Squarespace has requested I "Write here" sooo, shall do. 

My last blog post was in May of 2017. I think it is mission critical for me to look under a few rocks today. Examining what is not so much a case of writer's block, as writer's avoidance. A dance away from a habit that used to bring me life. (I apologize in advance for what could be a very boring post for you to read, but an illuminating one for me to write.)

I started blogging before many people were blogging. My platform was "Blogger / Blogspot," the font settings and layout looked like they belonged on a cereal box, and when my mom read my work she expressed mild exasperation at what I was putting out there on the internet (eating disorder recovery stories, dating nightmares, deep feelings, oh my!).

I promised her it was tame compared to where things were headed. It was 2009, eight years ago, when I was 32.  I was right.

The pull I felt to write in my 30s was similar to the pull I felt to read my heart out in my 20s. As I recall, reading saved my life. I had started college majoring in biology and pre-med. After developing an eating disorder and major depression with enough anxiety to power a small plane, I ultimately found refuge in writers who somehow triumphed over darkness. Give me all the identity politics, stories of overcoming adversity, and tales about survival that cut straight to the core. Give me the darkly funny. 

When it came to writing, I never really thought of myself as one even though I was doing it to pretty positive effect once I left the orgo lab behind. I would pull essays out of me that literally felt like they passed through me without effort. I started to write poems, short stories and eventually monologues, then I started to perform those. In the early 2000s. Before all shit went onto the internet.

Into my 30s I went, and with this blogging platform I was taking all sorts of risks without the backing of a publisher. I never sought to build an audience or land a book deal. I just wrote what I needed to express at the time , even as I did not understand WHY I needed to express myself to strangers. I never pulled mass numbers and page views, but I did get into the thousands, which felt pretty good. Then the personal emails came and I felt so grateful my words were landing. I had a very loyal old lady reader from Florida. We never met but she loved my blog. Said I reminded her of her daughter, so she emailed me from time to time to make sure I was OK and tell me about her husband who had died. I wonder if she is OK now, it's been years.

I tried to steer clear of the kind of writing that would sound like life coaching. That said, I give a good pep talk and eventually posted to inspire, to motivate, to heal. With a side hustle in fitness, it became something of an extension of that work, too. Looking back, I know why that did not grow bigger: I was still struggling with my own mental health and eating disorder. I didn't want to pressure myself to be a shining example of an evolved woman, someone to emulate, nor did I really want to deep dive and share about my battles or "problems" that in my 30s had left me ashamed. I was kind of in the middle. I didn't feel well enough to lead or courageous enough to share it all. 

Maybe if I embraced that middle and written from there, it would have moved my own recovery and evolution along sooner. 

I got extremely lucky one night in February 2011. I had just completed my first short play called Suspended, which was staged at the Richmond Shepard Theater New Works Festival. The theater was on 2nd Avenue in the 20s, and true to form I had left my prop bag stashed backstage for at least a month after the show closed. One winter night, I (finally) went back to get my bag of costumes and props. In the lobby stood a beautiful and VERY FIT woman selling tickets to her show, which was starting in half an hour. Her name was Adyana and she talked up this collection of short plays, all original, you'l laugh you'll cry, I had to stay! I did. 

After witnessing the work of Ticket 2 Eternity Productions, I later joined that theater company and ended up finding refuge in writing and performing in plays.  Those years were excelllllent for my writer, and not only because Adyana would call (or email) and ask me to write plays, but because I had this sweet, tight-but-not-too-tightly-knit-group of theater artists, many of whom also shared my growing commitment to fitness and health. I had a little bubble inside which I could take a good amount of risks with my work. Feeling safe is everything for a creative.

I started to prefer writing fiction, the kind of plays that were spinning my own true tales with new ones that my imagination generated, sometimes in my sleep. I started to find my voice as an actor, too, great moments with my comedy, poignant ones expressing raw vulnerability, the steps in the direction of my truest expression. I felt very good about what I was doing, until something changed. 

