It's time to revel with family, go to the Nutcracker, hike up a mountain, explore a new place, open some presents, read a good book, take in the view, and dance our way into the New Year. As so many people have pointed out 2016 has been a heck of a year and my guess is each year we greet from here on out will be a HECK of a year. Politics, the environment, so much is changing and feels out of our control. However as 2017 rolls around the bend, I want to focus on what IS in my control.
Financial Health - Lately I've been learning a lot about finances and the importance of investing, so in the New Year I'm going to get some investments started. I don't have a whole lot of money lying around, still work full time, but I'd rather start small now and see where it takes me.
Physical Health - I want to adjust my perception of what I need to do to be physically healthy. I want to take long walks every day and then also take exercise classes where the competition motivates me to work harder. Less emphasis on 'needing to work out' more focus on making physical health a part of my every day routine. Walking up stairs, exploring my neighborhood on long walks, taking fun classes etc.
Mental Health - I want to read books about subjects I wouldn't necessarily find exciting, because chances are I have the most to learn in those areas. Also who knows maybe something I read in a book about the Universe might lead to a creative breakthrough.
Spiritual Health - I'm aiming to incorporate meditation into my daily life more. I've started to a little in the past month with some surprising results. I'm realizing meditation is a form of self love, a way to sit still and reflect inwardly while working towards peace of mind.
Emotional Health - I want to keep meeting new people and nurturing the friendships I already have while continuing to spend lots of time with family.
Here's to a great new year of growth and change. What goals do you have for the New Year?
Last weekend I went to a friends roller skating birthday party. I hadn't been roller skating before and although I had rollerbladed as a kid, hadn't done that in a good 16 years or so as well. The event took place after hours in a public school, a flashing disco ball hung above the doorway outside marking the entrance. By the time I arrived, twenty or so people were skating around in a repurposed school gym with Christmas lights hung all around the cieling and a TV playing 80s music hung above the 'rink'.
I was feeling pretty good about coming out, despite the long journey to BedStuy from Queens and the frigid cold. Soon as I stepped into the building my nose started to thaw and the man who greeted me was friendly and all smiles as he helped me find skates in my size. It wasn't until I put the skates on and attempted to skate over to the rink that I suddenly realized how absolutely terrifying this was going to be. After nearly falling flat on my back several times, it took every ounce of courage I had to not take the skates off and sit by the chips and cupcakes all night.
I saw some of my other friends sitting in chairs watching the skaters go by; they were waiting till they gathered enough confidence to get the skates on at all. I sorely wished I had waited to do the same. However my skates were on and there was nothing left to do but get moving and get used to the motion - left, right, left, right. Some super talented skaters whizzed past me dipping and twirling and skating backwards and I watched in admiration and envy until I had to nervously look down at my own feet to make sure I was still shuffling along - left, right, left, right.
My friend whose birthday it was also hadn't really skated before but she was all smiles in a beautiful flowing white dress. She's a new friend and I'm completely grateful she's in my life her positive energy and laughter are infectious. I felt like giving up and sitting on the sidelines and I did take a break to try and feel more grounded, in charge of my body and luxuriously safe, (and to eat a cupcake). Eventually though that got boring and I started to feel lazy. Plus the birthday girl was out there getting her groove on, so I powered up my nerve and went back out into the rink.
After I'd gone around and around maybe 30 times I started to get the hang of it. I started to let my feet get a little more creative with their gliding, pointing my toes towards eachother and letting my skates glide close and then tilting my toes out and allowing my feet and legs to follow. Maybe by the 40th time around the rink I started to move my upper body in time with the music a bit, relaxing into the beat.
By the end of the night I was blowing past people and one of the guys who had been skating backwards and doing tricks randomly held my hand and tried to get me to twirl around and I had to explain 'oh no I'm new to this can't spin yet!'. It felt damn good to be skating around with the wind blowing my hair back and the hum of laughter and other skaters swooshing by. Being in motion and allowing myself to go with the flow of everyone around me felt so positive. Pushing through my fear had yet again led to an adventure, a new experience, and a deeper appreciation for the variety of ways I can enjoy being alive.
Another day, another lesson learned about the importance of taking action in service of my values in spite of the limitations of my fears.
