“Fighting” Holiday Anxiety This Year

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Photo credit: Viktor Hanacek

The holidays are a stressful time for most of us, I would wager. At least most people I know.

If you have financial trouble, nothing puts pressure on it like needing to buy a million gifts, travel, or make a time extra magical somehow for your kids. If you are far from your family or have little family, holidays will shine a spotlight right on that sore spot. Let’s say you have money- are your gifts thoughtful enough? If you spend too much, will you make them uncomfortable? Are your kids learning the right lessons about giving?

On and on, the anxious mind can spin.

Did your mother-in-law hate your turkey? Is your racist drunk uncle coming to the Christmas party where he will certainly pick a fight with you? Will your flight be canceled due to a blizzard and you’ll miss Christmas altogether?

And, for those of us who identify as introverts, my big question every year- how do I build in badly needed “me time” to the nonstop holiday celebrations?

I’ve read list after list of ideas for fighting the extra anxiety that the holidays bring. They usually include things like this:

  • “Make sure you make time for workouts! Those endorphins will help bust through the gloom and keep you feeling great!”
  • “Don’t go into debt to give gifts. Give something handmade, or just trust that being together with your family is the most important thing.”
  • “Don’t go overboard hosting! Keep dinner simple and click THIS LINK for tons of inexpensive DIY decor!”
  • “Teach your kids that giving is better than receiving. Volunteer, adopt a family in need, and encourage them to make gifts from the heart for teachers or friends.”

The brilliant “tips” go on like this, full of ways to put your mind at ease that you’re doing your very best.

None of these are bad ideas. Nothing wrong with them. But let’s get real for a second.

I’m busy. I’m even busier during the holidays. While a trip to Michaels, hours on Pinterest, and even more hours creating an “inexpensive handmade” gift might sound like a good way to save money on expensive items, swapping my credit card for a perfectly lovely present from a department store is way less stressful.

Will I make time for workouts? I hope! But, honestly, eating a vegetable or two and getting six hours of sleep might be about all the wellness I have time for some days.

Will showing up without a gift, encouraged that the “present of my presence” will be enough really make for a comfortable situation in most cases? Probably not, let’s face it.

There will likely be family drama. My jeans will likely get tighter. The kids will likely not have a perfect Hallmark Christmas full of lifelong lessons about the magic of giving and the evil that is constant consumerism. I hope to teach them gratitude, how little others have, and how fun it is to give someone a gift. Here’s hoping.

Here is my point: this year, I’m leaning in. I’m just accepting that this is going to be stressful. I’m sitting in it. I’m going to organize as best I can, and spend too much, and miss some things, and probably not work out enough. I might get high strung. I might have a meltdown. I might forget a gift until the last minute, or not get holiday cards out this year, or spend too much, or too little, or gain weight, or not get out of bed some days.

So what?

Will the world end because I didn’t wake up an hour early every day to do yoga? Will my family fall apart because we had to say “no” to some events and invites? Will my husband leave me because I didn’t create a Pinterest-worthy spread for a Christmas get-together?

Nope.

Will I regret the credit card debt come January that will save me loads of time in December?

I don’t know. Maybe.

All I know is that I can’t do it all perfectly, and I can’t do it “imperfectly” perfectly, so, it’s not going to be perfect. It’s going to be real.

Try to stay present. Spend money if needed, don’t if it’s not necessary. Give myself a break. Constantly find reasons to be grateful and notice them as often as possible. Be prepared to fail some days, totally fail. Don’t miss the magic in the very small things, if you can help it.

This is my holiday plan, and probably just a decent plan for life, too. I constantly find that the best anxiety buster is accepting anxiety. It seems to dissipate once given into.

And, failing that, there is always, always wine.

 

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When Someone You Love Can’t Accept Your New “Imperfect” Body

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I’ve been on this journey of recovery from my eating disorder for about three years now. I purposely have taken it slow, going step by step. Once I realized I could stop feeling the way I felt my entire life, I wanted to be sure I did everything in my power to put an end to it for good.

