Monday, June 25, 2012

(Wo) Man in the Mirror

My Sunday night decision to drink one full cup of water for every cocktail I drank was a good one. I didn’t want to revisit the rotten hangover that robbed me of a full day of Key West beach time the day before. We danced like crazy to a badass blues band until the rooster crowed. And I mean that literally; there are roosters all over the island, struttin’ around like they own the place, and we found out firsthand that they crow at 5am. 
The following day was the start of something big. Something life-changing. 
After riding our scooters to lunch at a delicious vegan cafe called “Sugar Apple,” we headed to Jeff and Oskar’s place to pick up some medicine for my legs. Jeff, being the kind-hearted, good vibes and love kind of person that he is, had taken pity on my bug-eaten legs, and had picked up some all-natural ointment for me. Very groovy. 
On the way there, Michael Jackson’s ‘Man in the Mirror’ popped into my head...I didn’t know why. Then, as we were sitting on the couch, sharing a cookie and petting their baby rabbit named Heineken, I said to Libby and Jeff, “I can not get ‘Man in the Mirror’ out of my head today.” Less than two minutes later, I shit you not, ‘Man in the Mirror’ came blaring out of Oskar’s room. Oskar shortly followed. 
“Did you hear me say anything about that song?! I was just talking about it.”

This is an example of a cue from the universe. Yes, an 80s song from a pop legend...excuse me...THE pop legend, can be deeply meaningful. A little nudge to get you on the right path. The universe is the stage director, telling you your big part is up next. 
We’re riding our scooters back to the condo, warm, tropical wind blowing through our hair, we’re discussing “Man in the Mirror” and I feel a revelation coming on...
Now picture this: a lush, tropical garden with a sidewalk leading to a sparkling, iridescent blue pool, and it’s all a few yards from the ocean. The perfect place for an epiphany.  
As we lay by the pool, Libby tells me her dreams and goals, and I’m shocked to find out that she’s plagued with doubt about reaching them. Here sits a women that I regard to be super-human; she runs a successful catering and events business, co-owns an awesome music recording company called 'Live and Breathing,’ and kicks ass at both. I’ve admired her since I’ve known her, which has been about five years now. She’s smart, personable, intuitive, creative, compassionate, artistic, hard-working and not to mention gorgeous...and that’s just for starters! So how can it be that she has even a shred of self-doubt? 

Libby working with Live and Breathing
Naturally, I begin professing my unwavering faith in her ability to achieve any goal she sets, and daring her to dream big dreams, when it occurs to me that I’m giving her the same advice that I should be giving myself! It’s fascinating how sharing your story often causes the listener to reach profound conclusions about themselves. And in turn, the storyteller realizes that they are not the only one with a particular problem. Many of us face battles alone never knowing there is actually an army all fighting the same demons. Sharing our stories let’s us know that we should join up and fight together, instead of separately.  
As Libby shared, I reflected over how time and time again, I’ve changed my life’s direction, always fearful that I simply lack the ability to remain passionate about one plan for long enough. Ooo! Something shiny! I’ve worried that every career path I attempt will eventually leave me unfulfilled, because all of them have up until this point. But then I realized...wait for it...this is fucking huge...I’ve never been honest with myself about what I really want. 
Some past dreams I chose because they seemed reachable or practical. Others sounded impressive to other people. At one point, when I worked in cosmetics, I convinced myself I wanted to move up in the company and become an Account Manager. Then, when I went back to college, I decided on Art Teacher, because I know I am a skilled artist. This was a full-proof plan I couldn’t fail at. Next, after discovering I could excel in college English classes, I decided I would get a PhD. and become a professor. Finally, around last year, I decided to get a Masters in teaching, and teach high school for a few years and eventually move into educational policy. In all of these cases, I had literally convinced myself that I truly wanted these things. Apparently, I should consider lawyer since I’m so convincing. But I did this mostly out of the fear of failure. Subconsciously or not, I have consistently chosen career paths that I had reason to believe I could succeed at. Easily. Without looking like a jackass to other people. 
Ironically, I am big believer in doing impossible things. That is, other people doing impossible things. And I honestly had no idea, not even an inkling, that I had been lying to myself my whole life up until that moment, with my friend, in that Key West pool. The only thing I hadn’t been in disillusion about was my desire to help other people.
In a post called “What Brand are Your Dreams?” life coach Samantha Sutton explains that “Most of us walk around either not knowing what we want, clinging to dreams that sound good, but aren’t really what we want or being afraid to admit what we want.” This explains my life to a T...iffany. I’ve went through all of the dream stages she mentions at some point or another. But being honest with myself, and admitting that I have lofty, unconventional dreams that many folks may not believe are possible, has been more liberating and energizing than adopting more practical and reachable dreams could ever be.

