Competitive Progress

I’m writing a novel. It started out as a journal response to a break up, and then blossomed into a much bigger entity. Its been a slower process, because, it takes a LOT of time to write a book, especially when your life isn’t focused around it. It takes a lot of time to do anything if your life isn’t focused around that thing; raising a child, advancing your career, becoming better at sports, getting a performing career regulated. I was also in final rehearsals for a show I was about to open. One of the gentlemen in my cast was on his computer a lot while not on stage. At one point, I teased him about taking notes on other actors in the show, and he responded that he was working on a novel. I asked questions and was an appropriate level of excited for him and interested, outwardly. Inside, the competitive streak awakened. I mentioned that I was working on a novel as well, and shared a little about mine. We have a similar amount of page numbers, so I felt around his same level. But something was ignited in me. I felt competitive, and something inside me seemed to take a starting position, ready for the starter pistol to fire. Although his book is a completely different subject than mine, and really outside of rehearsals, I don’t know his life… As in, his book could be a culmination of writing from the last 10 years, or it could be that he has lots of free time that he can spend on it, or maybe he’s just much more regimented than I am. Also this is his second book—whereas this is my first large work. Instead of coming home from a long day of rehearsal and just relaxing, I opened up my computer and tried to dive into writing again. Why did I do this? Simply because I saw someone else writing, my brain thought: oh, he’s getting ahead of me in the Race of Life—I have to hurry up and catch up with him! Which, frankly, is a really dumb thought. However, I have it all the time. All. The. Time. Why? Competitive progress.

Whenever I set out to do something, and I see someone else doing something similar it ignites the passion and competition in me. Sometimes this is a good thing, but sometimes, I sacrifice things so I can “keep up with the Joneses.” I didn’t sacrifice much but sleep last night, but sometimes that is enough of a sacrifice. I have this crazy notion that I need to finish because a colleague might get ahead of me—this is a completely ridiculous thought. So, the questions arise: Why am I letting someone else’s actions spur me on? Why do I feel the need to be competitive? And why does it matter if it inspires me to move forward with my goals and ambitions?

Writing happens for me in spurts, any project that takes time, I often do in segments. In between writing the above and now, I read an article about jealousy. I started questioning myself, was I jealous of my colleague who was making sure he devoted time to writing? In a way, yes, but I turned it into a positive. It spurred me on to do my own work. Jealousy is only jealousy if it turns you against another person and in a way against yourself. If you’re starting to feel a heightened emotion and feel badly towards yourself because of something someone else is doing: STOP. Make that into something positive instead of just sitting and bemoaning your life. Take that energy and allow it to be positive, and creative instead of negative and a vacuum. Do as I did—I saw someone else doing something that was similar to a project I was working on. I felt shame and a bit jealous that he had thought to work on his project when he had spare time. He wasn’t flashing it around, he was just being present in two genres of his life at the same time: rehearsing and writing.

First, take the ridiculous jealous feelings out of your brain, set them aside, and tell yourself that you don’t want to be negative about whatever achievements the other person is making. You just don’t. Refuse! You’re feeling this because you wish you had more time to work on something, or were more creative, or wish you had thought of it. Whenever you start feeling jealous, tell yourself it’s a natural need to create something. Start brainstorming.

Brainstorming and creativity can happen at anytime. You just need to give yourself the permission, and the outlet. Put down the game on your phone and give time to yourself instead. Once you start sneaking in the time to create, you’ll start making time for yourself to create. I now sit down every morning for an hour and work on creative things—whether it’s writing or working on my website or working on something creative or even just doodling or making lists on the creative ideas I have; anything that gets the ideas out of me and into the world.

Also remember, my dear snowflakes, that you are totally different than any other person. Your timeline is not the same as mine, and mine is not the same as Lesley’s or my cast mate’s, or the guy sitting across from me on the subway, or any of your “friends” on social media. I don’t have a baby, a 401K, or a mortgage like many of the people I went to school with. However, I have a blog, two almost-books, a burgeoning theatrical career, and an apartment in Manhattan. I will get to where I need to go, when I’m meant to get there. Things will show up in my life when they are meant to. My stories will get written when they do.

