5 Tips for changing up your dating game

“We had an amazing time! He walked me to my car, I drove him to his and he kissed me. Then he asked if he could call me. I gave him my number. He texted me right then, so I would have his. Haven’t heard from him since.”

That’s the short version of a friend’s latest Tinder date. The long version has even more details of a positive experience. They met and messaged through Tinder, so if he ever wanted to call her, he had to ask for her phone number. However, he also didn’t have to ask. He could have just said “have a great night!”  Her sadness is something I’m sure you all know someone or have gone through this before. Great date, no call. What the (insert your own explicative word here)?!

I am not a proponent of online dating. I have talked about it in Eye to Eye. I think all the dating apps keep our eyes on our devices and not on the present surroundings. Where there happen to be people! But no one is looking up so no one is meeting any one. Try it, walk into a cafe or restaurant and see if anyone is actually looking up? Aside from the fact that it’s terrible for your posture and spine strength you cannot meet people with you head down.

All the social media in the world has actually made us more lonely. Less connected. Now, these apps also make us believe that there are plenty of fish in the sea. Everyday more options, matches flood your inbox or app. You wake up and right there in your inbox or alerts is a fresh batch of new matches. People the app thinks are perfect matches for you! It’s not that much of a mystery why there was no call after a great date. They got home and after the typical 48 hours they already have had 10-30+ “matches”. Why wouldn’t they want to try out these other options first?

Dating websites do best the more people who are signing up for their services. The more profiles the more matches you’ll get the longer you stay on their site and the more money they make. Sure, they do need to make actual matches to have “success” stories. But, one thing dating websites and apps cannot do…make people actually go past the first intro, first communication or even a first date.

When I did online dating it was more to test out my Red Flags and Duty Dating. I’ll admit I wasn’t looking for Mr. Right. I was using Mr. Right Now to get me back in the dating saddle again. But, I fell into the temptation too. The massive amount of matches it’s easy to hit “like” on a profile then swipe to the next and hit “like” again. I felt like I was putting clothes on a wish list or adding men on a Pinterest board.

I had nothing invested, other than the time I was wasting, roaming the Internet dating site much like a flash sale on shoes. I put a bunch a men in my basket and then before checking out moved onto the next site.

So, can I blame this guy for taking her number then getting distracted? No. Do I blame him? No. I blame us all. I blame the social media marketing.  This situation is a mess.

Do I think there one person for everyone? No, but there are not as many fish in the sea as dating apps and sites would have you believe. The 30+ matches I had each week from match I probably spoke to one or two a week via email. Went on 1 or 3 dates. E-Harmony actually set me up with my Ex (who by the way I met online and was told he was a 91% match…I can honestly say we were not).

I do not think that many people on those sites are actually ready to commit even though they say they are.  I think they are on there so that they feel they have their finger on the pulse of dating. Because, it is easy to get a date off a site then in real life. The rejection of a date online is not as tough as the rejection of asking out someone in person..face to face. Honestly, what’s so terrible about rejection anyways? Isn’t it better you get rejected then to always wonder what if?

So, what are you to do? What’s s single person trying to meet someone to do?

1) make sure your honest in person and online

2) be bold: if you see someone out and about that you’re attracted to make eye contact and maybe even say something. Start a conversation.

3) have fun: dating is the fun part, if it leads to a relationship or marriage awesome. If it doesn’t better to find out sooner than later. But it should be fun in the beginning.

4) say yes if you mean it. Don’t be so focused on dating that you date or want to date someone so much that you trick yourself into having feeling for someone you don’t.

5) try something new. I’m not just taking new hobbies but new people. The “he/she is not my type” is lame and out dated. If your type was working for you then you’d be living your happy ever after.

My friend from the date is moving on. This one not worthy of another thought. She told me she likes a friend of a friend (I think she’s been interested for about a year). She’s going to get bold and invite him for a drink. The worst thing is he says no. She won’t die. The best thing it works out! I’d say the risk is worth it.

My dears, get off your apps and your phones during the hours you can be in public meeting people and living life. I know there plenty of people who fall in love and live happily from online dating. But, not everyone does. So, just like a stockbroker doesn’t put all his money in one companies stock. Don’t out all your stock in dating online. Keep yourself available to meet people multiple ways.

Xx~LL

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What is YOUR Worth?

