How Bright and Beautiful You Can Shine

When I was 19, I wanted to go to RADA-- The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art-- in London. I was in my third year at NYU, a Theater major, and it seemed like the biggest and best choice. If I could say I went to RADA, then it would be like saying I went to Julliard or Yale, because NYU wasn't good enough... because I got in to NYU... so they must not be great.

I had an awesome opinion of myself.

Well, I didn't get in. I was WAITLISTED. So, true to form, I thought, "Well, screw them. Even if I get off the waitlist, I'm not going because they didn't want me the first time."

Young -- I was so young.

Instead, I decided to take a semester off from acting because clearly I wasn't very good at it, and I went to Florence to study abroad and re-evaluate my life choices.

I didn't know it at the time but not getting into RADA was one of the best things that could have happened to me. Sure, I went to Florence and barely went to class. I had the lowest grades I had ever gotten in college, barely passing with C's-- except for Italian, in which I got an A <<pats sé sul retro>> <--- thanks, Google Translate.

I did the bare minimum. Sorry, mom and dad, that you didn't pay for me to further my education in the sense that you thought. But you did afford me the opportunity to learn about life, and more importantly, how to listen.

I ate a lot in Italy. I talked to a ton of people. I took the train to Venice for the day and, unable to afford a room to stay in, I stayed awake till the sun came out then took the train back. I listened to Mozart in the streets of Austria and took a bus down to Naples, where I drank too much Limoncello and fell asleep in a boat on the beach. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to explore life, freely, in a different place.

I didn't do one bit of acting while I was gone, but when I came back to the States, I found I was more of an actor than I ever was before. I decided I would continue to be an actor because I saw that there was too much life in this world that I wanted to represent. I had taken the time to listen to the stories of people I didn't know, to their histories and to the histories of their cities. Their stories helped me to delve deeper into who I was, where I came from, what I believed, and to the life that was going on all around me, that I had come into contact with. It was all part of me, and I wanted it to flow through me now, out into others and then back to me, so we could have this exchange...

... which I later learned was what art is all about.

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Before I left, my acting was about me, and how people saw me, of which there were only two possibilities -- I was good or I was bad. When I took some space from my life in New York and from my ego, I could finally hear what I needed to hear about what I was meant to be and what I was meant to do. 

Because I simply listened.

Today, my acting is 99% listening, no matter how many lines I have. I don't just respond, I don't just wait for my line, I don't think about how I am going to say that line or what it should sound like. 

I just listen.

And then speak.

And live.

Acting is about living in the moment on the stage or in front of a camera. We live in front of others so they too can experience a new life or relate to their own. We live, breathe, listen, connect, respond, and listen again. 

Some would say this is my method, but that word makes me think of something you put on yourself as a manner of construing the way you ought to be. It feels like armor to me. I'd rather call it coming back to the self and the world. I think of it more like shedding the armor and the reality I think I know, so that I can enter the reality of what is possible.

And I never could have done this if I didn't take the space to learn how to listen to life. Many actors are workaholics-- I raise my hand in admission of falling into that pattern, too. We think we have to do do do: make a lot of work, go on a lot of auditions, rehearse rehearse rehearse, hone that craft. 

None of these things are bad, it's our intentions behind them that are perhaps not so healthy. If we do do do to control our acting, the way we think it should be, the way we want our careers to go, we deny the possibility for it our art to be so much greater than what our imaginations assume, when constrained by thoughts of doing.

We deny ourselves of being.

The universe has so much more in store for our talents than we can comprehend. We tap into that by getting quiet so we can hear what's around us and what's meant for us, so we can follow the path laid out for us.

When we listen and then respond, there are no limitations to how bright and beautiful we can shine. And when we shine, we give others permission to let their own light shine. We all have had that experience of exchanging energy with another person, the experience of giving and receiving, and the power born of that exchange -- whether we are artists or don't readily define ourselves as such. And it all began with listening.

Have you ever found yourself stuck, like I did when I didn't get into RADA? Are you stuck now? What did it feel like? Feel free to send me a private note if you'd rather keep it between us :-)


Rebecca is an artist and coach in New York City, dedicated to helping people realize their creative potential in work and life, through collaboration and guidance.

When Work and Life Unite

A lot of people I meet have "jobs".

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They hate Mondays. They get up somewhere between 5:30 and 7:30 AM. They have coffee tumblers. They wear khakis. They take the train during rush hour. They work in offices, and some of those offices, if they are lucky, have windows. They work till 5 or 6 PM (or way later), then go home, make dinner, eat said dinner, and watch TV. Then it's suddenly time to go to bed and start all over again. When Friday arrives, they are over-joyed, ready to live their lives on the weekend.


Sound like you?

In his book The 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss dubs this lifestyle as "deferred living," putting off the life we really want until retirement, or in the more immediate sense, the weekend. Sometimes, I feel stuck in this socially acceptable cycle of working to live. It's a cycle that perpetuates the idea that our work must be separate from our real lives: "It's not my life, it's my work life." And at times, it can feel like I'm two totally different people: the one that goes to work and does what's asked of her, and the one that is truly herself.

I've been watching a lot of Michael Bernard Beckwith's videos lately. He's a meditation teacher and motivational speaker who teaches the "Life Visioning Process", a method for "putting a stop to being a passive tourist in one's life". Something he said that struck me is that: all we need is already within us, and that we push our gifts down with judgments, opinions, fear, and an idea of who we should be.

How many of you feel this way-- that you are a "passive tourist" in your own life? I used to feel this way a lot, and sometimes still do. It's uncomfortable and yet comfortable at the same time.

My therapist once mentioned the term "secondary gratification" to me when discussing this burning need to explore my potential, but also this desire to stay in the same place. He said it's because the latter is known to me, and that there is a comfort in the knowing because when you know, you believe you have some sense of control.

Having a sense of control equaled my secondary gratification. I was getting something out of staying the same, of staying in my cycle of deferred living. No matter how uncomfortable it could get (did get), it was still more comfortable (at the time) for me to maintain this illusion that I could somehow control my life. And if I could do that, then my understanding of my life and the world, would come more easily. I could place a judgment on it, know my limitations, and abide by them. I could stay small and safe and invisible.

And what of being visible? Well, it can be fucking scary. If I'm visible, then I open myself up to judgment and failure, and to my own (human) imperfections. What if I'm just not good enough? 

Easier to be a passive tourist, right?

Well yes, easier. But fulfilling? Not at all.  I believe that, as humans, we are meant to find our purpose for being. In finding that purpose, we find our usefulness. And then, when we find our usefulness, we are meant to put it into action. 

This is where we get stuck, in the inaction. So often, we get caught up in the doing or the have to do (or have to be) that we forget our purpose in life, and life can get kinda humdrum, dissatisfying.

Think about it: what is something you do really well? Can you paint? Or maybe you are a whiz at Excel sheets? Are you the friend that other friends go to for advice?

Think about the times you are doing that thing you do so well. How does it feel? For me, I feel most aligned with what I'm meant to do when I'm listening and providing feedback to someone who wants/needs it, when I'm performing, and when I am writing. It feels like I'm doing that which I was put here on this earth to do, and... 

I'm being useful.

Another way to say this is: I'm being of service. When I'm being of service, I feel like things have meaning. I feel engaged. I feel that sense of purpose. Also, if I can think of practicing my gifts as a service, then I can get my head out of my ass and realize it's not all about me. Let's all say that together:

It's not all about me.

It's about what I can offer others, what I contribute to the world.

