Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Fresh Start & October's Virtue

It's the last day of September and believe it or not I am actually excited for October. By all rights I shouldn't be. Mercury is going to go retrograde, the days are going to shorten, and the rain is going to come, some of you might even see snow. Yikes. 

But it's fresh and shiny and new. Ahhhhhh. Just breathe into it. A new month. Can you smell the potential?

I feel something special each time I flip the calendar. It's like an automatic do-over, a clean slate, a new beginning. And it's even better than New Years Day because it comes with a whole lot less baggage and way less pressure. 

For whatever reason, this new month feels like a great time to release some stuff. Get rid of some of that emotional crap we've been dragging around, sort out a closet or drawer and remove some physical junk, tidy up the old diet and get clean down to a gut level, there are all sorts we can do to get a fresh start. AND it's on a Wednesday too, so none of that button-pushing Monday business.

Recently, I've been doing a lot of work on my state of mind as it affects my well being. Paying particular attention to my thoughts, my reactions to people and situations, and just my overall mental state. I am working on being even and steady and happy. Slowly I've been weaning out all of the things that are not feeding that and turning my attention to that which does. Hence bye bye to the old blog, hello to this new one. Sayonara to tasks and activities that were hanging over my head like an executioner's scythe. I figure that by saying no to the things I don't really want to do, I'll make room for the things that I do want to do. Out with the old, in with the new and all that.

The challenge now is to focus on what I'd like to cultivate in my everyday. Perhaps this is a task better suited for spring, but for some reason now just feels like the time. Have you done this? Have you asked yourself: "What do I want?" What was the answer? I'm not talking about things here. Yeah we might want that new sofa, or bigger house, or better body, but that isn't what I'm driving at here. I mean what do you really want? Do you want to be happier? Sure, I bet we all do. The fabulously talented and enormously funny Gretchen Rubin wrote a coupla books about it. You can check her out HERE.

But I'm talking about what you want on an even deeper level. Changing the atmosphere around yourself. The sorts of people you'd like to surround yourself with, your goals and achievements sure, but what about your ability to project joy into the world or your capacity to feel love? There have been so many things rising to the surface for me. For example working relationships. I'd love to continue to work with people who care about the creative aspects of the work, who want to develop stories that talk about something, that share ideas, or provoke emotion. I'd like to be gentler and kinder and sweeter and more thoughtful toward He Who Shall Not Be Named on a more consistent basis.

All of this got me thinking about the virtues. I believe that those of you reading this will have come over from Mastering The Method, so you know that I like to choose a specific virtue at the start of each month and try to practice it specifically with the intention of becoming the embodiment of that virtue; patience, kindness, serenity etc. In case you didn't know, well... now you do. I struggle with them. Every month. Yet I continue to work on it. Each month I do try to shift things up and switch them around so as to be more effective than the previous month for it seems that the things I choose often bring me the opposite - like if I chose to chill out, that month would be filled with all manner of chaos and maybe that's the point. But if I am working toward integrating these virtues into my being I cannot continue to do things the same old way or I'll never see better results. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result right? So...

By clearing out stuff that no longer serves us, like old stories of who we are (the starving artist is a great example, stop telling that story and perhaps I'll stop starving) and building in that which will serve the new vision of ourselves it stands the reason that our virtues might fall upon more fertile soil. 

It comes around full circle to "What do I want?"

This year, in terms of my career, so many things have happened. Both good and bad, but I'd like to share one particular story with you as it relates to October's virtue. (See, I do have a point, it just takes me a bit to get to it)  I finally got my first real opportunity for a break in Television. I was going to meet with a showrunner on a show that films here in Vancouver, it's a fantastic Canadian/American co-production that I actually watch! I knew the show and loved it! The trouble was, I couldn't meet with the showrunner when he asked as I was out of town on another job. He agreed to meet with me a week later and the meeting went well, we were even wearing matching chucks, and if you've seen my INSTAGRAM, then you know I love my Converse sneakers. We laughed at the same jokes, he agreed with my ideas for the main character, we knew several of the same people... and LIKED them! It was fabulous. I was imagining working with him on this show, how wonderful everything would be, so at the end of the meeting I asked him when he'd be staffing the writing room... it was already staffed. Last week. This was just a meet and greet. I'd missed the opportunity. Ugh. Heart break. Utter, total, epic fail and heartrending misery.

I bounced back but thought wow, what are the odds that my timing could be so close but so off?

So I decided that I needed to get to work on improving my timing.

How the hell do you do that and does it really tie into this month's virtue for crying out loud?! Maybe you need to practice a little patience there my noble reader!

