On a Film Tour for The Year of the Dog Movie

When we checked into the hotel in Spokane WA, the lady at the front desk said, “this was our last room” almost apologetically. However, our room, it turns out, had a quote on the wall from A River Runs Through It – which was filmed in Montana and features a church that Rob’s great grandfather helped build and that is also in Rob’s movie The Year of the Dog. What?!

Magical moments like this keep happening on this journey we’ve been on for his beautiful film. He wrote, produced, acted in, and co-directed the movie and it’s in the midst of a theatrical release. We’ve been hopping from state to state and time zone to time zone to join audiences from Canada to Montana to Sedona Arizona and then South Carolina and now Washington State.

The film is a beautifully acted and skillfully written story about a recovering alcoholic finding connection with a stray dog. And I’ve witnessed some incredibly moving moments where drug and alcohol counselors and courageous people in recovery have come up to Rob after the movie and been so moved to see the realistic portrayal of the struggle on screen.

It’s inspiring to see the alchemy of empathy at work. And an excellent reminder to me about why we create in the first place.

Yesterday our car had a mild mechanical situation and we drove off the Interstate into Snoqualmie for a repair. The mechanical shop looked closed but I called out “hello?” And someone was there. He came and helped us and turns out he’s also a screenwriter and has written 5 screenplays and is not sure how to get his writing connected with people who will produce it. He shared a script plot he had with us that was interesting. He seems like a kind soul with a creative mind. Rob and he exchanged info and it felt like another one of these magical moments.

I’m thinking about how connected we all are. How brave it is to write and produce our own work. Wherever we are and whatever we do with our time. To dare to create even when Hollywood isn’t knocking down your door. To witness the other doors that exist around us and to declare what we want for our art and then make it happen.

I’m prepping for a staged reading of my new feature-length documentary play Primordial happening next week. I cannot tell you how excited I am to share it with a limited audience for the first time.

More about the reading soon…

For now, as I get ready to fly back to NYC, I’m feeling really really proud of Rob and very very inspired. Grateful to be experiencing this daring creative ride alongside him.


I just finished watching NOPE a science fiction horror film by Jordan Peele. I don’t normally watch horror films but I loved Peele’s Get Out and so I was excited to watch NOPE. Woah, was it good!

It follows a brother and sister who discover something frightening living in the skies above their California horse ranch. It swoops down from the clouds at the same time every day.

They go through various stages of reckoning with the situation.

First, they’re scared cause it’s really weird. Then they get excited – especially Keke Palmer’s character who sees it as an opportunity to capture the phenomenon on camera and possibly make a lot of money. She calls up a famous filmmaker to gauge his interest, but he brushes them off. Daniel Kaluuya’s character is more resistant to the idea anyway and wants them to just stay safe – which makes complete sense cause in the first scene of the movie he witnesses their father being killed by the excrement of this sky beast.

Giving a spoiler alert warning here! There’s a subplot involving an entrepreneurial guy who seems to own an amusement-type park in this mid-west town. He witnessed an incredibly traumatic event as a child actor – an on-set monkey actor murdered a whole cast of people right in front of him. For some reason the monkey spared him and it’s given him a belief that he’s chosen or special.

He tries to make money off almost everything and so it’s no surprise that he tries to make this alien-in-the-sky’s daily appearances into a sideshow of sorts. He thinks he’s immune from harm, or he has a death wish of some kind, but (spoiler alert) he is not spared from this beast’s feast and neither are his 40 guests.

Then Palmer and Kaluuya’s characters get a call from that filmmaker who now wants to capture this phenomenon after hearing about the 40+ people’s disappearance. Game on!

They get a few different cameras ready and set up, and they seem to get some amazing footage of the beast consuming a TMZ reporter – hah. But as their film shoot goes on – and the beast gets closer and closer to eating each one of them, the life and death struggle they’re engaged in overshadows any attempts at cinema.

