Our New Video Series!

Laura and I have been talking about creating an OMG I’m Thirty video series for awhile.  We took the opportunity of being in the same city for a brief stretch to shoot our first one together. Hopefully one day I will be able to consistently identify where the camera lenses is on an iPhone!

Hope you enjoy!

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To Have Resolutions or Not?

Happy New Year, everyone! Are you still feeling that spark of fresh excitement at the prospect of new possibilities? I am. While I had a rough January 1st, the days since have been really good. I feel refreshed and stronger.

During the final weeks of 2016, I was having a ridiculous amount of anxiety which culminated in my first full-blown panic attack. I thought I’d had panic attacks before, but this was unlike anything I’d experienced before. I got weak, my eyesight started blurring, and my heart raced. I thought I was going to pass out. I ended up going to urgent care that day because I didn’t want to pass out alone in my studio apartment. It was terrifying and scary, and I realized I never wanted to go back to that place again.

Over the holidays, I realized that I needed to make changes in my life. Specifically, I needed to carve out more alone time and spend more time writing my scripts (the process of which I’ve now termed “taking my medicine”). Since 2017 started, I’ve spent time writing every day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes. But that consistency is powerful. I will keep it up.

So, while I didn’t really make official ‘resolutions’ this year, I did realize that something had to change from the path I had been on. I had to lower my anxiety by focusing on my work – my writing. The anxiety was telling me that I was wasting away when I wasn’t writing.

In lieu of resolutions, I really like the idea of simply having a word or mantra for the year. For me, in 2017, my word is “warrior.” Warrior for myself and for my needs. Because the most important relationship that any of us will ever have is with ourselves.

To a beautiful New Year.

How Would You Answer This Question?

What would you say if someone asked you if you agreed with the below statement?

“I’m confident that eventually I will get what I want out of life.”

I would say yes. But I happen to be a pretty optimistic person generally (if, anxious).

In a study at Clark University completed by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, 655 thirtysomethings were asked the same question – if they agreed with the above statement.

And guess what percentage said yes? 87%. Not only that, but more than three quarters said they still feel like “anything is possible.”  That’s pretty impressive, especially considering how many thitysomethings feel like they aren’t where they want to be career-wise or personally (That’s my informal, completely un-researched opinion after talking to my friends).

Arnett, the researcher, was surprised by these results, and while he said they are admirable, he also felt they were unrealistic. That’s because he also asked these thirtysomethings if they have gotten as far in their careers as they’d hoped to be by now. And 56% of respondents (born between 1975 and 1984) said they haven’t gotten as far in their careers as they’d have hoped to by now. And 17% said they are not in a relationship now but would like to be.

Maybe it’s because we may not feel like we’re at the ‘destination’ of where we want to be, but we’re enjoying the ‘journey’ a heck of a lot. Personally, I do love the fact that I have more time and freedom right now than people with children or very demanding jobs. That time has allowed me to explore screenwriting and TV writing as a career.

We also might not be settling for less. We’re realizing that it may take a longer time to get exactly what we want, but it’s way better than settling for a mediocre career or relationship situation that society tells us is what we should have in our 30s.

Life Lessons You Learn By 30

One of my favorite websites to read for inspiration is The Minimalists, run by two friends who had achieved everything they thought would make them happy by age 30: six-figure salaries, nice homes, cars, expensive clothing, etc. but even with all that, they didn’t feel fulfilled. So they gave it all up to live minimalist lives. You can read more about what that means to them on the “About” tab of their blog.

There’s a post of theirs in particular that I really like and that I think you guys will find relevant:  30 Life Lessons From 30 Years.

The most resonant lesson for me is:

5. Make change a must. For the longest time, I knew I wanted to change: unhappy, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled, I knew I didn’t have freedom—not real freedom. The problem was I knew this intellectually, but not emotionally: I didn’t have the feeling in my gut that things must change. I knew they should change, but the change wasn’t a must for me, and thus it didn’t happen. A decision is not a real decision until it is a must, until you feel it on your nerve-endings, until you are compelled to take action. Once your shoulds have turned into musts, then you are ready for change.

There were many years before graduate school when I knew I wanted to be a writer but I didn’t actually make the time to write. Eventually, it became MORE painful to NOT write than to actually sit down and write. And that is when I became a real writer.

How can you transform your ‘shoulds’ into ‘musts’? And if they’re too hard to make ‘musts,’ then perhaps you don’t want whatever it is badly enough and aren’t ready to prioritize that change.

I guess it’s also learning how to accelerate getting that feeling in your gut – learning to tap into your emotional drivers.

What big lessons did you learn by the time you reached 30?

