Taking a Gap Year or Two

gap yearAfter writing the post Timehole the other day, I went to bed feeling melancholy. Had I really wasted 2 years in Seattle? After journaling about it the next morning and taking a few days to reflect on it, I no longer think of that time as wasted.

Even though I didn’t write about it or process it at the time, those years were still very important. I learned so much during those “lost” years.

I had my then-longest relationship during that time. (Two years! My previous longest barely made 6 months.) Had I not been in that relationship, I wouldn’t have had any practical knowledge of what it was like to be in a serious relationship before meeting my now-fiance. I also probably wouldn’t have known what I was looking for (or that it had sat down right next to me at an orientation).

Another thing that came out of those years was the means to survive when I moved to Los Angeles. My girlfriend in Seattle was the one who sent me the link saying that Mad Science of Sno-King Counties was hiring and that it sounded like something right up my alley. And she was right. Not only did Mad Science give a chance to entertain kids, explore the areas around Seattle and scratch the performing itch that had surfaced after I’d left Japan, but once I moved to Los Angeles, it was the local Mad Science that got me through the “lean months” I mentioned yesterday. Plus, because my shows were all over LA County, I saw more of this area in 3 years than most Angelinos will see their entire lives.

During those “lost” years, I also worked at the bookstore and, thanks to their letting employees “check out” any new hardback book, I was more caught up on current books than at any other time in my life. I also learned a lot about the brick-and-mortar end of publishing (which is kind of like learning how to be a VHS Player Repairman but, I digress).

It was during that time that, when faced with the overwhelming amount of notes and stories and STUFF I brought back from Japan, that I discovered Getting Things Done by David Allen, a process I still use today (and plan on using a LOT more in the next year).

Lastly, it was during my time in Seattle that I discovered the Paleo Diet. Whether or not you agree with the science of it, this diet changed me for the better. It improved my health, my skin, my asthma, my life.

So many of the things that define who I presently am were discovered during those years. And just because I didn’t document them, didn’t mean they weren’t important.

No More Excuses

It hit me today while I was planning my work schedule for next week that… this is it. Because New Year’s Day falls on a Monday this year, “winter peak” at work ends tomorrow which means that, from Sunday, I’ll begin several months of consistent hours at work, on consistent days, with consistent days off.

It’s crazy because, since I first moved to Los Angeles, the period from the first week of January though the start of Spring Break was what my fiance and I called the “lean months”. During that time, we didn’t have any regular work so she’d have to temp, I’d be a Mad Scientist, and we’d both pick up odd jobs. Then, come April, we’d hope we’d get cast for some summer roles. If we were lucky, we’d work the summer. Summer would lead to the Halloween season which would lead to the Christmas season, and then the whole cycle would start all over again. Exhausting, and not at all conducive to writing or exercising or traveling or, hell, just planning in general.

But now, with all this consistency, I can now finally plan. Write. DO!

My biggest obstacles preventing me from doing all the stuff I’ve wanted to do is now gone. From Monday, I’ve got no more excuses.

Holy shit.

 

Achievement Unlocked

I had therapy today and, despite the holidays, and all the ups and downs with work, and my concerns over my friend “Trey”, and the new tax bill, and all my fears and worries about 2018, and everything else; for the first time since I started talking to a therapist in early 2017, I ran out of things to say.

Like, genuinely stumped over what else I could bring up.

I know I’m not completely “fixed”. Nor did I “win at therapy”. I still have so many areas I’d like to work on to make myself the best me I can be but, to be happy enough and feel grounded enough (especially in the middle of the busiest time of the year for me) to not talk until the clock ran out felt like a huge win.

Ignore Everybody

I haven’t been feeling too hot all day so I took it easy this morning and ended up reading Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity by Hugh MacLeod.

Despite the not-so-brilliant idea of reading a motivating book when I’m not feeling well enough to be motivated, I enjoyed it. It’s got a lot of great advice – one of the chapters is literally called “Start Blogging” – and a few sections really struck a chord with me.

You see, during this past year, the closer and closer I’ve gotten to being “established in Los Angeles”, the more I’ve had a “wee voice” in my head calling me back to my massive, been-working-on-it-for-waaaay-longer-than-I-care-to-admit Japan project.

MacLeod writes:

Your wee voice came back because your soul somehow depends upon it. There’s something you haven’t said, something you haven’t done, some light that needs to be switched on and it needs to be taken care of. Now.

And he’s right. These are stories I haven’t told that I feel should be shared. In regards to this “Mt. Everest” of a project, his reply is:

So it looks like you’re going to have to climb the frickin’ mountain. Deal with it.

Fortunately for me, he recommends to “Keep Your Day Job”:

Keeping one foot in the “real world” makes everything far more manageable for me. The fact that I have another income means I don’t feel pressured to do something market-friendly. Instead, I get to do whatever the hell I want. I get to do it for my own satisfaction.

My project (which I’d always pictured as a book) needing to be successful made sitting down to write so daunting. But now that I’ve got a steady source of income, doing something I enjoy, and am no longer concerned about the medium (because “choice of media is irrelevant”), I can carry on creatively…

…in a calm fashion, day-in-day-out, and not go crazy in insane creative bursts brought on by money worries.

So I’m hoping to do this project for me – to “sing in my own voice” – under the assumption that I won’t be rewarded for it. Under the assumption that:

…it will not receive the recognition it deserves, that it will not be worth the time and effort invested in it.

The obvious advantage to this angle is, of course, if anything good comes of it, then it’s an added bonus.

So I’m ready to get back to work.

Because, like director Tim Burton explained to the author:

If you have the creative bug, it isn’t ever going to go away. I’d just get used to the idea of dealing with it.

deal with it

Comfort and Joy

E5386F02-F6FF-4B9C-A2D6-CC824E529B4BMy amazing fiancé posted this on Facebook last night:

Xmas Eve 2010: I wait for 4 hours, on hold with the Suicide Prevention Hotline, and eventually fall asleep angry because their hold music is so boring. They never pick up, and I wake up the next morning holding razors in my hand. I am hurting and sad and lost but I use those feelings to push through because I have to dance on stilts for the next 8 hours.
Xmas Eve 2017: I am healthy and happy and whole and perfectly imperfect and excited for every “extra” day I get to pursue my dreams. I’m taking the day off from stilts tomorrow and I plan to wake up not holding, but being held by my Favorite Person because What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You What You Choose To Be. The holidays bring out the best and the worst of feelings. Just know that I got your back because it gets better. I promise. And if 1-800-273-8255 is busy, call me. I’ll pick up.

I don’t know if I could have said it any better. Merry Christmas, everyone. Be safe.