I kept having this dizzying experience watching the film. I was in awe of the special effects that created this alien monster, admiring it even as I was terrified of it. (They have a particularly disturbing scene of what it looks like when you get eaten by the thing.) I was in awe of the thing, and so I also wanted the characters in the movie I was watching to get a great shot of this incredible monster for their movie. Hoping they’d capture it to share with other people. While also simultaneously not wanting them to die. And also realizing that I was watching a movie and the beast wasn’t even real. It was a trip.

If I’m searching for a deeper meaning in all of this I would say, real life is pretty freaky and the grit and effort required to face our fears, survive and do something of consequence is so great, and all this capturing of it for social media and movies is not the point. As evidenced by the TMZ reporter losing his life in the film because he’s more concerned with getting a photo than being saved.

Yet we continue to write, make movies, and tell stories like Peele has done here because it’s entertaining and unifying and we crave that as a species. Something the aliens may not ever understand. 😉

Viola Davis & Jennifer Lawrence on Fear

“I’m always terrified, let me just say that.” – Viola Davis

I’ve been watching Variety’s ‘Actors on Actors’ interview with Viola Davis and Jennifer Lawrence from this past December, and I was excited by a few minutes of a very frank conversation they had about fear.

They’re both such powerhouses in the industry and often play strong women who literally kick ass in their acting roles. But in this interview, Viola models the power of vulnerability as she begins a frank conversation about fear with Jennifer. I’m including the interview below, beginning at the moment the fear conversation really kicks off.

It’s a revealing exchange about how fear impacts a creative career.

Fear & Art

In spite of all their experience and accolades, Viola and Jennifer feel fear during those days and moments before the first ‘action’ is called on set or when a director comes up to give them notes.

Viola also talks about how she feels ‘the scrutiny’ when she’s on set. She feels pressure and asks herself if she should try and live up to other people’s hype about her. When she actually feels like she doesn’t know what she’s doing and feels the same as everyone else on set.

Artists who are established feel pressure to perform to a certain level again and again, while artists who aren’t yet established often feel pressure to prove themselves.

That pressure isn’t an inherent part of the actual creative process though. It’s kind of a byproduct of pursuing creativity as a profession. But do we also have an innate human need to feel that the art we’re sharing is accepted and approved of by other people?

What happens if we don’t care about that? Is it even possible to genuinely not care? Let’s assume it isn’t possible, that we’ll always be a little afraid of how our art might be perceived.

It really doesn’t need to practically influence anything other than our lived experience in a moment. We feel the emotion of fear, and then we still create.

I recently heard the famous writer Elizabeth Gilbert say in an interview that it’s not her responsibility to make sure the books she writes are ‘good’. She’s just going to write them. What a cool way to relate to our art.

Fear & Age

In the interview, Jennifer also talks about how she was less afraid when she was younger, and how it changes as she gets older.

She used to train wild horses in Kentucky. Jump up and go for it. Then a few years ago she jumped on a horse, thinking nothing of it, and moments later froze in fear and fell off. She was suddenly so aware of how dangerous it was, and how hurt she could get, and that wasn’t something she’d considered when she was younger.

When we get older, but also as we experience more, no matter what age we are, we realize how much pain and potential for hurt there is.

We learn so much from our environment, from what has happened to us, and from what we’ve seen. It can change the way we orient to the world, and increase our sense of fear or caution. We begin to manage fear with whatever coping mechanism we have adapted, fight/freeze/flight/fawn. This is why therapy is so powerful, so we can bring greater emotional intelligence to our choices in moments of fear.

I believe that the more awareness you have of fear, the greater your capacity to be brave. Cause fearlessness is not the same thing as bravery, it might mean you don’t know there’s anything to be afraid of, to begin with.

I don’t want to be fearless – I want to feel the grit of fear and then take action anyway.

Bravery & Art

Viola asks Jennifer, when they have producers on set with opinions, etc… the pressures of being ‘the cog in the machine’ as Jennifer says, how can they stay true to the bold acting choice they made in preparation. Especially when that important creative choice is made to share the truth of the character they’re playing. Knowing that compromise on that may affect the impact of the performance…

“How do you, as an actor, have the bravery of your choices so that when people come into the theater, they feel less alone.”