What Happens When You Start Feeling Empty?

I guess it can happen when you least expect it.

At the end of a very productive week, after sweeping through almost everything on my to do list and checking it all off, and getting a crazy amount accomplished and even feeling quite together and on top of things, I started to feel empty inside.

I wouldn’t usually write about things like this, because I don’t know if hearing about emptiness is helpful to people. Also, I’m usually an extremely positive and driven person, so it’s kind of hard to talk about feeling suddenly empty in the middle of an upswing for no determinable reason.

However, I was thinking that if I’m feeling this way now, I’m sure there are others who are feeling this way too, and maybe it’ll help to talk about it.

Emptiness is a weird feeling, and completely annoying, because when you try to shake it, it only clings on harder. It came upon me this week after meditating almost every day, and feeling pretty good about things, so it was pretty random seeming. I guess it can come from anywhere at any time. It just felt hard to feel, if that makes any sense. It was hard to feel grateful and hard to feel peaceful for sure.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night with the empty feeling slathered all over me, like an unsettling grey cloud. It led to almost immediate fear thoughts about how even when I’m on top of things and feeling quite good, I can still feel this horrible lack. Just writing about this now kind of brings the fear thoughts back. Since I don’t exactly know the answer to how to proceed with feelings like this, I will only state some theories I have:

  • Feelings of emptiness come and go. There’s probably something I should pay attention to, instead of just pushing the feelings away.
  • Although I’m afraid of the feeling of emptiness, or not being able to feel peace and gratefulness, I think I’m afraid because I feel like no matter how hard I work, my feelings might not always be peaceful, and I can’t accept that.
  • I need to accept that my feelings won’t always be peaceful, and that sometimes I will feel empty and afraid. I won’t always feel this way, but it doesn’t help to pretend that I never feel this way.
  • The empty feelings and fear feelings that pass through me don’t define who I am.
  • Those same “bad” feelings (which I’m going to take the “bad” label away from now) can be present even while I forge ahead with my life. Their presence doesn’t need to set me back, though I always feel that if I feel empty and fearful, it must mean I’ve backtracked.

This has a lot to do with what I wrote about in the post It Hurts, So What? Sometimes I’m afraid to do something because I know it will hurt. For example, in that post I talked about being afraid to speak up because I knew the outcome probably would be painful anyway…but I needed to speak up. And I did, and it was very painful..but that was okay. Because so what? Sometimes things will be painful. It’s uncomfortable but it’s alright.

So perhaps I’m relearning the lesson of ‘It hurts. So what?” again and again. It’s okay to be afraid of the empty feeling, at the same time that it’s okay to be afraid of being afraid. It’s not a about being ‘beyond’ those feelings. It’s about letting them happen..because so what? Those feelings aren’t who I am.

Here are some articles I read about the empty feeling that made me feel a bit better and a bit less alone:

The Real Cause of Inner Emptiness (And What to Do About It- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-paul-phd/inner-emptiness_b_869421.html

‘I Feel Empty’: How to Overcome Feelings of Emptiness- http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/i-feel-empty-how-to-overcome-feelings-of-emptiness-1112145

Allowing things to

arise: http://www.buddhanet.net/4noble19.htm

Hope this helps someone out there. Remember, feel free to reach out to us if you feel sad or empty. You’re not alone!

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First Thing in the Morning in Your Thirties

For most of my life, I never really had a morning ritual. Well- I never had a morning ritual that went much beyond putting on my makeup and getting my hair into some sort of acceptable outside-world style.

Then, as I went through my twenties, I started adding new parts to my morning ritual. I got into making green juices in the morning, and then- even better- I got into making green smoothies. I purchased a french press and started making my own coffee every day as well. Lots of liquids. And then I figured out a way to style my hair even quicker than before (by forsaking straightening my crazy waves into heat-damaging oblivion every single day).

Yet even when I had a handle on my morning routine, it always felt like a means to an end. I got nothing super important done in the morning. I usually saved that stuff until the afternoon, when something more pressing usually came up and interrupted it anyway (like lunchtime. Or drinks out. Or a new bunch of emails to return. You know, the important stuff…)

This summer, I hit a wall. I was sick of the days passing me by while some of the most important things I wanted to do daily remained undone. So I started a ‘most important things on my list are the first ones’ habit. And it really started to work.

I’d get up, start some coffee, eat an apple, and meditate (which is very important to me). Then I’d put on my gym clothes and go running or to the gym (also very important). Then I’d come back, make a smoothie, and tackle my to do list or go to work. In this way, I was meditating daily and also getting to the gym before interruptions took over. The first thing in the morning habit really worked. Even though I’m a night owl.