That’s not to say I really ever think I’ll be totally “cured,” for lack of a better word. Everyone’s journey is different, and most people I’ve connected with or read about feel that an eating disorder is something that never quite goes away. My therapist compared my disorder most closely to my anxiety and depression, as an imbalance that manifests itself in a specific way. Indeed, as I’ve let go of my regimented eating and workout habits, I’ve felt OCD coming back in certain ways pretty strongly, so she’s onto something.

However, I’ve always mentally compared it to alcoholism, which is a tactic that’s helped me a lot. Since my dad is an alcoholic and I’ve spent years in Al-Anon, I know a whole lot about it. I’ve watched him go in and out (mostly out) of recovery over and over, and am practically an expert in this category, as one becomes out of necessity. I know for a fact that an alcoholic has to admit they are powerless over alcohol completely, and to succeed in recovery they have to accept they can never have another drink.

For me, this was a natural transfer. At some point early in my recovery, I learned that people with disordered eating are really at risk if they venture into any regimented diet or exercise plan, even the “healthy” ones. (Whether there is any truly “healthy” way to restrict and control what we put into our bodies is a topic for another blog.) Right away I admitted to myself that I was powerless over the need to control my body and that I had to give it up altogether.

This may not work for everyone. It helped me a lot. I backslid a few times- more than a few times- but my goal was to get to a place where I ate and exercised only to feel good. I had to let go of all calorie counting, all instances of forcing myself to work out if I felt it was for the wrong reasons, all restrictions of this food or that, basically let my body eat and do what it wanted for a while to learn about its needs, what made me feel good or bad, etc.

Naturally, I’ve gained weight. I try to stay away from numbers and sizes in this blog because I think comparisons are very dangerous. Every body is different. For me, I’ve gone up several sizes over these three years, and that’s how I know how much I’ve changed. Of course, this is common, and since I’ve stopped starving and purging, it’s naturally going to happen. There is the added element that I denied my body enough food for so long, it’s holding onto fats for dear life. Continue reading

When You Feel You’re “Missing Out” on the Bigger Things

Being the age

I dropped out of college after about two and a half years. I say “about” because I sort of just stopped showing up somewhere during my fifth semester. I wasn’t being lazy or giving up- quite the contrary. I was working several jobs to make ends meet, so when I started booking paid acting and modeling work, I didn’t have time to fit in everything. I figured I didn’t need a theatre degree for my career as an actor if I was working as an actor, so I let the need to finish school go.

(Side note- I am not advocating the idea that one should take dropping out of school lightly. However, I also don’t think anyone should finish college and get up their eyeballs in debt if it doesn’t make sense for their lives. Another blog post for another day.)

Since I left school before most people I knew at the time who were pursuing the acting life, I suddenly had this feeling that I was a little bit “ahead.” Not as a person, or an actor, definitely not in experience or financially, but just as far as time was concerned. It was like I had two “free years”, where all acting credits and experience were “bonus”, where I could slack off or not, and it didn’t matter. Continue reading

A Good Cause & A Sad Fact

https://www.gofundme.com/bretts-treatment-fund

So, I don’t know the above people. I clicked on the link because a good Facebook friend shared it, and I usually find myself caring about causes dear to my friends’ hearts.

Normally I simply donate what I can, click to share on Twitter, and move on with my day.

Today, a line from this page hit me so hard, and I had to write about it for a minute.

This campaign is to help a woman struggling with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, who recently had a situation requiring serious hospitalization and needs help. Of course, she has to fight and beg and plead with her insurance to help cover the cost of this treatment, because health insurance has a long way to go in the treatment of mental illnesses. Which is a whole separate blog post in itself. (Sigh.)

