How to Survive your own personal hell

I, as my title states, have been suffering in a level of hell that I might wish on my worst enemy, but never on anyone I care even the smallest amount about. I am a caring person that always helps others, or this is what I believe about myself and try to achieve. Most of my friends are willing to help me as well, emotionally and literally. However, this realm that I have found myself in, these past few weeks has been horrific on so many levels. And asking for help is almost as painful as suffering alone.

Unfortunately, human beings find ourselves in moments like this, a lot.  Breakups, job changes, situations ending, body failings, even death.  When things come up unexpectedly, or even if expected, when they aren’t easily fixed or handled, life is rough.  My recent hell: I found myself in a living situation that was immeasurably frustrating. Without going into exact detail, the building I was living in had become unlivable.  I tried to find solutions and to fix the issue, but to no avail. It seems like I spent hours and hours brainstorming how to deal with the situation, cleaning, packing, throwing things away, and being in discussion with my roommate and with others on finding solutions on how to live better. I tried to figure out how to fix it—which was so frustrating, being a person that finds solutions and executing them fearlessly—I could not fix this. Many nights, many days, were spent in tearful frustration.  I ended up taking the option that I didn’t want to take–I decided to move out. Moving is stressful in itself–and for those of you who have been following us for a while, it has only been a year since I last moved.  I realized getting out of my bad situation, and giving myself a fresh start was the best option.

There are no distinct ways to get through a crisis. Every crisis is different. Every one has its own difficulties. No one but you, while inside the crisis, can understand your feelings. And its frustrating because you know you can get through, but you don’t know how, or when, and it feels like it will never be over.  People are somewhat empathetic, because they have on some level, experienced something like your pain. Everyone will try to help.  Some people will just be terrible to you.  Some will want to help, but will feel like they cannot for whatever reasons. And sadly, although the help is wanted, it is never enough to salve whatever wounds are there.  Just remember that everyone is suffering something, so do your best to be kind.

Over the last few weeks, some sound bites have come into my head. Quotations and mantras seem to get me through, even more than asking for help. Because, the quiet, the solace, the calm, has to come from within. Breathing may be difficult, but you’re the only one who can control that. So it is up to you to keep breathing and keep moving on.

Everything will turn out alright in the end. If everything is not alright, it is not yet the end. –The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

There’s a light at the end of this tunnel you shout, but you’re just as far in as you’ll ever be out, and those mistakes you made, you’ll just make them again, if you only try turning around.—Anna Nalick

The fault is not in our stars…, but in ourselves…—Julius Caesar

These have helped me. I go back to these. And that I WILL survive this. I have survived a great many things worse and equal to this, and I will survive this.  I have moved before.  I do have friends; I can ask for help; crying never killed anyone.  There are solutions–none are perfect–but they are there.

The only thing I can offer you, is empathy, and sound bites. You will find some kind of solution to your crisis. It will end eventually—it might not be the perfect way, but it will lead you on to the next chapter in your life.

Here are some thoughts:

  • Figure out the worst possible outcome and understand what will happen.   Most crises do not end in death. So you’ll get through.
  • Find a safe solace for yourself—and not one that is substance related. Meditation, yoga, deep breaths on a park bench. Make your safe place accessible, and go there any time you start to panic.
  • Come up with mantras, or quotes, or sayings. Listen to those. Hold tight to those. Even if they’re the most ridiculous. And if one doesn’t work for you, throw it out (In times like these, I loathe: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Its true, but I don’t need to be reminded of that.)
  • Find a treat for yourself. As in, when this is over, I’ll go have the best massage that I can afford. (Which is what I intend to do.)
  • For. Help. NO one minds. And if they do, then find someone else. Even strangers are willing to help. Every human experiences crisis at sometime or another. If people can help, they will. You might be strong enough, but get help.
  • A deep breath helps with so much.
  • Laugh! A good laugh is just as cleansing as a deep breath. Keep laughing and keep breathing.