I love that thought, that the bravery of our choices isn’t even for us alone. There’s something bigger than that individual fear we feel, and that’s the people we seek to connect with, communicate with, and affect with our art.

It’s about being brave enough to create and commit to genuine artistic choices no matter our fear, no matter the pressure, so that someone who is feeling isolated in their life, can feel seen through art, and maybe even heal just a little bit.

Do You Know Who Is Living Inside You?

Taking care of our inner emotional landscape is our responsibility and ain’t no one going to save us otherwise. That realization and the decision to commit to turning inward with care is intimidating.

I’m discovering it’s also SO FREEING and EXCITING. 

I’ve been in somatic therapy for a year now and it’s a game-changer. Basically, it’s a form of therapy that focuses on what our body is telling us. Listening and moving through stored emotion so that we can release ourselves from the fight, freeze, fight cycle. Then we can think more clearly in all situations, even stressful ones, and more fully engage with our lives. 

I’ve also been learning about my inner child: the angry child, the vulnerable child, then there’s the punitive adult – there’s a whole family of versions of our emotional lives, living inside of us. 

Not literally, of course. But everything we as children have experienced, all the insecurities and hurts and joys still impact how we relate to the world today. And it’s now the responsibility of our fully capable healthy adult self to parent those younger versions of ourselves. Paving the way for us to relate to our lives in a more clear-headed way. 

Why is something so clearly beneficial also kind of scary? Why is the prospect of caring for our emotional, physical, psychological, and mental health intimidating sometimes? 

So many reasons…

  • It’s ‘easier’ to just react from where we are at the moment
  • Therapy can be expensive – This factor is a systemic crisis in my opinion. Some therapists have a sliding scale rate for people with lower incomes, and it’s worth asking to see if they do. 
  • It’s ‘easier’ to just have someone else take care of our emotional needs (friends, partners, family)
  • We have so many available avenues to numb out instead (tv, drugs, alcohol) 
  • Mental health is still stigmatized in many communities and choosing to focus on it can make you feel judged

In spite of these many valid demotivators, if you haven’t already, I urge you to find the bravery and resourcefulness to embark on your mental health journey. It just might be the single greatest gift you could ever give yourself and those around you. 

My relationship with the world and how I relate to other people has been shifting since starting this work. Because my relationship with myself is shifting. 

I’m listening to Lillian, asking her what she wants to say, how she feels, and what’s going on inside. She is my most important, longest-lasting, and dedicated relationship – and I owe her all the love in the world. 

I hope you’re loving YOU.

Happy New Year!!

Thoughts on Fear

These past couple of weeks I’ve been musing about fear in a different way. It’s a singular word but there’s so much meaning in it. You can be afraid of so many different things and to varying degrees.

A quick google search of ‘what is the true meaning of fear?’ defines fear as…
1a) an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. 1b) an instance of this emotion.
2a) a state marked by this emotion. 2b) anxious concern: solicitude.
3) profound reverence and awe especially toward God.

Isn’t that interesting? Playing with those words, to understand fear more deeply, I’ll shape a poem.

On Fear
Often strong
anticipating and aware
all in an instance
solicitude manifest – a caring
something of profound reverence
moving toward
an awe of God

So, fear, huh? Pretty damn special and powerful. Let’s go, 2022. Let’s see what FEAR brings and reveals, how it directs and strengthens.

I have a feeling that leaning into fear – directly experiencing it and not numbing out – making choices and moving forward through it, is what LIVING is all about.

New Years 2022 = First Time Stitches

I spent the first two hours of 2022 in an emergency room getting stitches on my toe. It was my first time ever needing stitches and my first time ever being treated for something in a hospital. Warning – some mildly graphic toe imagery follows.