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So, how can we take that feeling of usefulness into the every day humdrum cycle of work? How can we unite work and life so that it all has meaning, so that it's all just life? The simplest (but not necessarily easiest way) is to say, "How can I be of service at my job?" or even "How am I already of service at my job?" What does that killer spreadsheet contribute to your boss, and therefore to the organization, and its place in the world?

Sound ridiculous/boring/not enough? That's okay. We start small, and dream big.  In this small practice, you may start to see how you are already making a contribution, and then realize you want to do more but don't see the way to go about it. You've begun to see your assets, and see what it feels like when they are being used and when they are not. Maybe then you can begin to envision the ways in which you can use those assets even more, whether it's at this job or at another. And maybe this is the time to take the next step in offering what it is that only you have to offer. And guess what?

It is already within you.

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A well-intentioned friend once said to me, "It is a true luxury to make money doing what you want to do." Yet, there are plenty of people that do this and to me, they seem pretty content. They are making a contribution and their needs of financial security and wholeness are being met. So, does making money doing what you are meant to do, being who you were put on this earth to be, have to be a "luxury"? What if it's not a luxury?

What if, instead, it's a possibility?

What gifts do you bring to the world? What would your life look like if you were fulfilling your purpose? What can you envision for yourself that breaks the divide between work and life, and brings the living into the now and always?

Tell me. I'd love to be inspired by it.


Rebecca is an artist and coach in New York City, dedicated to helping people realize their creative potential in work and life, through collaboration and guidance.

I Need To Get High


A while ago, I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my phone because I realized I was checking it constantly. I'm sure many of you can relate to this scenario:

"I'm bored... Let's see what's happening on Facebook... Oh, these people are doing/talking about these things... I like this, I don't care about that... Bored again... Let's check Twitter... Damn, there's too much here to catch up on... I don't have anything smart to say and I have to be smart because there is a character limit... Okay, Twitter is boring now... Let me see what's going on on Facebook!"

And down the rabbit hole we go. I knew more about what was happening on these two platforms than what was going on in front of me. I think the day it really hit home though, was the day I was checking social media on my phone as I walked down the street... and I knocked into a blind person.

Yup, a blind person.

I'm not proud. I had bumped into a lot of other people before for the same reason-- the elderly, children... oh please, don't say you have never done it! But this blind person thing was an all-time low. So delete away I did. 

And damn, it felt good. I was proud and admittedly even thought I was better than everyone else (ten seconds after the blind person thing). But wasn't I? I was now present for my life, I didn't feel as anxious, I could engage in longer conversations, and my fingers hurt significantly less. It's possible, you guys. It totally is.

"But I promote my work on social media!" Buffer, people. It's called Buffer. No more excuses. 

Now, I didn't delete Instagram because c'mon, Instagram is just pretty pictures and pretty pictures enrich my life. Also, if I deleted it, I couldn't use it at all because you can't post from a computer like you could on Facebook and Twitter. 

This is what I told myself, and then slowly but surely it happened:

"I'm bored... Let me see what's on Instagram... Ooh pretty picture... Cute baby... Cute dog... Oh, yay, they got married... Selfie... Selfie... Another selfie...I can't take all these selfies...Need to get off Instagram..."

Five minutes later...

"I'm bored... What's going on on Instagram?"

That's when I discovered that Instagram is a gateway drug. I can say, "Oh I'm not doing heroin (Facebook) or cocaine (Twitter). I'm just smoking a shit ton of pot (Instagram) -- but that's okay right? Because I can't get addicted to weed." 


Addiction isn't just physical. It's totally mental, too. And the more we ignore that fact, the more we allow ourselves to run from reality, which is really what addiction is all about:

"I can't take my life or my feelings right now so let me ignore them by drinking this, snorting that, eating this, buying that, getting totally involved in what others are doing, seeking validation, obsessing over men/women/both, watching hours of television, working long hours, checking my phone all the damn time, etc. etc. etc."

Addiction takes so many more forms than we readily (or are willing) to see. 

So what would happen if we detoxed? If we took away all the distractions and stopped fleeing from our lives? Is it possible to deal with the here and now?

I think we think we can't.

We have this tendency of turning away from the bad and pretending to not see it, thinking that avoiding it with all the aforementioned addictions will make us feel better.

It's totally normal, really. We think we are taking care of ourselves. We are trying to take care of ourselves. But unfortunately, we're not. It's like when a kid has a nightmare and they want to sleep with their parents because they are scared and the parents say okay and then let them do it the next night and the night after, and every single time they have a nightmare until they are 25 and they suddenly realize they have a real big problem that they are going to have to face.


Let me try again: We can hide our pain for a little while, sure, but then it comes up again and again and again. And each time, when we stuff it back down with these distractions, we develop a need for even bigger distractions, higher highs, because we've built up a tolerance. Our old substances aren't enough, so we have to eat even more, buy even more, stare into screens even longer.

When you really think about it, what is a feeling but a thing that passes? What horrible situation in your life never ended? 

Think about the last terrible thing that happened to you and the way that you felt. It's awful, I know. I'm so sorry you had to experience that. I truly am. I don't want to diminish any experience ever. Your feelings, your experiences, all of it, are totally valid but... 

You are still alive.

And remember that day you had, that moment long after the terrible moment, when things were good, when you were maybe even happy? Wow. That's beautiful, isn't it? The way that some days can really suck and some days, you can be happy just because the sun came up. Well, let me tell you something:

The sun always comes up.

If we have this reference, this hindsight to say, "Oh, hey, this happened years ago and I got through it, I'm still alive," then why not just feel all the feels when they happen, stop with the addictive searching for those things outside ourselves that we think will make us feel better (but only do momentarily), and just go through it?

In my experience, "that which I resist persists."  It's a waste of time trying to go around the thing because the thing will constantly pop up over and over again. It's so much better (and frankly, more efficient) to go through it and let the wound heal. Quit picking at the scab just because it itches now. It will eventually stop itching and soon it will fall away on its own. It's what scabs do. 

So, this is my commitment to myself: Each day, I will try (imperfectly) to quit scratching the itch, stop avoiding that which is in front of me, put down the screen, the pizza, the obsession with what people think of me, and just let myself be. Let life be.

The world will do what it does with or without my interference...

And now I shall post this on Facebook  ;)

Here's To 34


Today I am 34 years-old. It's not old but it's not necessarily young either. I have to admit, this one has been a little hard for me. As this birthday approached, I kept thinking, "What if I die at 68? Have I already lived half my life?"

I suffer from the never-enough syndrome:  I am not healthy enough; I am not pretty enough; I don't take care of myself enough; there's never enough time; I have not done enough, succeeded enough; I am not enough. And so I'm afraid that if my life is halfway over, what have I really done? Who have I become? Do I have enough life left to do the things I want to do and become the person I want to be?

I didn't know it till recently but I had this unconscious idea of who I would be by 35. I never would have admitted that I had a plan but now that I'm almost 35, I am realizing it was there all along:  I was supposed to be a well-respected working artist with money.

I opted to take a path where merit means less than in most careers. It doesn't matter how talented I am, I still need a B-job to support my art (at least for now). I am mostly okay with not going into a more predictable career. I didn't want to be a doctor or a lawyer and if I did do any of those things, it would purely be for security and money. That's just true for me. More power to the people who took those paths because they wanted to.

My path, though, has made me work two jobs my whole life, sometimes more. One to pay the rent and one to feed my soul. And because of that, my life has sometimes meant coming home or not coming home from work to go to work. There have been lots of sacrifices besides money, like times when I couldn't go out with friends, and whole weeks where I'd go without having dinner or going to bed with Michael. People have mostly understood that, and those that haven't aren't around anymore.

