WORRY WART

have a problem? Dont worry

have a problem? Dont worry

I wake at 3 am in the pitch dark to the sound of a torrential downpour. The vision of two lovely couches sitting in a driveway 10 miles away makes me pull the covers over my head. Oh, shit. Those poor couches are going to be soaked. They were covered with tarps, but were sitting on gravel.

My dear friend, Gabi, had brought them down from her sold New Hampshire house along with other furniture. Because her garage became filled, the two small couches had to be left outside. I had arranged for a couple of guys with a truck to bring them here, but they couldn’t do it until Sunday—four days from now.

The sound of the rain through my open window becomes Monsoonish. I fumble for my phone and look at the weather forecast. Days more rain expected.

Oh, god, they’re going to be totally ruined!! I toss in bed, fretting as the clouds piss on the couches unfeelingly.

I complain to The Big Whatever, Why this Niagara of water tonight after days and days of sunshine! I’m becoming more upset and worried. Will I just end up having to take them to a dump? What dump? Will Gabi be mad at me?

Some wiser part of my brain speaks up. Katherine. Take a breath. There will ALWAYS be something to worry about. ALWAYS. Get that?!

 It seems obvious, but I do get it. I could stay awake nights worrying about something: the house, friends with cancer, money, refugees, crazy people with guns, what to do with the fucking couches—there are an infinite number of things to worry about in this world. Always. No matter what degree of seriousness of the problem, one can come up with something to lose sleep over—from cancer to couches.

So, was there anything I could do about the problem at the moment? No. Nothing. I turn over and go back to sleep.

I drive to her house the next day. The couches are wet. I can’t get them to my house before the next three days of rain, so they get left at the end of the driveway sporting a FREE sign. I take Gabi out for Quesadillas and Margueritas. The couches are gone by the time she gets back. Hopefully, they found loving homes and dried out nicely.

I didn’t really need them anyway.

This blog definitely applies to the Principle of RELAXATION!

A SIMPLE JOY

breathe-cartoon-for-facebook1“My mind is all over the place,” I notice as I sit in my back jack, eyes closed in front of votive candles and tiny symbols of spirituality: a dolphin, a Buddha, Kuan Yin and a wee little cat. I had been lost in worries. All about the future. I bring my attention back to here. My body is relaxed. Nothing needs attention there. I am present and cozily wrapped in my blankey. “Where do I focus my mind today, then?” I ask, hoping to get a response from the Wise Voice that sometimes comes to me.

It does. “Focus on your breath like many meditators do.”

“Why do they do that?” I ask.

“Well, think about it. Breath connects you to the world. You are taking in oxygen molecules all around you.  They give you life and energy. If air were to be removed, you would be dead quickly. Perhaps that is reason enough to focus on breathing—with gratitude.”

So I notice the air going in my nose and feel my chest and my abdomen expand to receive it in my lungs. Not a big movement at all. Actually noticing it makes my breathing a little self-conscious.

“Yes, because breathing is so automatic. You don’t have to think about this life-giving energy from the world around you feeding you every moment of every day. It is just there. Notice also how the air absorbs the carbon dioxide you breathe out. Simple and miraculous, isn’t it? The world giving you life.”

I focus on my very small breaths in and out. My body knows just how much to breathe. I become acutely aware of this amazing synergy between my body and air. I feel it surrounding every inch of my body. My appreciation extends to water and food. My meditation has gone from my problems to being joyful at the wonder of life.

The timer plays its little harp music. Twenty minutes has sped by.

I set it for another ten. I want more time to breathe in the magic of life before I get absorbed in dealing with the material world again.

This blog applies to the Principle of RELAXATION

CRAZY COMMITMENTS

9390288-Cartoon-astronaout-on-the-moon-with-an-American-flag-Stock-VectorThose Put-a-Man-on-the-Moon commitments sound insane at first. On a lesser scale I’ve launched myself into what seemed like Crazy Commitments, but given enough planning and support they have worked miraculously. I have noticed that the ones that are connected to my heart and are in my best interest seem to pull me along on their own momentum once I make the commitment—once I step up to the plate and start the process.