Last week I had dinner with a galfriend who was telling me about her new job. She and I had recently both been looking for new part time work, and had applied for similar positions around town. When I asked her if she was going to still pursue one of the jobs we both applied for, she asked how much the pay was and then replied, “I will no longer work for less than $20 an hour.” I was somewhat shocked when I heard this, as a part time service job rarely pays that much, even here in NYC.   She being in her late twenties and I in my mid thirties, we both are highly trained performers and need to take the survival jobs that work with our performing schedules—which means that usually we aren’t allowed to be that picky. Usually, we apply to lots of places, get hired at a few, and juggle schedules to fit with our rehearsal and performance schedules, so we can pay rent.

A few days later I awoke from a dream where a talent agent I auditioned for in the dream handed me four $20 bills. It was a very clear dream and I did look into the symbolism, but the point is that in the dream I was shocked to be handed $80 for minimal amount of work—an audition—which I always do for free. Upon waking from the dream my friend’s statement that she would no longer work for less money an hour rang through my head. I sat up and knew she was exactly right.

This post is about worth and self-value, so ignore all of those exact dollar amounts for now. Google defines worth as: the value equivalent to that of someone or something under consideration; the level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated. Back in the day, before there was cash, people determined the worth of their goods in marketplaces. What they had to trade versus what they needed, and the time that was invested in the tradeable product. For example, I weave two blankets and it takes two days to weave one, my time and product are worth the four days that the farmer takes to harvest 24 gallons of milk and a bushel of corn… so we have a fair trade. (This is super rudimentary and I’m by no means a reliable resource on this concept, its just so you who are reading and I are on a similar page to get to my point.) Basically, whatever I put into something—my time, my money, my resources—I deserve and equal (or better) trade for what I’m selling. This become an even bigger concept when you get into supply and demand—whatever I have versus the general availability of the product—makes the worth grow. But with all of this, the point I’m getting to is that it isn’t the product itself that holds the worth, it’s the value of our time and our abilities.

When my galfriend stated that she was worth at least $20 an hour, I was shocked. But why was this? I realized because I valued the actual money more than I valued my time. I feel like time is something I have a lot of, however this is not true. I have plenty of responsibilities to myself and plenty of education and experience to demand a certain value of my time. I have a master’s degree in Psychology. Truth be told, I got it because I was lacking a direction in life, and decided to go back to school I got the degree in Psych with the idea that I’d write grant proposals or teach classes, but when I finished my program, I realized I didn’t feel qualified to do either. Why is this? Because I don’t think that my online degree is worthy of more than that. For some reason, I felt that my lack of experience, with only a degree on paper and class work to validate me, I was afraid to I would be turned down because I don’t have enough experience, or a big enough name. Now, the brain in my head is exactly the same as it was before I got the degree, just now with added information. I’m a really smart gal, many people think this, and its not just my parents and relations. I’m smart. I’m analytical. I’m helpful. I’m good. Why don’t I see this? My galfriend has so much bartending experience, as well as music training. She paid for that training and worked her way up, so yes, she does deserve to value her time highly. She is good at what she does. I’m good at what I do, too. I get amazing reviews for acting. People love working with me onstage and in my survival jobs. My employers, co-workers, and friends know they can rely on me to get things done. So why don’t I see how much I am worth. And even worse, why can’t I demand my worth? If you don’t eventually demand your worth, people will think you’re worthless, or worse, take advantage of you.

OUCH !! No one wants to be taken advantage of in any kind of relationship. Jobs are the easiest to understand because there is a transaction that happens—you do X amount of work per hour in exchange for a certain rate. You have to demand to be paid what you’re worth, and your worth will manifest. But we have to look at worth in all relationships. We have to understand that we are valuable and should be treated as such in any relationship we invest in.

This is a lesson I’ve been working on within myself for a while. Its very scary for me to stand up and say that I’m worth certain dollar or time allotments. Its rough. I’m terrified sometimes when I turn in invoices for my time—because I’m not sure that the work I’ve done (which was elaborate, and researched, and substantial) is worth whatever dollar amount. And WHY do I think this? I am worth a lot. I am good. I am educated. I am thorough. But because I don’t have people walking up to me just handing me money or telling me of my worth, I doubt myself.

