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

Because He ASKED!

Ever wonder how “that guy” got “that girl”? Come on, you know what I’m talking about here. Those stunning girls and those “average” looking guys. My opinion…my hunch…my gut tells me “those” guys manned up and asked her out!

A guy and I were chatting about how so many couples in LA don’t “match” up. Rarely do you see two good-looking people together. He had opinions about money, fame and sex. I’m sure there is some “right-ness” to his theory. But, as someone who is strong, successful, independent and good-looking (if I do say so myself), I can tell you how many times I’ve been asked out in the last 6 months: Once! Only once…

No, it’s not like I don’t put myself out there. By now you’ve ready plenty about me. I am out there. I put myself out there. I flirt with many a man, I make eye contact. Yet, no actual dates in my schedule. Just because I’ve only had one request for a date doesn’t mean I haven’t enjoyed a regular male companion from time to time. In time, I’ll explain how to set one of those up for success. I refuse to believe chivalry is dead. I have a slew of texts, Facebook messages, tweets and even Instagram photos of men sent to me, good looking successful and HOT professing their attraction towards me yet no date. They’ve told me they want to hang out. I ask: when? Crickets… Well guess what “good looking” boys? (Yes, boys. Men ask women out; boys cannot.) I refuse to pine for you, emasculate you, or need for you. I make my own happiness so you not asking doesn’t affect me. In fact, you’re not asking is more of a bullet dodged.

Why? Because while you’re attractive to first glance you would be a boy who would eventually annoy me thanks to my time Duty Dating. You might be great to have as a memory, a notch in my “hottie” belt. But, in the end a waste of time and disappointment. So, thank you for doing us both a favor. We didn’t waste a precious Friday night, a good table reservation, or even a condom.

Men: you want a woman? You have feelings for a woman? Ask her out! Seriously, pick up the phone (yes, I said pick up the phone), dial her number, and ask. What’s the worst case scenario? She says no? Ha! Unless she’s tied to someone else, that’s doubtful. Besides, no one died of rejection. Manliness, confidence, and ambition make every man sexier.

Ladies: stop wallowing when “the guy” doesn’t ask you out and take notice of all the options. Make the eye contact and see what happens. If the young version of Steven Spielberg asks you out, say yes! What if we banded together and stopped throwing ourselves at boys, and waited for men?

Guys, what if you stopped playing cool, got a little vulnerable, and asked the girl out?

What would happen? How would that look?

At Live ClareLesley we are all about growth. Here are some ways to change the way dating works in this world:

For my males: I know you seem cool on the outside and are sweet in the center it’s time to express yourself. You say you’re not mind readers. Well, news flash, ladies do not have superhero abilities either. We want to read and analyze everything, but the truth is we are usually way off on what we think you meant when you said “Hi, how are you?”  In fact, without your obvious intentions we just don’t know if you’re “into us” (and sometimes even with…ladies we do need to work on this). So, while you might be afraid to ruin a friendship, walk up to a stranger or send that text. YOLO just go for it. What if she actually says YES?  Stick Your Neck Out and see what happens.

Ladies, want to catch that guy’s eye? You have to look at them. Yep, eye contact and smile. Online, pics cannot have sunglasses. And your friends rock, but they take away from the beauty of the rock star that you are. Also, it’s time to stop pining for the boy whose not asking you out. He’s not asking for a reason. Who really cares what it is?  The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing. I know. Had I pushed a year ago to be with the man I am with today, it would have gone all wrong, quickly. So, as we have said before, work on your self love, your self growth. Work on Living ClareLesley and becoming a WHOLE person. Then you will attract another WHOLE person. Can you picture how amazing that will be? I can. It will be worth the wait.

Everyone, the excuse “he/she is not my type” is out the window. If you’re single and alone, its obvious your type hasn’t exactly gotten you a home run. So, try on a different pair of jeans. See what happens. You like someone? Ask them out! What if they say no? Ask anyway…who cares! At least you know and can go about your day. What if they say YES? Isn’t it worth the risk?

My challenge to you is to love yourself, smile at strangers and have fun everyday. Flirt. The dates will come when it’s time. I promise. It has worked out for me, it’ll work for you!

LL

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

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

How To Apologize to Yourself

“I told you so” is one of the worst things to hear. Partially because when hearing it, you know that you partially agreed when your friend or relative said it to you, or at least had the knowledge before hand, but you still sojourned into the choice and came out on the other side, as predicted. Hearing “I told you so” from yourself is even worse. Knowing that a situation will not turn out the way you think, want, or need it to, but still going in with the understanding that failure is not only possible but imminent, is tough. Maybe I’m a hopeful dreamer, maybe I’m overly positive, maybe I’m just an idiot, but I have once again found myself on the back side of a situation that I knew what the result would be, as did almost all of my friends, but I tried it anyway. Of course it was a romantic situation. I’d tell you about it, but it’s a pretty generic scenario, and it’s also not the point of this article. I want to talk about forgiveness.