Committing to a life as a professional actress in my mid twenties with no connections and little experience was one of those. “Insane,” my mind said. But what a wonderful career I have had.

Buying a Roadtrek camper van and going around the US by myself at 73 years old was another one—especially as I knew nothing about camping or camper vans when I began. “Insane,” my mind said. But it was a healing, reviving, memorable three month adventure.

Going to Sarasota by myself last winter knowing no one and ending up buying a small villa was another. “Insane,” my mind said. But, I made fabulous friends and found a perfect place for me.

Now, it seems I may be launching into another CC. I came back to CT with every intention to sell the house. I was convinced that my life was over here. But as I went through a massive clean out and “staged” my house, something startling happened. It was as if some mysterious energy began replenishing the house and my life here. My friendships deepened and my workshops in August filled up. Strangely, the house has not sold, so as the months have passed, my heart gets louder. “Find a way to keep the house!” it whispers insistently in my ear.

So, to my utter astonishment, that is what I am doing! I’m researching reverse mortgages to buy out my ex-husband’s half. I am looking into refurnishing the large, private downstairs area to make it suitable for someone to share the house and my expenses.

“Wait a minute,” my mind says rudely awakening me at 3 am. “At your age and with your limited income, you’re going to buy another house having just bought one just months ago?!!!!!” I wake up sweating. “Truly insane,” my fear declares firmly and convincingly.

So in the morning I reread a quote from W. H. Murray that I often use in my workshops: There is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans; that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen events, meetings and material assistance which no one could have dreamed would have come their way.

And as I look back, that has been clearly true. There were many miracles once I took steps and kept moving forward. And, like getting the man to the moon, it took intense and careful planning. One doesn’t just launch oneself at the moon without a plan. Still, the paths to completion have been zig zaggy which required me to always be both committed and flexible by keeping my options open until the way was clear.

Nevertheless, each one brought up a lot of fear and stress. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon said, “Stress primarily comes from not taking action on something that you can have control over. I find as soon as I can identify it, and make the first phone call, or send off the first email, it dramatically reduces any stress that might come from it.”

Steve Jobs recommended meditation to handle stress. Here’s how I combine the two:

  1. I meditate and get present in the morning. That helps me to get clear about what little steps I can take that day (and I try to break it down into very little steps).
  2. I make some of those scary phone calls and write some of those scary emails.
  3. When I have done what I can do, I let go, turn it over to the Big Whatever and do something fun or relaxing. Sometimes I meditate again to clear my head.

That seems to work to keep me afloat in the river of energy that sweeps me along these CC’s. I’m scared a lot, and this may strike people as odd, but what brings up the wildest fear/excitement are the amazing miracles that show up to support my crazy commitments. And W. H. Murray is right. They have shown up.

So. Yeehaw! Here I go! That river current is sweeping me along. We’ll see what happens.

P.S. Because of all the upheaval, the next CREATIVE EXPLOSION workshop has been postponed until Saturday and Sunday October 3 & 4…go to www.TheFourPrinciples.com for more information.

CREATIVE EXPLOSION JUNE 11 & 12 2016

5. CE widgetEverything worthwhile in life takes just a little more courage than we currently have.—John Patrick Shanley

Learn to:

  • Master Fear
  • Access Your Own Wisdom
  • Eliminate Negative Self-Judgment
  • Express Yourself Fully

The workshop is not just for performers.

 Katherine Kerr is a brilliant actress. It is not surprising that her method of teaching is as alive and plugged into human behaviors as are her portrayals of characters that you would swear have just been brought into the room from their real lives. –Mike Nichols

I was in a production of Urban Blight at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City with E. Katherine Kerr. I watched her, riveted, in the wings every night in one of the most powerful moments I had ever seen onstage yet it was never the quite the same. I enrolled in her powerful Creative Explosion Workshop.  My career and my life have never been the same.  The Four Principles are life altering. —Faith Prince, Tony Award Winning Actress

While the workshop is powerful, it is also easy and gentle. There is no pressure. We write, share, learn, and laugh a lot. Participants leave the workshop feeling clearer, energized, and often utterly transformed.