And I truly believed that this path I took would be worth it because I would get the results I wanted by, like I said, 35. But now that I'm here at 34 and sure, a little saddened by the realization that things don't always (often do not) work out as planned, I am also beginning to realize...

It's the path that mattered all along.

You hear this kind of thing all the time:


And I don't know about you but I always thought it was bullshit. I've run through life wanting to one day get to the finish line and say, "I HAVE ARRIVED!" But each year, I learn some things that  make me think, "Oh, I'm not there yet. I've still got so much more to learn."

I listen to a lot of interviews on Marc Maron's WTF podcast, mostly by actors/directors/writers I really like and have been working forever, like Ron Howard, Alan Alda, and Sir Patrick Stewart. These are not "young" guys. However, what really strikes me about all of them is that despite their age and experience, they are still learning and are excited to still be doing so.

Ever meet those old(er) people who are willing to try anything? Those people are my heroes. Their willingness to try new things tells me that, despite their years on this earth, they don't presume to know everything about life and the world. They know there's still so much mystery left on this earth and their curiosity gives them the energy to explore.

That's they key I guess: maintaining curiosity. 

I want to be one of those old people. Year after year when things don't turn out as planned, I want to take a bird's eye view and stop looking at the things I haven't done/seen, but the things I have.

So, what I did I do at 33?

  1. I traveled across the country and showed my film in several cities, meeting new people, and continuing the conversation about mental health.
  2. That film became available on VOD.
  3. I helped raise over a million dollars for a good cause.
  4. My family grew.
  5. I saw a lot of sunrises because I got up early to write on this blog, and to work on a feature screenplay, a short play, and a web series (the last two I will produce this year).

And a lot of other things that I didn't Instagram.

Is that enough? It can be.

What did I learn?

  1. Vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.
  2. I have amazing people in my life and I'm being introduced to more and more all the time.
  3. I can do bigger things than I thought I could. I have more skills than I give myself credit for.
  4. I'm a writer too.
  5. The clouds are 3D.

And a lot of other things that aren't in my awareness at the moment.

Is that enough? It can be.

And if I let it be so, it is enough.

Where will I be by this year's end, or the one after that, or the one after that? Apparently, I have no idea. But I'm actually really excited, and a little scared, to see.

Here's to age 34, and to having no fucking clue what it will look like.


PS- I look forward to the day when I read this post and laugh my ass off.


Tell Me You Love Me

approved "Tell me you love me." How often is that phrase the subtext of your words? Does the need to hear it haunt your mind? Frankly, it does mine.

Sometimes I can't see that approval and love is what I am truly seeking. Often, in fact. Usually the situation goes something like this: I do something big, something I've worked my butt off for. The acknowledgment is not enough and sometimes not even there. I cry uncontrollably, a cry fueled by anger, frustration, and a nagging feeling like, "I did something wrong. There is something wrong with me."

The part that makes this all a little sadder is that I do get affirmation from friends and loved ones. But it's the people that I don't get it from that I have this extreme need to get it from. The ones I deem challenges. The ones whose love I have to work for, because anything worth having is worth working for, right?


Too long have I put my self-worth in the hands of others, giving too much weight and value to people that I think are better than me. I am a people-pleaser, and that's really getting old.

Because when you think about it, does it ever end? Isn't there always something "you could be doing better"? Something others with their objectivity and hindsight tell you you should be doing because it would get you closer to perfection? The thing about perfection is it does not exist, so the more you strive for it, the more it's like jumping to reach a basketball* net when you are only 5'2". Sure, sometimes you'll jump a little higher because if you do it everyday, practice will kick in. But some days you'll be tired or sick and you just won't be able to jump as high. Why do we put the value in those days? Why do others put your value in those days too? The answer to both those questions is probably the same:

It's very hard to accept ourselves just as we are, imperfections and all, even if some of those "imperfections" are what make us human.

In saying all this, I don't mean to imply that we should just kick back, sit on the couch, and smoke weed all day under the guise of saying, "I am enough just this way." In fact, doing that, you are probably still saying you're not enough: not worthy enough to get up off the couch and do things for your life and yourself.

But I also don't fully understand all this self-improvement stuff. There's a whole section on it in every bookstore**. The implication in the idea that our selves need improvement is that we are broken, fundamentally, and in need of fixing.

I have had that belief for a long time. I spent years wondering what the hell is wrong with me and then years trying to fix those things. I could never quite get it right and all I did was beat myself up for it, thinking "Why if I can see it, can't I just change it?"

It taken me a while, and even still I think I intellectually understand it but have not completely brought it into an emotional level of understanding, to realize that:

There is nothing wrong with me.

That doesn't make me unaccountable for my actions or my words. I can't just do whatever the fuck I want, saying, "Yo. Ain't nothin' wrong with me***". But beating myself up for my imperfections is a waste of time. I am human. I make mistakes. Doing so doesn't mean there is something wrong with every fiber of my being. I can forgive myself and move on.

Coming to terms with that means that I can love myself. It doesn't matter if you do or if you don't tell me you do. I do not have to work for approval or love or anything. Because when I truly love myself for who I am, I invite others to do so. And those people are the ones who are really my friends. Those are the ones I want to hang around. They tell me they love me without even having to ask. They are pretty damn cool.


*I have never played basketball.

**Who am I kidding with this "every" bookstore? Isn't Barnes and Noble the only one left?

*** I don't know why I wrote it that way.

I Remember

img_4739 I woke up this morning wanting to write. And I had taken a ton of notes yesterday on what I wanted to write about and it isn't at all what I'm about to say.

I felt like it wouldn't be appropriate, not today, to write about anything but what happened to our country 15 years ago.

I don't talk with anybody about what I'm about to share with you, except to my husband, who knows where I was and why I always cry over breakfast on this date, as I expect many of us do. When people ask where I was, I answer simply, "on the train" and go no further. I guess I've always felt like my story wasn't valid, that because I didn't lose anybody (thankfully) that it didn't matter as much as those that did.

But perhaps that's part of a bigger problem: People don't share enough or at all because they deny the validity of their stories and feelings. And when we don't share, we don't connect.

I believe that all our stories are legitimate simply because they are our own, as individual and unique as we each are to one another. And who has the right to judge the ways we are each of us affected by those stories and changed by them?  No one. Not even myself.

So here's my story...

I remember waking up late. I remember I was a sophomore at NYU and I was rushing to get to a class that I didn't really care about but needed to take because it was a requirement. I remember I was on the train and the train kept stopping and starting and like any New Yorker I was cursing the MTA in my head.

And then just before the train was going to cross the Manhattan Bridge it stopped again and the conductor came on and it was really scratchy and he said something about a plane crash. I remember not thinking anything of it and still being frustrated that I was going to be late for class again. I hate remembering that I thought this way.

Then someone started preaching about the end of days and shit got scary. I became uneasy because I had watched too many horror movies to know that when people start quoting the Bible in public it's because they think it really is the end of days.

Now I wanted to get off the train really badly but it wasn't moving so I started to think about ways I could get off. I thought maybe I would  have to walk through the train tunnels back to the last stop in Brooklyn and then, shit, I was really going to be late because it was already a little after 9am.

And then the train started to move, very slowly.

We started to creep onto the bridge. The train stopped, my car right in the center of the bridge. Silently, every person on the train turned to look out the window and we all watched as a plane crashed into the World Trade Center, which already had another plane in flames inside of it.

I remember going numb. I remember thinking it wasn't real, that it couldn't possibly be. And I didn't realize it at the time but the skyline I knew so well, the one I took for granted, would never be the same.

