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Love

an intense feeling of deep affection. LOVE

How is it that something we all want so desperately seems to elude us? We crave it, want it and it’s been proven that you live a much longer and healthier life with love in it.

So if we can all agree on how wonderful love is, why is it so many of us can’t get it? It’s an interesting question for sure and I am not going to claim to have the answer. I could tell you that you probably aren’t loving yourself enough but that would sound trite and no one wants to hear that when all they want is love.

Is the problem with us or with someone else? And is it a problem at all? In all of my struggles with love I can finally say that I feel love every single day. It starts with me. I can finally say that I have reached a place of complete acceptance for who I am and what I bring to the table.

Does that mean my table is jam packed with people clamoring to sit next to me? There are a few for which I am grateful. My steadies. But the table is getting bigger. The more love I bring into this world, the more the world loves me back.

In the past week I have had four stellar auditions. Like life changers in the world of acting. I’m super excited about where they lead but at the same time I knew they were coming. It was inevitable. With all of the work I have done on myself there was going to be a reward.

Trust in the process. But first trust in yourself and what you want. Do not waver from it. Believe that all things are possible because they are.

Just love! Love, Love, Love! Fall madly in love with yourself.

There is a song by Kendrick Lamar that is absolutely beautiful, aptly called, “Love.” He said he wrote the song based on the line, “Give me a run for my money.”

We all want that! Someone who gives us a run for our money. So if that is what we want, then we must become that first. A person so confident, so sure of who they are, one who does not waver in their commitment of it, one who gives love so freely that it returns tenfold.

Kendrick said it best when describing his song:

“It’s really about confidence, like give me a run for my money, and it’s about loving yourself in that way. And when I say things like, ‘Just love me, just love me,’ it just had to do with people who used to be my friends who started acting different for stupid reasons, and it’s just me telling them, ‘Just love me. Love yourself. I love myself. I love you. Just love me.'”

How beautiful is that? We are all attracted to confidence because it is what we all strive to be. We all want to be loved and accepted for who we really are and have someone in our lives who meets us at our level. We want someone who will give us a run for our money. We want the whole package. And we want to be loved for all that we are, including our wounds, scars, tears, quirkiness, greatness, our good days and our bad.

But the only way we can ever receive love and all of its glory on this level, is if we accept ourselves for who we are. When this happens the stars align and magic happens. LOVE

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Tribe

a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.

Who is our tribe? Often times they are the people who have formed the person we are. Our families are the first ones to tell us what to believe in, what not to, who to trust, who not to, what religion we are going to follow and what kinds of foods we will eat.

But what if we don’t like any of the things they expect us to conform to? Well that’s what the teenage years are for. And once you realize that no matter how much you rebel you still live under their roof, eventually you calm down and learn to accept what they tell you.

Until you leave the house.  Once that happens all bets are off and sometimes it can be the end of your relationships with family. Usually you just outgrow their beliefs and create your own and still maintain ties with them, but even that gets challenging, especially if you have done spiritual growth of any kind.

People can become very threatened by you when you change. They tend to think since you have changed, it now means that they have to in order to still be in contact with you. What they don’t realize is that it’s not necessary for them to, they just need to honor the fact that you have.

Another thing that threatens people with your change is they think you may not need them anymore.  Some people cannot be in a relationship with you when you are doing good. They only know how to relate to you when you are doing bad. Your misery makes them feel validated as a person and needed.

You can tell when someone isn’t supporting your growth because they won’t listen when you are talking about it or flat out tell you they think it’s bunk. Not listening is far more painful. Some people just flat out stop talking to you. This is painful, too.

So why change if it not only causes you pain but others as well?

Because your tribe no longer resonates with you. You can try and force it to work and maybe even pretend, but you’re only fooling yourself and eventually the more you try to resist it the more it persists and you start to see and hear people differently and can’t believe you are the only one in the room who just witnessed such behavior. It’s as though you are in another dimension, like the Twilight Zone. You become so sensitive to every word spoken, every eye glance, every emotion in a room, that you find yourself wanting to be a hermit.

And that’s okay. You have to do what you feel is best for you. The last thing you want to do is tell your best friend of fifteen years off because you have had a spiritual awakening and they still want to pick-up women or men for the night.

The inner work is important but it is equally important to find your tribe. Which is why I am trying to find the right salon to work at a day a week and then be on call the others. You would think with a half a million salons in Manhattan that finding my tribe wouldn’t be so hard.  But it is!