Saturday and Sunday June 11 & 12

1 to 6 pm in Wilton , CT

 FEE: First time participant: $250

Repeating participant: $150

To enroll or more information email EKatherineKerr@aol.com

ADDITIONAL CREATIVE EXPLOSION

Because the Aug 1 & 2 Workshop filled up and there were several other people who wanted to take it, I have opened up another one the following weekend Aug 8 & 9. So, here’s another opportunity to do the Creative Explosion!

5. CE widgetEverything worthwhile in life takes just a little more courage than we currently have.—John Patrick Shanley

Learn to:

  • Master Fear
  • Access Your Own Wisdom
  • Eliminate Negative Self-Judgment
  • Express Yourself Fully

The workshop is not just for performers.

 Katherine Kerr is a brilliant actress. It is not surprising that her method of teaching is as alive and plugged into human behaviors as are her portrayals of characters that you would swear have just been brought into the room from their real lives. –Mike Nichols

I was in a production of Urban Blight at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City with E. Katherine Kerr. I watched her, riveted, in the wings every night in one of the most powerful moments I had ever seen onstage yet it was never the quite the same. I enrolled in her powerful Creative Explosion Workshop.  My career and my life have never been the same.  The Four Principles are life altering. —Faith Prince, Tony Award Winning Actress

While the workshop is powerful, it is also easy and gentle. There is no pressure. We write, share, learn, and laugh a lot. Participants leave the workshop feeling clearer, energized, and often utterly transformed.

Saturday and Sunday August 8 & 9

1 to 6 pm in Wilton , CT

 FEE: First time participant: $250

Repeating participant: $150

To enroll or more information email EKatherineKerr@aol.com

ADDITIONAL CREATIVE EXPLOSION WORKSHOP

5. CE widgetBecause the Aug 1 & 2 Workshop filled up and there were several other people who wanted to take it, I have opened up another one the following weekend Aug 8 & 9. So, here’s another opportunity to do the Creative Explosion!

Everything worthwhile in life takes just a little more courage than we currently have. —John Patrick Shanley

  • Master Fear
  • Access Your Own Wisdom
  • Eliminate Negative Self-Judgment
  • Express Yourself Fully

The workshop is not just for performers.

Katherine Kerr is a brilliant actress. It is not surprising that her method of teaching is as alive and plugged into human behaviors as are her portrayals of characters that you would swear have just been brought into the room from their real lives. –Mike Nichols

I was in a production of Urban Blight at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City with E. Katherine Kerr. I watched her, riveted, in the wings every night in one of the most powerful moments I had ever seen onstage yet it was never the quite the same. I enrolled in her powerful Creative Explosion Workshop.  My career and my life have never been the same.  The Four Principles are life altering.—Faith Prince, Tony Award Winning Actress

While the workshop is powerful, it is also easy and gentle. There is no pressure. We write, share, learn, and laugh a lot. Participants leave the workshop feeling clearer, energized, and often utterly transformed.

Saturday and Sunday August 1 & 2

1 to 6 pm in Wilton, CT

 FEE: First time participant: $250

Repeating participant: $150

To enroll or for more information EKatherineKerr@aol.com or call 203 563 0363

 

 

 

Mike Nichols and E = mc2

Mike Nichols gave Meryl Streep and me the start to our film careers in Silkwood. That I was 46 years old at the time may have something to do with the fact that mine has been somewhat less spectacular than hers. At least I like to think that is the only reason.

Frankly, I was an asteroid to the sun of Mike Nichols, but his light shone as brightly on me as on any of the planets who were closer to him.

I still feel his light. Maybe when we pass on, what happens is something akin to the formula Mike’s cousin Albert devised: E = mc2, Our matter turns into energy–an energy of love that can continue to touch and support all who loved us. No limits. I have had so many losses of loved ones in the past, and been surprised by such connections and actual help that I developed this unique theory of The Beyond.