The train started to move and people prayed aloud. Someone was singing. My heart started to race and I lost my hearing for a bit (something that used to happen a lot).

We got to West 4th street and as soon as I got out of the station, I started walking to class not even thinking it would be cancelled. I got to the middle of Washington Square Park and people were screaming and there was another perfect view of the towers. I remember thinking, "Poor Freshman. They've only just started."

I picked up my phone and called my mom. I started to have a full blown panic attack. I heard her tell her co-workers that I was having a panic attack and she tried to calm me down but it was hard over the phone and it took a while. My mom finally snapped me out of it and said that my dad was stuck in New Jersey so to not go to the store we had on Bleecker Street but rather to where I worked at the time around the corner, the restaurant Da Silvano.

So that's where I went. It was on Sixth Avenue. Another perfect view. There were droves and droves of people walking up the avenue from downtown. It looked like the zombie apocalypse.

We started to hand out water. Strangers exchanged cell phones thinking that it was the phone or their particular service that was a problem, but barely anyone could get through to anyone. I couldn't get through to my sister. And I was scared to all hell that I had lost the most important person in my life, even though she worked nowhere near there. It was hard to think with any rationale that day.

And then I heard about the plane that hit the Pentagon, where my uncle worked at the time, and I called my cousin and couldn't get through. I had this fear that everyone I knew was dead.

My co-workers and I stood in the middle of Sixth Avenue and watched the flames and hugged and cried. I hugged and cried with strangers. We all needed to hug and cry and watch because this was our city and it really didn't matter who knew whom, because on that day we were all related.

I don't remember too much of what happened next. I know that I somehow got in touch with my sister and my Aunt Maria who worked near her. I remember them walking down to get me and then taking the train up to my Uncle Carlos's job in midtown and driving to New Jersey to my sister's place. I remember sleeping on her couch and wearing her clothes to bed and I remember waking up the next day and finding out my Uncle was safe because he was on the other side of the Pentagon.

The city was eerie for a long time after that. Quiet. I remember going back to class a few days later not because I had to but because I just wanted to be around people. We just sat there in silence. We tried to talk about what happened but didn't know how.

It was so inexplicable and no one could make sense of it. If I didn't see it happen, I don't know if I could ever fully believe it did, even today, when year after year people post about it on Facebook, and there are memorials, and it's everywhere on the news.

It's been 15 years and it's still feels like one of those dreams you have that you can't tell if it's real or not. But it's real.

New York has resumed its fast busy pace and we've started not looking at each other again, not because we are terrible people but because that's just the way this city works: it's a living, breathing organism that evolves at a quick pace and we have to keep up. It vibrates with energy and I'm almost positive I've heard it breathe.

But on that day and for many days after, New York slowed down, not to a halt, but just enough so that strangers could hug and cry and connect.

That I remember, that I will never forget.

How To Fight Fear With Willingness

1378661_10205350292339401_9176467531748766775_n Greetings from the Atlanta airport*, where I am charging up and waiting for my connecting flight to Little Rock, Arkansas (don't ask). I put off writing today as long as I could because I felt like I didn't have anything to write about. I still don't know if I do. But sometimes you have to just start writing to keep writing. That's the worst part about it. You have to come to the computer or laptop or paper and trust that it will come. Y'all know about my struggle with faith.

Writing is still one of those things that I have to force myself to do because it's not easy and I'm not as used to it as say, acting or biting my cuticles. It's funny because people have often said things to me like, "That's really cool that you do all that," and they don't just mean the acting and making movies but also the writing. They almost immediately follow it up with, "I wish I could do that too but I don't know where to start." I get that. I've felt that way. Like I said, I sometimes still feel that way with writing...

But I call bullshit.

It's about willingness. You start with the willingness to try. If it's totally new and hard and maybe something against your habit (not nature because people mix these two words up too often-- big difference), then you find the willingness to do something different. Now, you will probably do things imperfectly and inevitably judge yourself for it (pot, meet kettle), but that brings me to my next stop:

You have to have the willingness to be a student again, to accept that no matter how many years you've been on this earth, you still only know a fraction of everything you could know.

I love this quote:


I just Googled it because I couldn't remember who said it and apparently, according to the internet, it was either Alan Watts, Penelope Ward, or some guy named Doug. Seriously, we need a more accurate system of quoting.

Like I said, I love this quote. It reminds me of being a kid and just trying shit because I wanted to know what it felt like. I didn't care (till puberty) whether or not I was good at it. I was a figure skater for a hot moment and fell on my ass a lot. I played piano because I liked the way it sounded (but I hated practicing). I wanted to be everything when I grew up because everything sounded so cool-- and that's one of the reasons I'm an actor ;)

Do you remember when the fear of trying something new wasn't even a factor because the desire to do so was so great? I think all kids are super curious. My favorite question was why. Ask my mom, it didn't annoy her at all. But what happens to that curiosity when we get older? Do we get jaded or think we've tried it all? Do we develop a fear of failure?

And there's the next stop: the willingness to fail.

10422328_10205517759805983_2722818121634443668_nHave you ever seen our first movie? Oof. If we had given up after that, and there were lots of reasons to besides the film itself, we wouldn't have made anything ever again. And when I think about that, I think about all the people I wouldn't have met, all the great actors I wouldn't have worked with, and never again having that feeling of a bunch of people in a movie theater watching your film.

I think the fear of failure is coupled with the fear of success. I believe that's the subtext of the statement I mentioned earlier, "I wish I could do that too but I don't know where to start." We know where to start: at the beginning.

But what happens if you make it past all the stops? If you find the willingness: the willingness to try, to be a student again, and to fail? Well then you might actually succeed and when people see success, they see you.

You have to be willing to be seen.

How fucking scary is that?


*I am now in Little Rock but still, don't ask.

How The Show Girls Contributes to My Identity Crisis

Girls-HBO-poster I had a dream that my life was a Girls story line, which means it looked nothing like it actually does for a regular gal living in Brooklyn. Things were good. I was of course a working actress, because the women in that show have no problem making money in their chosen professions and my biggest drama was some love storyline that I can't specifically recall. I walked up to Lena Dunham and said, "Life is good. Don't fuck it up by writing me some shitty storyline where Jessa or Marnie steals my boyfriend."

Like I said, life was pretty simple.

I like Girls. The dialogue is funny and the plots keep me entertained. I think Lena Dunham is a super-talented writer. But I do have to say, I wish there was just one show that shows how life in Brooklyn actually is for a young woman trying to make it as an artist. We don't all live in Fort Greene (I WISH) and everyone isn't white and we burn the candles at both ends with day jobs and preferred career work and ain't nobody got time to care who their ex-boyfriend is dating.

Am I the only one who wants to see someone more like me on the screen? I can't tell if my life is too boring or if I'm not white and privileged enough. Maybe if someone watched a show about me, they'd be like, "Where is the entertainment in this entertainment? And if she's Latina then why isn't this more of a 'real' Latina show? Why isn't this a telenovela?"

Identity has always been a tricky thing for me and the entertainment industry sure as hell hasn't helped that. I've never quite felt like I fit in a white world or in the Latino world.

Because frankly, I'm too white to be Latina and I'm too Latina to be white.

It's like that in the world for me, and it's definitely like that in the acting industry for me.

Too White To Be Latina

There are few auditions I've been on where, with a tilted head, someone hasn't asked me, "What are you?" What I'd like to answer is, "A human being. One that just gave you a kick-ass sample of my work. Were you paying attention to that?" Instead I say, "My dad's from Portugal and my mom is Puerto Rican." That's immediately followed up with the question and a glimmer in their eye, "Do you speak Spanish?" No. No, I don't. A sigh before they say,"That's a shame."