The hardest part has been expanding my morning ritual into other important tasks. It was easy to meditate and run and then get through a to-do list of smaller items like ‘wash dishes. email so-and-so. send invoice.’ It was much harder to meditate and run and   then tackle larger and more important to dos like ‘rewrite resume. practice presentations. watch videos and research new job prospects.’ I was just talking to my friend Janna about this; For whatever reason, the reallly important tasks that could further our lives and careers have been getting pushed by the wayside and out of our days entirely. And this has been happening for a while… kind of sort of like always. Especially on work days where there’s not much time left in the day to tackle tasks other than getting to work.

Our new idea has been to start using the ‘first thing in the morning’ ritual to include these big important tasks right away…and I think it’s best to only focus on one Very Important Task daily.

So to recap, instead of trying to kill a whole to-do list, I’m going to prioritize one big important task a day and only try to do that, starting in the morning. First, I’m still going to start my coffee and have an apple and meditate. Then I’m going to work on the chosen task for an allotted period of time. Only THEN will I tackle the other items.

I think choosing only one large item a day to work on first thing in the morning is helpful. When there’s only one thing to think about, it’s easier to stay focused and not accomplish absolutely zero big important tasks in a day.

What do you think? Do morning rituals help you? How do you accomplish the really big important tasks and not let the days pass you by?

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How did Accomplishing a Major Goal Leave Me in a Funk?

When you finally accomplish something big in your life, something that’s taken up a lot of your time and mental energy,  there’s a big gap in your life when the goal is finally completed. That’s how I’m feeling right now after graduating from my MFA program. It was only two years, but having school meant having a structure in my life that kept me going day-in and day-out. I knew that everyday I was working towards completing my degree. And now, in addition to not having a clear goal going forward, I have a sense of loss for the old goal.

I graduated exactly one week ago, and it’s finally setting in that I have no concrete plans going forward. I’ve had family in town and tasks to keep me busy during this week, but today was the first day that I felt the void. I did have some work to complete for a web series project I’m working on, so I did that. But I then spent the rest of my day pretty much inert on either my couch or bed watching reality shows like Intervention on Netflix or reading magazines like Rachel Ray’s Everyday. I’m not ashamed to admit the slothful day I let myself have; we’ve all got days like that. Personally, I know that when I have a lot of free time alone, I fall into bad patterns (something I’m trying to work on). I guess you could say that I fell into a funk today. I have to remind myself that they are a natural and inevitable part of life. But a lot of my hours today felt incredibly frustrating and low.

I’m trying to prepare myself for next week, when I’ll have to finally face that void head on and start looking for jobs. But during that time while I’m job-hunting, I’ll have to find ways to buoy my spirits.

How do you get out of your funk when you have one?

Here are a few of the things that help me on days like this.

1) Make a Schedule or To-Do List –  This simply helps you feel in control of your life going forward. Yes, today may be a wash of inactivity, but when you wake up tomorrow, you’ll have things you know you have to get to.

2) Move Your Body – Not only because moving and exercising helps with your mood but because the act of moving your physical body encourages mental movement too.

3) Make Someone Else Feel Better – Sometimes when I have no energy to help myself, I can muster energy to write back an email to a friend or send a quick encouraging text to someone.

4) Write a list of 10 cool things you COULD do if you have the motivation to do – This one is my favorite! When you wake up in the morning and you have that first jolt of caffeine and you’re feeling inspired, write a list of all the cool, wacky things you might want to do someday. And consider this a non-pressured list – you don’t have to do these things. Your list could include “Create a business plan for a bed and breakfast” or “Take a Woodworking Class.” Anything and everything that sparks some excitement in you goes on the list.

The Un-Official Start to Summer

While the summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st this year, Memorial Day always feels like the start of the summer ‘season’ to me. Maybe that’s because it’s when the beach lifeguards and the ice cream trucks came out at the long island country house my parents had. Year after year, memorial Day would mark the start of summer while Labor Day marked the end.

Since I moved to Los Angeles nearly two years ago, the start of summer hasn’t felt quite as pronounced as it did on the east coast. But for some reason, today it did. That’s probably because we went to Malibu and walked on a secret beach, and beaches remind me of restful rejuvenation when you can ‘reset’ yourself.

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Trying to ‘scare’ Aaron but clearly it’s not working

The summer to me always feels like a time to try something new in a relaxed, exploratory and fun way. Personally, I’m really hoping to finally get serious about exercise and eating better. I just got over a bad cold/cough that left me hacking up a lung every night and losing my voice. I realized that if I had been in better health all along, maybe I wouldn’t have been sick for over a week. I also finally admitted to myself that I probably eat 1-2 serving of fruits/vegetables every day since starting graduate school, and that’s  not good. So this summer, I want to find a way to incorporate eating well/exercise into my life in an enjoyable way.

