Intentions

We’re getting ready to show Lez Bomb at festivals.

Holy sh*t, people are going to finally see this thing. 

And with that, fear creeps in. At lighting speed. “I’m fucking terrified.”

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As my teacher so succinctly put, I had/have an intention. And I’ve stuck to it. That’s the grounding root of this tree, reaching far below the unpredictable surface of this industry.

Having a clear intention provides stability when externalities come flying into the equation. Another teacher of mine once said when he teaches a yoga class, after class, when people say “I enjoyed your class,” he always responds in a way that takes it away from himself. “I’m glad you enjoyed class.” There’s a subtle difference, but in putting the enjoyment on the other, (vs. “‘I’m glad you enjoyed my class”) it takes his ego out of the equation. He teaches with intention. Whether or not the students enjoyed the class is outside his control.

We can’t control responses. We can control mindfully taking each step forward with intention. I have to remind myself daily. With the weekend upon us, I encourage one mindful step at a time. Happy walking.

Tree Pose

Swaying in tree pose a few weeks back in yoga class, the teacher said “the standing leg’s your anchor and the bent leg’s just a distraction.” The standing leg provides your roots, your stability. That anchor’s always available, internally. Like in life, all the movement around that anchor’s just a distraction.

A tree is the perfect image for the concept of being grounded. When you think of a tree you imagine the trunk. It’s strong. It’s firmly grounded with roots that reach into the ground and take in the nutrients from it’s surrounding, and discards that which doesn’t serve it. As the tree grows upwards, it’s the leaves and branches that are swayed by the wind and the surrounding chaos of the environment. But the trunk stands firmly in place, unwavering in it’s conviction to be the most authentic version of itself.

Last night in acting class (I continuously study with John Dapolito), John went on an inspired tirade about the importance of staying grounded within your authenticity. Having vision, and leaning into that vision. Being so grounded within a point of view, that the many distractions and the shit-storm of opinions can’t knock you off balance. It requires the flexibility and openness to hear other points of view and learn from the ones that ring true, and discard the rest. It’s when we abandon our authenticity because of fear – fear of not pleasing people, fear of being criticized, fear of not being accepted – that stray from our truth out of fear, will always leave us feeling empty. Because it means we’ve allowed externalities to sway us off balance and away from our most authentic self. It’s impossible to please everyone. But we can always act from a grounded, internal place inspired by truth and authenticity.

It’s that truth and authenticity that gives each of us an interesting point of view, a lens through which we see the world. And it should be celebrated. In sharing those rich points of view we expand our consciousness, empathy, and capacity to enjoy this world in it’s vastness. Like a pride flag in all it’s colors, that spectrum of experience is what makes this world rich in color. On this rainy, snowy, NYC day, remember to stand firmly grounded in your roots, experiences, and authenticity, and remember the wind, sleet, snow, and rain’s just a distraction.

Book I’m reading.

Favorite song of the week.

Video I just finished and love.

Practically Titanic

I’m always looking for a story. My next script. What do I want to throw myself into for the next undefined amount of time? I’ve been thinking about Semester at Sea, and the semester I spent circumnavigating the globe. World travel aside, my semester on a ship was formative because the ship near capsized. Yes, near capsized. The weather channel even did an episode of Storm Stories on it. It was terrifying, I thought I was going to die, and choosing to spend months writing a script about the experience only to have to pitch it, followed by it being criticized (although some constructive), and developed, is masochistic on so many levels. Yet, I can’t get the idea out of my head. This sums up so much of the drama in my early 20s.

The amount of time it takes to get a script written, then hopefully taken from script to screen is seemingly limitless. It’s as vast as the ocean in which my ship near capsized. And in this business, every project’s near capsizing, always. Usually an idea takes hold of my consciousness and haunts me until I put it on page. And despite the chance of  capsizing, I might get back on this ship…metaphorically speaking.

When I tell the story about our ship being in the middle of the North Pacific, during winter, surrounded by 40 foot swells, freezing water, 116 mile per hour winds, and then getting pummeled by a 50-60 foot wave, it’s a crowd-pleaser. When I’ve met agents, managers, producers, development executives, whomever – in a scenario where it’s a meet-and-greet that feels like an hour of oversharing in which I’m trying to sound like it’s the first time I’ve ever revealed these inner secrets, stories, spilling the depths of my soul to make that personal connection, I like to casually drop in, “Oh, yeah, that one time I almost died.” It never fails, “WHY DON’T YOU WRITE ABOUT THAT?!”