Today I met with a woman who frightened me. She was literally Sybil. I walked in and she rushed over and asked to take my coat. She then shook my hand. Did I want a drink? So good to see me! What brought me in today? I looked at her and said, “You asked me to be here at 11:30”.

To this she quickly excused herself and then came back a completely different person. She proceeded to tell me she worked for Lauder for years but never did hair. She was so uptight and weird. She made me uncomfortable to be around. She must have asked me four times if I had any questions for her. How many questions could I have? It’s hair not open heart surgery. You’re not a hospital, you’re a salon! It was clear that she took this whole thing way too serious. “We like to take our time getting to know you. Meet on a few occasions. It’s a process.”

Instead of saying, “Why did you call me in then, Sybil?”  I simply said, “I appreciate your process. It lets me get a sense of you and I get the sense you are way too corporate for me.”  To this she replied, “We are structured.”  Code word: controlled. I just don’t resonate with that anymore. I’m thinking about getting a tattoo of a bird leaving a cage for Pete’s sake!

I couldn’t leave fast enough! I only wanted to breathe the air of the east village. Funny, cause I like the feel of the west village but talk about pretentious! Anyway, I found my tribe at two salons over there, so fingers crossed and all that jazz!

I am keenly aware of who my tribe is. There is a sense of belonging, community, being seen, heard and understood by them.  Like-minded individuals with a sense of humor, a sense of style and laughter. They are artists, free spirits and aren’t afraid to draw outside the lines. They know there are no such things as mistakes, just learning curves to put you back on your path to greatness. And they smile…alot!

I’ll find my tribe cause it’s looking for me. You don’t go through this journey without some reward. Granted the new you is something to celebrate, but what’s a celebration without others to toast alongside you?

Here’s to everyone finding their tribe!

 

 

Listen

give one’s attention to a sound.

an act of listening to something.

Not sure what this man was doing, but I do know he wanted to be heard. I was trying to memorize a script for Bloomberg TV and every time I started to read the copy, he made this sound. I guess most people would have gotten up and moved, since I was riding all the way to Fulton Street from Penn Station, but since I have completely surrendered to everything, I stayed and listened.

Amazingly enough no one said anything to him. We just all glanced at one another and smiled. An unspoken understanding that sometimes you just gotta get that stuff out. Sometimes you just want to be heard and what better place to make sure someone hears you, then a captive audience on a subway car during rush hour?

What upset me was that this man was obviously not being heard elsewhere. Who was it that wasn’t honoring him and what he had to say? Was it his wife? His kids? His boss? A Friend? I wondered.

It made me wonder if I am listening the best I can to the people in my life. Are they saying they are okay when they really aren’t? Am I listening with more than my ears? Because if we are really engaged, then we notice everything.

Most people would rather talk about anything which is usually nothing, then sit in silence or worse, tell you what they really think or how they really feel. From coffee flavors to coupons and the latest place they ate, it’s all a ruse to avoid real conversation. Just frivolous bullshit that makes me appreciate my alone time even moreso.

I was at a party a few weeks ago and one man brought up our current administration. Finally!  A “real” conversation. Well I dove right in. I believe our current president is hear to teach us all to be better people.  You can no longer stand on the sidelines and say how much you don’t like something, you have to take action. He is essentially forcing us all to look within and ask ourselves what we are willing to fight for, allow and forgive. He is a perfect example of someone who talks a lot but says nothing. And he’s not a very good listener either. He has awakened us all to listen better because what he says cannot go upon deaf ears.  We have way too much to lose.

You can’t keep turning away from things you don’t want to hear, which is why I stayed on the subway car. I knew there was a reason why I was there. Patience. I can always use a little more. Compassion. I should never forget to be kind. Humility. Because I never know when that could be me. Gratitude. I am grateful for the people in my life who do listen to me.

Sometimes we hear things we don’t want to. And sometimes we don’t listen when there is something we need to hear. The person who knows when to do both is the person we should all strive to be.

 

 

 

 

Anjaneyasana

Anjaneyāsana is an asana or yoga pose. The name Anjaneya is a matronymic (personal name) for Hanuman whose mother’s name is Anjani. Hanuman is a central figure in the epic Ramayana (an ancient Indian epic poem) and an important Ista-devata (cherished divinity) in devotional worship.

But if all of that is too much of a mouthful for you, then you just call it what I do: low lunge.