Yeah, forgiveness is one of those topics right now that is bouncing around the personal growth world that exercising forgiveness allows you to grow. And it does. Gabby Bernstein is one of my favorite advocates of this. What all of these other articles and blogs are failing to mention is how hard forgiveness is and that it is a process. Its not like you can just wake up, add water, and poof, the person is forgiven. It takes time, effort, and reliving—not the incident that happened, but reminding yourself that you did, in fact, forgive the person which means that you are no longer allowed to hold the grudge. Harder than forgiving someone else is how you have to forgive yourself—and that is just as, if not more, important than forgiving someone you don’t have to live with 100% of the time.

Because this stream of consciousness comes from a failed romantic experience, I’ve been told by Lesley that this is the last I’m to write about him, so I’ll name him Lazy Musician and if I ever write about him again, you can pelt me with olives. I feel like I talk about the relationship issue over and over and over… anyway… I was given hope that a dead relationship might have a resurrection, and was given a dangling carrot. To try to achieve said carrot, I reached out for it. Picture me, the extremely tall woman that I am, reaching on one tippy-toe with both arms out, fingers flexed, tilted to the side with one leg kicked out keeping me on balance—it’s a very silly, cartoonish vision. And I’m standing like this for 24 hours. That’s not what I was actually doing… but it felt like it, mentally. My friends were telling me not to give any attention to the situation, to walk away completely. By this person, I’d been hurt before. He didn’t deserve me, and I would only be let down. Again. Twenty-four hours pass. Thirty-six hours pass. Here I am at hour forty-two. Awake in my bed on a Saturday morning. Listening to crickets—well, actually, the boom of the bass and the people outside speaking Spanish on my Harlem stoop—but the point is that he has failed, again, to reach out when he said he would. The thing that keeps running over and over in my head is: Clare, you should have known better, I told you so. Like I said, its frustrating to hear that sentence. It’s horrific to say it to yourself.

I’m the type of person that will over analyze everything from what has been to what could have been to what will be. I could lay in bed and over think this non-situation and waste my Saturday. Instead, I sat up. Moved to the edge of the bed pausing before putting my feet on the floor, and told myself I needed to take this moment to wallow. I made myself agree that that after I put my foot on the floor I needed to move on with my day. I took a breath. I took a moment. Then I put my foot on the floor and walked into my day, leaving the angry and disappointed thoughts behind me. I’d love to tell you that I’m so amazingly well adjusted that I stepped foot on my floor I left the whole thing behind me. However, spoiler alert, it was not the case. I made coffee and lasted about an hour before I had to go snuggle with my roommate to get more out it out of my system. I was fine for about an hour until she left for work. After she left, I felt myself sinking again while washing my face. I found myself staring into the mirror. I uttered the horrific words to my image: I told you so.

Ugh. Sinking lower still, I thought that I wanted to talk to someone about the whole thing. But knowing that I’d hear “I told you so,” repeatedly for the next few days from friends and myself when I chose to relive the account to explain my dull mood. Feeling a tear about to fall down my cheek, and not wanting to go back into feeling sorry for myself, I stared into my own eyes with insolence. I realized I needed forgiveness. I needed to forgive myself for taking a chance, reaching out, but getting nothing in return—just like everyone I know said would happen. With unrelenting, fiercely protective friends, I was not about to hear the forgiveness I wanted from them. I was the only one who could give this forgiveness. I squared my shoulders, looked into my own soul and said: I forgive you. I forgive you for making the choice that you know would fail. I forgive you for wanting something you knew you wouldn’t get and that wasn’t good for you. I forgive you.