After our poolside conversation (which lasted about 5 hours, and felt like 2), Libby and I have adopted a new outlook on life. Don’t be afraid to fail. Dream big. Do everything from a place of passion. Be honest about what you really want. 
We both looked at the (wo)man in the mirror. We asked her to change her ways. No message could have been any clearer. Thanks, MJ.
Kathryn Stockett received 60 rejection letters before her best-selling book The Help was finally published.

Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” At 22, he faced bankruptcy after the failure of his first cartoon series. Then his movies made billions and so did his theme parks... and they all lived Happily Ever After. 

When he was a kid, people thought Einstein was mentally handicapped, for god sake. Two words: Nobel Prize.

Oprah Winfrey was said to be “unfit for TV” by the boss that fired her from an early job as a news anchor. Raised in poverty. Self-made billionaire. Professional badass. 

Poverty, firings, three and a half years of rejection letters, bankruptcy, people thinking you’re mentally handicapped...what’s our excuse for not chasing our dreams? I’m about to get out there and get after it...who’s with me? 

In my next post, I'll tell you, blog-reader person, about how me and the universe are getting along with living my's gettin' personal...

A special thanks to:


Jeff, (Me) Oskar & Randy

Giant Cock

Michael Jackson & Baby Tiger

Oskar & Heineken 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

No Love for No-see-ums

My plane flight was perfectly dreadful, but not nearly as dreadful as what would follow. After sitting on the runway in Tampa for over an hour, we arrived above Key West, only to circle it and determine that the weather was too bad to land. This announcement was not surprising, since the turbulence had been bumping my butt right off my seat. The island sports the shortest runway of any airport served by Delta Jets, so the circumstances have to be just right for landing...or everyone dies. We waited for the storm to pass while refueling on Orlando’s runway and then finally proceeded to our soggy, tropical destination. We all clapped and cheered when our Tour de Florida’s Runways was over. We had landed in Paradise.
And then I got eaten alive. HE WAS ON BATH SALTS!!! Just kidding. I didn’t have my face attacked by a man with an appetite for human flesh (*cough*zombie)...but I my legs were attacked by bugs with one.They were also on Bath Salts. In the 20 minutes it took our cab to arrive, I had acquired over 200 bites from my ankles up to my panty-line. The little bastards went up my shorts! Libby received 2 bites. Our bites were 100 to 1. Granted, she had on pants, but bugs have always loved me. I’m pretty sure they have a Tiffany fan club, and their convention was held in Key West this year. 

What were they? I’ll tell you what they were--DEVIL bugs--called “Noseeums.” Get it? No-see-ums. I didn’t even realize they were feasting on me until it was time for dessert. They’re tinier than gnats! Honestly, I’m kind of impressed the were able to work me over like that...the little blood-sucking bandits...
Naturally, I got drunk to ease the itching. Seemed like a great idea at the time.
6:00: We share a bottle of white wine with dinner.
7:15: Libby buys us shots of tequila. “To Key West!”
7:30: I order a rum and ginger at Sloopy Joe’s.
7:50: A Sloppy Joke buys me a rum and ginger and asks, “Can I gaze into your eyes?”
7:51: I reply, “God, no! You’ll probably steal my soul!,” but accept the rum and ginger 
7:55: Sloppy Joke spills his rum and ginger in my proximity, and I make my getaway 
         when he goes for napkins. 
8:01: I meet Andy, a German tourist who politely buys me another rum and ginger and asks if he can practice his English with me. More about Andy later...
8:40: We stumble into a bar in an old to a palm reader, I think...and order a 
         glass of red wine.
9:30: I’m in the bathroom (only long enough to unbutton my shorts) and I overhear I 
          guy complain to the others in line that I’ve “been in there forever.” 
9:31: I come out shouting, “Since you’re in such a damn hurry, I didn’t even take the 
         time to wash my hands!” and then proceed to rub them up and down his face. He 
         cringes and we all laugh.
9:36: To make up for his rude bathroom-line behavior, he buys Libby and I shots of sake (which is an odd
9:40: I order one more glass of wine for the road, and close my tab. 
10:00-11:40: I consume no other alcoholic beverages, but by then it’s too late...

