The Audacity of Choice

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Making decisions is one of the most looming challenges in my life.

It’s not that I don’t know what I want, it’s that the audacity of actually deserving the choice that I REALLY want, feels out of reach. Who am I to get the thing I most want? What makes me worthy of it? These are the questions swirling in my head when it’s time to make a decision. Do I choose the most sensible or hold out for the dream?

Every choice comes with an intense fear it will invariably be the wrong move.

I’m haunted by the image of myself standing in the hot sun, in the middle of a dirt country road, surrounded by grass, and like a blues singer with a guitar strapped to my back, as if in a dream sequence of a movie, I’m looking down two roads, forked in different directions, feeling paralyzed.

Careening from the smallest daily decisions, like what to eat, wondering if it’s healthy or will it be the thing that gives me cancer and kills me, to how much should I be spending or should I be spending on this excessive thing at all? To the life-altering decisions that present themselves less regularly, but have the punch to change the course of my life for years — there’s no going back on some decisions.

My strategy is to poll my friends and family — to the point that I think they will one day avoid my calls.

My therapy sessions, which I only schedule in the most extreme moments of indecision — I’m not so flush I can get therapy on the regular — are usually focused on trying to figure out what move to make next.

I read self-help books and watch anything Oprah posts on her Facebook page, and although I can give advice to others better than the best of them, even at the ripe old age of… I still don’t trust my own advice to myself.

I’ve made HUGE life decisions in the last seven years, from divorce to cross-country moves, new jobs and new relationships, and honestly looking back, although I don’t regret any of them, every choice felt like life or death for me.

When it comes to my work all I have are my instincts and the skills I’ve learned from a few generous editors, but somehow the ability to rely on those same skills when it comes to my own life, I inevitably come up short.

Fast forward to today. Gripped with fear, I push forward into my next chapter, understanding there will unfailingly be more options to choose from, and I will have only myself to call on.

One of my favorite quotes is by Nelson Mandela, “May your choices reflect your hopes and not your fears.” I hope I will be able to embrace this idea, and not let my fears and insecurities rule my life decisions. I have to trust that I deserve to be happy and that I’m worthy of living the life I want, the life of my dreams.

 

 

Dating NYC — HUGE NEWS

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Turns out, New York was Mr. Right now, and not Mr. Right.

After almost exactly a year to the day I moved to this beautiful, chaotic, overcrowded, diverse and wonderful city, I’m returning to California.

New York and I had an inspired romance. It was hot and heavy. We broke up. We fought and cried. We got back together. We had dinners and walks in Central Park where the city wooed me back in and there was even a kind of makeup sex — inspired by the smell of spring and the turning leaves in fall.

But in the end, I have to return to my true love — the people in my life who love me and I found I can’t live without.

In a week, I return to California, Los Angeles specifically. I will plant myself in that overcrowded city of beautiful people near the sea. People who hike, and bike, and can’t get enough of the outdoors.

The loves of my life, my 86-year-old father, my dear son, my treasured friends, and in a turn of incredible great fortune, my work, They’re all there waiting for me.

I will miss my colleagues and friends in NYC so much. A raunchy bunch, funny and warm.  They welcomed me in and made me a part of their family.

What I learned in one year was more than I could have imagined — about myself and news, and I’m 100 percent better for having been here. My heart aches a bit about leaving.

I’m taking some of the East Coast back with me in many ways. It’s hard to leave. New York is alluring unlike any other place. It’s raw and confrontational, and breathtakingly beautiful. It’s loud, extreme, fast and real, but in the end, there’s no place like home.

The future is always uncertain. I’m choosing to be near to my loves rather than far away from them.

A tough choice, but a very happy one.

Sorry New York, you’re amazing. I hope we can stay friends.

 

 

The Journey and the Sherpa-like People Who Guide You

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At around 8-years-old I gave my dad a small wooden toy sailboat. On the side were the words, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” The Father’s Day gift symbolized (at least to me) why we moved to a different house or state every year for those eight years, and maybe why my father has never stopped moving.

Since my divorce in 2010, I’ve moved four times — twice in San Diego, then to Los Angeles, and in January to New York.

I’m ready to stop moving, but I’m not sure when that will happen.