Basically, here’s what went down. It was 2 minutes till midnight on New Years Eve in Montana, and I was walking through a dark hallway. There was a broken frame and a huge glass cover sitting in the hallway and as I rounded the corner I accidentally carved my index toe on the glass!

I initially thought I had just stubbed it bad, but after turning the light on I realized nope I have in fact sliced my toe a bit. It was more bloody than painful, and there was a bit of skin flap situation going on. It was unclear how deep and close to the bone it got. My boyfriend came over and immediately was in damage control mode – helping me stop the bleeding. I’m incredibly grateful that he was so supportive cause I was pretty rapidly going into a mild state of shock.

The way my body systemically reacted to the situation surprised me. I got extremely anxious and started to feel the beginnings of a panic attack. Then I threw up and felt better although was now pretty embarrassed. I would have thought cause I’m a woman and see blood monthly I would be less squeamish… but there we go.

Meanwhile, my boyfriend was on it (again) and made the call that a hospital would be best cause no Urgent Care was open and my toe had a deep enough cut that it was better to be safe and get it cared for professionally. Surprisingly, my toe really didn’t hurt that much. We wrapped my toe up in a bandaid and a clean sock and I wore a pair of his shoes since my toe couldn’t fit into my own without further damaging it. He drove me to the nearest hospital and since there was literally no other patient in the waiting area I got seen immediately. I’m super grateful for that and it occurred to me that if this had happened in NYC I would have likely needed to wait quite a bit longer.

They irrigated my toe – basically flushing it out with water. Then the doc came in checked it out and recommended stitches. The anesthetic was more painful than the actual stitches – which means it did its job well. I avoided looking at the procedure while it happened for the most part cause I was worried I was gonna be sick again.

After leaving the hospital I kept the toe clean and regularly applied a topical antibiotic ointment. 10 days later it was time to remove the stitches. You can opt to have a doctor or Urgent Care help you take it out – but the ER doc had assured me you can do it yourself too. I opted to do it myself cause it would be less expensive… But it was a freaky experience involving a tweezer, scissors, a lot of patience, and a little bit of nausea. I freaking did it though. And it’s healing up really well.

Learned quite a few lessons from this one but most importantly that THE BODY IS AMAZING. Seriously the way it can heal is nothing short of miraculous. We just need to give it a fighting chance.

Check out my IG for some footage of me removing the stitches from my toe… if you’re curious. But totally understand if you’d rather pass ;-).

Celebrating My Heart in December

I’ve been reading this book ‘Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha’ by Tara Brach. She is a clinical psychologist and a western teacher of Buddhist meditation, emotional healing, and spiritual awakening. She shares simple meditations throughout the book that can be done in a few minutes. Last month I started doing one of them. In short, you sit in stillness and ask yourself ‘What does my heart truly long for?’. At first, you might come up with answers like ‘money’, ‘a partner’, ‘a house’. You keep at it though, asking yourself what does my heart truly long for? Eventually you hit on something, the true something of what you long for – hint: it isn’t usually material.

woman stands on mountain over field under cloudy sky at sunrise
Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

I realized what my heart truly longed for at that time was to open up to love, and feel love and connection with other people. Knowing that was powerful because it helped me understand my self more. I began to look at my day through the lens of wanting love and connection and figuring out how I could give it. Cause what I want more than anything is to open up to love and that means giving, giving, giving. Not just to others but to myself too. How can I give myself love?

That led to me creating a challenge for myself (of course) to celebrate the holidays in some way each day in December. What better time to connect with others than the holidays?! Originally it was to go to a holiday-themed event, get-together, or party each day, but in the vein of loving myself and enjoying myself, I realized that wasn’t exactly going to be practical. It’s day 21, the winter solstice, and so far I have indeed celebrated the holidays each day. A list of how I’m doing that below.

Lillian Isabella

I didn’t know what to expect, but I have already seen some changes. I’m about to share just how weird I can be so if you’re still reading this, get ready. In the past, I’ve not wanted to hang out with my sister when she’s with her boyfriend or friends. I get too self-conscious and feeling like I need to take care of and balance everyone else’s emotional energies. It’s actually a little hard to explain and it’s definitely not rational, but my sister is super understanding about it. It’s also not exclusive to being with her. I generally find group dynamics a little stressful.