7:30 am: Light and sound are my worst enemy. *DING-DING* No, my text message tone is my worst enemy! Why is it sooooo loud?!--sounds like a freight-train. There’s sand paper in my mouth! Where the hell is the the damn Tylenol?! Oh my God, my legs look like I have 3rd degree burns!
For future reference: getting drunk to ease the itching of Noseeums is a good idea. Getting shit-faced drunk off of a combination of white wine, red wine, rum, tequila and sake, without drinking any water all night, is a very, very bad idea. The latter form of consumption makes the itching worse the next day, because it is then accompanied by a GAWD-AWFUL hangover. 
Saturday I was out of commission. I nursed a hangover and horrendous bug bites while Libby met some friends on the beach. 
This sob story is almost over. 
Saturday night, Libby’s new friend Erin invited us over to her place. We sat outside on the porch and drank red wine out the bottle while Kevin braided Kelsey’s hair with colorful thread, and Erin’s roommate in his 60s, who had a guitar strapped to his back, made us ballon-animals. It was like a scene from a movie, but I was too busy trying not to scratch to enjoy it. I was overwhelmed by the itchiness. 
The following day, through a haze of anti-histamine, I made a decision to accept the itching and change my attitude. Vacation is not the escape from real life that we often imagine. And, in the real world, problems sometimes arise, which is great, because problems mean an opportunity to learn! There was nothing I could do to regain a day and half of lost vacation time; we can’t control time, but we can control our attitudes. I would decidedly make the remaining portion of the trip epic, even if I had to do it all from the condo. 

“The Art of Possibility,” a life-changing book I mentioned in my last post, talks about learning to accept responsibility for the crappy things that happen to us. I didn’t bite myself 200 times, but I could have worn bug spray or educated myself on insects that  frequently pester Key West (see entry ‘vacation-ruiners’ or ‘bugs that hate you’). We are quick to shout, “It’s not my fault!” when misfortune pops up in our lives, but playing the victim forces us to give up ALL of our power over the situation.The book gives the analogy of a board game: if we assume the role of game piece, we are being played and controlled, but by being the board we become the framework for everything that happens in our lives. If the piece lands on NOOSEEUM ISLAND, we can choose for the instructions to say “Rub bites with ice and party till 5am like a badass” OR “Whine until time to go home like a little bitch.” When you are the board, you make the rules. 

The remainder of my time in Key West was more than was transcendent. I look forward to telling you more about it later, blog-reader. See ya next post!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Disney Audition? YOLO!