So here I am, finally surrendering to the fact it may be my next script. Though, I want to approach it from a comedic angle. We’ve all seen Titanic. And our ship didn’t actually capsize. But the unfolding shit-show between the mayday signal and finally making it to safety 12 hours later is chalk full of comedy. Going through 12 hours fearing death, your mind goes through all the emotions. ALL OF ‘EM. At some point my mind surrendered, and there was nothing to do but laugh. “This is how I’m going to die?” I was also legitimately pissed it was nothing like Titanic. No romance. Nada. I was assigned to a guy named Brian, to hold on to me as the ship was thrust from side to side. He came up to my waist. I should have been holding on to him. AND, no one knew I was gay. I was going to die, and I hadn’t come out yet. It was my hell. Maybe it’s the coming out story we’ve yet to see.

As terrifying the experience, it was the fear of death that created the panic and anxiety. Once I surrendered to the fact I had zero control, I was enveloped by peace. I’ve tried to remember that peace when life spirals out of control. We can’t control everything. I still struggle with that in my day-to-day. But I remember being hit by that giant wave, and it reminds me to surrender to the present moment, despite the surrounding chaos, and keep focused within that presence to make the best possible decisions moment-to-moment. Because that’s all we can do.

Maybe this moment’s about writing the comedic rendition of this. “Practically Titanic?” I’ll leave it here while I marinate on the idea further.

Book I’m reading.

Favorite recipe of the week.

Favorite song of the week.

Interior Design

Over this past holiday weekend, my wife and I redecorated our bedroom. Redecorate’s a generous way of putting it; we never decorated in the first place. Our bedroom was a mess of paintings and art thrown together to fill the big-white-wall when I filmed Girl Night Stand in the space years ago.

Sidenote – from one filmmaker to the next, don’t shoot intimate scenes in your intimate spaces. I digress…

Wikipedia defines Interior Design as “…the art and science of enhancing the interiors of a space or building to achieve a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing environment for the end user.” I’ve fallen in love with the term “Interior Design.” Through the lens of yoga, and trying to get a handle of our own interior workings through meditation, breath control, mantra, etc., our day-to-day’s the art and science of enhancing our personal interiors to achieve a healthier, and most definitely, aesthetically pleasing environment for the end user [you and me].

Our surroundings are a reflection of our interior workings, in many ways, self-created. The process of redoing our bedroom was a beautiful meditation on this. We had an idea, it seemed overwhelming, but it was just a matter of tackling the endeavor one step at a time, taking the images in our head and bringing them to fruition. The most simple way of putting it – turning our dream into reality. Interior design’s a wonderful demonstration of this concept, which carries through in all aspects of life. First, there’s an idea. Next, we have to figure out how to bring the idea into the world. Finally, we must take action.

I’ve been reading Ray Dalio’s Principles. Last night, as a perfect summation of the weekend, I read “Learning how reality works, visualizing the things I want to create, and then building them out is incredibly exciting to me.” By gaining control of our own interior, and seeing a life that matches with that interior, it’s up to us to take that interior design, take action, and externally design a life that matches with it. Through trial and error, slowly, your dream home (and life) take shape.

Book I’m currently reading: Principles

Favorite song of the week: Playground

Favorite recipe of the week: Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash substituting the sausage with Beyond Meat to make it vegetarian.

Filmmaking & Hikes

Taking last weeks post a step further and applying the practice of meditation to filmmaking…

I’m entering preproduction on my feature film Lez Bomb. The idea of making a movie seems monumental. Everything it entails becomes a monstrous to-do list that’s both overwhelming and off-putting. When we approach it as such, it looks like an impossible journey.

But let’s compare it to hiking. I have the tendency to look up a mountain and feel instantaneously overwhelmed. Yes, there’s a sense of adventure. But once that initial awe wears thin, I start thinking about the energy it requires, questioning if it’s the ideal temperature, I start question everything, I think about all the other things in life I need to attend to instead of this hike such as work, phone calls, etc. The story’s endless and it’s off running. Until – I bring the mind back to take the first step upwards. Then another step upwards with space to admire the surrounding scenery. With each step and each breathe, the journey continues and before I know it, I’m at the top of the mountain.