So, happy start of summer, everyone! Do you have any fun goals for this season?

Here’s to Consistently Improving in 2015!

Happy New Year! I hope your first day of 2015 felt like the start to an auspicious year. Today I relaxed with my dude and watched some of my favorite TV shows, worked a bit on some projects, and also fit in a hike in Rustic Canyon here in LA. This was where, after huffing and puffing my way up a series of stairs, I discovered that I am ridiculously unfit and clearly need to add cardio to my New Year’s resolutions.

Whatever your personal hopes for the New Year may be, I want you to go easy on yourself. Big changes happen with tiny steps. I believe that we undervalue tiny changes. When we see people transform their lives on shows like The Biggest Loser or Extreme Makeover, the transformations happen in these huge “all or nothing” ways. We’re bombarded with the message that if our life changes aren’t big and sweeping, then they aren’t going to be effective.

But that’s a crock of sh**! Even five minutes a day of a new habit adds up. I became a writer through 20 minutes of writing a day. Years ago, I remember telling Laura I was going to devote myself to 20 minutes a day of putting words on a page. I did it. And honestly, I got a TON DONE. Way more than I ever thought. That’s how I wrote my first major play.

Now I write a lot more than that, but even more important – I write nearly every day. Whether it’s more outlining than actual writing, I’m usually at work on some project. Even writing for this blog counts. But it all began with 20 minutes a day.

And even 20 minutes can be a lot. So why not start with 5 minutes a day of whatever it is you want to accomplish? Establishing a new habit is very much about creating mental (or actual physical) muscle memory. It’s also about consistency. Doing something everyday is way more important than doing it intensively once in a awhile.

So here’s to tiny changes! Or, as Richard Dreyfuss’ character says in the comedy classic “What About Bob,” Baby Steps...

How Do You Really Want To Feel?

I just want to start this off by saying Happy New Years Eve! Thanks so much for reading and being part of this! We appreciate it immensely and we can’t wait to hang out here with all you guys in 2015!!

So, I’ve been thinking about resolutions for awhile and what they really mean. I covered my financial ones in the last post, but I have some different resolutions I want to share with you here.

Two weeks ago, my workload finally started to lighten up and my holiday time off began. This should have been a time for celebration, but instead it provoked a time of anxiety. This always happens to me- I somehow thought my thirties would start off differently, but they didn’t. My to do list filled up quickly with all the items I hadn’t been able to do because I’d been working out of town. All the major projects (write my one woman show, learn to code HTML, take 6 new classes, find new sources of income, see every friend I’ve been wanting to see plus family, etc) I’d been thinking about came to the forefront and made their way onto my to do list. Plus, there were all the little to-do items like clean the apartment, get laundry done, make more to-do lists, and other small things that still take up time.

At the peak of my anxiety, my roommate casually asked me how I was doing. I told her that I should be doing great, because I have all this time off, but instead I was just worrying more about all the random things I “have” to do. My nerves were fraying when they should be resting.

My roommate told me that she used to get anxious about things like that, but a few years ago, she started concentrating on how she wanted to feel instead. She picked four feelings that she was really after, including feeling alive and abundant. When she started getting anxious or obsessed with to do lists, she went back to her feeling list. Was she feeling alive? If she wasn’t, she simply concentrated on her breathing. When you’re really concentrating on your breathing, you truly have to begin feeling alive- breathing is the literal definition of being alive! It’s at least a great start.

When she was feeling down, she remembered how she wanted to feel abundant. So she made lists of thing she was grateful for and good things that had happened during the day- they could be as small as ‘my apartment is warm. I’m so happy to have my coffee today.’ There’s always something that can make you feel abundant. Most of us live in first world countries- true abundance!

So I’ve stolen her idea (well, she generously gave it to me.) She even said I could use the feelings she chose. So I took ‘abundant’ for myself and you can too if you like. This year, my goal is to go back to the feelings I want to feel even if I’m feeling blah or anxious. Even when I haven’t done it for awhile. Even when I’ve forgotten for weeks. I don’t have to stay down- I can choose to feel differently.

For 2015 I’ve chosen to feel present, abundant, joyous, and radiant. It’s a lot to bite off at once, I know. But I will concentrate on one at a time.

I know it’s hard. I know it doesn’t always work- sometimes sad and anxious feelings take over, and that’s okay. It’s good even. Let them in! But you don’t have to make them permanent guests. Go ahead and choose abundance!

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