That brings me back to the blog. Last week I was looking at our blog stats. A few months ago we hit a record number of views in a day for us. It was so great. Lesley and I are asked for our opinions and advice all the time and we wanted to reach a greater number of people, so we started this blog/book/movement. I’ll admit that when we started, it was a lovely outlet to express my thoughts. When the momentous day happened ( it was our first triple digit day, so we got excited). Then, we seemed to dwindle back down to double digits. Like any other high in life, the fall out is hard. Especially when your hope and expectations are up. At times like these, the fall outs, you can do several things. The most popular being: wallowing in self pity, and giving up. However, if Edison gave up, we wouldn’t have the light bulb… or at least the version of the light bulb he created and as soon as he created it. Someone else would have done that, but not shared with the world some other gift… anyway… The point I’m getting around to is this: if I didn’t fail in life as much as I have, I wouldn’t have anything to share with you. I wouldn’t try as hard to write a book, tell stories, be an actress. Failing, or roadblocks that diverted my path from the ones I thought I wanted to take brought me to exactly where I’m supposed to be. Yes, it all might not be momentous realizations and creations, but instead encouragements and redirections. The blog not getting as many views spurred Lesley and me into figuring out other directions (and really at three months old, we’re doing GREAT at LiveClareLesley—I just want it to be 1000 views a day. Now!) If I hadn’t had the terrible relationship, I wouldn’t have started a novel. If I hadn’t seen my acting colleague working on his book, I wouldn’t have been spurred to write both my novel and our blog. We all have things to share. We all have gifts to give. We all want to make a mark on the world.

Stop worrying about the mark. Like all good acting/art teachers will tell you: be true to your art. Go out and create, be, live, do. Stop worrying about what others are doing. You’ll make whatever you want, and make it your own, on your own timeline.

Clare

(oh and if you’re interested, you can follow the novel’s progress at The Time Turner)

Choose Your Own Adventure

It’s my birthday Month!

I absolutely Love LOVE LOVE! Celebrating my birthday. Did I mention I love my birthday?!

But I hate when people say they’re coming to my birthday celebrations and then last minute text, call, email or some other way to bail. I know things come up, people get sick, etc, etc. I just really don’t want to hear it on my birthday or while I’m celebrating.

So, I have devised a new way of planning and celebrating. A almost fool proof way to enjoy your celebrations without disappointment on whose ditching out: Choose Your Own Adventure!

You pick and plan how you want to spend your day/weekend. Invite your friends and family. Instruct them to “Choose the Adventure” they most want to do. But!! Unless instructed,  they DO NOT RSVP. This way, should something come up for them, you’re none the wiser and you can focus on enjoying those that did come!

Here’s what I did last year:

Friday drinks at The W 7pm-10

Saturday: 8am beach run
9:30 coffee brunch
1pm spa day
Dinner at my favorite restaurant (I will need to know if you’re coming for reservations)
10pm drinks at an Amazing bar
Sunday: 4pm Yoga
9pm drinks at Sassafras

This year’s adventure:

Friday: 6pm Olympic Spa (girls only)
9pm dinner drinks The Line Hotel
Saturday: 8:30am Yogaworks Weho

10am brunch below yoga studio
8pm Dinner Sage (made res for 12 please rsvp)
10pm Funky Sole Dance night at the Echo (get in line at 10 free before 10:30)
Sunday: 4:30 yoga by my house
6pm BYOKombucha or other fermented beverage the B&L haven

Those were the basics of mine. You can get as detailed as you want! The best part is…. I got to do everything I wanted to do and those who attended picked something up their alley. They chose the adventure they wanted to have with me. No lists needed. No trying to visit with everyone in one night.

I’m sitting here at the end of another joyous birthday. It’s typically my “new year.” I am happier than last year. Just like last year I was happier than the year before.  I am so thrilled to be celebrating my birthday today! I hope you can use my “choose your own adventure” birthday planning to enjoy your next one.

This is another way we at Live ClareLesley are inviting you to take control of your own life. Do things your way and that includes celebrating your birthday the only way you can. By being you!

Happy Birthday To Me, my fellow Aquarians and un-birthday to all of you!