Its very interesting because I have a few friends who are going through similar things at the moment—or at least I’m noticing it more because I’m on a similar path. I have a friend with an office job who is frustrated because the people at work seem to only value her for what she can do for them. She is an incredibly kind, incredibly helpful, incredibly resourceful person. I don’t understand why people don’t latch on and keep her friendship around—I’m certainly glad I have her. Anyway, after chatting with her about her helpfulness, I realized that she doesn’t ask for anything in return. Which is okay, but when she needs something of value to herself—even if its just a buddy for a conversation—she doesn’t get any return from anyone that she helps. Which sucks and feels even worse. I told her she needs to start telling those sucker fish when they ask for things, what they will do for her in return. Yeah, I know, for all of you “nice” people out there, you shouldn’t demand a return on your helpfulness—however, if sucker fish aren’t told that the help you’re giving them is worth something to you then they won’t see your worth. Let me rephrase: your time has value. If you give me your time, I should help you out in return. Basic. Simple. Sadly, not always followed. Just remind people that your time is valuable, and then when you call on them to help you, gently remind them that you helped them, and that your help might not be there next time if they fail to assist you. Especially if the helping is a one way street.

Another worth issue is when you’re actually given help, time, even love when you didn’t ask for it. It’s a weird thing to handle when you are given a lot that you didn’t do anything for. A singer friend is going through this, as am I. We have both found people in our lives who, for once, seem more invested in us than we seem to be in them—which is a lot if you know either of us in life. We both give everything to anyone who needs it—and sadly don’t demand something in return. We both keep up the hope it will be returned, but always seem to come up lacking. Anyway, dealing with an outpouring of help, time, love when its not expected, just for being ourselves is an interesting phenomenon. Singer friend and I had a conversation on the phone about how neither of us knew how to deal with it, because its usually us that start the outpouring, and usually us that get the short end of the stick. But because its incoming first, and nothing is really expected more in return, its confusing. When value comes your way you have to accept it, and enjoy it. And hope it doesn’t evaporate too quickly, or at all.

Worth is a very difficult concept for some—I’m one. However, figure out the time and energy you put into something. You should expect to get an almost equal, if not more, value in return. Tell yourself you are worthy of receiving that value. Be strong in asking or demanding it—you don’t need to be rude about it, but you should be strong. Strong people are rewarded. Also think about what you need—its really okay to ask, or strongly request, what you need in return for what you’re giving. Everything has a value, even time. Especially time. You are worth a good deal. But only you can demand your value. No one else will. Good luck, and know you’re not alone in this battle.

–Clare

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Love the Skin You’re In 

I get it! Working out is hard. Some days are easier than others. Some days you have to drag yourself to the gym or out the door for a walk. Some days you want to throw in the towel and eat a bucket of ice cream and binge watch House of Cards. Stop! Put the spoon down. Watch an episode of HOC, not the entire season. Save some for later and get moving. Why? Because you’ll feel better.

Yes, some days are tougher than others but move anyways. If you don’t it’ll just be harder the next day. You’ll just be putting off your health. It’s a fact you rest, you rust. Move it or lose it. This year I set out to “Love the Skin I’m In”. As I wrote about in Desires,  I started out setting all my goals as Desires instead.  At the end of 2014, I decided how I wanted to feel this year. The decision I made: I want to love every inch of me. Part of that decision is feeling strong and healthy. Working out is a huge part of this desire. However, some days my alarm goes off and I have no idea what day it is or why I’m getting up. I have to fall out of bed, away from my snooze button, so that I get out the door. I may drag my feet to the corner to meet my exercise buddy for our run, but 33-35min later I’m thrilled I did. Iced coffee in hand, walking home, I’m ready to take on the day!

Since the first I’ve been holding myself accountable to difference fitness modalities. I did thirty-three days of yoga at the beginning of the year. Committed to running four times a week, Pilates three times a week, and a session with my trainer. Yes, it sounds like a lot but it’s not bad. My workouts are so important in achieving my desire that they are in my calendar already.  I schedule everything else around it. After all, not only is it good for my health but it’s key to helping me to love the skin I’m in.