It felt a bit silly at the time—talking to myself in the mirror. This isn’t the first mirror pep talk I’ve given myself, but add in the “I told you so” and the frustration I felt of sinking back into a situation that I knew better than to sink into, and it was an odd moment. But now, I feel refreshed and I’ve moved on. It was such a free feeling I felt as I walked back into my kitchen to fix breakfast. As I poured more coffee, I thought that this would be a good thing to share with the Live ClareLesley readers. I felt really silly looking at myself in the mirror and telling myself that I forgave myself. Why was this so hard? Was it looking at myself in the mirror—probably not since I do it daily. Was it letting go of the situation that has been plaguing me for the past few weeks? Maybe. If I’m really honest, it’s the forgiving. Moving past the incident and forgiving is not the easiest. If someone has committed an injustice against you, its one thing to get over what happened. Its more difficult to let it go. Its even harder to offer forgiveness and completely move on. All of these steps towards one’s self should be easier, but its not, its harder. Anything for yourself is harder than doing it for someone else. Especially when it comes to mental health and well-being. Its easier to help someone else, even to forgive someone else than it is to be vulnerable. Even to be vulnerable in the confines of one’s own bathroom. To overcome your own ego and forgive is one of the most difficult things to do. We all put up walls, even towards ourselves, for protection and self-preservation. Its an interesting thought trying to protect yourself from yourself. However, it’s a self-taught trait that we all encompass.

The thing is, forgiveness isn’t letting down the protection walls. Its more of the mental version of just releasing unneeded tension and relaxing your shoulders. Why do we hold onto things? Why don’t we forgive more easily? After the forgiveness is the moving on and feeling better; the world seems brighter; breathing seems easy again. Maybe we don’t want to forgive because we don’t want to move on. We don’t want to face Change. Is it really easier to hold onto that wall and self-preserve or is it easier to let go and move on?

Starting to forgive is an easy process. You just have to wake up and start it. Instructions are simple: figure out who you need to forgive and why you need to forgive them. You can start with a mantra to yourself that what the person did, shouldn’t have as high stakes as you are allowing. Then go to that person (or to yourself) and look them in the eye and say the words: I forgive you. You don’t necessarily have to do it out loud—in fact a daily repetition of this might get creepy—but you have to have a repetition of this. Every day, you have to remind yourself that you’re better off having let go and forgiven and moved on. If you don’t have the chance to forgive them in person, or don’t want to face them again—write it out. Write everything they did to you and how they hurt you and how you would love to shove it back in their face. Take the paper, somewhere safe, like a lake or your toilet, and burn it. Let the fire literally take away your feelings. (Again make sure that you’re doing it in a safe place that the ashes will scatter and won’t burn anything to the ground.) Don’t let this person have power over you anymore. That is actually what forgiveness truly does—it takes your power back and makes you the stronger person. Forgiveness is such a powerful thing. Harness that and not the frustrating thoughts you’ve been harboring.

Going back and reliving my moment this morning in the bathroom, I now feel silly about it, but I’m so glad I did it. It hurts to think of the choices I made to get to the point of forgiveness. I also want to think about them and rethink and analyze… but I’ve forgiven and I need to move on. Lazy Musician has no ties to me anymore. I just don’t care, and I’m giving him no more power over me. He doesn’t deserve it. I need to look forward into the future and remember that in a week or a year or five, I won’t remember this day, or any injustice I feel now, because I’ve let it go. In the grand scheme of life, the negative things of today won’t matter, but my letting go and self-forgiveness will. What do you need to forgive yourself for? Until you forgive yourself, you’ll keep reliving the same mistakes. Maybe its time to have a little one on one chat in the mirror.

Clare

Professing

In my first weeks of post relationship I read dating books upon dating books! Ok, that’s not the point of the blog,its just my disclaimer (Men…Don’t skip this post there is some tidbits just for you) . When I first became single I read Steve’s book “Act Like a Lady Think Like a Man” and “He’s Just Not That Into You” by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo.   Both contain the absolute truths to dating. When you read them you will have many disagreements with them, you will love parts and hate parts (Clare read He’s Just Not That Into You and threw it across the room in exasperation). You will question, doubt and become annoyed. But, their advice is spot on. Sorry. You WILL probably date LESS. This is because you will be dating SMARTER. But, I am still digressing.

So, I read both of those books back to back and it was as if someone had given me the keys to the kingdom of my dating life. There will be more examples of this in future blogs and the Live ClareLesley book. But, today I want to talk about Professing. The first time I heard about this and realized how important it is in a relationship was in Mr. Harvey’s book.

In the past, girls would get “Pinned” or wear their boyfriend’s letterman’s jacket. These were symbols that they were someone’s girl. I know that are opinions that these could also be symbols of ownership, claiming etc. But, for the purposes of this post, let’s look at them as signs of love and endearment. Of a man Professing his relationship and commitment with the one he wants to be with.

