Round Peg, Square Hole, or How To Make Situations Work For You

Whenever I hear this analogy I think of the kids toy, either the wooden puzzle like thing where the player replaces the cutout shapes in the correct spots or the plastic tetrahedron like thing that the small plastic bits are pushed from the outside into the center. I have a vivid memory, or maybe it’s a created thought of trying to make one just work into a spot. Not having the cognizance yet to know that a triangle shaped piece goes into a triangle shaped hole. (I also was BIG on coloring outside the lines for a good amount of time as well). I’d try to manipulate both the piece and the whole. Sometimes I’d find a different hole that it would “fit” into but it wasn’t the correct one.

There are several views or thoughts on this one. First, the child hasn’t learned that a certain shape corresponds to a specific hole-but in time with practice, will understand. (Mind out of the gutter. That’s a different topic!) Second, there is creativity and ingenuity in trying to make things work that just don’t. Third, conformity is something that will develop as an adult, so why bother to force the child to conform now—conformity is overrated and dampens creativity!! Maybe the last one isn’t extremely popular; and I’m sure there are more thoughts on this. Feel free to share yours by comment below, tweet (@liveclarelesley) or email (liveclarelesley@gmail.com), about this subject.
But moving on…I was always trying to put whatever I had in my possession into whatever place I wanted. I got pretty good at it. Creative and intuitive they’d say about me. I LIKE being thought of as creative. I LIKE being thought as ingenuitive. I delight it these traits and make it my daily quest to continue to maintain my status in these areas. This is a blessing and a curse. As an adult I’m daily handed a crate of shapes to deal with. Some days, I go with the flow and put the right parts in the right spots. Other days it feels like all I’ve gotten handed is square pegs, and all that are in front of me are round holes. Some of these days are awesome. Sometimes I can make magic happen. No, strike that, often I make magic happen because I’m not about to be limited by only what I’m handed. Now this is instinctive for me, but I think everyone can learn to do it. The first step is thinking positively.

Not to sound all new-agey or sparkly optimistic, but there really is something good to every situation. And, in a way, you asked for whatever change happened. Last spring, I was sitting around my apartment for months wishing my room was just a little bit bigger or that I had more space to spread out all of my stuff. Well, I was told in April with two months notice, that I need to find a new apartment, that the person I’m renting from is moving back in. It sounds harsh, but that is kinda the way it is in New York. Even though I was upset—this was the fourth time I’d had to pack up and move in less than 15 months, and looking for an apartment is time consuming and a complete crap-shoot, moving was good thing. There are many things, I started to realize, that I wasn’t a fan of about that space. Yes, it met many of my needs, but it didn’t meet all of my wants. I squeezed myself into this round hole with my square peg, because 12 months ago it was a necessity. But, I now can search around and figure out exactly where I’m going. It’s a frustration that I’ve moved so much, however, its allowed me to get rid of lots of things I don’t need or use. It also makes me better at packing things up and moving.

Figuring out how to make Lemoncello when life hands you lemons (you can make Lemonade if you want… I’ll take it a step further, and have a party, too) isn’t as difficult as it may seem. First, you have to come to terms with whatever happened. I had to move. Ugh. Ok, moving on. If you sit and allow yourself to continue to be upset, then you’re not going to be creative and figure out how to get out of the situation with which you are faced. Figure out all options. This is something you can do anywhere. You don’t need to sit and make time to do it. Also, reach out to friends and colleagues, the more ears and eyes you have to help you out, usually, the better. Start working on your options. This is the difficult part, because you might work better going in multiple directions at once, or you might do better focusing on one specific option or goal and then completing it and moving on. You’ll have to figure that out as you go. Again, ask for help if you need it. Many friends don’t know that I need help because, I’m always so resourceful and I rarely complain about things. If I don’t ask for help, they’re not going to just offer it—everyone has their own life and their own problems, and things they want to go do and enjoy… so don’t be scared, just ask for help. Worst they can say is: no, I hate you. Which they won’t, not if they’re a real friend (and if they did, you might want to check out Growing Out Of Friends.