When we create space between our thoughts through a practice like meditation, we’re able able to identify when our minds gone off running. We’re empowered with the ability and control to pull it back to the present, where’s there’s a single task in front of us. All we need to do is conquer that single task.

Embarking on this movie once seemed impossible. Now I see it broken into tasks. I’ll attempt to tackle each task as they come, and deal with the ups and downs as they present themselves instead of mentally fabricating all the what-ifs around scenarios that aren’t reality. Step back and take cues from your surroundings. Like a hike, the path presents itself once we return to the present, look at what’s in front of us, and see the directions pointing us where we’re trying to go. What once seemed a monstrous feat becomes a slow climb upwards, step by step, and before you know it you’re at the foot of a waterfall.

Playlist I’m currently writing to: Writing Jams

Book I’m currently reading: The Hidden Messages in Water

Food I’m currently experimenting with: Vegan Sushi

 

Meditation & Clouds

A sequence of text messages from friends about “being present” got me thinking how that term’s thrown around often without tangible tools to help one arrive at a state in which you’re actually present and not talking about it.

If we take the “woo woo” out of the conversation and look at the practicality in our everyday lives, meditation’s an invaluable tool. Meditation provides the opportunity to clearly see the thoughts as they pass before the forefront of the mind, creating space to choose which thoughts are entertained. The majority of actions we take are determined by habits, not spontaneity or intellect. By creating space between thoughts, and choosing which thoughts to engage, we’re given time to carefully observe the thought and decide the most informed way to act.

When meditation has come up in conversation, I’ve often seen family, friends, acquaintances have tried it, it didn’t work, so they stopped. Instruction to “clear one’s head” isn’t necessarily useful. And approaching the mat with the expectation to experience something is set up to fail. The best instruction I was given was “go to the mat, practice every day and stop asking so many questions.” While questions are good, they’re often an excuse and procrastination masking itself as a question.

Go to the mat, sit in silence, watch thoughts as they pass. When you’ve found yourself latched to a thought and off on a tangent, return to the breath without judgement. “But what should happen?” Listen, if I told you the directions from my home to the Statue of Liberty – does that mean you wouldn’t go? Or would you go, probably notice different things, and have your own experience? We all arrive places a different route, with experiences shaded by the set of lens through which we perceive.

Playlist I’m currently writing to: Writing Jams.

Coffee drink I’m currently obsessed with: Mushroom Coffee.

Book I’m currently reading: The Obstacle is the Way.

Book of Life

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My inspiration for writing used to come largely out of volatile relationships and their drama — which I’d spin into comedy.  After being in a three year relationship thats led to engagement, I’ve had to look elsewhere to throw the wrench into the wheel for inspiration that comes from places outside my endless love (which people don’t need me to go on and on about).

Thankfully side tour, groupon, and all those other e-mails that assault my inbox sometimes provide an idea for an interesting activity that’s out-of-the-box and sparks my imagination.

This past weekend my fiancé and I attended a workshop in which our cards were read by your average playing cards.  I’m stressing “average playing cards” since tarot cards are so often linked with readings.  Alexander Dunlop was the host and card reader who’s traveled the world and playfully jokes how he’s spent time in India meditating for 8 hours a day, studied with Shamanic healers, went to school at Harvard, yet found the meaning of life at a party in Brooklyn through a deck of cards.

The 1.5 hour side tour event provided individual readings that were just long enough to dip your toe in the pool of knowledge he’s able to tap into via the cards, and it definitely leaves you wanting more time to converse — well done Alexander and side tour — but the overall experience was richly rewarding in that it was a beautiful reminder in the wealth of information that’s often right in front of you, and perhaps sitting in your game drawer at home?

Alexander refers to the deck of cards as the “book of life.”  The numbers, symbols, and interplay of the cards provide incite to your energetic make up you carry into the world and the implications of such.  Having that information unlocks the game you’re personally playing — which perhaps leads to a more playful approach to the game of life.  With knowledge comes power, right?  Being able to stand steady and sturdy in your energetic make up allows you to meet the world from an informed place giving deliberate direction to what may have been previously considered chaos.

A deck of cards will never be just a deck of cards again!  Then again, the mysteries of life are always swirling around us.  If an entire tree of potentiality is capable of growing from a tiny acorn, where else are we missing seeds of potentiality and the wisdom to water them into fruition?