Xx~LL

New Year, Same You. Upgraded.

January first, my beau and I decided to make our commitment even more serious.  In fact, we put it in writing.  We are now committed to a two year plan together with our phones. Yep it’s that serious.

Signing up together, and committing to two years meant that we got to get a new iPhone Six Pluses!  Oh yeah, we went for the biggest, baddest phones there were, with all the bells and whistles!!  Now, I’m not here to tell you about how to pick a “family plan.”  Instead I want to talk about “upgrades.”

When you get new technology, there is a learning curve.  There are similar apps, or programs, or options, and most work better than what you had.  Its a frustrating, but also an exciting time.  I realized a yoga app I had used before, not only operates faster, but has more options making it easier to use. Even though it was frustrating calibrating my mind to work with the technology, it turns out it was better in the long run.  So, in doing all of this I discovered that while my phone is upgraded, and it’s this great, new, fantastic version, the inherent part of the phone is still the same.  It still has all the same great qualities, however there are just some that are better, faster, stronger versions of the ones I used to have.

For 2015, I am determined to love the skin I’m in and enjoy every moment.  To practice this, I’m using my yoga classes. I started a 30 day challenge to get me in the habit of daily love and appreciation for all that my body can do. Even in yoga.  Especially in yoga.  I breathe deeply and focus on every pose.  I also make sure to take everything in, and realize while in every pose, how strong I am.

As humans, we sometimes get really pissed off at ourselves for not being able to do something we could do before, or we think we should be able to do today.   All these subjective judgments!!  We make demands on ourselves, even though we know there really isn’t a timeline, except for what we put on ourselves.  We decide when we want something to be done, and we arbitrarily pick dates and times and abilities that we think we should be able to do.  That’s A LOT of definitions and demands we put on ourselves!

In class today I just made the decision that I was going to just freaking enjoy myself and see how strong I was in everything.  For the first time in my entire tenure of yoga practice, I held a headstand for five minutes.  Five freaking minutes I was up there on my head!!  And do you know what I realized?  I always could’ve done this!  I was held back before because I was in my head about how I “should be able to do this.” I got out of my own head, out of my own way, and had the best practice I’ve ever had in my entire history of practicing yoga.  I was thrilled with everything that I was doing.  I enjoyed each pose.  I didn’t get upset when I couldn’t do something.  I just did what I could.  I had the most rewarding 90 minutes of yoga… my muscles are still shaking in the best way!

While I was laying in savasana, I decided that all this new year/new you stuff is so detrimental, and so arbitrary, and so random.  Just because it’s a new year, doesn’t mean you “should be a new you.”  Instead, what if you’re just a better version of yourself? What if you just upgraded yourself?  (I mean it would be great if we could just plug in and sit there for a moment while all the details worked themselves out.)  Kinks and bugs, bye bye!

Upgrading yourself is not as easy as doing it with a phone.  There will definitely have to be conscious decisions made and plans, every time we decide to grow and change for the better.  Instead of being upset at myself for all that I’m not, I could become the new newer version of my best self.  I’m not going to completely change who I am– I happen to love who I am.  I  am really proud of who I am, but I still have room to grow.  Sudden change of who you are shouldn’t happen just because the calendar changed, but instead because you want to become a better, upgraded version of your current self.

Note: you can not upgrade yourself or upgrade your phone several several times until things start feeling right.  I am notorious for not updating my phone operating system when a new one comes out. I prefer to wait a few days, pick an afternoon that works for me. When I have the time to plug in, upgrade and experience the change.  2014 may be gone, and the calendar says its time to start anew.  However, like a phone contract, you can start your upgrade at anytime.  Maybe we’re already a few weeks in, or maybe you’re just now reading this post and its the middle of the year.  Its never too late to upgrade, and there isn’t a time limit.  Love your current you, and find the upgrade that fits your life.

LL

Finding Closure

Here we are in the third week of January. Can you believe its 2015? Last year wasn’t too terrible, but a lot happened to me. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to close the door to 2014 so I can move forward. Let’s find our way towards closure, together!