I don't have an instruction manual for this, I'm just following my gut, but the theory goes as follows: If you want something, begin to look for evidence of it and expect it to show up.

Sounds simple enough. But in my mind, I can't just expect meetings to line up, or maybe I could... but until I'm ready for that step, I've chosen to start with smaller things. To my mind, "easier" things. Like as I'm walking along the sidewalk and approaching an intersection where the light is currently red, I'm anticipating it to turn green as I get to the curb - good timing. If I'm pulling into a parking lot, I am expecting to find a parking space, approaching a closed elevator, expecting the doors to open as I hit the button. Do you see where I am going with this? Timing. I would like to have good timing. So I am going to begin consciously acting as if I have it.

Is timing a virtue? Good question. It is for an Emergency Medical Technician, a Fireman or a Surgeon, so why not a Writer? What if I had the good timing to write something that had a message in it that spoke to just one person and it convinced them to get out and try something new and that was the thing that changed their life? Or what if I wrote something that happened to be the exact thing that a TV executive or film producer was looking for... that would change my life.

So that's it, that's the Virtue for the month of October. Timing. Not just timing. But Good Timing! How's that?

For the curious, the previous months' virtues were as follows:
January - Fortitude (what was I thinking?!)
February - Silence
March - Steady
April - Determination
May - a double whammy of Mindfulness and grounded determination
June - Selflessness
July - Celebrate
August - Vitality
September - Serenity
And now October - Good Timing.

Not your typical virtues I'll grant you, but they were some of the answers to my question "What do I want?" What are your answers?



  1. You are I are on the same page, sister. But hmmmm . . . how do you practice good timing? My take: the meeting happened, and that is much better than if it hadn't. And it is something to be grateful for. You are cultivating a relationship, and probably a future opportunity. You don't know exactly how your efforts will be rewarded, but you have to have faith that they will. I think we have to keep doing our thing - throw out so many seeds all the time - knowing that only a handful of them will end up sprouting into something that is bountiful. Some of the seeds will grow into something beautiful, but maybe not useful, and some will grow into something weird and funny . some won't do anything. But at least you are creating the potential for new stuff all the time by writing, by meeting with people, by making connections, by having a positive attitude, etc etc. Does that make sense at all? I think you are TOTALLY on that path.

    You write this as I've been asking myself "what is my purpose"? This is mid-life/existential crisis/ whatnot stuff (turned 40 this year). My identity is not wrapped up in my profession, or my art (I don't make art) or my children (I don't have any). I am a good wife and a good friend but WHAT ELSE? Totally ties in with "what do I want". Whoa - way too much there to tackle but the point is, I am looking forward to reading this blog to help me with figuring this all out.

    Love ya!

    1. Hey Donna, you're right, absolutely. Planting seeds is fantastic. But by good timing and how to practice it, it's like I said, by looking for evidence of it everywhere.

      Here is an example of this in action. Last night, was feeling a bit rotten, so decided to take the dog out for a walk. Long after dark. In the city, it isn't always safe, but I needed to walk. So we opted for a trail along the beach. Again, not a great option as it's low light but I needed to hear the ocean. Just as I caught my thoughts spiraling in a negative direction, I thought whoa, you can stop this. You can turn this mood around and at that moment I looked up into the (shockingly) clear night sky, I saw a falling star.

      What are the chances? First that it would be a clear night in Vancouver. Second that I'd be out in a place dark enough to see the sky. And Third that I'd look up at just that moment to see it streak across the sky. Timing. Right time, right place. It's happening.

      This morning, I had two conference calls. Both were good. But still stressful. I needed to clear my head. Once they were over, I sat at my desk and shifted the blinds to get a better look out the window. At that exact moment, a humming bird floated right outside. It hovered there for a moment, darted from tree branch to branch then off. Timing. At the exact moment I opened the blind - it appeared. What are the odds? Coincidence? Yeah, but isn't that sort of what good timing is?

      Congrats on turning 40. You did it. You made it. How many women less than 100 years ago even made it to their 40's? Not many. So well done you.

      What is your purpose? That's always a great question, but it really does help to ask... "What do you want?" and "Who are you?" I think these things are always inextricable woven together. You have a fabulous dog, so I know you are loved. You are generous, because you can't not be and have a dog. You're beautiful and inquisitive and intelligent and strong. Listen to all of the answers. Ask again and again.

      We're getting there. Figure out something that you want. Not the ONLY thing, but SOME thing, and pick that as your practice this month. Joy? Excitement? Enthusiasm? Courage? Good timing lol? Keep me posted.

      Love you too, girl.