The place I practice yoga always has a monthly theme. This month of course it’s the heart. Low lunge is a great way to open your heart. There are many other poses that will do this including Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) and Sukhasana (Easy pose which can be really hard to do sometimes). There are several more, just do a Google search.

I love yoga! I try to go at least 4 times a week. I love that various poses will give you various benefits but I feel the overall benefit of yoga is the way it forces you to be with yourself. Well with yourself amongst a group of people. It’s where your thoughts have to take a backseat while you remember to breath through the poses. You become so focused on your breathing that you forget everything else.    

So if all goes well and my schedule isn’t interrupted, I could quite possibly take up to 16 classes this month trying to open my heart. And while my heart might be wide open by the time I leave, if I don’t hold the door open for someone walking in, then I have already closed it.

If I don’t say good moring to the ladies at the corner who make sure I am safe when I cross the street? – Closed heart. Roll my eyes at the new cashier because I’m in a hurry and am cursing myself for not using the self check out line? – Closed heart. I see a homeless person asking for money and I pass them by. After all, what’s my dollar going to do and why can’t that guy work? – Closed heart. I’m at an audition and my arch rival is there, too. I noticed she cut her hair and it looks sexy, but I’m not going to say anything to her. – Closed heart. I’m exhausted from that damn audition and I had a horrible read, so I’m going to sit on the subway and I don’t care who looks like they are going to keel over, I’m not getting up. – Closed heart.

In one day I have closed my heart off so many times, it’s a wonder I can breathe. And chances are, I can’t. I will bring this negative energy with me back to the house and the dog will have inevitably eaten something (probably my shoes) and the other one will have pissed. Negativity breeds negativity. I am in a foul mood, so everything and everyone I see will reflect that shit back to me.

Which is why I choose to be Snow White. Little birds floating off my shoes, as I dance with life which is nothing more than a giant adventure. Everyday goes according to how I choose it.  And I choose love. I consciously choose it. I have no other choice. When I am angry I see what that brings, so I make an effort to keep my heart open and give to others what I want in return.

It works most of the time. If it doesn’t, then I know it has nothing to do with me. Some people can’t accept love because they don’t love themselves. I don’t care if they think I’m a weirdo or some hippy chick that hugs trees. I just don’t. I know who I am, what I’m all about and I am not going to close my heart because someone has closed theirs.

But what most of us forget, is that an open heart is a broken heart. Mine has been broken many times. But I’m not going to let that stop me from loving. And I have loved greatly! A broken heart means you have loved. Which means you are capable of it.

Yeah, sometimes we take a chance and someone stomps all over our heart, but that doesn’t mean you continue to let them hurt you by closing it off to others. The right person knows what you’re bringing and honors it. They want that good stuff! That hot sugary mess! (I’m quoting AP Bio here-my new favorite show!)

If you close your heart, then you close your mind.  And once the mind gets involved those thoughts never stop coming. You have to feel your way with your heart. Your heart knows. It never lies. It’s that feeling you get despite what your mind tells you. It’s a surge of emotion, a giddiness, a stupid grin on your face for no reason at all and the part of you that allows yourself to dream about what the mind tells you is impossible.

Follow your heart. And if it’s not prompting you, then find a yoga studio so they can help you.

Happy Valentine’s Day! xo Gretchen

 

 

Feeling

an emotional state or reaction.

a belief, especially a vague or irrational one.

Funny how feelings can mean two different things. If I say,  “I had a feeling that would happen”, you would think something negative.

If I say, “She was a very feeling person”, you would assume she was gentle and loving.

It’s interesting how one word can mean two completely different things.

If I said, “I had feelings for them” you would think I liked someone when in reality it could mean I couldn’t stand them. Like my feelings are so strong, I’d like to push them down and skin their kneecaps. (I love that line!)

Funny how the word feeling can take on such different meanings, which is why you have to be really clear when expressing your feelings to someone else.

There can’t be any guess work or wondering what someone meant. At least there shouldn’t be, but so many of us are afraid to express our feelings, that we simply don’t.  We keep them inside, shove em down and turn off our emotions because we are too afraid of how someone will react to them.

We pretend an awful lot of the time to like people when we don’t, because to express our real feelings would be inappropriate-or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. We might even like someone and pretend we don’t for the same reason.