Once you start working on options, others will appear. If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times, moving and doing creates options. Even if they’re not the ones you originally thought of. There are many versions of this favorite quote of mine out there but: worry is negative imagination. If you’re sitting on your sofa, chewing your nails, and worrying about your situation, nothing is getting done. Get off your butt, and go do something. Even if it isn’t related to the thing you need to accomplish.

I had to move in a month, and I was offered a role in a play that went up two weeks before I had to move. I was panicked because I didn’t know if I should take the show or not—it would take time away from work which would cost me money, it would take away time from apartment hunting which might not give me as many options, it would take time away from packing, meh—I just have to throw my stuff in boxes, I’ll invite friends over and make a party of it and work it out after my show closes. So, I took the show. Maybe it was the right choice or maybe it wasn’t. I didn’t sit home waiting for an apartment to fall into my lap. Things work themselves out. I went out and did things and lived my life (Limoncello in hand). I still made time to browse apartment listings. I picked up boxes and figured out how to get all my things packed. And in going forward and living my life, I met new people who reached out to their friends about apartment possibilities.

I’m sure you’re wondering what happened. Well, this “fairy tale” has a happy ending. I found an apartment (which I’m sure you’re aware of if you read Five Things I’ve Learned From Moving.  I have found the most amazing roommate and clandestinely, I live upstairs from two great friends. The show—wasn’t a mistake; I made amazing connections and made a brilliant piece of art. Was it perfect: no. Did I work it out: absolutely. Next time life hands you lemons, stare those lemons down, take a breath, and start web searching Limoncello and lemon meringue pie recipes.

Clare

The Best S-E-X

Sex
SEX
Sex
I’ve been trying to write about sex for awhile now. I actually have a couple rough drafts sitting in my inbox marked “unread” so that I will go back, edit, and work on them. Clearly, that hasn’t happened.

It’s a funny thing wanting to write about a topic yet having nothing worth posting written. How can I write about sex? I’m not a sex-pert (I’m ok with not having that title, by the way). My family could read this….my lover could read this…clients and coworkers…well you get my point. So instead of writing about sex I decided to just write

Just kidding!  Ok, in all seriousness of Living ClareLesley, I am actually excited to broach this topic. Why? Well, I happen to think that too many people are having sex for all the wrong reasons. Too many people are not enjoying sex and too many people are not vulnerable enough in the bedroom to really, fully enjoy themselves and their partner. Being vulnerable gets a bad rap. By definition “weak, defenseless” but in love vulnerability takes the walls down. It requires you to be your authentic self. In a relationship, shouldn’t you want to be authentic? We as humans fear that if we let people in and reveal our true self that they’ll run. I say: then run! Take me for who I am, and if not time saved. A great article on being vulnerable in relationships is here for your enjoyment.
Seriously, if you cannot be your authentic self, it will be difficult to find an authentic relationship. They kind of go together.

So now, with a twisted arm I’m here writing about SEX–it’s a popular subject, and Clare said that I have a distinct point of view on the topic. I was raised to wait until I was married. Spoiler alert! I didn’t. Then one day my mother told me not to wait until I was married. Her virgin friends were getting divorced. My parents didn’t wait they’re divorced. Clearly, this is not exact science. I already had broken the wait until my wedding day when she retracted her parenting on the subject. But, at least now I wouldn’t have to pretend.

In my years of rule breaking I learned and observed some interesting things. Today let’s go over (briefly this is a blog not a novel) vulnerability in the sack. Now by “vulnerability” I’m not suggesting you cry during the act. Although who knows you might. I’m speaking about you letting your guards down so that you have the freedom to be you: feel what you’re feeling in that moment; have the confidence to share your needs, wants and desires! Seriously, if you guard yourself you can still have S E X…but with your guard up you can also spend your time having a latte, reading a book or catching up on your sleep—none of which need a shower after.
My dearest yoga buddy and I were juicing, post corpse pose. I was telling her about my ideas for this first SEX post. She shared that now that she knows exactly who she is in the sheets and what she wants and desires it makes it easier to decipher if she wants to keep the suitor around. Moral of the story here: if you aren’t yourself how will they know if they enjoy you and you enjoy them? If you’re absolutely your true self then you’ll know (and attract) your best mate! Know WHY you’re doing it. Simon Sinek wrote “Starts with Why”. It’s a fantastic read for all aspiring entrepreneurs but it works for your sex lives as well. Ask yourself: do I want to do this? What do I want to happen after? Am I scratching an itch? Landing a partner?