- Lillian Isabella
I get nervous about flying and it would have been less scary to just stay at home and relax for Thanksgiving break but I moved through my fear and past my excuses, bought a plane ticket and got ready for adventure.
My boyfriend is the Technical Director on a Game of Thrones Behind the Scenes experience happening in Chicago this weekend - super cool gig - and I went down to join him for a Thanksgiving meet up with his extended family.
I got to Chicago in one piece (so happy) and decided to go to the top of the Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower) to see their Skydeck! I waited in line for an hour and considering how many people were in the line that wasn't too bad; props to the efficient Skydeck staff on Thanksgiving. To see the Skydeck you shoot up to the top of a 1,363 foot building in an elevator that rapidly counts the floors as you soar past them. Once you're up at the top there's panoramic views of parts of Chicago, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana. For the more daring there's a glass-enclosed ledge you can step out onto. I did it and was completely terrified. You're standing on top of a 1,363 foot drop and you can see the whole thing.
I'm always musing about what I'd like to share on social media next and I knew this experience could generate some wicked cool photos. The woman working the glass ledge was super patient and took my photo and actually took way more photos than I had hoped for! I even dared to lie down for the photo opp, this is the one version of those where I don't look terrified.
That night as my boyfriend and I were driving back to downtown Chicago from our Thanksgiving dinner I felt incredibly full, and not just from the food. My heart felt full too. As we wound around the highway, downtown Chicago skyscrapers coming into view, I imagined what it would feel like if my heart was full all the time. I tried to parcel out what in that moment was making me feel so good.
Then I had a realization. A lot of what I'd been doing on this vacation was reflective of what I most value in life. I value travel and exploration, sharing on social media, writing, meeting new friends/ bonding with family, learning from others, and performing / entertaining others. I realized that when my values become a part of my daily life I'm acting in the best interest of my heart, and opening myself up to give the most back to the universe. Going forward I'm going to work on turning those things I value into the compass by which I navigate the world.
I came back to NYC holding onto some inspiration from Daniel Burnham the architect of Chicago.
"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood."
Here's to finding the magic and stirring wo(men)'s blood. Onward!
Today is National Stress Awareness Day. The joke I've been hearing all day is 'we're always aware of our stress'. I know for a fact I experience stress every single day, living in NYC contributes to my stress levels a lot. Those of you who need to commute on the subway in to work and home from work, know how incredibly stressful that can be with crowded grumpy people shoving by sluggish pre-coffee individuals. Not to mention the multitude of other stresses you face the rest of the day. However while I'm aware of everything that causes me stress, I've been trying to become more aware of the moment I'm feeling stressed so I can try and calm the heck down.
I've been writing freeform stream of consciousness thoughts for about 45 minutes every morning for the past two years, started while working on The Artists Way (!) by Julia Cameron. Now I'm almost done filling up my 7th book of writing, and it's been a tremendous help in getting me more in tune with my thoughts and emotions, especially overarching issues I'm grappling with over time that cause me stress and anxiety.
As of this Monday I've been challenging myself to wake up super early, 5:30am-6:30am (yes that's super early for me) and write my pages by candlelight. Waking up that early is definitely challenging for me but so far I've found:
I'm looking forward to continuing this experiment and hopefully making it a daily practice.
I've also been making an effort to do things I want to do, whether it's finish projects or learn a new skill, instead of feeling stressed about not doing it. As I mentioned in my last blog I've been seriously blocked by fear the past couple of years and I'm coming to own that and look that fear in the face. So this Monday I went and took an archery lesson. I LOVE archery but I've only done it three times now, with lots of space in-between due to fear. Not fear that I'd get hurt, just scared of committing and seeing what comes of it.
While I was practicing the teachers in the place told me I was worrying too much and that I needed to relax. They said just aim the arrow and then let go gently. Practice makes perfect, and I'm not going to get it perfect right away. I was being too hard on myself they said. They were talking about archery specifically, but if they only knew they were diagnosing a much larger challenge I face every day. Judging myself and needing to be perfect at everything is a huge amount of stress I dump on my brain and body daily, and I'm going to keep hitting the refresh button, lighting a candle, and honing in on what's real now.
I am an advocate for gender parity in the entertainment world and write, act, and produce with a mind to facilitate that change.