I will survive my crisis. You will survive yours.


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

This is the last part of a 5 part series.  For the first four parts, scroll down, or head to the LiveClareLesleyblog homepage.

5) Seeing your life as a stack of boxes is one of the most horrible but oddly satisfying feelings. I’ve had the allowance of time to assemble all my worldly belongings into a pile. So boxes have been sitting in my living room for about a week, filled with my things. I’ve procrastinated a bit, because I wanted to continue living with my things, and not just staring at a pile of boxes that were ready to be transported to my new space. Its horrifying to look at this stack of boxes and think: everything I am is in these. My life, now, fits into about 30 boxes. Remember grown woman: clothes, shoes, dishes, 8 coffee mugs, art, breadmaker. A year ago, it was twice this much, plus more furniture. The only piece I own now is the rocking chair. Last summer I filled up a quarter of my friend’s living room with my boxes of stuff—as we both agreed that it was silly to rent a storage space when I would be moving again in only a few months, and I would be the only one living there after the first six weeks went by. All summer long I kept looking at my 6’ X 6’ X 10’ tower of belongings. Saddened by “all I had left.” A year later, I’m posting on Facebook like a madwoman about how little I have, delighted by the fact that with four friends helping, this move will take half a day. Maybe the difference of then versus now is that I’ve now moved the things multiple times and felt the sore muscles and the lightened wallet—it cost me $600 for professional movers to move that stack of stuff 80 blocks, less than 10 miles. The second go round, I moved with help from friends but it cost me $200 and a couple of bottles of nice liquor to the friends for helping. The third go round I did in parts and pieces via cab and subway… and was a pain, but I did it myself, not noting the cost. It is oddly satisfying that I can make a home and a life out of a medium amount. (I was about to say “little,” but I have friends who continually live out of suitcases.) Whereas it is a really weird feeling to look at the things I’ve accumulated in a pile, after this year, it is a really nice feeling to know that I’ve only got with me the things that have made the cut—the things I love, or can’t live without, or don’t want to live without. Do I need everything in that pile: probably not. However, I know that I want everything in that pile in my life. At least for now. Until I have to move again. Hopefully, not anytime soon.

I know that everyone is different in their transitions, and everyone has their opinions on how to go about things. So take what you will, and will what you take—use it and share it. Or not. My lessons are mine that I had to learn, and I’m not sure that I’m done learning yet. Maybe you’re ahead of me, and maybe you’re behind me, or maybe you’ll never have to learn these things. The most important thing I’ve learned is just as in any other lessons in life, remember to breathe through the painful moments and just keep moving forward. If nothing else, you’ll figure it out as you go.


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!


5 Things I’ve Learned From Moving (part 3)

This is part three.  For parts one and two, scroll down or go to   for part one and  for part two

3) Ask for help. I’m HORRIBLE at asking for help. I’m an only child, a very single woman, and a fierce female, so I’ve continually been told that I can handle anything on my own. To some extent this is true. However, this has told me a TERRIBLE lie all through my life: its NOT alright to ask for help when you need it, because you should be able to do this on your own. Woof. This one is a big one for me. Perception of others mixed with my own actions and self-sufficiency make it incredibly hard to ask for help, because others see I don’t need it. Well, tough cookie Clare. Be vulnerable. Take a breath. Ask for what you need. If people can, they will. I’m terrified at people saying no and having to do it all by myself, so its easier to just shoulder the burden alone and know where I am from square one, rather than to hear the no and be disappointed in my friends and have to still do it all by myself. This is such a dumb rationale. I repeat: Dumb. Rationale. So I texted friends. I asked people in person. I put a Facebook status up. Two people said yes. (Shew, that is half the trips up and down the stairs for me). Then the day before my move, two more friends said they were available for a couple hours here and there on the day….even LESS trips up and down the stairs for me. And better yet, people to laugh at and with me on the move day to make it go faster! Make yourself vulnerable: ask for help when you need it.  (And thanks again to everyone who helped me lift a box, move the van, or just told me to keep going.)