First, super important if your answer to the first question isn’t a F*ck Yes it’s a huge no and walk away.
Second, are you 100% ok if nothing happens after? Seriously! If you cannot promise yourself zero disappointment then wait. Sex one time or multiple times does not a mate make. If you’re having sex to land a mate…well you’ve heard the saying you get what you pay for. Build a strong foundation before you build the house.
Third, if you do not know what turns you on/off then no sex. You’ve gotta tell your partner what you like or want. If you cannot do this because you’re embarrassed or haven’t taken the time to discover. Wait. Take the time and then proudly share it with your person!

If I’m making you blush or feel awkward then quite honestly it’s not time you’re that intimate with another person. My favorite movie is Pretty Woman. I love Julia Roberts. As a teenager I remember the line where she says “I don’t kiss on the mouth…too personal”.

Well…for crying out loud sex should be personal! You and the person you’re taking to the mattresses or outside or in the kitchen should be this incredible personal moment! It shouldn’t be going through the motions and doing what you think they’ll enjoy or what you think you should be doing. Sex should be this personal time spent together pleasuring each other the way you each enjoy!
For my lady readers it’s not all about them and hoping sex equals a relationship.
For my men a little secret…find out what makes her jump and she’ll never “be too tired” or have a “headache” again!
It’s time we all enjoy sex for what it is, not what we think it should be. Go get vulnerable, readers!

LL

Stick Your Neck Out

In this day and age we are all about sticking our necks out and trying something.  “You Only Live Once” lately seems to be a commonly used phrase or hashtag.  Try something that scares you each day is an encouraging statement that many a self-help guru is chanting.  Its not that I don’t believe in any of this—in fact, my life is about taking big leaps and choices, daily.  Part of being an actor is continually putting yourself out on the line.  I have successfully stuck my neck out in terrifying situations, but found myself the better for it.

It is all nice and fine to sit around and talk about living for today, and putting one’s self out there—again, which I am 120% on the affirmative side.  Put your neck out there.  Try something new today.  Stand up for yourself and make steps in a positive direction: apply for that new job, ask that person out, change careers, change cell phone plans (ok, well maybe that last one is a bit crazy…) I think you should go out and put yourself on the line occasionally.  Even if you don’t prosper, it has many benefits.  That is what this article is about.  It’s all nice and fine to stick your neck out, but what happens during the waiting and after the result?

Let us start at the beginning (and we’ll eventually work through the entire thing).  You get an idea from somewhere, and it sits in your brain.  Maybe it takes a day, or maybe a year, but it grows in your mind.  You wake up one day and decide to stick you’re neck out (yay, you!).  Sometimes planning is required, but most times you have talked yourself into whatever it is that you’re trying for long enough, that you’re psyched into taking your chance.  You reach out, you take action, you send that resume or email or text or have that conversation.  And then, the dreaded waiting happens.  The thing that we’re not reminded of when we are encouraged to take a leap, is that there is inevitably a waiting period.  Sometimes it’s a short time, sometimes it’s a long time, and the worst is that sometimes it’s indefinite.

Many times when we stick our neck out into the world trying to make ourselves or our situations better, it depends on someone else.  Which, handing your life and your future over to someone else is completely terrifying.  When I go in for an audition, some days I’m totally confident in my abilities and my knowledge of my material.  Other days, I’m full of self-doubt and in a waiting room where I’m the anomaly—which sometimes works to my favor, but at the time makes me feel like even with all the courage, vigor, and verve I woke up with, I look around me and feel like I’m going to fail.  Actors, put ourselves out there daily—we basically job interview 365 days a year.  I’ve become good at pretending that I’m not feeling like a failure.  Some days I ignore the failing feeling.  Some days I steer into it, like a sailor into a storm—sometimes I sail through and sometimes, I sink.