In fact, we worry so much about what others think of us, we deny the one person who matters most their true feelings, which is us. Why do we deny ourselves the truth? Who cares if you don’t like everybody and why do you care if they like you? All that matters is that you like you.

There is a great song in The Book of Mormon about turning your feelings off. It’s so comical because they bring up situations that are simply horrible and how you’re supposed to ignore them. The song is aptly titled, “Turn it off”.

Actually turning off your feelings is never good because they always find a way to sneak out. You can shove em down, stomp on em and run like the gingerbread man, but your feelings will find you.

If we stopped making excuses as to why we don’t share our feelings we might start being a little more authentic and see our relationships change. They might be a little rocky at the onset but people respect you when you tell the truth and if they don’t, then they probably aren’t people worth keeping around.

Don’t turn it off, shove it down or deny yourself your feelings, unless of course you’re singing this song.

Your feelings are what make you your glorious wonderful self!

 

 

Words

Gypsy Chick

I have always had a love affair with words.  There’s a certain danger in speaking them, though, because once they’re out, they can never be taken back.  Too many people forget this.

This is why I love to write.  I can choose my words carefully, mull them over, and change them around until they fit just right.  I don’t have to worry about anyone hearing them until I’m ready.

One of my favorite songs ever is “Words” by The Bee Gees.  I have loved it since I was a kid, but it wasn’t until much later that I understood why.

“Talk in everlasting words

and dedicate them all to me

and I will give you all my life

I’m here if you should call to me.”

Words that are loving, encouraging, kind and supportive have true power to heal and are the only way to foster a lasting relationship.  Words…

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Worth

the value equivalent to that of someone or something under consideration; the level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated.

What are you worth? And I’m not talking about financial worth here, although if you feel really worthy you can feel really wealthy.  While on the other hand, you can have a whole lot of moola and feel dirt poor.

How do we measure our worth? What I recently learned was this: By what we are willing to spend our time doing and who we are willing to spend it with.

I have a license to do hair. Believe it or not you actually need one. It’s not like a gun license, those are easier to get! And some hairdressers, just like people with guns, shouldn’t be given either.

In a weeks time frame I witnessed a couple of hair disasters (mine being one of them). Let me preface this by saying I am very easy going. Not much ruffles me. Okay, a few things but they have to do with cruelty and injustice. I digress.

I got a bad haircut. It’s awful! My hair is my look. I have hundreds of photos that are sent out to casting directors that say, “This is Gretchen.” Now I look like a…well I’m not going say it. Let’s just say, it doesn’t resemble my photos.

Anyway, I started thinking about how I should cut hair. Why not? I could probably do better and if not, at least I only have myself to blame and I won’t be upset for spending a few hundred dollars to wear a hat.

You would think I could cut hair. I mean, how hard is it? I colored hair for years, but never cut it. I cannot get my mind around the technicality of it all. It somehow eludes me. I know when a cut is bad, I just don’t know how to fix it.

Here’s a secret: I taught at Aveda and when I checked the haircuts, I didn’t know what I was doing! I pulled the hair in many directions, graced my scissors over a few strands and said it looked great. It’s part of the reason the students loved me-I always said everything looked great. I hope you didn’t come to the school to get a haircut when I was teaching! On the other hand, if I was there and you had a hair color disaster, I probably helped fix it.

Well, since this is a new year and new years are about resolutions and doing things differently, I decided this is the year I am going to learn to cut and style hair really well.  I looked for classes (which are hard to find and not cheap) but I got a break -someone cancelled and I got a spot. To me this is a sign, to someone else it might be called luck.

Then I ordered shears (Japanese are the best, so I ordered Kamisori). They are really cute and have dragons on them. I love dragons! They are called Diablo and well, who doesn’t have a little devil in them? I ordered a mannequin head (she scares you if you walk in the room at night), a stand for her, a fancy blow dryer (there is a difference) and subscribed to on line videos from Vidal Sassoon.

Then I started thinking, I’ve got a lot of time on my hands (I’m an actress-we all have boat loads of it!).  Why not get a job assisting a stylist who is really good, a few days a week? So I went on line, applied to a few places and got many calls.

One salon in particular emailed me the next day and I was ecstatic. “Learn to cut the French way.”  Honestly, they had me at French! I had to have lived there in another life! The salon was on Madison Avenue. I was a bit put off because this was where I used to work and wanted to venture down a different road, like the East Village. But the Universe had a different plan, so I went along.