The fact that I have felt Mike’s presence and guidance during the time I came to Sarasota, therefore, is not totally surprising to me. Of course, the skeptical part of me continues to doubt. But it does seem as if the angels have been working overtime introducing me to wonderful people, leading me to and helping me buy this lovely little villa in Nokomis–all in a very short time. I have had such truly miraculous help along the way that it would take a long time to relate, so let me get to the story that illustrates my theory.

I moved into my new home on March 9th and unpacked for the umpteenth time in this wild winter of moving around. Late that afternoon I drove to the beach to relax and watch the sunset. I sat there knowing that sudden and scary as it is, this life change is perfect for me. The villa is nearly new and upgraded. I don’t have to do a thing. As I sat there, I began thinking about Mike Nichols. If he did have something to do with all these new, wonderful things in my life, I was grateful. I wrote, “Thank you, Mike Nichols” in the sand as the sun disappeared below the horizon and surrounded the words with a heart.

Leaving the beach, I went to a little out-of-the-way sea food restaurant. As I was waiting for my order, an older gentleman came up to my table. “Would you like to join us?” he asked.

“Oh, thank you,” I said. “But I just moved today and I’m exhausted. I don’t think I could keep up a conversation, but thank you.”

He went back to his table. I ate my meal and felt much better. I stopped at their table  as I was leaving to thank him again for his kind invitation. We introduced ourselves. Amazingly, the man who came to my table is David Shepherd. He gave Mike Nichols his first job at The Compass Theater which was the precursor to Second City.

I’m still stunned. What are the odds of David Shepherd being there at that little restaurant sitting at the table next to mine in Nokomis, FL? And what compelled him to get up and invite me to sit with them?

Was this mere coincidence? Or was it Mike Nichols with a nudge and a wink from The Beyond saying, “Yes, I’m still around. And look at what I can direct from here!”

Me and David Shepher

 

P.S. Here I am with David Shepherd, taken the next day when we all met for dinner. He’s 91, bright, and eager meet new people it seems.

 

 

ONE LITTLE STEP

CarThis morning I’m packing up my car yet again to leave another rental in Florida. I have moved around five times this winter. It wasn’t my plan. My plan was to be in one place for a month and another place for three months. For reasons beyond my control, those plans changed. So, I hopped around staying with several, gracious, welcoming friends in Florida until I landed a last minute rental in Sarasota.

Although I had never been in Sarasota before, I came to like it so much I started cruising around looking around at real estate. I surprised myself by finding something that I really liked, bid on it, and managed to get through the insanely detailed machinations now required to get a mortgage. Unfortunately, the closing could not be scheduled until March 6. My rental ends today.

A new friend kindly offered to put me up til the closing. But, yesterday, as I was packing up yet again for my fifth move, I got a phone call that because of a problem with the appraisal, the deal may fall through. It’s up in the air. It was a little shocking, to say the least. So what will happen at the end of the week? Will I be packing up yet again to move into my villa or packing up to drive back home up north? I don’t know.

The sudden uncertainty threw me. I lit a candle to meditate/get present. After a while I calmed down and heard from some wise place: Whether things are certain or uncertain, up in the air or not, life is still only one step at a time.

Of course. Today. Tomorrow. For the rest of my life. All I can do is take one little step at a time. I can do that. Get up. Pick up that thing. Put it in the bag. Take it to the car. Leave the key under the mat. One step at a time.

 This post deals with the principles of Getting Present and Relaxation.

AM I NORMA DESMOND?

Am I Norma DesmondI watched Sunset Boulevard last night. It was horrifying. Not, perhaps, for the reasons other people would find horrifying. For me, it was learning that nutty Norma Desmond, living like Dickens’ Miss Haversham was only 50 years old. That’s right. Fifty. Bill Holden threw that number at her like a death sentence. He thought she was an old hag. My shoulders sank. Instead of saying to her, “You’re only 50 years old, for God’s sakes, Norma. You’ve got tons of money. Get out and have some fun!” Nope. No chance for that. In Bill Holden’s eyes, and dare I say, the world’s, Norma was done, used up, finished, beyond any chance of having a life or being loved except by her creepy, sinister German butler.