You may be saying to yourself at this point—wow, this gal uses the word “some” a LOT in this article.  Well, its true.  But, isn’t “some” a good word to describe results of taking chances?  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  There isn’t a good ratio for courage.  Either it is or it isn’t.  It depends on the day of the week, the weather, the amount of coffee someone had that morning.  Sure, it also depends on qualifications and chemistry and whether this situation is the right fit.  There are so many “what if’s” in taking a chance.  Again, let me be clear—TAKE CHANCES.  I’m an advocate of them.  These fears and hesitations, are what hold us back.  They stifle us.  They cut us off at the knees.  They make us believe we are not good enough to deserve the outcome on the other side, heaven forbid, IF we receive it.  Self-doubt is debilitating.

I hope my credibility isn’t ruined when I say this: the truth and the inspiration of this entire article is it was inspired while I was waiting for a text message.  My life seemed to be on pause while awaiting a response.  This is an extremely silly situation for me to write to the world about—at least in my head.  I’m a strong, confident, talented woman and I’m sitting around, feeling like my fate is in someone else’s hands and waiting for a man to give me a “yes” to spending time with me.  Yeah, sorry to throw you for that loop—and I wish that this was about sticking my neck out for a job, or my career, or the general betterment of the quality of my life.  But its not.  Its about a date.  Don’t scoff.  To be completely honest with you, dating is terrifying for me.  I don’t put myself out there that often—at least not in romantic situations.  My rejection ratio feels incredibly high.  (Yes, everyone has dating or romance issues.  Yes, its difficult for most.  And really, the chances of finding the wrong person are so much higher than finding the right person.)  But we still have to try.  Dealing with relationship (or starting one) is just like sticking your neck out in any situation, and vice versa.  And as this is one area of my life I have yet to be satisfied with, I continually make myself take chances.

Here I sit, waiting.  Writing.  Because if there is one thing that Lesley and I believe in is that you can’t just sit around and do nothing.  Living is an active verb; you have to go out and do.  You truly have to have the courage not only to take the chance, but to patiently wait for the answer to come.  I have thrown myself, into what feels like the deep end of the emotional pool and I’m trying to tread the water, but the more I churn my arms, the more it feels like I’m making pudding in the deep end of the pool.  So, I’m just waiting, and now stuck in a pudding of my own thoughts.  Sigh.

There is a saying that the only thing that you can truly control in your own life are the feelings you have for every situation. So, instead of wallowing in my pudding-like feelings—I walked away and DID some things.  I got some great groceries, made dinner, watched a movie, went to bed, got up the next day, went to work, went to my book club, did some yoga, went to bed again, got up the next day… you get the picture.  I just keep moving forward.  I keep fighting for my own life back, which sounds dramatic, but sometimes the voices in my head are very loud and they give me an awful headache with reasoning and bargaining and analysis over the whole situation.

Whether I got a response or not (I eventually did) this waiting period—or actually, I should call it a “doing period” because I went out and did things and lived my life (even through the onslaught of the voices in my head)—was productive.  I wrote this article.  I figured out where I really stood in the whatever-this-is with this dude.  I painted my toes, I finished a book, I found some great recipes, I exercised, and I conquered another 20 levels on Candy Crush.  I’m sure I did some other things, but these were what came to mind just now.

So I started this talking about taking a chance and sticking my neck out… and if you’ve been paying attention, you are probably saying to yourself: wow, nothing really happened.  She wrote an article about nothing and I’m still reading it.  Well, its not nothing.  I did take a chance.  I tried to move a relationship in a different direction.  I put myself out there.  In doing so, I learned things about myself.  They were little small things, but I still learned more about me, and how I want to live my life.  Because I took a step in a direction, I found out more about that specific direction and where it might lead.  In fact a few days later, because I took this little chance, I decided to take another one.  I applied for a new job.  The same sort of waiting situation occurred while waiting for a response there, too.  Because I took one step out of my comfort zone, I realized there were other aspects of my current life I didn’t like.  Current being the operative word.  You can change anything in your present.  You can take steps to cure your own unhappiness.  Maybe its right, and maybe its wrong, but because I took a step and stuck my neck out—yes even just for a text, or applying for a job—and then walked away and lived my life, I am all the better for having done it—small though either of these might seem.  And even better yet I’ve reaffirmed it is up to me to make the decision as to where I am headed next.  So big or small, get out there and stick your neck out in the world.

