Calming Emotions, Mindfulness

Wrong Turns Allowed

Just before I fell asleep, a car swerved into my lane and shoved me off the road, jolting me out of that twilight state and back into my bed where I was safe and sound.

Well…safe. I’m not too sure about sound.

It took some calming affirmations to get myself relaxed enough to truly fall asleep. But whenever I woke in the night, I still had this unsettling feeling—as if at any moment, something unexpected would happen to derail me. As if I shouldn’t have been on that road.

As if I made a wrong turn.

I’m often invaded by sudden images, sometimes while wide awake. I’m walking along when—BAM!—I see and feel myself twisting an ankle. I can even hear the familiar crunch. It’s sudden and visceral and startling. And I hate it. But I understand it: I have a long history of falling off my foot.

The first time it happened I was living in Manhattan. I had just spent the day rehearsing for Cats, executing all manner of coordinated feats, when I stepped in a pothole and twisted my ankle. After that, all it took was a less than solid step for me to, literally, fall off my foot. No pothole necessary. Just a slight misalignment and down I’d go. It’s happened dozens of times since then, always unexpected, always painful, always accompanied by cringe-worthy crunch and a shock of pain.

So what does this have to do with a car running me off the road?

Insecurity

The unexpected car veering into my lane and the ankle I keep re-twisting in my imagination are signals from my subconscious that I’m feeling uncertain about myself. Did I take the wrong turn? Am I on the right course? Or is the bridge out ahead and I’m headed for disaster?

That’s what I love about this Toontown sign: It reminds me that wrong turns are okay, but more than that, it implies that wrong turns are a natural part of getting from here to there.

It’s scary to stretch out of the comfort zone.

We don’t know what to expect.

We don’t know how others will respond.

We don’t know if we’ll inadvertently cause harm or create a monumental mess.

We’re taking a chance, and in the process, risking failure.

So yeah… it’s scary. And yet, it needs to be done. Otherwise, how can we grow?

I remind myself of this when the startling images catch me unaware—while falling asleep, while walking through a lobby, while sitting at a table with friends with whom I should feel completely comfortable and am not. I shake off the feeling—a very visceral feeling—and remind myself that I am capable of handling whatever comes. Because that’s really what matters, isn’t it?

Confidence isn’t about always being right or perfect, it’s about knowing you can get back on course when you take a wrong turn.

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Calming Emotions, Mindfulness, Relationships, Writing

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I wrote the notes for this poem on my father’s bed during the wee hours of the night, pen in one hand and his fingers curled around the other. Writing is the best way I know to process emotions and pass through challenging times. It helps me arrange my thoughts and get to the heart of what I’m experiencing. When I arrive at what I feel is a finished poem, essay, or story, I feel a great sense of peace about what has transpired.Read more

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Calming Emotions, Mindfulness

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I greeted the day with my habitual morning meditation—reaffirming my commitment to the path of enlightenment; acknowledging and atoning for my own misuse and misdirected actions, words, and thoughts; activating energy points throughout my body; and centering my spirit for a calm mind and focused intent.

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Calming Emotions, Health, Mindfulness

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Who knew a blast of air on a fractured tooth could render a badass ninja into a trembling kitten? Okay… I suppose I would have expected it if I had given it prior thought. But here’s the thing: I don’t have problems with dental work. I don’t leap from the chair like a Halloween cat and claw the ceiling every time the dentist pokes at a tooth. In fact, my biggest concern is staying awake in those comfy reclining chairs. But when that air blasted my nerve, I embedded all twenty of my claws so deeply into ceiling panel I didn’t think I’d ever come down.Read more

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Calming Emotions, Empowerment, Motivation, Perspective, Writing

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“I love to wait!” said no one, EVER. And yet, we can’t seem to a avoid it.

We check our emails on the hour (or minutes) for responses from agents, editors, and casting directors. We stare at our phones (and test the connection), willing them to ring with news of that hard earned promotion or the house of our dreams. We pace our floors (or pound our heads) waiting for test results and customer service, plumbers and computer techs, heartthrobs and children. And no matter how fast we work or how efficiently we manage our affairs, every series of actions seems to be followed by an even longer and more grueling period of waiting for some omnipotent entity to say YES!Read more

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Calming Emotions, Communication, Mindfulness

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Calming Emotions, Communication, Empowerment, Mindfulness

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The other day, a friend of mine was wrestling with a common relationship issue, trying to figure out whether someone’s action was motivated by good intention or woeful disregard. I say common, because I suspect we have all experienced this kind of uncertainty at one time or another: Someone we know does or says something that leaves us feeling hurt, bewildered, or perplexed. The most direct course of action would be to ask. But that only works if we’re willing to believe the answer.Read more

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Calming Emotions, Communication, Mindfulness, ShowBiz

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In 1986, I recorded with Brian Wilson. I was a young singer at the time and thrilled to be hired (along with two fabulous women) to sing on his album-in-progress. This was during a difficult time in Brian’s life when he was struggling to get back into his music. A couple years later, he would come out with his critically acclaimed solo album. But in 1986, he was in the midst of his struggle with music and his longtime therapist, Eugene Landy.Read more

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Calming Emotions, Communication, Mindfulness, NINJA

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While speaking on the Power of Empathy to graduate students studying for their Masters in Social Working, I saw a need to address how to be empathetic without taking on the pain. Like writers, doctors, artists, caregivers, parents—and any deeply caring individual—these young professionals wondered if there was a way to open their hearts, safely. If you’ve ever wondered the same thing, read on!Read more

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Calming Emotions, Empowerment, Mindfulness, Motivation, Perspective

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On the surface, this sounds like a good thing: there is great power and peace in acceptance. The problem that I have with some of these slogans is that they imply that any attempt to correct an imperfection is an act of self-denial.

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Calming Emotions, Empowerment, Mindfulness, Perspective

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Calming Emotions, Communication, Mindfulness, NINJA, Perspective, ShowBiz

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I’ve had a series of fascinating conversations for Empowered Living Radio this past month. Each has been on a different topic with wildly different guests: the reincarnated spiritual leader of the Red Hat Lamas of Tibet, an advocate and activist for the Indigenous people of Turtle Island (North America), a Colonel in the United States Army stationed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as an adviser, and a professor and author of middle-grade fiction. And yet, there seems to be a common thread that weaves between all of these conversations—connection and interdependence.

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Calming Emotions, Empowerment, Exciting Stuff, Mindfulness, NINJA

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Calming Emotions, Mindfulness, Motivation, NINJA, ShowBiz, Writing

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When we are willing to do the work, remain flexible as to the means, and have unwavering belief in our ability to get it right—disappointment has no place to root. On the other hand, when our heart and mind are attached to a fixed outcome and timetable, disappointment digs deep and sprouts up like a nasty weed. Water those weeds with doubt, and soon we’ll have a field of despair where nothing positive can grow.Read more

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Calming Emotions, Mindfulness

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The culprits are those pictures we hold in our minds of how we want the world to be. We imagine the way people should react, how we should be treated, the way in which love should be communicated.Read more