I so proud and blessed to say that it’s still the beginning of the year and everyday I love the skin I’m in more and more. I’m challenging my body. I’m stronger I look and feel better. I feel sexy. All because I set a goal/desire and took action towards it. As a Pilates instructor I know so many of you hate the gym, don’t like to workout. Are super busy. I hate to break it to you. You get one body. That’s it! One. You’re in it! Would you rather drive around a clunker that has squealing breaks or bad alignment? Yeah, I didn’t think so. I urge you to find a workout that makes you happy. Challenges you from your soul, outwards.

Need an inspirational workout? Check out Sean Hayes doing his moving for the day. What? You don’t have a trampoline in your home? Here are some easy tips to get your body moving and have fun while doing it:

  1. Grab a workout buddy: Ideally someone who won’t cancel on you. Someone who wants to even work harder than you a little to hold you accountable.
  2. Join a gym, yoga studio, cycling studio: having to pay for a membership puts value on it and makes it harder to just do nothing. Similar to the workout buddy the membership becomes your monetary accountability partner.
  3. Check out local teams or meetup groups for fitness and join groups or sports teams.

No funds. No gym. NO EXCUSES! You think I am going to let you work, eat, sleep and repeat? No way. You’re too awesome for that. Besides, you rest you rust! Seriously. When I think about rust I remember this old wheelbarrow out in the back yard where I grew up. Do you really want to become and old wheelbarrow? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

  1. Download an app, join an online workout site: Pact is working for Clare. I love PilatesAnytime.com, yogaglo.com and the dailyburn.com or popsugar.com or just google! Google know’s everything and can help you find something that moves you.
  2. Start small and add in as needed. If you have not had a regular fitness routine pick something you like and try to do it a couple times this week. As you get used to adding things to the calendar add more movement. Slowly progressing into the schedule you need to hit the goals you have. Go on, get up and shake a tail feather and love the skin your in.

What’s your favorite way to workout? I love Pilates Yoga and Running.  Leave us a comment and let us know how you plan to Love the Skin You’re In!

Xx~LL

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Stop Saying “I’m Sorry”

I live in New York City. There are something like 1.6 million people that live in the 23 square miles of Manhattan. That is an insane amount of people in a tiny space. New York is the only city I’ve ever been to that you can take up someone’s personal space, and they have to be ok with it, and they do so by ignoring you. People are “jerks” in this city because business moves fast here, and people have to move at the same speed if not faster. I get pushed and shoved and stepped on all the time, and no one ever apologizes. Ever. And I love it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was raised by a good southern woman who told me to be polite at all times. However, polite and apologetic are not the same thing.

I am a woman of a lot of mass. I am tall and I take up space. Genetics has made me this way. As a teenager and a young adult, I was sorry that I took up too much space. I tried to find ways to be smaller. At the movie theater, I would shrink down, just in case the person behind couldn’t see. I still don’t put my chair back in airplanes because I inevitably get my knees slammed by the person reclining in front of me, and I don’t want to do that to the person behind me. There was a point in my life that I said I was sorry to people who bumped into me, or even to walls and inanimate objects. I used to say “I’m sorry” in almost every other sentence. I used to say “I’m sorry” so much that I started saying I’m sorry for saying I’m sorry so much. Are you getting the picture? I was overusing “I’m sorry.”

I’ve heard it said that the things that annoy us most are the things that we worked hardest to change within ourselves. I undervalued myself so much that I felt the need to ask forgiveness to lower life forms and inanimate objects. Enough was enough. I didn’t really mean what I was saying. And if I was, I needed to stop apologizing for taking up space. Everyone takes up space. That is what living is. I wasn’t living, I was being sorry.

I hate, loathe, despise and abominate the phrase: I’m sorry.

In America, people are innocent until proven guilty and even then, as long as we are sorry and promise not to do it again, we can usually get off without much of a punishment. It is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission. At least this is the common viewpoint—whether you realize it or not. We take from each other, we mistreat each other, we push each other’s buttons, and we walk all over each other to fulfill our best interest. We knowingly commit crimes against each other, and then we use two weak words to ask forgiveness. Once bestowed the forgiveness, we commit the same exact crime, sometimes with amped stakes, just because we can. We got away with it the last time with only a tiny bit of humiliation and groveling. Saying “I’m sorry” is easy. Actually apologizing is not.