Then on December 7th, I went with my sister to the Frick museum. As I was getting ready to go I thought to myself, I wonder if her boyfriend will come that would be cool all three of us checking out the museum together. Then I had a holy shit moment. I had literally never EVER had that thought before. I believe that I was able to feel that way because in the six days prior to that I’d been going out and celebrating the holidays each day and opening the space around my heart more and more. He didn’t wind up joining us, but I was open to it.

Photo credit: Dan Corbett

As I open up more to love and loving myself, it’s a little painful to recognize how I haven’t done that in the past. To see how I rejected my own heart, and myself. It’s also extremely exciting and enlivening to see how powerful my love can be, now that I’ve decided to practice opening up to it.

My December adventures so far…

DAY 1: Checked out the #MariahExperience Christmas booth at Sony Sq NYC.

DAY 2: Gathered with hundreds at the Annual Park Avenue Tree Lighting Ceremony. They light trees all along Park Ave between 54th and 97th street as a symbol of peace and the people who fought and died in WWII to attain it. It was a night filled with caroling and families celebrating + praying.

DAY 3: Visited the Union Square holiday market, and worked a holiday party.

DAY 4: Went to the SAG-AFTRA holiday party and saw a bunch of friends there.

DAY 5: Visited my friend and a renowned figurative painter who has painted a couple of portraits of me. Drank wine and sat around her fireplace talking about the holidays.

DAY 6: Worked another holiday party, and sniffed some evergreen Christmas trees.

DAY 7: Went to First Friday at the Frick with my sister, we drew together and listened to a performance of live Christmas music.

DAY 8: Worked another holiday party.

DAY 9: Lunch with mom + she got me a Christmas wreath. Spent the evening with my friend Mara, we walked around lit trees in Thompkins square park, drank tea, and talked about the holidays (and other stuff ;-).

DAY 10: Bought a Christmas present for a family member.

DAY 11: My friend Benny invited me to his work Christmas party, he won a prize and we posed for photos with a polar bear.

DAY 12: Helped decorate a Christmas tree at a church with the Actors Episcopal Guild.

DAY 13: Worked my last holiday party.

DAY 14: Went to a holiday poetry reading at the Cornelia Street Cafe.

DAY 15: Checked out the gingerbread house at Madison Square Park.

DAY 16: Deep cleaned my apartment while listening to Christmas music on blast.

DAY 17: Went to a local cafe and drank hot apple cider, sitting by a decorated Christmas tree, reading a book about love.

DAY 18: Went to hear the New York City Opera perform live Christmas carols, and classical music at Bryant Park.

DAY 19: Watched a movie about Charles Dickens called ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’. At the end of the film they share that Dickens published ‘A Christmas Carol’ on Dec 19th many years ago. I didn’t realize that ahead of time, but I love synchronicity. I also had a session with a social media client in her apartment and got to see her beautiful Christmas tree.

DAY 20: Went to a cast + crew screening of EVENING NEWS, a film I acted in earlier this year. It was so beautiful to be among the people who helped make that film happen and listen to their reactions as they watched the film. 💛 It’s my holiday event for the day because it’s in the spirit of love, celebration, and creation.

Lillian Isabella
Photo credit: Camile Grace

I’m looking forward to continuing my December journey, and curious to see where opening my heart will lead me to next.




Mental Health Month and OCD

It’s been a while since I’ve written an entry but it’s because I’ve been facing my fears hardcore in a multitude of ways and it’s been a little overwhelming. It’s intense to face your fear and push through obstacles. I started to see a therapist and earlier this year she asked me how I felt about her assessment that I have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). I told her it made sense. I started seeing her late last year because I realized I had gotten into certain unhealthy mental patterns that were getting stronger as my stress levels increased. She recognized these patterns as signs of OCD.