I thought, Wow, I’m so many years older than Norma. Granted she was probably certifiably crazy, but am I even crazier trying to create a new life at my age? Sometimes the answer veers toward, “Yes,” especially after spending a day like yesterday looking at dreary homes for sale in my price range in Sarasota, and then making the unfortunate choice of watching Sunset Boulevard at night.

Aside from my personal reactions, it’s a great movie, so I continued to watch. Gloria Swanson, if you took away the weird makeup and over-the-top distended eyeball rolling, looked really good. And her imitation of Charlie Chaplin is terrific.

Many years ago, I happened to sit at a table next to her in Spoleto, Italy. I was surprised at how lovely she was in person. After that, I read her autobiography, Swanson on Swanson, which is one of the best autobiographies I have read. So, Gloria and I go way back. But in her iconic role, she damned me and my life to the dustbin. Am I Norma Desmond minus her money, butler, and toy boy Bill Holden?

No—in the light of this gray day, Norma wanted her old life back. I don’t. I had some wonderful experiences as an actress, but I don’t want to play Alzheimer patients. I want to create something new. I’d love to have all my beloved family, friends, and pets alive again, but that is not going to happen. So, I’m ready let go. I think trying to hang onto or recreate the past is what plunged Norma into the Land of Haversham. But, letting go means standing in emptiness, (see p.112 in the new edition of The Four Principles: Applying the Four Keys of Authentic Acting to Life). Emptiness can be scary as hell because it demands a big dose of trust. So many times one wants to hang onto what doesn’t work rather than walk into that big empty space of not knowing what to do, or where to go. or how to get what one really wants.

So, even if I am crazy, I’m going to see if I can create a new life. It’s a challenge and an adventure. Here I go.

I’m ready for my close up, God.

This blog addresses the principle of Commitment.

A BIG QUESTION

question_markCan I, a 77 year-old single woman with almost no family, create a whole new life?

It’s a big question that has been coming up since my acting career faded away. Four years ago, after the death of my sister, I drove around the US in a camper van for three months trying to revive myself. It worked. During the trip I sometimes wondered, “Would I like to live here? Or here? Or here?” The answer was pretty much “Nope.” But it was a wonderful adventure.

Enlivened, I came home and rebooted my life without my former connection to my acting career in New York City. But each cold winter became more unbearable to me and more friends and family died. So last winter, I began seriously exploring warmer climes to relocate. I traveled around much of Florida and even went to Merida, Mexico. I felt like Goldilocks hopping in and out of beds. Nothing seemed right for me: The Keys were too low key for me, Miami and environs too big. So I turned to central Florida. The Villages seemed too much like an adult Disneyword, Mt. Dora, too small. I loved Winter Park, but it was, frankly, too expensive and I wanted to be closer to the beach. So, this December, having heard Sarasota had a lot of theater and culture, not to mention the beach, I decided to try it out. Within days, it felt right to me.

I did not know one person there. But one of the great lessons I learned in my trip around the US was: There are good people everywhere. And, indeed, through chance encounters at restaurants and even on the street, I am on my way to creating a circle of friends. One woman I met took me with her to feed the homeless on Christmas Day. I plan to do that again next year wherever I am. Two people I chatted up at a restaurant happen to be very connected in the theater. They have already introduced me to several people who are also active in theater in Sarasota. And talk about good people! Another woman, JoAnn, who I had met at the theater and for lunch days later, turned out to be a kind of angel. When I fled my rental because of a nutty, rather scary landlady, JoAnn gave me her house to stay in while she was in California! Such generosity I won’t ever forget. (The landlady, by the way, was the exception that proves the rule about good people everywhere.)

So today, when I ask, “Can I, a 77 year-old single woman with almost no family, create a whole new life?” It may take some courage and a little craziness, but my answer is a resounding YES, I CAN!  And I’m excited about the prospect!

This blog has to do with Commitment. As I say in my Creative Explosion workshops, “A really good commitment may look a little crazy.”