I’m so tired of hearing “I’m sorry” because it is so worn-out and undervalued. It is a phrase used so often, especially by women that we don’t even hear ourselves when we say it. I went out to dinner a few months ago, with friends who have been together for over 10 years. She is a hard working woman, who supports his artistic career. She too is artistic. They love each other very much and treat each other as well and as equally as you do after 10 years of growing up together. At dinner, she said “I’m sorry” either to her husband or me twelve times. Yes, I counted. Actually, I drank each time she said it, and I’d had three glasses of wine by the end of dinner—not the best drinking game… And why did she keep saying it? She wasn’t late; she didn’t hurt anyone; she committed no crimes. I think the biggest crime she committed was cutting me off just as I was finishing a thought. She kept asking for forgiveness for things that were no big deal. She was being polite, especially for the time she kicked me, but really, NONE of those things really required an apology, and they certainly didn’t need forgiveness.

Being polite and actually doing something that you need to be sorry for are two different sports. A really good friend of mine is trying to make big changes in her life. She is a divorcee that moved to New York to pursue the arts, and she is working hard at both trusting men again and hopefully finding a thriving relationship with one special one, and also making her creativity pay her.  We have major texting discussions, or sit in one of our living rooms drinking wine, discussing life. I love this woman, she is one of my best friends, but I don’t always approve of her choices. She throws herself into different situations and then is sad about it and complains about the, mostly negative, outcomes afterwards. She sits and tells me that she is so very sorry, and she should have listened to me. Here is the thing, and this is important so I’m gonna put it italics: I don’t care what choices she makes, I just want her to live her life AND BE HAPPY ABOUT IT. (please go back and re-read that sentence… just the italics. Its ok, I’ll wait.) Ok. So here is the thing: do or don’t do, just don’t be sorry for it. If you keep doing the same thing, but not listening to either your inner voice or your friends, and you keep failing and being frustrated: CHANGE YOUR CHOICE. Please stop saying “I’m sorry.”

The thing about just throwing out “I’m sorry” is that it is easy to just move on and live your life. But as thriving humans, just saying “I’m sorry” doesn’t fix everything, and usually its only a temporary fix. You can say “I’m sorry” every day you do something wrong, and the thing is, I’m not going to believe you. Its just too easy. You’ll say the words, I’ll feel that I have to forgive you to make your life easier so we both can move past it and because it’s the polite thing, and then afterwards we will go back to living like we did before the crime was committed. And then tomorrow you’ll do the same thing. I don’t want you to be sorry. I know you are sorry that I’m mad at you. I want you to fix whatever it is and move on. I really want you to be happy. If the choice you make ends up making you happy then YAY! It might not be what I thought was best, but who friggin’ cares! As my mother says: “did you kill or hurt anyone? Did you kill or hurt yourself? No? Ok, great. Then it was a good choice.” Make your choice. Be an adult and live through it. Next time make a better choice if the outcome this time wasn’t what you wanted. If you didn’t hurt anyone, no need for an apology. (Yup, its really that simple).

Now, some situations DO call for a request for forgiveness. If you’re a person like I used to be that over used “I’m sorry” or if you’re trying to help someone else break the habit, use “I apologize” instead. Something about the word, the multiple syllables, the substitution, or maybe its because the word has the letter “z” in it, but its just a heavier word, and seems to offer something more substantial. Because of this, it means more when it is said. Stop saying “sorry” and use “apologize”. Apologize is four syllables. It takes a moment to say, and even a bigger moment to think of the word. If you’re really sorry for something “apologize.” And better yet, don’t be sorry, but instead FIX WHAT WAS WRONG. Or promise to fix it for next time—and here’s the kicker with this one—FOLLOW THROUGH. (I know. I’m tough.) Stop being sorry for being late—leave 15 minutes earlier. Don’t be sorry you forgot my birthday—offer to take me for drinks on Tuesday instead. Don’t be sorry that you once again overreacted to something I said—figure out what it is that sets you off, and either fix it yourself, or lets talk it out, I might need repair too!

When you overuse the word sorry, or just apologize for your actions, you are actually belittling yourself. You’re shrinking yourself down so I’ll see how lowly you are and forgive you because you couldn’t fix it. I rarely apologize. I make it up to the person; I fix my actions; I change future plans. Ok, so be honest… the last time you said “I’m sorry” could you have fixed it or changed it before an apology was necessary? Change your actions. Become better. Stop apologizing. Also when you over use the words, you’re abusing them. You’re making the value of actually being sorry for something, less. No one wants the value of ANYTHING to shrink. So only use “I’m sorry” or better yet “I apologize” when you really mean it. When it’s something you really need to ask forgiveness for. Don’t make yourself smaller for a mistake. Don’t make the other person feel bad because of that mistake. Fix it. Most of the time, you’ll be forgiven, especially if you prove that you’re going to make it better by changing or rearranging.