Photo Credit: Unique Spirit Photography

Thankfully over the past few months, she’s introduced me to various cognitive therapy techniques to help me break these mental patterns. It’s been working wonders. I’m not taking any medications to assist in this transformation (doc doesn’t find it necessary) and breaking mental patterns is a stressful endeavor. Luckily a lot of the therapy techniques she’s been working on with me are relaxation techniques as well.

It’s challenging for people with mental health issues to be open with their friends, family, and colleagues about it. Mental health is heavily stigmatized, maybe because so many people are repressing their own mental health issues and feel a need to disassociate from people who are naming and working through their shit. Who knows. Thing is it’s not easy for people working on their mental health issues to admit it to themselves either because of that same stigma. Yet self-acceptance and love are essential to recovery.

I have a mild level of OCD and I’m pretty sure it’s added to my ability to be a more highly functional human in certain areas of my life. Which is why it took me so darn long to seek help for it. I was kind of in denial about the negative impact it was having on my life, even as I was able to observe it happening.

Photo Credit: Dan Corbett

Since I’ve started using the cognitive exercises my therapist recommended I’ve noticed I’m able to focus more on the present moment and release an obsessive need to control it. It’s an ongoing process but I’m deeply grateful for her assistance and it is 100% changing my life. I cannot recommend cognitive therapy enough.

Mental health is such an important part of our lives and it frequently gets swept under a rug of shame. Lets air out our collective psyche and let the healing begin. I highly recommend following @MensHealthMag for more on the importance of men talking about mental health and their #HowIGotHelp campaign for #MentalHealthMonth.

Also, there’s a beautiful organization called Art with Impact that brings screenings of short films about mental illness to college campuses around the world that is worth keeping an eye on.

Alright, until next time. Maybe next week. We’ll see…


#TimesUp and Time to LOVE

Sunday night we witnessed Oprah begin her candidacy for President of the United States – I mean, I hope – at her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes. It was a fantastic way to herald in the New Year. A rallying cry for women and men everywhere. This is my favorite part:

So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say “Me too” again.

I loved her speech. Particularly how she talks about all of us fighting hard, men and women together, to eradicate abuses of power. The #TimesUp movement is pretty phenomenal. It’s a rallying cry from many powerful women in Hollywood that reaches across a huge socio-economic gap and offers a helping hand to less financially privileged women so they too can fight sexual assault, harassment, and inequality in the workplace. They’ve set up a Legal Defense Fund to subsidize legal support for people who have experienced sexual harassment. More on their website.

The whole #MeToo movement has highlighted how disturbingly pervasive sexual assault and abuse are across all industries. I know women who have suffered from it, and I doubt there’s a single one of us who doesn’t. It’s energizing to see how making our voices heard prompts real change – firing perpetrators, mobilizing the elite, and intensifying a sense of solidarity.

I haven’t been sexually abused or assaulted, thank the universe. I have had men, boyfriends, friends, and strangers, say the most disturbing things to me and haven’t been able to process them. I remember one day lying out in the sun with a group of friends near our high school campus. I felt divinely happy, surrounded by people I cared about, feeling the sun soaking into my skin, and completely relaxed. It was a mixed group of men and women friends. One of the guys, whom I considered a friend, said to me, ‘I don’t understand, do you want to be raped?’

I haven’t ever been able to fully process that question. I went from being in a state of natural bliss and relaxation to being horribly self-conscious and shy and honestly repressed. If you’re wondering what I was wearing shame on you, and it doesn’t matter, but it was definitely not revealing. I tended to subdue whatever about me was attractive in high school. I didn’t wear makeup, I didn’t wear heels (still don’t really if I can help it), I would hide my hair when I walked home from school because my mom told me it would attract too much attention. Which leads me to another story…


photo credit: Dan Corbett

One day on the way home from work, post-college, I did have my hair out. It was long and thick and luxurious and I wanted it to be free. I stepped out onto the platform to wait for my transfer. As I stood there I suddenly felt someone’s fingers run through the length of my long hair as they walked by. I felt every other hair on my body stand up and a kind of sick feeling churn in the pit of my stomach. I turned to look and a man I didn’t know lumbered away from me quickly walking to the exit. Two girls sitting to my left looked at me horrified and then looked at each other and whispered about what had just happened. I looked at them and tried to connect but they looked away from me as if I was somehow tainted by the incident. Or maybe they were just embarrassed for me.