Clare

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

The term “girls’ night out” can bring up a range of images and memories! In my early 20’s girls night was basically heels, tight jeans, great hair and starting out with the girls…then…as  the debauchery ensued boys were added to the mix and we may or may not have gone home with the girls we started with. Instead, promises to get home safe, use a condom and call each other in the morning.  In my late 20’s girls’ night out was a variety of outfits ranging from work clothes to gym clothes. Drinks were still a constant but the expectation was that we would each be going to our own homes, to our boys and no need to “check in” in the morning. Now in my early 30’s girls nights are just that—girls nights. Attire doesn’t matter, check-in’s unnecessary but the conversation is more of a combo of the early and late 20’s. Drinks and/or fresh juice are ordered in rounds and connecting with women of like minds is so liberating, inspiring and necessary.

But, sometimes the conversation leaves a bad taste. Honesty is good.  Wounding each other is not. I am talking more about when you realize that your friends have a distinct difference in perspective on something and it is different from yours. You probably would speak your mind and agree to disagree and then maybe even avoid that topic in the future. All is fine. It really is, in fact it’s healthy to have differing perspective.

Recently I was out having one of these girls’ night outs. I brought up a discussion I had previously with a particular male suitor. I had told him that if he wanted to spend time with me on a Saturday night he needed to ask me out before Saturday night. Preferably before that same Saturday afternoon but why split hairs. My ladies wondered why that mattered. Why did I need this suitor to call me before, he was calling me after all what difference did it make when he called?  I did my best to keep my jaw from falling on the floor and breaking.  Why is it important to contact me before the evening in question? Respect!! R-E-S-P-E-C-T (yes you can sing that out loud).

If the person calling you last minute is someone you are just hooking up with then absolutely the timing of the call makes no difference. Neither of you are respecting or asking for respect of each other. You’re mutually using each other for a connection and if one of you isn’t free no big deal, one of you will just continue through your contacts and call the next person.

If the person calling you last minute is someone you want to date, have a future anything with…Guess what?! They better be contacting you at least a day or so ahead of time. Asking if you’re free and then the two of you sharpie that date in your schedulers. Or at least ask Siri to put it in your calendar for you. This pre-planning shows several things. 1) Respect! For you and your time. 2) they are thinking of you and looking forward to the next time. 3) They don’t want someone else to snag your Saturday night.

My girls night out friends agreed to disagree. Which is fine. But, I was still bothered. Why? Because I think we have convinced ourselves that we don’t need that courtship or that it doesn’t exist. Or worse doesn’t need to exist.  That it’s a fact that men do not contact ahead of time. That we should be the ones that text, call, email, Facebook, tweet them to get them to think of us in hopes that this attempt at connecting will elicit a date. Then we complain that there are no good ones out there. Because of all of this, we also have convinced ourselves that as long as he calls, texts, tweets, what’s app’d us that he’s into us and all is good.

Nope! Wrong! If we want to be treated like the queens we are then we need to act like a queen.  Sure, acting like a queen means watching and kicking lots of jester’s to the curb but one day your king—do not settle for a prince!—will show up. Honestly, do you want someone thinking of you because you put yourself in their thoughts?

First steps in declaring your queen-ness and Respecting yourself:

1) do not contact him unless asked to respond. If he wants to call you he will…seriously he’ll make up a reason to call you if he doesn’t have one!  Don’t contrive Opportunities.

2) do not jump at every chance to go on a date. Ask yourself is he a king? Hint a king doesn’t call at 8pm Saturday for that evening’s date.

3) Love and RESPECT thyself NOW!

Yep, I only have three tips. Why? Because loving and respecting yourself ensures that you will attract or respond to someone who respects you. I have happily seen my girlfriends move past this evening and now see my point. When you’re Duty Dating or just out having fun then enjoy all that comes with that. But, if you want more, need more…then these tips are for you! I know from experience that this will work.

LL