Clare

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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)

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

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

5 Things I’ve Learned From Moving (part 4)

This is part 4.  For Parts one, two, and three, scroll down or go to our main page and scroll down.

4) Its OK to have stuff. I know this goes against the first thing… but this is also another one I grit my teeth on… part of the reason I don’t want to have friends help, is because I don’t want to burden them with the over abundance of things I own. But here is the thing, I am a grown woman in my 30s. I have sheets that I LOVE that are expensive and amazing. I have dishes that are beautiful and match. I have my grandfather’s rocking chair that I was given when he passed away. I have a set of silver from my great grandmother. I have a breadmaker and a seltzer maker. I have art, lots of it. All of these things I use in my daily life. If you use it or appreciate it regularly, there is no need to apologize for having it. Most people my age are in marriages and have multiple times the amounts I have. These things I have because I’ve cultivated my life. They’re not here just to be here, they are here because I want them here. I am allowed to have things, and not just be living in a Spartan existence just because I am in a profession that requires gypsyism. Keep the useful, keep the utilitarian, keep the pretty—if its used and it makes you happy, keep it.

Tune in tomorrow for the grand finale!

Clare

Regain Control of Your Life: Make a List!

How many times have you felt out of control because you had so many things to do and accomplish that you just mentally shut down? Or how often did you have to make a choice on something that was a major decision that you just couldn’t?

Help yourself out. Sort through all the issues in a simple and effective way: Make a list. I know this sounds simple, and you’re automatically mentally retreating, but just give me another paragraph and hear me out. The act of writing things out, listing them, if you will, helps not only to organize your thoughts but gets the ideas out of your brain and onto a visual surface so you can better understand what you’re dealing with. Once out of your brain, the thoughts aren’t bouncing around, mixed in with all the other things you’ve got going on, and lessens the thinking pressure. Ok, it may sound a little mumbo-jumbo, and a lot old fashioned, but I dare you to give it a try.

I understand that in this day and age, there are so many technological advances that the feeling of the need to write things out sort of goes to the wayside. Writing things out seems like a silly, unrequired thing. However, the feeling of getting the thoughts out of your head and having a semblance of organization immediately starts to quell your unease. Making a list of them will also give you a place to start, and allow you to grasp what is ahead of you.

I am, and probably always will be, a huge advocate for writing. Looking back it is always something I have done. Whenever I have an idea, I write it down—I can’t you how many scraps of paper with random thoughts are floating around my apartment. When I go through a break up, I write out my feelings in a journal—I write and write and write to get it all out of me and move on with my day. When I’m feeling the need to be creative or solve a problem or issue I write. Letting the words out of my body and putting them down in a physical format is a release for me. As and adult, I’ve found that the act of writing gets me out of my head, and the jumble of thoughts bouncing around like a ball of string unwinding and making a mess, and instead gets them out to a place where I can see them, organize them, and control them.

This last one is the main thought. Once your ideas, thoughts, needs, tasks are out of your head, you can control them. Once on paper, they’re only words that will lead you to being accomplished or achieve the goal you need to reach.

To this day, I make lists constantly. I cannot leave town, even overnight, without making a list of what to pack. Like I said before, I make all kinds of shopping lists. I’ve ended two relationships and made decisions with six jobs with a positive/negative “big decision” list. The three lists that I analyzed were actual ones from my life—I did one for a big thing like moving, a medium thing like managing my time and chores for a weekend, and a small but daunting task of cleaning up and organizing my frustrating kitchen. If you look at my phone note pad app, I have lists for books to read, websites to look up, topics to write for this book, songs to sing in auditions, recipes to try, job ideas/websites/connections, and yes, I even have a list of shoes I liked at the local branch of the big chain discount shoe store to spend money on if and when I have extra. My name is Clare Solly and I love, and believe whole-heartedly, in the self-returning power of lists.

For more on this topic and “how to” tips, stay tuned to this blog, and for our book, due out this winter.

–Clare