photo credit: Dan Corbett

Here’s the thing, femininity is not actually a commodity. Although people might try to commodify it. It is not something that can be used and abused, at a moments notice for a moment’s pleasure, and then cease to exist. Although people will try to pretend that’s the case. It exists whether or not you’re there to look at it, touch it, or enjoy it. If you must engage with the feminine and/or with the female body please do so with respect and with permission.

Screen Shot 2018-01-09 at 3.44.55 PM

The real truth of it is, we’re all irrevocably connected to one another. The #MeToo movement and the resulting #TimesUp movement highlight how much good we can do when we stand together and shout enough is enough. I hope we see more men join in the fight, really join in, as this moves forward. Not a one of the men who gave their Golden Globe speeches mentioned the TimesUp campaign and that was disappointing. We’re all in this together, and it’s going to take both men and women to make a lasting change.

Moving forward, let’s all try to be a little less afraid. Face our fears of whatever the hell it is that holds us back from being as brave, and brilliant, and divinely feminine as we can be.

Now is the time to embrace love. L.O.V.E.

Read more Facing Fear posts here.

Facing Fear in 2018: Releasing ‘Self-ing’

I recently finished reading this fantastic book called ‘Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, & Wisdom.’ Its a guide to help you understand how you can control your brain and have a more joyous, loving, and healthy life.

The author has a self-guided exercise you can do where you exist in the moment without an attachment to the idea of ‘a self’. You sit and relax and observe whats happening around you without assigning it meaning according to your point of view. If those kinds of thoughts arise that’s fine, you just acknowledge them and don’t attach importance to them and let them drop away. Easier said than done, but it’s a fun challenge.

You know how a movie is actually many different still frames going by one after the other in quick succession creating the illusion of a moving image? The author says our idea of self is made up of many little sequential moments in time that give us the illusion of having a unique ongoing personhood. In reality we only exist in the moment and in relationship to what’s around us. Woah.

Photo credit: Michael Bambuch

We’ve all heard that refrain ‘live in the moment’ before, right? I always figured that meant we had the option to choose to live in the moment. It seems though that the moment is all there is, and if we’re not in it, we’re walking around with our heads in a dream.

When was the last time you walked down the street absorbing each moment of that walk? Paying attention to the sensations but not attaching any particular importance to the way they affected ‘you’? When I tried the author’s exercise I was relieved to exist even for just a few moments without making it about my experience. It reminded me of the way I feel after a good yoga class.

Photo credit: Michael Bambuch

Having a sense of self is healthy and helps you form relationships and understand important boundaries. However the author says if you practice releasing ‘self-ing’ it can help you feel more relaxed and peaceful, less stuck in the illusion of selfhood, and more connected with what’s really around you.

This past year I’ve been on a mission to face my fears and nurture self love. I’ve realized that fear comes from a strong identification with ‘self’. An attachment to the idea of a personal narrative I need to protect, or a strong connection to my ego. In some circumstances that fear is healthy, I don’t want to put myself or anyone else in physical danger. In other circumstances, particularly creative ones, that fear is harmful and restricting.

If ‘self-ing’ is the cause of my fear, and it is an illusion, then my fear is based on an illusion. Maybe if I continue to work on releasing my ‘self-ing’ I’ll find fear loosens it’s grip as well.

In 2018 I’m also going to focus on noticing and holding onto moments of joy. I’m going to take action in the moment and I’m going to practice loving gratitude. Also, I might just read this book ‘Buddha’s Brain’ again.

So, goodbye fear. Here we go, 2018. 💛🙏🏼