Too Latina To Be White

And then there was this one time, when I was sixteen and worked at the Gap in Bensonhurst. I was folding clothes and talking to my friend/co-worker about nothing at all and a group of Hispanic people walked in. My friend/co-worker turned to me and said, "Ugh. I hate fucking spics." I hate to admit this but I was actually scared she would no longer be my friend when I told her, "What do you think my background is?" She said, "Aren't you Italian?" I said no and told her what I was.*

And then there was that time when I was at NYU that a girl asked me if I would technically be considered mulatto because Portuguese is white (as if there aren't Black people in Portugal). Oh yes, I am hybrid offspring of a horse and a donkey. Want to see my tail?

Whenever I tell these experiences to people, they can't believe it's true, like "You mean racism actually exists?" Yes. Yes, it does, and in more subtle ways than in the stories I just told you.

When I was a kid and I learned what melanin was (the skin's brown pigment) I thought, "This is what the fuss is all about? How much pigment people have? Well that's stupid." I'm not going to lie. I believe that the perceived ambiguity about my race or ethnicity (and even the ambiguity of whether it is a race or ethnicity) has helped me in some ways. I have been able to hide, to just not talk about it with people who I fear won't get it.

But then I wonder, why am I hiding? Frankly, because it's just been easier than explaining. And like I said, I'm also too white to be Latino. I can't tell you how many times Puerto Ricans have told me I'm not really Puerto Rican because I don't speak Spanish or I don't speak/look a certain way. This is not reverse racism. There is no such thing. This is straight up, plain old racism.

There you have it. I am still confused, to be honest. And then sometimes I wonder, why do I have to identify myself to anyone at all? I'm a person and while a lot of people define themselves in a lot of different ways, there is one universal definition:

A person is a person because they have the right to be a person.


*BTW, I used to define myself as Hispanic and the government still does. But what do they know? After further investigation, I decided to define myself as Latina. I can define myself as a puppy if I wanted to. My choice.




Patience and Faith


It's been a busy summer. All of a sudden, the weather turned cool and I like the breeze but I wonder, where did the time go? They say that life speeds up when you get older. I didn't believe it would happen so soon.

I thought I'd never get out of my 20s, that that angst and drama and feeling like things would never settle down and that I would never know what to do with my life, or never have any money, would ever go away. Some of it did. And some of it didn't- does anyone ever know what to do with their lives? It's hard, in a busy life, in a world that moves so fast, to keep your eye on what you think or say you want, to believe that even though it's not in front of you, that that's just a matter of "not yet" and not "never."

I have never been good with patience, and maybe that's an immaturity thing but what I'm starting to see is that it may be a matter of faith. I am a a spiritual person. I pray (yes, for those of you who think I'm an atheist because I am not a Catholic like I was raised to be). I pray to the universe, that which connects me to the trees and the earth and to all of you. I meditate. I listen for guidance. And some times I get glimpses, glimpses that what I want, who I believe I am supposed to be, is real and within me.

But how does one keep that faith when they can't even recognize a whole summer has gone by? When our whole lives seem to be consumed by what's happening right now, how do we see that we are still on the right path, heading towards what we want when we don't immediately see results? I think the answer is faith, but I doubt my own faith. Often.

It's said that there is no faith without doubt. Well,  I must have a shit load of faith then because I doubt a lot. I wish I could say that my belief in myself and in the universe supersedes everything. That I am one of those strong and confident women who is entrepreneurial and believes she can do anything, much like a lot of the women in my generation that I admire. But to be honest, I am sometimes consumed bfear.

Fear that it will just never happen for me. 

I am only 33 and yet I feel like I'm already too old, that by now I should have a kid or two and a house and/or a thriving business where I am my own boss that brings in a comfortable amount of income. But I don't have any of those things. I have a day job and I make movies with Michael and I act and I sometimes write (hard for me of late) and I aspire to be. I'm told I'm building up the tools, gaining experience, making myself ready. It's like I've been going to the gym my whole life in order to be strong and healthy but truthfully, my body is sore and tired because I've overworked it and I'm ready to just wear a fucking bikini already. Did that make any sense?

I feel like I've done enough prep for the life I know I want and sick of being consumed by the pace of this world and my own fear. My muscles are ready. I am ready. And yeah, I'm fucking impatient and I want what I want and I want it right now. Why is that a bad thing? Who has ever been content with waiting on the tarmac? Isn't the point in life to take off to new heights? To change and grow and evolve? Isn't that what humans just do naturally?

I'm tired of  my life as is, even if so much of it looks a lot like the rest of Americans. This is not a judgment. More power to you if you are happy with the way your time passes. This feeling within me, this restlessness and this impatience and even the fear, maybe it's not a bad thing. Maybe I need to feel all these things in order to grow... or rather to explode. 


My Friend Mike O'Malley Wrote A Sonnet 'Bout Me

It's not everyday that someone writes a sonnet for you. I'm not going to lie: it made me feel real special.



Thou - a laughing daughter of two Ports

Doth in two realms a warm catharsis render -

In words (thine blog) and deeds (the acting sort)

Thou makest dread itself more passing tender.

A saying's made a platitude by years.

With over-watering, its petals droop.

But thou, with thine frank record of thine tears

Saved a doomed metaphor - Chicken Soup.

I know the hand that holds thee to the ground -

How oft, indeed, it tries to push thee in.

But as thou pushest back, you've likely found

We fellows 'neath the hand, too, dare to grin.

May you always make Depression jealous

And e'er outpace its hand, Miz De Ornelas.

Check out Mike's stellar music at Mike was also featured in my film, The Videoblogs. Join our list to be the first to watch it ;)

The Ever-Elusive Forgiveness

It has been months since my last post. I have been trying to figure out what to write next. I've had lots of thoughts but didn't know which was safe to flesh out. After my last post on Depression (henceforth known as the "Big D"), I felt a little exposed and raw. However, the overwhelming expressions of acceptance and warmth from all of you made me feel less pressured to wrap things up in a pretty little bow, and rather, just be honest. So here's some more of that... hemmingway

The idea of "forgiveness" has been presenting itself to me lately. Isn't it weird how things present themselves to you? It's as if our lives are stories with themes and those themes persist whether you choose to write them in or not. If this is the case, as it has been for me, then we aren't even our own authors, are we?

Either way, forgiveness is surely the theme of my life of late. Often times we think of forgiveness in terms of what we give (or can't give) to others. And when it comes to others and the pain that they cause, forgiveness can feel downright hard, or, at times, impossible. There are some pretty hateful acts that human beings impart on one another-- from the atrocities of war crimes to physical and emotional abuse and neglect, to every days transgressions like gossiping behind one's back and saying disrespectful, hurtful things.

There are stories I have heard where it would seem impossible to forgive.

Minor things can be a bit easier to deal with when you look at it through the lens of, "Have I not done the same thing?" Even then, when wronged, oftentimes my first reaction is from an ego-based place. I think: how dare he/she do that to me. I completely and conveniently forget the multiple ways that I have wronged others because maybe it doesn't look like the same thing on the outside and maybe the facts of the matter are different. Truth is, harm is harm, no matter what pretty color dress you put it in.

But still, that's just what I do. I forget my own imperfections and I blame others for theirs. And it’s a circuitous process because the more I play the blame game, the less I see myself for who I am: imperfect.


So, lately I’ve been wondering if maybe my biggest hurdle when it comes to forgiveness is not necessarily working to find it within me to forgive others, but rather to first forgive myself for being imperfect…for being human.