Hop aboard my Train of Thought: if I’m not going to graduate school, I should go to this Disney character performer audition...oh, yes, that would be fun...get paid to be in parades? Please. And I’ve been told I’d make a great Cinderella...whatever that means...OK, so that’s only a few days from now...I better work on my resume...what kind of resume would Cinderella have...
Skills and Qualifications: exceptional smiling capacity, ability to conjure twinkle in eyes when needed, doll-like hands that are borderline childlike
I contacted a friend of mine who previously filled the role of Anastasia, one of Cinderlla’s wicked step-sisters, (though she herself is very beautiful and not wicked at all) to find out what to expect. Among other tips, like “remember to smile...SMILE like you’ve never smiled before!” she informed me that they may be looking for a few very specific physical traits, and that we would never know it, so not to take it personally. This was later reiterated to me by a casting director during the audition process. 
I recognized straight away that there was very little I could do to effect the outcome of this spontaneous pursuit to parade around the happiest place on Earth..for a living. I knew that I either had the face they were looking for, or didn’t. I possess no face-changing abilities or any other shape-shifting qualities for that matter. And since my face is my face, I reasoned, then I can do nothing but have great fun in the entire borderline ridiculous process. Some of the other contenders, as I would later note by the tears streaming down their faces, had not approached the audition with the same attitude. 
The audition was held at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom Costuming and rehearsal center. My dear friend Ashley and I arrived early and parked the car outside the building, so we could scope out what other people were wearing.Yes, we basically stalked the competition. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have a friend who is not only adventurous enough to join me on this last-minute trip, but takes an active role in its involved shenanigans. We wanted to make sure I that didn’t look like a complete fool, since neither of us had any idea what in God’s name one should wear to something like this. The internet gave a myriad of suggestions...workout clothes, jeans, a cute casual dress...all of which made appearances in our parking lot stalker session. After much deliberation, and analyzation my outfit was decidedly composed of a cute but modest top, jean shorts, and flip-flops. I packed sneakers in a tote bag in the event that I was asked to dance. I did not look like a complete fool after all. 
Upon entering, I was assigned a number and took a seat next to a dead-ringer for Snow White. I used the waiting period as an opportunity to chat with my fellow character candidates. One of few guys auditioning told me some alarming stories of kids he knew who dropped out of high-school to work at Disney World. Another girl recounted the story of her friend who was crushed by having to turn down a Tinker Bell job offer so she could finish her senior year. “It basically ruined her life...” 
We were separated into 2 groups of around 50, and ushered into a smaller room with loud music where we formed 5 lines of about 10. As I was headed into have my face examined, I recalled my friend’s advice, “remember to smile...SMILE like you’ve never smiled before!” But I was already fact, I was on the verge of boisterous laughter. How completely fun and ridiculous and spontaneous and random is this whole experience? 
After the casting directors stared a hole into the faces of those on the front row, the  next row stepped forward and the others moved back. As they stared, they had what looked like a pretend conversation because the incredibly loud pop music drowned out any noise they were actually making. This made me smile even bigger because I imagined them saying really funny things to each other like “Don’t you think she would make a great Pochantas?” 
“Sure, if she didn’t look like a prostitute.” 
They lingered on my face for a while, but in the end, my number was not called to stay for the next stage of the audition process. Only 3 out of 50-something had their number called, and while I was waiting for Ashley to pick me up (like a kid waiting for Mom after school) I saw one of them come out crying. 
Was a disappointed in the outcome of the audition? A little. But I had a great time, and I ultimately knew there is something else I’m meant to do right now. Luckily, when you go into something with nothing to lose, you don’t lose anything. I didn’t invest my self-worth into this endeavor, I just enjoyed the process and had fun. Granted, this was not something I wanted badly, like it was for some of the other participants, but I have decided to apply this mentality to everything I set out to do. We can still pursue success with diligence and dedication, and have fun in the process. 
One of the most influential books I have had the pleasure of reading, "The Art of Possibility,dedicates an entire chapter to a lighthearted approach to life which the authors call Remembering Rule #6. Co-author and symphony composer, Benjamin Zander, begins the chapter with this anecdotal explanation of the rule: 
"Two prime ministers are sitting in a room discussing affairs of state. Suddenly a man bursts in, apoplectic with fury, shouting and stamping and banging his fist on the desk. The resident prime minister admonishes him: "Peter," he says, "kindly remember Rule Number 6," whereupon Peter is instantly restored to complete calm, apologizes, and withdraws. The politicians return to their conversation, only to be interrupted yet again twenty minutes later by an hysterical woman gesticulating wildly, her hair flying. Again the intruder is greeted with the words: "Marie, please remember Rule Number 6." Complete calm descends once more, and she too withdraws with a bow and an apology. When the scene is repeated for a third time, the visiting prime minister addresses his colleague: 
"My dear friend, I've seen many things in my life, but never anything as remarkable as this. Would you be willing to share with me the secret of Rule Number 6?"
 "Very simple," replies the resident prime minister. "Rule Number 6 is 'Don't take yourself so goddamn seriously." 
"Ah," says his visitor, "that is a fine rule." 
After a moment of pondering, he inquires, "And what, may I ask, are the other rules?"
"There aren't any.”
I have Remember Rule #6 posted on my fridge. You should buy that book and read it immediately. I mean it! 
Click this link:
Oh, and one more thing:
“When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.” Buddha knew Rule #6 before it was Rule #6.