But this is the line that stabbed me in the heart:

“Brett’s very nervous for a lot of reasons–not the least of all because depression can make you believe you don’t deserve help.” Continue reading

“Get Out” – Why I Still Can’t Breathe

Film Title: Get Out

 

Holy SHIT guys.

I just (finally) watched Get Out– Jordan Peele’s incredible, insane, amazing, terrifying, thought-provoking directorial debut. That’s right…debut. Like, “oh, I’ve never done this before, but lemme just give it a shot, and DO IT PERFECTLY.”

Oh, he wrote it, too, because he is a film robot. He’s the Tom Brady of creating content. Comedy? Sure. Horror? Why not.

I had to blog because I have to talk about this! It’s consuming my brain! It’s like it moved into my mind, rented an apartment, and is just sitting there, like, “remember THIS scene?! THAT scene?! How about the BINGO SCENE!?!?”

This blog is probably a safer read if you’ve seen the film already. I don’t know if there will be spoilers yet, but probably. I’m just free writing what the film alien that has taken up residence in my mind tells me to write.

I have to get it out of my head.  Continue reading

On Being (and Not Being) Carol in Mamet’s “Oleanna”

From time to time as an actor you find yourself truly falling in love with a role. There are certain ones that just speak to your soul in a way you can’t undo. You become woven into the fabric of each other, and you come to care for them in a strange way- strange only because, by nature of being a “character”, they are fictional.

These characters don’t truly exist, and they are subject to the opinions of those artists playing and directing them. Of course. We know this….

Still, I can always tell when I’m head over heels for a character I want to play because the same thing happens to me every time: I become desperately protective of them. I’m suddenly worried that no other artist in the world could possibly understand them the way I do, and that, out of my control, they will become terribly misunderstood by the entire world.

More often than not, it is the nature of our business that we do lose those roles. There are vast numbers of actors feeling this way, and just the one role.

Such it has gone for me. In a few weeks time I met, studied, deeply understood, became wildly obsessed with and overly protective of, auditioned for, went to callbacks for, and subsequently lost the role of Carol in a production of David Mamet’s OleannaContinue reading

Thoughts After the Election- A Three Step Process

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Part One- Exhaustion.

I was so ready.
Ready to stop fighting those who want LGBT rights taken away or prevented.
Ready to stop fighting for reproductive rights for myself, for all women, for my daughters.
Ready to stop fighting misogyny, racism, xenophobia.
Ready to just take a breath and feel we have finally turned a corner.
But our nation isn’t ready, so we keep going. We keep fighting for our brothers and sisters who need us to fight with them.
We stand strong, even when we are ready to crumble from the exhaustion of that fight.
At least we know, we fight the GOOD fight. We stand on the right side of history. We are here for a reason.
My social feeds, my city, and my life are full of people ready to keep fighting for right. This is how I have hope in my heart today.
Surround yourself with warriors of hope, love, equality, and acceptance. Lift each other up, so we can keep standing, keep marching. Progress can’t be stopped for long, and love always wins.
Continue reading

Inside the Trump Bubble, or, That Time I Met Donald Trump 

I met Donald Trump in person about 8 years ago. Actually, I worked for him. I was hired in Chicago along with many other girls for the “Donald Trump Real Estate and Wealth Expo.” One of those things where people pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to hear pitches from tons of different people trying to sell them more classes, books, programs, etc, with a few cool headliners to round it out.

I worked 3 days directing people, presenting onstage, crowd pumping, etc.

The last speaking slot of the last day belonged to Trump himself. I remember being exhausted, ready to go home. The auditorium was full of attendees, waiting to hear his “words of wisdom” that would turn them into millionaires. They had all of us who were working line up at the stage door where he would enter. They told us to clap and cheer for him upon arrival like we were huge fans. They planted a couple of girls with a copy of his book, with instructions to beg for an autograph. Some were given lines to say. We were no longer working to make sure the people who spent their hard earned money were having a good time, but instead to be sure the guy making the money felt special. I remember thinking how pathetic that made him seem, but whatever.