My amazing roommate has found herself unwillingly in a closure situation. A good friend of hers is in a terrible relationship. The proof is there that the man that the friend is seeing is cheating, in multiple ways. He is also leaving the country to go home to his own country for good in three months. Its obvious to everyone, including my roommate that her friend is in a relationship that is going nowhere and is a terrible situation. The friend just needs to walk away. My roomie talked with her all night long, and finally convinced her friend to kick the dude out. The next day, friend was standing up for the dude to my roommate and saying that he had no place to go, that he wasn’t really that bad, that she had misread things and none of the cheating was really as bad as she thought…. And so on. The reason the friend knew all of this about Cheater Dude was that she went back for closure—she needed to ask (and be answered) why he would cheat on her. Isn’t she more important in her own life to allow that kind of treatment? My question for her is: why do you need to know?

This has happened to all of us! Eeek!! You’re in a situation that you know is wrong. It just is. Its bad for you. It’s deteriorating your life, your sensibility, your soul. You walk away, or really you start to take steps in the direction that leads away, only to proverbially look back over your shoulder, catch a glimpse of what you’re leaving, and you run back looking for confirmation that you’re retreat was best for you. Only to find out information that you didn’t want to know.

When you read it all written out in a hypothetical, it sounds rather silly. However, it is human nature to look for closure. Humans are a species that likes to tell stories. We have proof that cave men and women painted pictures to tell tales. The Egyptians are famous for hieroglyphics that tell their history and stories. Disney makes millions and millions of dollars on stories that parents across the world are exhausted of watching over and over (if anyone sings to me one more time about wanting to build a snowman…). What do you do when you go out with friends—you tell stories about the things happening in your life! One thing about stories. They all have endings. We have trained ourselves as a society to look for endings. Everything that begins has to have some sort of close. Although we may, from time to time, refute this fact—it is true. Everything has an end. Every chapter has a final period. Every book has a final sentence. Every movie has rolling credits. There is seemingly an end to everything.

In every day life, credits don’t roll. There isn’t a final punctuation mark or thought or sentence. Sometimes there is just the quiet sound of someone giving up. Or being fed up. Or generally not being invested or interested anymore. It happens. Life is short. Just like when the book we are reading or the movie we are watching ends, we move past it because its over. Our attention span is only so long, and we move on to another event or person in our life. Sometimes we don’t even finish that book or movie.

In relationships, curiosity always gets the best of us, and pulls us back into situations that we know are wrong. We need to know the answers, we need to figure out what we did wrong, we need to know how to fix it or do better next time. Because of our story telling culture, with their morals and their tidy endings, we feel that we need to make everything end with a tidy final sentence with the bad guy going off to something horrific, and with a lovely scrolling “The End.” Roll credits. My lovelies, this is life. It’s harsh, it’s insane, it’s chaotic. There are rarely satisfying endings in life. Life is most satisfying when you take the reigns, go out and make it your own. If you don’t like the way a relationship or friendship or job situation is playing out, approach it. Work it out. If it isn’t work out-able, move on. Sometimes you have to let things go, and let them work themselves out. Sometimes you have to run, don’t walk, away from Cheater Dudes and Dudettes. Sometimes you have to end relationships with friends. Sometimes you have the chance to see them later in life and enjoy Schaudenfreude at their expense, and sometimes you have to remove them from your Facebook because you can’t stand to see continual happy pictures of them at family gatherings, weddings, with babies, etc.

Yes, it is an attractive thought to look up people and friends from past lives. With so many social media outlets that are at our fingertips, it is just too easy to look up people or groups that we have left behind, but still need to connect to, or confirm that our leaving was best. I fell into the trap of looking up an ex’s profile the other day—I felt good about myself because, oh my goodness is he still in the same exact place he was when we dated, and is seemingly going nowhere! But then I started to feel horrible—how could I ever have dated that person and why did I spend so much of my time at the end and after it was over, bemoaning the loss? Of course I spiraled for a bit, feeling sorry for myself. Anyway, the point is: had I not indulged and went to take a look at his profile, I wouldn’t have spiraled. I should have left that door closed, instead of seeking to find more closure on the subject. Because, here is another point: nothing would have satisfied me. Nothing. Even if he had died, I still would have been sad. Even if he had been ripped apart by dragons, his parts divided between aliens, and then eaten by worms on their separate planets, I still wouldn’t feel quelled. It was better to just not think of him at all. I made my closure when he left my life the first time, and I should just leave it at that.

