Japan

My wife and I just spent the past ten days on a trip to Japan; a country that quickly rose to the top of my most favorite places in the world list! Despite things getting comedically dramatic as we tried to navigate our food allergies with translation cards, we ate well. And, thanks to miscommunication regarding whether or not clams and scallops count as shellfish, I accidentally ate both – and I’m still alive AND they were delicious. For my wife’s celiac disease, we had to opt out of soy sauce on our sushi adventures, but were able to find a local, non touristy spot in Kyoto, where the chef was willing to accommodate our high maintenance requests. My wife got a belly echoing “NO” when she tried to put ginger on her sushi, really capping off our culinary misadventures.

Breakfast spread for days.

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By far our favorite place on the trip, and the world, was a gem of a ryokan suggested by a friend who travels to Tokyo monthly. We enjoyed hot springs under moonlight, and 12 course breakfast & dinner in our room. It was…magical.

What really struck me on the trip was the attention to detail – always. From coffee making, to drinks, to dinners, to ingredients, greetings and farewells, there was precision. Every movement, gesture, and act is filled with intention. The sushi chef we experienced in Kyoto was full of mastery. The tasting menu we had in Tokyo was from a chef who proudly said he was a 2nd generation chef. The time and energy put into mastery was a blessing to experience. We’re so often inclined to skate along the surface, not really penetrating the depth of knowledge available once time and energy’s put into really experiencing something so deeply true craftsmanship unfolds.

Taking a momentary break from work, we were able to turn things upside down the past few weeks diving into a new culture and experiencing the world through new lens. Maybe not so new…but a 14 hour flight and time difference defogged our personal lenses which have been caught up in routine these past few months. It was nice to shake things up a bit and see things a bit more clearly once again.

Between the head and the tail. #handstand #japan #travel #yoga

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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.”

IMG_9946

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.

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.

Blog link in bio. Slowing things down with @aineod8 on yesterday's #hikingadventures

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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.

Girl Night Stand

Girl Night Stand

The internet has been a crazy landscape these past two weeks for one of my projects. About a week ago we released my short film GIRL NIGHT STAND on After Ellen and had some incredible feedback. Everyone loves an awkward one night stand. Sexuality aside, those confusing emotions are universal. It’s the universality I’m interested in exploring. At the core, we’re all humans trying our best. And through comedy, an audience can be united in laughter.

After another featured article on Bustle, and then getting featured on Elle.be, I have to say – I’m just floored.  I’m beside myself with gratitude for the amazing support I’ve received from complete strangers helping and encouraging my feature Lez Bomb and the Lez Bomb team’s endeavor to get the film made.

Girl Night Stand from Jenna Laurenzo on Vimeo.

As most things in my life – this adventure started in a yoga class. I was deeply conflicted about directing Lez Bomb. Instead of focusing on my breathing and my practice on the mat, I was mentally going back and forth about whether or not I should direct the feature. I had gone through many conversations with potential directors, and there was always some reason that got in the way. I finally had to ask myself – should I just direct the piece myself? I had written and produced so much content in the past, and I had directed before.  But a feature?! My feature.  That’s scary.

My yoga teacher asked us all to grab two blocks and then asked us to kick up into handstand on the blocks.  I found myself afraid of kicking up.  But why? We were against the wall. Then I realized I didn’t want to fall – in front of who? The teacher? The class? “Oh my God, I’m afraid of falling! I’m afraid of failing!” I kicked up into handstand on those two blocks – successfully. I just sucked it up and mustered up the courage – who the hell cares if I fall?! And that’s how I decided to direct my feature. And short. I realized I was the only one holding myself back.

Thankfully I found two blocks, a handstand, and a little boost of courage. I’m terrified of directing an entire feature.  But sometimes we just need to confront fears – especially when they are self created, and kick upside down to gain new perspective.

#Hiking and #handstand. Happy fall day. @aineod8

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