So we waited. Hours. We sat down and waited after a while, because someone finally got a call that he was playing golf, and hadn’t even boarded the plane yet. We waited longer. The end time of the event passed. We were being paid a day rate, but told we couldn’t leave. Another hour passed. It was insane.

Finally, we got word his private jet had touched down. We lined up as told, and 30 minutes later, erupted into wild applause when he strutted through the door, arrogant as hell. “Don’t worry, it was worth it. I beat X on the golf course today.” No apologies for the wait. We followed our instructions as he walked between the two lines of people put in place. “Can I have your autograph Mr. Trump?” “Please can we pose for a photo?!?” “I’m your biggest fan!”

I wondered what he would tell the restless, no doubt tired audience about his tardiness. I felt disgusted by his attitude. I remember a distinct creeped out feeling by the whole situation.

He walked onto the stage when he was good and ready, and announced to the whole crowd that he was late because he decided to play a round of golf last minute, then repeated the line that it was worth it since he won. I braced myself for anger from the crowd.

Instead, they laughed. They cheered. They clapped and celebrated him. They listened to him ramble on about how very, very rich they were going to be now that they had attended this seminar.

This is how Trump spends his entire life, in a bubble of people paid and confused into celebrating his shitty treatment of people, his arrogance, his ignorance. He is the King of Planet Trump, and no one is around to tell him he’s wrong. He lives in a manufactured world of crap, and the worse he treats people, the more crowds cheer.

Maybe in North Korea….but I just don’t see that person dealing with the realities of being President of the United States very well.

I guess we will find out in 6 days.

Know what? I’ll bet he didn’t even win that game….

13 Not-So-Obvious Things My Husband Does That Make Our Marriage Amazing

Ok, so I’m going to totally brag for a second. Don’t worry, it’s not about me.

See, I have an awesome husband. I’m one of those women that other women are always pulling aside and saying stuff like, “Steve is SUCH a great guy! You’re so lucky!” and “If only we all had a Steve.”  Dudes are constantly joking, “Tell him to stop! He’s making the rest of us look bad!” Seriously. Nonstop.

What is it about him that inspires such sentiments? Well, it’s pretty simple. Steve is just a really great guy, all around. Great boss, great dad, great husband. Nay- amazing husband. He’s fun, easy to talk to, kind, thoughtful, generous, funny, smart, and a great listener. My sister once described him as “the most instantly welcoming person I’ve ever met.”

It’s all true. I’m a lucky girl. But really, that generic stuff only scratches the surface. I’d like to take a moment to share with you a few of the things Steve does, all the time, that take our marriage from “pretty good” to so great that women are always commenting on our social media with “#relationshipgoals” and “Does Steve have a single brother? Or have we figured out cloning technology yet….?” Continue reading

Love Letter to You, Inspired by Earthquakes and Migraines

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Los Angeles has been on an earthquake alert for a few days, which is supposed to end today. Earthquakes are part of life here, and we haven’t seemed able to predict them too accurately, so it didn’t alarm me much. Especially when I read that the highest likelihood was still something like 1 in 100. Nothing to flee the city over.

My husband and I discussed it a little though, and he was a little worried. He actually asked (possibly half jokingly) if I should move my upcoming trip to Michigan up and come yesterday instead. We sort of laughed, though, of course you wonder….better safe than sorry?

But, if I wanted to truly be out of the earthquake zone, I would have to just move. So, I stay. I love Los Angeles that much. It’s my home. A little shakeup can’t scare me away!

Tonight, out of nowhere, a terrible migraine hit me. It’s 8:30p, and I have to just sleep it off. I know these migraines- the only answer is to close my eyes and sleep as long as possible. To that end- and because I’ve had a little anxiety over a few personal things- I took an entire Xanax to help me sleep uninterrupted and wake up fresh and new tomorrow.

After I took the Xanax, after I became extremely drowsy, Tigre started acting up. Continue reading