Come visit us tomorrow for part 4!


5 Things I’ve Learned From Moving (part 2)

This is part two of a 5 part series.  For part one, either scroll below or go to

2) It doesn’t matter where you lay your head, as long as you have a place to lay it. 

Sleeping on an airmattress isn’t as bad as you think it is. Ok, well it is. Especially in the summer. I spent 6 weeks on one living in a gracious friend’s living room last summer, and I spent almost three weeks the same one in my new place. Although I’m a princess about sleep, and so much of the personal growth teachings these days are refocusing on sleep and rest, the honest thing is that like much of life, its only temporary. There is an end in sight. I might not have had the most restful for a fortnight, but I’ve endured it before, and I’ll endure it again. But like most uncomfortable situations, sleeping on an airmattress is not the most comfortable, but I’ll get through it. I’ll figure out a better option, and be better on the other side.

Air mattress

Also, bunk bed living isn’t just for studio apartments and children.  I’m now the proud owner of a loft bed.   Which I never thought I’d be.  For the record, I have never been against having a loft bed, I just never pictured myself the owner of one. Thanks to my mom who helped me purchase it, and my friend Jeff who helped me masterfully build it from the worst instructions known to modern man, I have not only a place to sleep, but a place to keep all of my worldly belongings.  I installed a bar underneath to hang the out of season clothes, I have plastic storage bins so I can rotate in and out of seasonal clothing.  Things I own might still be in boxes, but I can get to them easily, and I don’t have to go to a storage space.  Loft bed

Always the Pollyanna, I’ll make good out of any living situation!

Tune in tomorrow for part 3!



5 Things I’ve Learned From Moving

I’m an actress, so my chosen profession makes me a gypsy. I’m also a child of divorce who had parents in different states while growing up. That being said, I have never been good at moving. Through a chain of choices that may or may not have been the best, I’ve moved 4 times in 400 days. As a grown woman. With stuff. I’ve learned what is important and what is not, and mostly, I’ve learned what I’m made of and who my friends are.  I have learned several lessons through relocating myself, both about moving in general and about life.  Here they are:



1) You really don’t need to keep things. Really. I love my coffee mugs and my wine glasses. I collect them and they’re one of the things that make me happy. However, over the years people have given me glasses and cups—some I like and some I kept because they were a gift, and some got cracked along the way and I’ve kept them anyway. Because I thought I should. Well, there is no should in moving. It really is a do or don’t do. I got rid of half of my coffee mugs, because, well, there is really only me, and I drink out of the same mug for months at a time, and then move on to another one. I’ve kept ones that are special, and that I really like, but I’ve dialed my mug count from the 20s to 8. Because even on my worst week, I will remember to wash at least one mug. Same with wine glasses. I’m in New York City—the land of people meeting OUT. Why, because our apartments are tiny and no one wants to travel more than two trains or 10 stops if they can help it. So I’ve kept my favorite ones, and one of my mom’s favorites, because we drink a lot of wine when she visits. I’ve got a stack of “things to give away” that is about half the size of the boxes I’m actually moving to my new place. I will buy new things when I want them, and the things I’m giving away I was keeping because I was too lazy to deal with the emotion or the guilt about getting rid of something. Its only stuff. Possessions are chains and all that… I only believe that quote when its time to move. Possessions give me an ease of life. As a poor kid and an even more poor adult, I want to remain as comfortable as I can… but does that really involve 20 coffee mugs, 10 tank tops that I never wear anymore that I’ve had for more than 4 years and haven’t worn them in that long, 10 sets of Christmas lights when I haven’t put up a tree in two years, and a pair of fabulous heels that I got two years ago, but I have never worn because they hurt my feet? Nope. Control Alt Delete. Gone. The funny thing is I tossed them two days ago, and haven’t thought about them until writing this. I probably won’t think of any of it again after this moment.

This is part one of a five day post.  Come back tomorrow for part 2!