Once we left high school there are no iconic ways to claim and be claim. No letterman’s jackets. There are no pins. So, how do you know a man is Professing that you are the one he is proud to have on his arm? (Men, how do you prove that the person you’re dating is yours, to others?) There are the signs, including being introduced as his “girlfriend” when you meet friends, families and co-workers. By the way, this means if he is introducing you only by your name and/or as his friend, then your name, he is not Professing you as his. He’s fine to be seen with you, but he’s keeping his options open. If you don’t like it, don’t date him. I know you’re thinking “But Lesley…” Do not “but” me on this. Clare will tell you, I won’t listen. Walk away and find a real man who is proud to Profess his commitment to you.  Back to the point: There is also the new way of Professing with the “in a relationship” relationship status change on Facebook. My ex and I in the 5 years we dated, never had ourselves as “in a relationship.” His reasoning was for work. Hmmmm…and somehow we didn’t work out.

But, what if you don’t want to make a beeline for the relationship status change? I will be the first to tell you: do not make a beeline for the relationship status change. I will go into this status change more below. Well there are other signs to be aware of:

1) How are you being introduced? Are you being introduced at all?

2) Whom are you being introduced to?  Close friends, acquaintances, co-workers, family? If you are not meeting anyone in his life, well that’s a BIG neon sign, my friend.

3) Are there posted pictures of you on social media (if they have any pages)? If they have social media and they actually use it yet you’re nowhere to be seen on it, again, it’s clearer than water that they’re not Professing. A change in profile pictures is a pretty good sign you’re in!

It’s wonderful if they call, it’s great if they take you out, but if you’re not being introduced to friends or other people in their lives after a month or so, there is a reason. If you don’t want to call them out on it, you don’t have to today. Just be aware. If you want to be the Girl Friend and not the Girl Friday, check out the signs he’s sending to the world about you and the two of you. This is not to say that after the first date you should see yourself being announced from the status bar, tagged in every check in. Professing is gradual. It should be. Dating is a two-way interview. You should probably want to make sure you want him to Profess about you in the first place. I know no one wants to be single but don’t be so desperate to be a “We” that you change your relationship status for the first guy who winks at you.

Now, the relationship status change. Ok, I have not made a clear stance on this yet. Part of me thinks it’s sweet and a great way to announce to the world that you and your guy are a “We.” It also definitely keeps those online lurkers moving onto the next profile (or at least it should). For me, I have never changed my relationship status. I know I would if I were engaged and married. I think that changing it for a boyfriend or girlfriend situation is personal, and there are no hard lines for me on this. I think it’s more important to the relationship that the couple have clear communication with each other on what their status is. Meaning: are they open to seeing other people? Committed to only each other? We put so much of our personal lives out in the world via so many social media handles. The relationship status change to “in a relationship” is not as important to the “Professing” as Facebook would like us to believe. In my opinion, it’s the in person, in public (real public) and close circles of friends and family that’s most important.

Guys, as promised. Here’s why from a Lady’s perspective Professing is NECESSARY: If she knows who she is to you and your life she will:

1) be proud to be by your side

2) support you, massage you, (ahemm) you and make you look like a rock star

3) will have your back more than anyone will

4) is loyal to the core to you

5) love you, get excited for you, get you excited and…more

No girl likes to feel used. The limbo, purgatory, in between time is important. Women—if you’re not sensing Profession, demand it or get out. Men—if you like who you’re dating make it known to those who matter in your life. If you don’t, that’s ok, too. Let her go sweetly, to find the man who will.

Like life, nothing is black and white. There is the gray that is personal to each individual. But, The Steve’s, and Greg’s, and Liz’s have written it. I have read it, lived it, and am here to say to you men and women: it’s time to take notice, be present in the relationships you are in. Life is too short to be anything else than present.

LL

Take a Leap of Faith

I have fallen into most jobs I’ve ever had. My first job was at a very cute coffee shop near my high school. My mother mentioned it seemed like a great place to work after visiting there. Less than two weeks after our visit, I was hired. I don’t even remember interviewing.  My second job, my classmate put my name in for her job at a doctor’s office when she moved to Arizona. Two weeks later, I was a junior in high school and I had a new job making more than I did at the cafe with weekends off.  In college, I turned in applications at an upscale mall. One of those applications, I handed in to Clare, and the next day I interviewed with the manager. The next Monday I was working for the same boutique as Clare. We became good friends and even business partners.

I stayed at that store from 2002-2007 moving up from cashier to store manager at my original store, and was later transferred to another location 50 miles away to manage that one.  I was good at my job, but it wasn’t fulfilling.  I needed a change of scenery. In hindsight, I needed to change careers. I had already discovered Pilates but wasn’t listening to the voice inside my head telling me “go this way.”  Instead, I tried to “fix” things by doing the same job with a different backdrop. Hello Patterns and Change. I still needed to learn something here.