I’m going to tell you a secret about closure: its within you. Yup. Serious. You’re in charge of all of the closure you get. Which is great because you’re in control of when the story ends. You can walk away at any time. You can choose how the story ends. However, when you return to someone else for closure, they have the power. Don’t let them have it. They’re probably the one who is in control of you anyway because you let them be. Stop the insanity. Take control. Make the closure happen. Walk away. Tell yourself positive things like: they were sucking the soul out of you and now you can actually thrive; single is much better than being someone’s puppet; that friend was making you into something you hate; you’re better than the ick that was happening to you; you’re a sensitive, wise individual who deserves better. Get up and get out. I promise you once you step away from the bad things, new and better things will replace it. Remove yourself from the toxicity.

I had a really “great” job several years ago. You might hear me reference this job several times, because having that job, actually losing that job was a huge catalyst in making me head in the direction I was meant to go. For now take my word on it that it was a good amount of money and benefits, but it was squashing my soul. I made some mistakes in the job, which led them to find more reasons to let me go. The thing is, to this day, I’m still curious about what happened to that place. They made me feel so terribly about myself in the time span I was working there, that I wonder if they’re still in business. I sometimes even find myself opening up a search engine and start to type in their name to look them up. But really, it doesn’t matter. I’m sure they’re still surviving. More importantly, I’m thriving. My life is all the better for having been kicked to the curb. That door was closed, and I’m leaving it that way.

My roommate chose to take closure into her own hands, too. She told her friend she could be friends, but could no longer listen to or be a part of her friend’s deterioration. My roommate stepped away from her friend—which wasn’t easy. We still don’t know what happened with the friend, and her straying beau.

We search for closure all of the time because we are trained to find the ends to stories, the results to equations, and the outcome of everything. Life is messy, and really only ends when you’re dead—and even then it’s questionable. Depending on what kind of mark you put on the world, you could live on in infamy like Marilyn Monroe, Al Capone, Robin Williams, Maya Angelou, or Mother Teresa. As an actress, I go to so many auditions that I never find out the results to—I could sing my face of and act my heart out and not book the job for any number of reasons. The same goes for any job interview, college application, house buying opportunity, great first date that never amounted to anything, or missed opportunity. Things end or don’t even get started. Sometimes the why isn’t important.

The biggest thing to know about closure is that it too is like a book or a movie—you have the ability to watch it again, or open up the book and start from the beginning. However, you already know the story. You know how it will end. You know that you didn’t enjoy it the first time… so why put yourself back in that situation. Instead, put the “book” back on the shelf, and the “movie” back in the case. Look at it from time to time to know that you lived it, and move on. Psychologically, we remember mostly the good things, and forget all of the bad. This is awesome; however, we have to remember that the toxicity is not for repeated indulgence. There are much better stories out there with much better plots, and more worthy of our time. Don’t reach out for closure. Close the story within yourself, put it away, and reach for a better one. Start 2015 by closing the door on the past!

–Clare

Set, Goal, MATCH!

As the media starts getting you excited about setting resolutions, and even we here at Live ClareLesley give you tips and info, the idea of setting goals can get daunting. You may even become jaded. Ugh, another post on goals.  Before you run away and continue doing the same thing you did yesterday, hear me out…

