but I don’t want to be limited everyday to a strict amount.

Do you count how much money you spend every day? Laura, my fellow blogger and bestie, told me she uses an app to track her spending everyday. But it seems like too much work for me at the moment, even though she’s assured me it’s easy to use.

If you’re interested in seeing more data of how the average American spends their money and their overall job satisfaction, I highly recommend the Gallup site:

http://www.gallup.com/poll/112723/Gallup-Daily-US-Consumer-Spending.aspx

Would You Hire a Life Coach?

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of stories from friends who hired life coaches or executive coaches to either get out of a rut or find a new perspective on moving forward in their career/personal life. In fact, I just hired a screenwriting coach to help me push my career forward. I was on the fence about it for awhile before I actually pulled the trigger – I kept asking myself, “Can’t I just motivate myself?” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I had nothing to lose but money, and even if I gained just a little bit of new knowledge about the industry I’m trying to break into, then it would be worth it.

Also, when I asked my dad for advice on whether I should pay for the coaching services or not, he gave me some great advice. He said that an investment in myself is always money well spent.

I’ve met with the coach twice so far, and it’s been pretty great. She re-energizes and focuses me. She keeps me accountable to my goals. (Granted, we’re only two weeks in and I’ve had no real deliverables, so we will see what happens going forward. But I’m confident that I won’t want to let her down.)

I think what’s great about coaching is that your coach allows you to see the big picture. They give you the Grand Canyon vantage point. Are the small issues you’re fretting about or spending time on really adding value to your life or getting you closer to your goals?

If you’re interested in coaching, the first step is figuring out what kind of coach you would want. They are usually bucketed into two categories: 1) Personal or life coaches, or 2) Business or professional.

Next, you want to make sure your coach is highly vetted. Recommendations from family or friends seem to be best. And you should make sure your coach is certified by the International Coach Federation.

If you don’t know someone who can give you a personal recommendation, a thoughtful Google search may direct you to the websites of coaches who deal in issues you might want to tackle (like, transitioning careers, new motherhood, etc.). These websites will give you a good feel of the coach and their methodology. They will often have free reading material which is also helpful.

Here’s a couple of life coaches websites, so you can get a feel for the different styles out there:

http://yourkickasslife.com/coaching/

http://erikadolnackova.com/life-coaching-for-women/

 

A Somewhat Rambling Post On Turning 35

In March, I’ll turn 35 years old. Kinda crazy to think about. I still feel like I just entered my thirties, the decade so many people told me would be the best of my life. So far, that’s been true for me. All those cliches about getting older were validated – you’re more confident in your own skin and you give less sh**s about what other people think. I’m still working on the comparison game however; it’s hard for me not to look at folks my age who have high-powered careers and families, and wonder why I’m eating frozen burritos in my apartment with no kitchen.

But the thing is, while I can compare myself to other people my age, I also realize I made the choice to be a writer – to follow this path where nothing is predictable and quality work doesn’t always correlate with dollar bills. I knew full well that making solid money from this wasn’t the primary goal. And the truth is, knowing I have this deep passion for storytelling and that I’m trying to pursue it as a career is way more valuable to me than a six-figure paycheck. (Though I eventually want that, too!). I like to think that the longer and harder the journey, the sweeter the success will feel when I get there.

I feel excited about turning 35. It feels substantial. I feel substantial.

So, I find it somewhat hilarious that in an interview with Howard Stern, Donald Trump talked about women’s ages and said: “What is it at 35, Howard?” Trump wondered aloud. “It’s called checkout time.”

I can’t formulate a better reply to this than writer Michelle Ruiz’s in her Vogue article, On Turning 35, the Age at Which Donald Trump Dumps His Girlfriends.

Here’s how she reacted:

But, upon further consideration, I think Trump is exactly right. Women at 35 are “too experienced.” Too experienced to see themselves as a man’s possession to be “checked out” on. Too experienced to constantly second-guess themselves and whether or not they deserve their compliments, their jobs, or their promotions. Too experienced, for sure, to sell their souls to Oompa Loompa–color sugar daddies with penchants for pussy grabbing. Today, at 35, I’m largely out of fucks to give, and, to borrow a phrase from Trump, as “nasty” as I want to be. I’m more willing to speak my mind than ever, and I care significantly less than I did 10 years ago about what other people think. And, as a bonus, I like my body and my bank account balance better now, too.

A little life experience will do that for you. Many 35-year-old women, myself included, have been around the block, or even the whole neighborhood. We’ve been dumped, disregarded, laid off, and underestimated; made mistakes, taken chances; failed miserably; in some cases, even hit rock bottom. We’ve lost friends and parents and found a little more of our ourselves. (Lose a friend in his 20s, or see a college classmate lose her toddler son to cancer, and suddenly, complaining about a 35th birthday loses its fun). We’ve gone from assistants to bosses, gotten married, birthed babies, or done none of the above, and discovered our own resilience all the same. If this makes women of 35 undesirable to Trump, or anyone else, then, as fellow 35-year-old Beyoncé would say: Boy, bye.

That’s one of the great things about being in your 30s – you don’t have time for people who find you undesirable or unworthy. You know to never settle for people who don’t fully support you. As our first President so wisely said:

“Associate yourself with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation; for ‘tis better to be alone than in bad company.”

-George Washington

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