*I am writing this very stream-of-consciousness post without editing and may ultimately revise, but here is my theory: Instagram and Facebook, both its insane increase in popularity and my response (join, engage, share, update, post, comment, delete, watch, sit back but do NOT relax while watching the timelines of other people's lives) destroyed my writer.

Now, I am quite brainy by nature and can get a bit intricate. In this case, I will keep it simple. ONE: It has pulled my focus. TWO: It has filled me with intense emotions ranging from joy and love to envy and self pity, none of which I have used to further my writing. THREE: It has actually pulled my voice. I've given my voice to updates and other social media experiments that would normally be for either my old blog post or a character I was writing. FOUR: It has shaping how we think, communicate, and ultimately, connect. So much to the extent that I feel stifled and often feel I can't quite hear myself. I hear the cultural social media conversations. FIVE: It often fills my brainspace up. What used to be a vacuum for ideas now feels like a stuffed treasure chest of toys that aren't even mine.

All of this compounded with the theater company I was in disbanding (for good reason, life goes on and love you T2E!), my day job of the last three and a half years ultimately taking over my life (but no longer since my recent resignation) and more deeply, a fear of continuing to write the work that is most personal, meaningful, has left me to abandon my craft. My sweet, beautiful, profound, often shockingly illuminating craft. The craft that means the most to me (and grandmas in Florida) but also to some of you, and potentially, more of you if I actually continue.

So that is today's arrival. I can cry for lost time. I do. I am. I suppose we all have moments where we wonder why we wasted so many that came before, and then question if we have the strength to go forward. For me, writing is life or death. Without it, I shrivel into myself and my thoughts become what feel like boomerangs. When I write, they feel more like arrows and when I REALLY write, those arrows start to find targets. 

There are so many matters of the heart. My journey has brought me into my 40s. I actually feel so much shame writing that, still, as if I am supposed to be younger and did something wrong by aging. What a ridiculous thought, it's sooo, oh man, it's just ridiculous. Dear World, I am sorry I hit 40 and botox is still cost prohibitive for me and my fair, freckled skin. I am sorry I can't afford Cryogenics (is that what it's called?) and I am REALLY sorry I don't yet have 20K followers on Instagram, a hot husband, or adorbs child. I haven't accrued enough milestones. I didn't peak like I thought I would. That is the apology my Ego thinks it owes the world. And this, this is why I have a spiritual practice, amazing friends, a program of recovery and therapy. :)

It is also why I write. 

Whenever I feel thought trains like that leave the station, I come back to myself and the written word, in all its anonymity, from the depths of INNER spaces, to the place that is home. My voice doesn't age. It matures. My spirit doesn't wrinkle as I write. It expands like a fucking chia pet. My heart KNOWS from its depth that I don't owe anyone an apology for anything. It also knows the importance of love and connection, which, when I settle down and settle in I could feel against the backdrop of my solitude.

I come back to myself and the written word for me. 

We are constantly negotiating relationships to ourselves and others, figuring out what feels safe to share. How much. How soon. We run when things get close and I am certain the times I've avoided the page has to do with fear of being seen. It almost always does. It is a risk we take again and again, this revealing who we really are to anyone besides ourself. For me, it still feels like the truest forms of intimacy come from the oldest school of ways. Pen to paper. Eye to eye. Heart to heart. #unfiltered

Thank you for reading. xo, LBD 

An addendum: There are many VALUABLE things about being on social and I will discuss that at another time. I'm not just saying that, I really will discuss it and I really do love some of what happens in the vortex that is social media connecting!! You can follow me on Instagram @lindsaybdavis__ where I am having a LOT of fun with you dropping inspirational F bombs, making dance videos, singing and Boomeranging with my dog, Charlie. He's on Insta too @cedinnyc but it's not disrupting his commitment to fetch.

Saying Goodbye to My 30s

I suppose if I am going to pause and take a moment to unleash my writing voice after months of stifling, now is a good time. 

It is 3:45PM on May 27, 2017 and tomorrow morning I turn 40.

There is soccer on the tele (an MLS game between Seattle and Portland), my dog by my side (Charlie, who is reacting to my spending the last 24 hours at home by creating as little space between us as possible as if to say, FINALLY), and beautiful flowers on the coffee table from one of my favorite people on earth (Hi, Auntie D). 