Knowing where you want to go in your life will help you find long term relationship happiness.  Yep, it’s true. In fact Steve Harvey and other dating experts even state it.  If you don’t know where you want to be in 5, 10 and 15 years how will you know the potential partner or even the partner you are with today and you will be on the same page in 5, 10 and 15 years?  Here’s how this works in an ideal situation. Before shacking up, before intertwining calendars, bills and keys. Ask the person you are seeing where they see themselves in 5 and 10 years. If they don’t have goals that far ahead…RUN. If they have them but no road map to get there RUN. If they don’t line up with yours RUN.
Yes, you have to RUN. Why? Because you deserve to be with someone who sees a future and you in it. If they don’t have goals to share with you they are either going no where fast or they DO NOT see YOU  in THEIR future. Tough to digest but its the truth. Sorry not Sorry for being so honest but it’s time we all accept this.
Now for Your Goals. Do you have them? Do you know where you want to be in 5 years, 10 years? Are they solidly your goals? Meaning if you start to fall for someone and you hear their goals and they don’t match yours are you ready to change them just to be with someone? If your answer to this last one is yes…DO NOT DATE! You’re not ready.
Part of being ready to be in a relationship is knowing who you are and what you want for your life and your future. If you dream is to have kids, a home and work from home near your family and you meet someone who you’re attracted to and likes you but they want to travel for a living. They do not want kids. Do not lie to yourself. You cannot change someone’s goals later in life. Only they can. Instead..enjoy their company maybe even a friendship but keep yourself free for someone whose future plans run more parallel to yours.
Because this is such a huge topic I want to give you some simple ways to set goals for yourself. Trust me, Clare and I will write more descriptive blogs on goal setting. For now here’s a way to start dating with your future in mind.
Easy Tips to Set your goals:
1) Picture who you want to be in 10 years: Where do you want to live? Work? Do you have kids? Pets etc?
2) Set goals working backwards. What do you have to do in 10 years to achieve this picture? What about in 8, 5, 3 and 1 year?  Think of the picture like a cake covered in icing and ready to be served at a party. Then your 10 year goals would be the icing and decorations. 8 year goals would be removing from the oven. 5 year goals would be mixing all the ingredients, prepping the oven. 3 year goals would be all the ingredients laid out. 1 year would be you researching the best recipe… following me yet?
3) Write them down and share them with your close friends to hold you accountable when you start to make up reasons why someone could still fit with that picture.
Dating Tips:
1) Ask your date what their goals are! No, its not weird. You just say “So, what are you most excited about next year? Oh is that something you plan on doing for a long time? Here’s what I plan on doing when I’m….” See not weird. It’s called “making conversation” and “getting to know someone”
2) Share yours
3) Be honest with yourself
4) Love yourself enough to be honest
5) Do not be afraid to be alone. You won’t be. You deserve to be in a long lasting happy wonderfully matched relationship. That will only happen if you have your goals and you date someone whose goals fit.
Ok, so what if you’re already in a relationship? Well, hopefully you have already communicated your future plans. But, if not as a couple, set some goals together. What do you both like doing? Where do you want to go? I found myself in a relationship where our goals just didn’t line up. Was breaking up easy? Nope! But, honestly it was the right thing to do. Afterwards I sat myself down. Wrote out my hearts desires and didn’t settle until I met my goal match. Do we have the same exact goals. No…I am a Pilates instructor he isn’t. But do we want the same things in life? Yes! How did we get here? We shared our goals for our future before we did the relationship thing… It sounds crazy to you now. But what if we all started doing this? What if every single person started dating to find their future mate instead of finding someone to attach themselves to? Maybe if more people started dating this way this idea wouldn’t sound so crazy?!
Go set your goals, then find your match
xx~LL 

Top 5 of 2014

You’ve made it through the holidays!  Its the second day of the new year… now what?  Well, one of our favorite blogs of 2014 was helping you take back control of your life.  And what better time to take control, to clean out your closet as well as your mind.  So, get your favorite note taking implements, and Regain Your Life, Make a List.

And make sure to stop back next, and every Wednesday for new blog posts!  Better yet, follow us and we’ll let you know when we have a new one up!  Also follow us on Facebook or Twitter @liveclarelesley  Also, feel free to #liveclarelesley and share and post!!

xoxo–LL and Clare

Happy New Years–Our top 5 of 2014

YouTube message from Clare and LL (We’re real, and in NYC together!!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NSrzllk_3c&feature=youtu.be

Hope you survived your kiss at midnight.  If you didn’t, or if your main resolution is to make sure you have one next year, maybe you should get out there and see what you want and what you don’t!

Review LL’s tips on Duty Dating

Happy Hunting and welcome to 2015!

xoxo–LL and Clare