If life is indeed a journey, then I’ve come to believe that along the way there are sherpa-like people who help you navigate your travels.

There are people in your life meant to deftly give the guidance and help you need to pass through each chapter.

In my case, my first guide, after my parents, was my first best friend Michelle. She was there with me as an awkward 12-year-old as I was living with my mother for the first time. She and her family welcomed me into their world and made me feel like I was a member of the tribe.

In college, my friend Brook, like the rock of Gibraltar that he is, never wavered. He directed me in plays, and then packed up a U-haul and brought us to Brooklyn, guiding me into work, and showing me how I could be financially independent.

There was my husband. In twenty years together, the longest segment on my journey outside of childhood, he taught me, among many things, tenacity in work, what it means to love as a parent, and the depth of what trust means in a relationship.

My sister guided me through my mother’s death, after losing her own mother twenty years before. Only recently she gave me a bunch of stickers to put around my house, on them are the words, “The journey is the destination.” She never knew about the gift to our father I’d given him as a kid.

My next segment would turn out to be one of my most challenging. Luckily, my beloved friends guided me after my divorce. They offered wisdom and patience and the hope that I would get back on my feet after a devastating blow and a kind of pain I didn’t know existed.

One guide walked me through the long period of self-doubt and insecurity. Coaching me on how to take my power back after I willingly gave it away to someone so horribly unworthy. He also taught me to keep laughing at myself.

One very cool guide offered endless hours of career advice, by phone, on a year-long segment of driving 80 miles to work round trip. This guide even offered something more. After the commute was long over, he showed me something I really needed to see… myself as a more fully-formed woman. He is forever my amuse-bouche.

At work, my editors daily guide me, teaching me how to be a better writer on my career journey. Holding my hand when I need it and pushing me forward alone to show me I’m ready.

Although I can call on one of the many savvy sherpas in my life anytime, I’m choosing to go this segment alone. Sometimes, it’s important to hone your skills of solo navigation. Maybe it’s time for me to guide a few others. I only hope I will be as helpful to them, as they’ve been to me.

Happy Shmindependence Day

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How can your career be going so well and your love life be going so horribly?

That’s a question I ask myself virtually every day when I wake up.

I think about the people in my life who seem to have it all. Partners they cherish, careers that take a big second to that, and lives that are full and lush.

It’s been five years or so since my divorce and since then my love life has been a roller coaster, cluster fuck, tornado of skirmish-filled chaos. Trying to make the best of a totally dishonest whirlwind tour of everything to avoid. Apparently, I’m Ray Charles when it comes to red flags. 

Today my love life is not unlike a funeral home. Quiet and lifeless.

I live in a city where couples are everywhere. They’re holding hands, kissing, and dining together. Were it not for the company of the absolutely stunning and endlessly-giving women (and a couple of guys) in my life (and an 8 pound bundle of furry unconditional love called Mocha), I think I would have seriously jumped into the East River by now.

But my friends call and check on me. They take my teary calls and invite me to dinners and brunches and glasses of wine. They advise me as well as any award-winning self-help guru. They are my rocks to lean on and without them and work, I know I’d be a lot worse off. I hope I give them as much as they give to me. I’m sure I don’t. 

I’ve been out on a few dates. Met some men through online dating sites. Argh. I never thought I’d be going through this. The last time I dated I was in my 20s and let me tell you it was so much easier then. You just met people. Men were everywhere. Now they’re hiding behind screens, all you have is a few old pics and a few lines about their lives, and boom you’re at a bar hoping it doesn’t last too long because all you really want to do is go home and do the grown-up version of “Netflix and chill,” which is eating in bed and actually watching a movie on Netflix.

I’m trying to stay hopeful. Look to a future when I meet someone who will love me for all my flaws and insecurities and still think I’m cute as I get old and sick. And I’ll love him and think he’s wonderful and be excited to share my latest accomplishment or disappointment with him. I’ll have an emergency contact person. Isn’t that what everyone wants? 

I soldier on. I’ll be biking along the Hudson River today trying really hard to enjoy just being healthy and appreciating the people who I love and love me.

After all, I do have the most wonderful kid in the world — my greatest accomplishment to date, and all the love I have for him would overflow a million half-empty glasses. 

And then there’s work tomorrow.

Happy Independence Day — I’m learning to love mine.