Anyway, I went to the salon and as I was opening the door, a woman behind me said, “Gretchen!” I turned to see someone I used to work with “back in the day” but couldn’t remember her name or where we worked, but she reminded me.

She went to the manager and said, “Hire her!” So he did. While I was there I saw a student I used to teach who was really nice, so I thought  “another sign!”

Boy was I wrong! Actually they were signs, but not for the reason I thought they were. They were signs that I was headed into dark waters; a murky place where my shadow side still existed.

But I didn’t listen. A part of me needed to learn this lesson; to own this darkness once and for all. I thought I had overcome this lesson but it was still lingering in the background, waiting to surface, waiting to be healed.

This is how the game works. You work on yourself, evolve as a spiritual being and think you’re good. How much more work can you possibly do? You stop focusing on it and just let it ride. you do the best you can, but still you wonder why you aren’t manifesting the things you desire most, but are at a loss about what to do about it.

And then the Universe steps in. It sends you a sign. A gift actually. The chance to finally heal that which has eluded you and your self-worth being stellar.

I started work Wednesday, stayed for the day and never went back. The staff wasn’t friendly, there was clearly something going on with everyone emotionally, the student I taught was now teaching me and boy did she ever!

She was me! All of the things I questioned in myself, all of the insecurities, the doubts, the ugly committee that resides in my head with their pathetic little thoughts that undermine me and my abilities. “They picked you !  You should be greatful! You’re lucky they did, since no one else will have you!”

She began telling me how the staff had made her cry for two weeks straight. That she had gone to the manager and told him but he said, “That’s how girls are in a salon.”

The mother in me went into overdrive. I’m not her mother, but I was her teacher, her mom away from home. I went to bat for her at school one day, so I went to bat for her then.

“You do not need to put up with this. You are better than this, better than most of the people working here. You are talented beyond belief and do not need to assist. You already have these skills, you just need to believe you do. You are just trying to find the right place and be given an opportunity to express your creative talents. These people cannot give you what they cannot give themselves, that’s why they are mean.  Not to mention they are threatened by you.”

“I am so glad you came here today.”  She said, and she let out a heavy sigh.

I found out they were not buying her lunch or tipping her out for the week. That she was cleaning floors, doing laundry, dusting, taking out the trash and shampooing for everyone who worked there.

She wasn’t learning anything but she was doing a bang up job of keeping the salon immaculate and they were letting her. They didn’t care that she wasn’t being taught, they only cared that their needs were being met, not hers.

When people feel threatened by someone they have a unique way of making them feel like they don’t belong. Like they are beneath them. This is done in a number of ways. For the student I taught it was admonishment. I watched in horror as a colorist grabbed the blow dryer from her hand and told her she wasn’t doing it right, then proceeded to re-do it and make it look like shit.

At the end of the day I gave her a pep talk on the way to the station. I reminded her of her worth and told her she was amazing. That there was a salon that would suit her if this one didn’t work out and to know that she deserved to be treated better. While I cannot take the journey of self love for her, I hope that I shortened it for her a bit.

I came home and reflected on everything that had happened. How could it be? I thought it was going to be fantastic. All of the signs said “This is it.”  Then I remembered the woman and the salon I worked at her with.  I recalled her being a heavy presence. A negative Nancy.  And it all made sense.

The salon itself had a heaviness to it, like death. She even told me this was the last salon she was going to work at before she left the business.  The owner, although super nice, seemed tired and while I was there he had told me he wanted to start a school. One girl never smiled and the others didn’t even say hello or goodbye at the end of the day.

My energy did not fit there and I knew it after only a few hours. It was a purgatory of sorts; a place to learn a lesson of self worth and I finally got it!  Finally!

I wrote the salon the next day and said I wasn’t returning. I felt so liberated when I sent the email. I knew that what had taken place was so valuable to me and that I had finally learned, owned and honored my worth.

Within the hour I received an email from one of my agents about a television pilot and I smiled to the Gods. “Thank you!”  I said, “For giving me this lesson”  And then I paused for a moment and smiled at myself for having learned it so quickly.

I know the audition was a reward. Just as I knew when I got into character, memorized the lines and had fun, that I had finally turned a corner. My acting was more authentic because I had finally stepped into the real me. The one I came her to be, not the one I bought into.

Know your worth! And if you don’t, the Universe will surely show you. It may come in an unexpected way, but just know that once you get it, it’s like Christmas or your birthday, every single day.