I’ve done lots of shit I am not proud of. Depending on the spectrum, some of it could be worse than what you’ve done, some could be less bad, but still I have hurt others, and feel a lot of shame in regards to my own wrongdoings.

And since this is coming up for me, something that happened a while back has been haunting me...

I had this friend (let's call her Sarah) who I used to work with when I worked in the restaurant industry. We’d often hang out after a shift, always at a bar, which is pretty common in an industry where the earliest you get out is 11pm because nothing else is open.

Sarah was really smart and funny, and for a time, we were very close. Every time we worked together we wanted our stations to be right by each other so that we could commiserate about how difficult our tables were, or sneak off to corners of the restaurant to do silly dances. Sarah was really good at silly dancing and I am not so bad myself. We also used to sneak sips of wine when no one was looking.

And then life happened: we got other jobs and we just didn't see each other as often. Our frequent hang-outs dissolved into intermittent texting which then faded into nothing. For a good amount of time, Sarah was out of my life.

Suddenly, one summer day, she texted me and said, "I miss you. Let's go to the beach-- I'll drive!"

And just like that, like no time had passed, she picked me up in her car. A six-pack was under the seat. We went to Fort Tilden . I drank a beer and she had the rest. Then we were hungry so we went and ate tacos and talked and talked. I took an awesome picture of her eating a taco under an American flag and Instagrammed it. We vowed to not let as much time pass before seeing each other again.

Sarah dropped me off at home and I realized too late that she had left the book she was reading in my bag: Pete Hammill's A Drinking Life. I texted her to let her know, and she said she'd grab it next time. She also said:

I had the best time and I feel so nice after being in the sun and sand.

After that day, we spoke very little. A few texts here and there to say, "I miss you and really want to talk,"  but we never texted or talked in a real time convo. I would reach out and get no response for hours or days and then she would reach out and I wouldn't respond back for hours or days.

I'm really not sure why.

I saw Sarah one more time at a bar with a mutual friend. We caught up, talked about what was going on in our lives, re-committed to our friendship. This time though, something felt off.

And then I never saw her again.

She died a year later: cirrhosis of the liver, most commonly caused by alcohol abuse.

Sarah drank herself to death.

I still have her book, the irony of the title not lost on me. I started reading it but I can't bring myself to finish it. I still have all those texts from 2011. I can't bring myself to delete them or to forgive myself for my last text being:

We should catch up soon.

Now, I know you're all reading this and thinking: friends drift apart. Sure, it’s a terrible end but you can’t possibly blame yourself.

But a part of me does. A part of me always knew Sarah had a drinking problem but still engaged in drinking with her because I didn't want to look at my own overindulgence in alcohol at that time. A part of me knows that it was easier to be friends when we worked together and that I wasn't able to be more because I was wrapped up in my own shit. A greater, more honest, part of me knows that this is something I do: I don’t get too close to people because I’m afraid people will find I'm not good enough and leave me.


And that's where forgiveness is an issue for me. Not just with Sarah but with almost all the relationships in my life. If I could just forgive myself for being imperfect and human, for sometimes not calling when I say I will or not showing up when I commit to doing so, then I could truly let others in. I could stop being afraid that they will someday say, "You know what? Rebecca is just not enough and I don't want to be friends with her anymore." I could stop beating myself up for what I consider my deficiencies as a human being and then maybe make it okay for me to show up because I won't be so obsessed with what others are thinking about how I show up.

A friend once said to me, "How do you get an abandoned dog to come to you?"

The incorrect answer: by beating it.

Instead, you tell the dog you love him/her. That he/she doesn't have to be scared of you because you don't blame him/her for being maybe a little dirty or scraggly or weird or sad or forgetful or mistrusting or moody. Instead, you open your arms big and wide and speak in a soft kind voice and say, "It's okay. I love you anyway."

You guys, I’m like that dog.

So, intellectually, I know this. I can easily tell this to others. I can say, "treat yourself with kindness and forgiveness and love yourself for who you are." And when they can't do it for themselves, I am happy to love them till they can. But why is it so hard for me to get past the mind and to the heart of forgiveness for my own sake?


I think the hardest part of forgiveness is that it necessitates grieving. And in order to fully grieve, we have to make a decision to let go. Let go of the pain, let go of the armor that has protected us for so long. Let go of the part of ourselves that we have held close, have identified with, considered to BE us.

No one likes to let go of who they are. It's scary to think of what will be left. But this armor, this shield, isn't who we are but rather weapons used for protection. Once we realize we don't need them anymore, that they are no longer serving us, we can "trade them in for tools."* Tools of kindness and self-love. Tools of acceptance and belief that we are of value, despite our imperfections.

We are all imperfect, perfectly imperfect in fact. And maybe that's what makes us truly beautiful.


This post was inspired by a book I really dig: Triumph of the Heart by Megan Feldman Bettencourt. You can also hear interviews with Megan on two of my favorite podcasts, Coffee with Creatives and The One You Feed

* I heard a man who shall remain anonymous speak of his experience trading weapons in for tools. I am eternally grateful to him for this simple but profound phrase.

From Asking "Why" To Taking the Chicken Soup

Hi Guys, I want to talk about something super personal to me and I have a lot of fear around it: fear of judgment, fear of people worrying about me, and most of all, fear of vulnerability. I debated whether or not I should post the following because, though I consider myself an advocate for greater awareness around these issues and fighting the stigma associated with them, it's something I have yet to discuss in a first-person kinda way, in so much detail, and so publicly.

But truth is, I've been going through a hard time lately and what's helped me the most has been reading the first-hand accounts of others' experiences with this topic. I admire their bravery in talking about these issues, and their willingness to be so vulnerable. So, I'm going to talk about this super personal thing and if just one of you finds it helpful, finds some solace in it, then I will have paid it forward.

Thanks for reading.


Lately, I've been going through a Depression (capital D for much respect). And I think one of the hardest parts about it has been that oh-so-common question from others (and often myself) of...“Why?”

You see, people often associate Depression with something situational. Something must have happened, must have gone wrong. And when nothing has happened, nothing has gone wrong, when I have nothing outside me to blame, I feel like there is something just fundamentally wrong with me.

That feeling is judgement, rearing its ugly head, as it often likes to do. This compounding of a negative feeling with a negative judgement is what Buddhists call the “second arrow,” the not-so-helpful criticism and blame we tack on to an unfortunate unpleasant situation or feeling. It’s such a crazy (albeit human) thing that we all engage in this kind of judgement, as it’s counter-productive, it doesn’t ever help anybody, and well, arrows– they’re pointy and made to hurt.

However, as many who experience Depression know, it can often be a biological thing with no one cause to point to or bad situation to blame it on. Trust me, I wish there was because then I could just fix it.

But truth is, my life (situationally) is pretty damn good: I have a hot smart husband who loves me and treats me well; I have amazing friends who I can call up and cry to when I feel like shit; I have a job that pays me well, keeps a roof over my head, food in my mouth; I have art and creativity and a strong healthy body and a really cute cat and an adorable dog and... Really, I could keep going with the gratitudes and the positive thinking and sometimes that's all I need to get by on any given non-Depressed day. Positive thinking on a daily basis keeps my mood in check. (Note: I am a big fan of daily positivity by the way... proof here).

Yet still I can’t help but ask: “Why? Why is Depression consuming my life right now?”

Why is one of the hardest questions in the world, because, oftentimes, in so many aspects of my life, I just can’t answer it. It's hard not having the answers. And honestly, I don't want to keep dissecting this very uncontrollable thing that's just happening in my brain right now.

