Enter this new year with Realistic Expectations that are Attainable for Life. What the heck does that mean, you ask?
It means, don’t live your life according to someone else’s expectations of you, whether they be your parents, partners, children, etc. Create reasonable goals and expectations for yourself that are achievable. Setting the bar too high may create disappointment and leave you too discouraged or overwhelmed to try.
Construct an action plan for 2014 with step by step changes. Be flexible and reassess as needed to achieve the life you want. I have learned that flexibility is key. Life is unpredictable, as we all know, so digging in your heels only increases the stress.
Make 2014 the year of being proactive instead of reactive. Happy New Year to you all!
For those few you haven’t heard, yesterday Bitty and I got married! Yes, after eleven years, I finally convinced her to make like Beyonce and “put a ring on it.” Of course, it helped that the courts decided to go our way this year, too.
And, as proof, here’s our wedding video, captured by my iPhone and our courthouse witness:
Bitty and I are upstanding members of society. Bitty is a social worker. I…well, I’m a good for nothing actor and writer, but Bitty’s kind deeds make up for me.
We have a dog that barks occasionally. At the mailman, the gardeners, the solicitors. We like that his bark scares off criminals who have been increasingly displaced and wandering our neighborhood. We keep the dog locked in a dog run on the far side of the house when we are away from home, and even bought a bark collar. Perhaps you read this previous post written by none other than Jack T. Dog.
But if you ask our neighbors (who are not even directly behind us), you’d think we’d killed somebody. Actually, given the NRA sticker on the neighbor’s truck, a trifling little murder might be forgiven.
But not letting an old dog bark a few times.
The wife is into zen. You know, New Age spiritualism and thoughtfulness. She practices in her meditation room with all the windows open. (Let me take this moment to mention that all the windows are open in the house. All. The. Time.)
Now, look, I’m all for being spiritual and zen and thoughtful. Be a Buddist, be a Krisha, be a Christian, whatever floats your boat. Be whatever it takes to be more relaxed and enlightened.
But this situation reminds me of a friend who a dozen years ago was viewing open houses in search of one to buy. After touring a house in which every inch of every wall was covered with plaques effusing morals and righteousness and goodness, this friend said to me, “If you need remind yourself — on every surface of your house — to be a decent person, then what kind of person are you really?”
Uh, yep. If you need to work so hard to be zen, or thoughtful, or spiritual that you can’t tolerate your neighbors or their occasionally barking dog, then what kind of person are you? One that should get a clue and close your damn windows. We’ve comprised (dog collar, locked dog run). You can do the same.
Thank you for this very cathartic rant. I feel better after practicing my religion — writing.
I could probably drum up some metaphors about how the dog enduring a bath is a lot like how we humans endure so many unpleasantries in life, but, heck, I’m just gonna show you these videos for one reason: they’re funny. And kind of endearing. Because as much as Jack T. Dog does hate getting a bath, he sucks it up and takes it. Why? He chooses not to bite the hand that feeds him. So, ha, I guess I made metaphorical sense out of it after all.
I have never been to Mardi Gras. And, up until last month, I’d never even been to New Orleans. I’d long wanted to go, but my schedule and that of a Katrina-ravaged Nawlins never gelled. But I’m thrilled I finally got there. I loved it. Food and history all mixed in with a polite Southern party.
Still, I may never get back for the actual Mardi Gras. (And, to be honest, at this age, I’m not sure I want to…) So I’m extra glad that Bitty and I made a trip to Mardi Gras World. It’s where all the floats are made for the krewes in the parades and it is literally a warehouse stock full of history.
Here are some photos of the process that goes into making America’s biggest party. The building process for the next year begins the day after Mardi Gras.
Sketches of 2014 floats
Floats are increasingly made out of Styrofoam, which is stacked then carved into shape
This figure has undergone some carving
After carving is completed, the figure will undergo papier mache and painting
Post-papier mache, this figure is in the process of being painted
One of the many finished products stored in the warehouse that may be re-papier mached and reused in the future
And, finally, here are the real jesters goofing around at Mardi Gras World:
I’ve realized as I get older that happiness is most definitely a choice. Do sometimes I choose to be UNhappy? Of course. (There are many people who prefer playing the UNhappy card — the victim — and living life as one big pity party.)
But, lately, I’ve been trying to be more grateful and not to wish for things I don’t, and will never, have. So, basically, I’ve come up with this equation: Gratitude minus expectations equals happiness.
Words that could apply to many things in life — a romance, a job, a TV show. Okay, that last one may seem weird, but, as an actor, it is a frequent occurrence for me.
Say, I love a show with a certain serial killing anti-hero that just ended its run, but for years I cannot get into the casting office no matter how many George Washingtons I throw their way. I start to hate the show. I stop watching it, can’t watch it because it pains me; literally, hurts me (Stella?!? Am I being melodramatic enough?). Then, suddenly, in season seven, yours truly finally bullies her way in… and books a job. Guess what is quickly my favorite television show again? Yep, Dexter.
Or there’s a comedy on the National Broadcasting Network with a fair-haired former Saturday Night Live funny lady, but I’m certain that I’ll never be called to casting, much less reach that heady zenith of booking a role. So I stop watching the show, grumbling that it’s the cool kid’s birthday party I’ll never be invited to. But a couple of months ago, I schlep down to Mid-Wilshire on a Friday morning and by the next Tuesday afternoon, I am shooting a scene with Amy Poehler in Parks and Recreation.
My point? As Sting once sang, ”If You Love Somebody Set Them Free.” Sting’s lyrics were inspired by Richard Bach’s “If you love something, set it free; if it comes backs it’s yours, if it doesn’t, it never was.”
In other words, let it go — whatever it is: job, first love, friendship. If it is meant to be, it will come back to you.