I thought moving cities, locations, new friends a new life was what I needed. I also thought I was waiting for the next promotion to be a regional manager. I kept thinking that if maybe if I just waited a little longer…I’m sure you may know what I mean here. For years, I thought I was “next” in line. In fact, even other managers in the company thought this. It never really occurred to me if I wanted to be “next” or if I just liked the idea of it.

Think back, or maybe think now! Are you in a job that you wanted or that you just got because it was the next step? Jobs are often like relationships and can “happen” to us if we are not present with our own wants and needs. If we are not clear on our goals then someone else will get clear on their goals for us. This was the case for me. While I was “figuring” out my early twenties I wasn’t clear with myself on my goals and I began working very hard for someone else.

While waiting I decided to start training as a Pilates instructor. I thought I would do it as a hobby. Something to keep me busy. As I mentioned back in my Orange County life I had already discovered Pilates. I freaking LOVED it! As an ex athlete, Pilates made me feel like I was back in training again. But this time instead of training for a race I was preparing my body for my own life. I loved how strong it made me feel and I also enjoyed how no matter my mood walking in I always walked out focused, present and invigorated. But, when I moved to LA I struggled to find a teacher I could jive with like I had back in the OC or afford. I went to a training mostly for my own self learning. I knew enough about the body (I went to college originally to become an Athletic Trainer, the dream was to work for the San Diego Chargers) I figured I would just teach myself. A girl on a budget I could save a lot teaching myself.

The thing about callings is that once you’re called you have to answer! If you don’t it’s like a phone that doesn’t stop ringing. You can ignore it, even try to silence it but the call list still shows it’s trying to get a hold of you. Try not answering see where it gets you.

I couldn’t though. I answered it! Except, I tried to conference call—I tried to do both, manage a store and start my Pilates Teaching business. What happened? Well after a couple months of working 7 days a week some days 6am to 8 or 9pm! I needed to hang up the old landline. I just didn’t know how.  My transition from my manager job to full time Pilates extraordinaire was a big deal for me. Many around me tried to give advice. Tried to tell me I cared too much. To just put in my notice and move on with my life. The thing is, I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I was still caring too much about someone else’ goals for me. I was still not fully engaging in my calling. I was on the phone, but I was also talking to the person next to me. Eventually, I was forced to get f’ing on my call and hang up the other. Callings are like that. They are demanding. Selfish. And they should be. It is your calling—what you’re meant to do with your life.

I wish I could say that those on my other call were still part of my journey. They are not. That’s ok, as we all know when someone doesn’t join us on our journey we can take it personally. We shouldn’t though. Now, on my own journey I have worked hard to support those who have to take their own path. In fact, I get excited even through them a party! Today I will encourage anyone who wants it to follow their bliss as soon as they can. Why? Because I took a little too long to admit that I didn’t want to just keep getting promoted. Of course new titles are exciting, more money in my pocket. But, what did any of that matter if I was following someone else’s dream and not my own?

I will never say it’s easy. Actually, it’s probably easier to ignore the call then it is to hang up and answer the new one. I knew what was on the old line. My store manager job was a salaried job with commission. I knew exactly what the minimum I was going to make each month. Security is a big deal. I knew I had health insurance and vacation time. Leaving that for my bliss too a huge leap if faith. Faith in myself and the Universe.

That leap was the best jump I’ve ever had. I’m still flying high 6 years later. The thing is when you start following your bliss, when you answer your calling. You’re rewarded!

How do you answer your call?

Well, turn off all the noise. Yep! Put the distractions away, the apps, gossip magazines, the reality TV shows, your email. Sit still, go for a run or swim, grab a notebook. It’s time to hear what you’ve probably been avoiding. Change is scary, leaps come with fears, what if’s, how’s and unknowns. All those distractions keep you busy avoiding that nagging voice telling you you’re meant for something bigger!

You know deep inside your heart what that is. What if you had zero obstacles keeping you from your calling. Forget money and time and anything or one that is putting doubt in your mind. Take a step in the direction of your dream. It’ll pay off!

As I said it’s not always easy. But wouldn’t it be the greatest to wake up and be excited about what you have on your calendar that day? Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have career love? To have Life/Work balance? (Yes, I wrote LIFE WORK balance.) wouldn’t it just be grand to live your dream, and not someone else’s? Leaving a consistent guaranteed paycheck for a “service job” where I’m paid only when I work was scary. I had and still have bills just like everyone else. I have student loans. I still had to make a certain amount. But, looking back and looking forward no regrets or worries interrupt my call. I am excited for what I know is coming ahead and for what I don’t.

LL