The living room is silent. I hear nothing but the rumble of a refrigerator. I have a lovely roommate now, a rather odd development after living on my own for the last 12ish years, and she is gone for the weekend. My neighborhood for the last 6 years (after a brief, 6 mos stint on the UES) is Chelsea. It will be Chelsea until the end of June, when my sublet ends and I choose not to take over the lease. Next steps: TBD.

It would be not only impossible but unfair to start running through my 30s for the high and low lights. This only sets me up for some kind of judgmental assessment, and I am already judgy enough about my own life on a daily basis. It already feels like New Year's Eve and Erev Yom Kippur, so consumed am I by desire for a fresh start and need for atonement. 

I prefer a more macro than micro look. They, my 30s, were surprisingly more difficult than I expected. I thought the 20s were supposed to be hard-ish but fun-heyyyyy, and your 30s that time when you come into your own, give fewer fucks, and see more things falling into place. This inevitably results in a happier, more evolved existence, yayyyyy 30s! I suppose I have some of that in my experience, but my 30s were also shaky and rumbly, with dramatic stops and starts. My 30s were not romantic. They were not lavish. My 30s had so much effort, I am actually exhausted looking back on what I did and how I did it. It also had energetic and spiritual efforts, like the ones to overcome deep insecurities and let go of self harming behaviors. There were many days I took zero steps in the direction of my dreams because I felt so unworthy and many moments I spent in the shadows.

That said and true to my Gemini nature, my 30s also bred deeper confidence and courage, many steps in the direction of my dreams. I did. Do. A LOT. A lot of acting, a lot of writing, a lot of fitness, service, light worker work, dreamy cool shit, a lot of risky new steps, a lot of WORK. I have worked. I do not know how you do it, leisure set. I came of age doing things not posting from an appearance of doing things. The only influencing I did involved the people directly exposed to my work. My 30s were absolutely my coming of age in the age of social media. (I would've buckled up for that at 29 if I knew it was coming like the hurricane it did, hashtag people are legit in relationships with their phones.)

My 30s were the age of Obama, of mostly peace. After the Bush Era it was a time to feel prouder being an American. Then, on the precipice of seeing a WOMAN become president, I thought this could lead to some changes. Ones that would align even more with my politics and beliefs, that would personally at least partially make up for the times I was overlooked due to sexism and mistreated due to sexual harassment in the workplace.  And what woman would want to turn 40 while single and under a Trump Administration? 

What's that saying about what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

I am on the doorstep of my 40s home about to knock and be let in. Lately, it has felt like a rainy night, 39, but on the bright side it feels like there is something in 40 that will shelter me from what I've been going through. A relief. I made it. I did it. The first 40 years of my life, done! Aced? Not quite. 99th percentile. Uh-uh. Prom Queen? That was a longgggggg time ago. The old paradigm of judging success / failure like how I grew up clearly out dated, and finally retired.

In my 30s I remained vulnerable. I still believe I have the plague of caring too much and being so sensitive but it's better than being hard. True to my Gemini nature I could be at once incredibly strong (to the point of people never thinking I need help) but also easily hurt and disappointed. Maybe the house of 40 is the place where even less fucks are given, you come more into your own, and even more falls into place. Maybe there is more happiness and greater evolution. I hope there is more fun, more leisure :) and more LOVE. I pray there is not bitterness and cynicism from loss and disappointment. When I have flirted with that, I learned quickly it is not a good look.

There will be no hiding my age from people, because I think it reinforces a very DANGEROUS and TOXIC element of our culture -- the one that affirms women are better younger, so you better hide that number. Those of you who know me personally know I am capable of very hearty FUCK YOUs, well directed and expressed with love, so if I can direct one in this post anywhere it is towards that particular cultural disease. On a very superficial level, a woman is not better than another woman if her skin looks less lined. Jeez. Maybe she is wealthier and can afford all the work, maybe her genetics predispose her to more youthful appearances, maybe she stayed out of the sun while I was running around playing sports, on beaches, sweating, who knows. But if my value is connected to anything these days it's not how I look, but who I am. 