But I will show you a picture:


See, a lot of my yellow lights just aren't shining. There's no point in asking why because it just IS.

So, I've decided to stop with the WHY and just accept what is. And what is right now... is that I feel like poop.


I've been going through this Depression for a over a month now. The first week was crazy rough: crying till I was numb, lying on my floor (my dog Zelda joined me-- see right), oversleeping, loss of appetite, unable to leave the apartment, not reaching out (feeling like no one could help so why bother) and just that overall sense of hopelessness. 

If I were to characterize Depression in one feeling, it'd be that one: hopeless.

Nothing helped. I did all the things I'd been told by others to do, all the things I've read in books:

  • Meditation - check
  • Offering help to someone else, a.k.a service - check
  • Running - check
  • Talking about it - check
  • Affirmations - check
  • Journaling - check

And then there was the ever popular reminder that this too shall pass. A lot of well-intentioned people said that to me: "Rebecca, this too shall pass." And I love each and every one of them for trying to help but I did not want to hear nor could I believe that this too shall pass. 


I can believe it now. But Week 1 of Depression? I was not hearing it. You know what else I wasn’t hearing? You are responsible for your own happiness. No one actually said this to me because, thankfully, I have friends that know better. But I heard it in TV shows, read it in books, and heard it on podcasts.

You guys, just a tip -- don’t tell people who are Depressed that they are responsible for their own happiness. You are essentially telling them that it is all their fault, and they are already feeling shitty enough. Let’s not add a layer of judgement to it (remember that pointy arrow and how it hurts?).

However, hearing that phrase often enough did help me to enter Phase 2 of Depression: Anger, a.k.a. a general Fuck You attitude. And I was pretty cool with that because at least I was feeling something.

And then something wonderful happened.

After about a week of mostly isolation...I don’t think I even bathed most days because when I feel awful the first thing to go is hygiene…I finally left the apartment.

I had to go to therapy.

I totally wanted to cancel but inner adult Rebecca, who really wants what’s best for me, convinced me to just put one foot in front of the other and take a shower. It was my first small victory in seven days.

I made it to therapy. It wasn't so bad. I'm not going to go into the benefits of therapy (many need it and the world would be a better place if they just accepted that) because that's not what this story is about. But after therapy, I was hungry-- my second tiny victory, seeing as eating is second to bathing in the things that go out the window with Depression.

I went to a Pret-A-Manger and grabbed myself the most comforting thing I could think of, chicken soup. As I went to pay, I got a call from a friend. I picked up. In hindsight, that may not have been the best place to for a conversation but in that moment, I really needed to talk to someone.

I put my headphones in to free my hands and pay for the chicken soup. My friend started asking me how I was feeling. I was on the verge of tears as I spoke because that’s just my general state these days.

I got up to the cashier and I was not at all paying attention to her because I was on the phone. In the back of my mind, I was also very busy judging myself for being so rude as to not acknowledge the person right in front of me helping me. My self-judgment knows no bounds.

I got my wallet out only to find that I had no cash, no debit card, and no credit card. Score.

I looked frantically through my bag. The cashier said something to me. I assumed it was the price. I said, “One moment,” and continued looking. My friend on the phone asked if I was okay. I said, “I can’t find my card!” The cashier said something to me again. I didn’t understand. Suddenly, a crowd of about 8 or 9 tourists swarmed in and up to the counter. I continued to frantically search. I felt a thousand eyes on me in that moment. I looked helplessly at the cashier and said, “I’m sorry. I can’t find my card. I need a moment.” I stepped aside.

I continued to look and my friend said “Are you okay?” and I said “No, I think I was robbed, I will call you back.” I hung up. I looked at the cashier who still had my soup in front of her and was assisting what now seemed like 800 tourists. I called to her, “I can’t take the soup. I’m sorry,” and began to walk out.

On my way towards the door, I called my husband. He was at home so I asked if he saw my card anywhere. I stopped by a table before I left and continued to rifle through my bag. My husband looked for the card and asked me if I was okay. I said, “No, I’m hungry.”

If you guys can't tell by now, I'm about to lose my shit in the middle of Pret-A-Manger.

I said again to my husband on the phone, on the verge of tears, “I’m really, really hungry.” My face got all hot and I felt barely able to keep myself from blowing up into a billion pieces.

Suddenly there was a tap on my back. I turned around. The cashier was standing in front of me, holding a tray with the chicken noodle soup on it. I reminded her, "I'm sorry. I can't pay."

She tapped the table next to me and said, "That's okay. Sit. Eat."

And that is when I proceeded to lose my shit but in a totally different way. I cried (okay maybe you  could see that coming) and then I hugged her. I said to her "Thank-you-I'm-having-such-a-hard-time-and-you're-so-kind-thank-you." She laughed and did this adorable little bow of her head that indicated, "You're welcome."

My husband, still on the phone, heard it all. I could hear him smiling. I smile cried and got off the phone. I sat and began to eat the soup.

A moment later, one of the tourists came up to me and said, "Oh, good, you got the soup. I was going to get one for you."

I cried again and said to her, "Why is everyone being so nice to me?!" She gave an awkward laugh and walked away.

But that question was rhetorical. I didn't need to know why. All I needed to do was eat the chicken soup.

The end.

Recent Developments: The chicken soup story occurred on November 13th and I didn't know it at the time but this small kindness from an absolute stranger would be the beginning of an upswing. I started writing this post about a week after I ate that soup and still had quite a bit to work through but writing this all out for the past month and a half has been super helpful for me.

If you're reading and you relate, then know that there are plenty of others who struggle with a myriad of mental illnesses. It's super hard to talk about but when you do, you feel wayyy better. We are not alone.

If you don't quite feel like you struggle with a mental illness, you may know a few people who do. Offer to be a kind ear and try to leave the judgment out of it. These things shouldn't be hard to talk about, especially when the number of people suffering is staggeringly high. You can help just by being there and making it OK for your friends to talk about it.

Little by little, we can all make this a whole lot easier.

And since my blog is about the Things I'm Diggin', here are just a few of the many things out there that I found helpful during my Depression:

  1. Wil Wheaten talks to Project UROK in this video about his struggles with anxiety and depression, and "learning how to human."
  2. The always funny Allie Brosh writes about her Adventures in Depression in her blog Hyperbole and a Half here.
  3. Combatting depression with endorphins, using the Couch to 5K running program. This particular program helps you to ease into running, and when you're not feeling so great ease is a must. I ran my first 5K during my latest struggle with the big D, thanks to these wonderful people:
Endorphins + Friends > Netflix + Isolation
Endorphins + Friends > Netflix + Isolation

And 4...

You. I don't know how many people are reading (I'm not looking at stats really) but I am super grateful for those that do. Each time someone says, "I read your post and I relate!" I feel less alone.

So yeah, thanks for that.

The One You Feed

The One you Feed

An old grandfather told his grandson: “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, and resentment. The other is good. It is joy, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and bravery.

The boy thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?

The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”

I don't remember where I first heard this parable but I remember hearing it and thinking, "Oh, wow..."

And then I totally forgot about it.

Thank God for reminders, as I realize now I need to read this parable on a daily basis.

So, I had forgotten, and like many things I forget, I had the joy of remembering it again. This time, my husband, Michael, was the vehicle for the remembering. He came across a great podcast called The One You Feed, produced by Eric Zimmer and Chris Forbes, and suggested I check it out. I have been binging on it ever since.

Side note: Eric and Chris both have great voices and the podcast has an equally great logo.

I have listened to a bunch of episodes, including interviews with Amy Banks, M.D., Brigid Schulte, Kevin Breel, Anna David, Dr. Rick Hanson, Johann Hari, and Paul Gilmartin. They were all excellent and I totally recommend each one of them.

However, in this post I want to talk a bit more about a concept brought up by Brigid Shulte:

Note: This is my own subjective interpretation of the interview. While I've pulled some quotes, give a listen here to make your own assessment.

Overwhelmed doesn't ever go away so it really becomes how you look at it: what you choose to think about what you do.

Brigid goes on to talk about the way society views doing. She notes that busyness is a badge of honor and that there are societal pressures to do too much.

Oof. As the daughter of a Portuguese immigrant, who worked over 12-hour days pretty much every single day, with every other weekend off (when I was growing up), and at the age of 66 continues to work six days a week, -- I  can relate. I love my dad but he is just one of countless many that I have encountered (including myself) that is, almost by definition, BUSY.

Think about it: When you ask someone how they are, they almost always reply with some version of  (you guessed it) busy. Usually, they also follow it up with this look that implies "there's just too much to tell" and they "don't have time to tell it" but "how are you?"

For a little while I was determined to answer something other than "fine, okay, busy," because none of that says anything about how I really am, so I would say how I really felt:

  • Kinda scared by this big project I have coming up :-/
  • Lonely because I haven't seen my friends in a while :-(
  • So excited about this new podcast I found! :-)
  • Or, more recently... like I was shot out of a cannon three weeks ago, have been flailing full speed through the air, just landed, and am now walking back to the cannon to get stuffed back in again <~ This one might just be a wordy way of saying busy but there are more of the feelings in there too, no?

However, after my experiment in answering honestly, I quickly learned that most people really weren't expecting much more than the usual small talk, and hearing all that made some of them uncomfortable. Story of my life.

The question of "how are you" is routine, the answer already known, and there's something about saying busy that implies your life is being well-spent. Busy is good, right? If we are busy, then we aren't out doing drugs and getting into trouble, because that's what people who have time on their hands do, right?

That brings me to another point Brigid brought up:

...idleness used to give social status and now busyness provides the social status.

When the hell did that happen? The greatest thinkers and artists of all time had one... maybe more but for the sake of this article... thing in common: time to think and create. Now, those are considered luxuries; things to do in your off-time. You know, when you aren't so damn busy. Want time to think or create? Take a vacation day.

But where would we be without Plato or Aristotle or Salvador Dali or Shakespeare or Einstein or Da Vinci? I doubt people looked at them and thought: I don't really see them doing much. How many hours did they work this week? You mean it took them years to produce this one thing? What were they doing all that time? 

No way. So why now is it so ingrained in us to not leave work till the sun has set for a few hours? Why do we think that sitting at our desks for nine hours straight without a break means we are being oh-so-productive? Why do employers think they get more out of people when they can actually see them in the same space for a pre-determined set of hours?

Here's my response to that:


Okay, so I didn't write that. It's an anonymous meme but man, do I dig it. I'm thinking that busy might be a bad wolf kind of meal. Don't believe me?

Here are some synonyms for the word busy:

You guys... buried? slaving? Something is not right here.

Do you deem yourself a busy person? Why do you work so much? What would you do if you had more time? What would it look like if you fed your good wolf a big hunking delicious meal of time?

Let me know in the comments. I want to see all the wonderful things you could be doing more of :)

The Five-Minute Journal

5minutejournal You guys... This journal, though seemingly simple, has really changed my days. I'm not a newbie to journaling or to gratitude lists (a big part of this journal). In fact, I was texting gratitudes (still do) to a friend nightly long before I came across this journal. So what's so different about putting it all in a book rather than a text?

Well, first let me tell you what the journal is, because it's way more than just listing some gratitudes. First, each page has a pretty awesome quote to start your day with. Today's was:

"The bad news is time flies. The good news is you're the pilot."

-- Michael Altshuler

Not bad, eh? I like this one because everyone always says how quickly time goes as you get older (except when you're at work). And everyone always says it with this foreboding tone like, "Time flies so better get your shit together while you can." However, this quote allows me to see what's become a cliche in a whole new light. I'm the pilot, huh? So, that means I can take a detour? I can set the trajectory? I can't slow down but maybe I can land for a bit (in Fiji)?

I like starting out the day with a contemplative quote. It kind of makes each day new because it takes a previously accepted notion and slants it, makes you look at your day from another side.

Back to the journal... so there's the quote to start your day. Awesome. Then there's the gratitudes, which I won't get into because y'all probably know the benefit of listing the things your grateful for by now (and not just when there's a delicious turkey in front of you). Next, there's a question: "What would make today great?" Great! Not good. Not bearable. But GREAT.

You ever notice that you have these really truly thrilling times in your life (usually when something new occurs-- Babies! A new love! Acceptance into college!), and then it plateaus. The novelty is gone. That's just life, guys, and you can go on chasing the thrill but if you do, you'll probably miss out on some extraordinary everyday things (and die in a skydiving accident). And that's what this question helps me to focus on: the extraordinary everyday things.

What would make today great? Usually, it's such simple attainable things. I feel great after a phone call with a good friend. I feel great when I go for a run. I feel great when I get to work on time (really, it reduces my stress levels immeasurably). Answering this question first thing of the day helps me to really appreciate the ordinary little things. That appreciation is its own reward. I often think things like, "Go me," when I accomplish the things I set out to do. Conversely, when I don't, at the very least I know the things that make me feel good and I can always do them tomorrow :)

Next thing is you write a daily affirmation. OK, guys, I know-- affirmations are super corny. They remind me of that old SNL skit with Stuart Smalley. You know, this guy:


The concept is usually one everyone makes fun of... which is why it's great to write them in a private journal. They're cheesy but kind of nice too. I like to tell myself things like, "I am open to change and the world around me," because usually I am so not. I can be really controlling and I often want things to go my way and I hate it when people don't bend to my will. Just being honest.

But how realistic is that? If the only constant in this world is change, then how can I control anything ever? I can't and it only causes me immense suffering when I try to (because I feel like a failure). So when I find myself in control mode, it's great for me to start the day by writing my intention to accept the world just as it is-- in my private journal... or on this very public blog. Damn it.

So, what else is pretty cool about this journal? There is end of the day stuff too! The first part of the night section, man, I LOVE: List "3 Amazing things that happened today." Didn't have anything amazing happen today? Bullshit. Amazing things happen every day. The sun always rises. You're still here. Your boss told you you did a great job just when you were feeling like you could have done better. That cute guy in your building you've been crushing on smiled at you. Again, ordinary things made extraordinary by just taking the time to notice and appreciate them. Sigh, isn't life so cool?

Lastly, "How could I have made today better?" If you're like me, then this is the part where every fiber of your being wants to be uber hard on yourself. But let's be realistic: what would make your day better? Hate your job? Looking for a new one is a great start. Haven't exercised in so long? Going for a run would help get you back on track. Slept too late, had to rush to work and therefore wore every article of clothing inside out? (No, that never happens to me). Snoozing less might be a good idea. What I'm finding really amazing about this part is that two weeks have passed since I started writing in this journal and little by little, I've been adding that which would make my day better, into my days. Intentions are becoming actions.

So, why do I suggest you buy this journal when I've just told you everything that's in it? Well, first, unless you scour the internet for daily quotes and weekly challenges (oh yeah, there's those, too), are you really going to do all the above on a daily and nightly basis on your own? If you are, then you are my idol. You have the diligence and patience of a saint. Your mind is mighty and powerful just like Oz, and your eyes are the eyes I want to see the world through.

But if you're an everyday gal (or guy) like me, then get the journal at You won't regret it!