At 39 I do not have a husband, I do not have a child (except Charlie, who is a dog technically), I do not have much in the way of financial wealth, and my career has a lot of hyphens. None of these are bad things, necessarily, but they are all unexpected. I am surprised, as I've written before, how things are going (not how they turned out, since 40 is not a finish line) and I remain open to growth. 

One other thing to address before I close is my spiritual life. My 30s saw a lot in the way of self discovery and exploration of Divine Source through meditation, yoga, 12 step work, retreats, seminars, reading and writing. What I realize now is that turning 40 has actually been a spiritual experience. I have had breakdowns of egoic thinking, openings into my depths. I saw this coming from the time I turned 39 #foresight. I have had dreams and even sensed certain energies over the last few weeks which, without sounding too woo woo, have felt like Angels guiding me into this next phase of my life (apols to the portion of my readership I just lost). I have felt the STRONG presence of a higher power reaching out to me in my darkest times and allowing me the support I needed to stay in the darkness until I felt ready to come out. I have looked up from the concrete, garbage, rat-infested streets of Manhattan (still love ya) through the trees and up past the tallest buildings of downtown to see a STRONG GEMINI Super moon, and I have felt its energy. I have always felt like a throwback, like a gypsy soul in a Long Island Jewish girls' body, Stevie Nicks with leather and lace (and tambourine) or Madonna with cones (and occasionally, a guitar, yeah Madge) my spirit animals. I have never felt like me, which sounds like a funny and odd thing to write. I have always felt like my insides did not match my outsides but in this arrival at the doorstep of 40, I FINALLY gave myself permission to be exactly who I am these last few months, even if at times a very sad LBD. You may or may not have noticed, but I did and that is all who really matters. 

I am coming out to the other side. I have joy in my life and love in my heart. I have love for the work I do and for the people in my life. I will determine my next steps. I will determine what I can determine, and roll with the punches of the Universe. I will also open up to more gifts from the Universe, both by appreciating the ones already bestowed upon me and being willing to receive more. I will let desires come through. I will absolutely reconnect with my writing voice, I WAS SO BLOCKED AND HIDING. I will continue to do my best to enjoy the moments and weather the challenges that are part of life, part of the agreement we make to be here on this planet for a brief period of time. I know this doesn't sound very sexy. I don't have a sexy selfie for you either (for that @lbdactor on Insta). 

Dreams Happen

I always revert to a kid the first night I come down with a cold. The scratchy throat, cacophony of sneezes, and mismatched energy like today's springtime in winter temps make me want to drink my orange juice out of a sippy cup. It's only a cold and no big deal. (Swallows post nasal drip.) This is true.

I missed two parties tonight. One, a 40th birthday celebration of a dear friend. The other, a goodbye-I'm-off-to-LA-sendoff for someone amaze. A young writer turned digital editor at a major publication. Her life a mirror of what I once thought mine would be like when I was her age (minus the social media/digital component bc it was the early 2000s and I wasn't that prescient). Her party, one that I've imagined I would someday throw myself. 

Yet New York keeps me here still.

Curled up on my couch with Charlie to watch the Oscar nominated film Moonlight was hardly a bad way to spend the night. (I mean, if I'm going to be sick.) I long to create a film so powerful in its simplicity and brave in its subject matter. I loved the pacing, I loved the performances, and I loved the score. 

As I am coming off this retreat, I can't help but pause and sit in silence, which I am fortunate to have in my NYC apartment. It is the strangest impulse but not in the context of what I did over the last week -- sit in SILENT meditation for 5-6 hours a day at an ashram. The periods were either 24 minutes or 48 minutes at a time. A few of the meditations were walking barefoot in a small room, but most were sitting or lying down in shivasana. The tradition was Shamatha, which means "calm abiding," and Vipashyana with the occasional Tantric influenced guided visualizations thrown into the mystic.

The sounds were Breath. Birds. Water. (Also the voices in my head, but we'll save all that for another post.)

When I closed my eyes each night, I gave myself permission to dream. Notebook under pillow I laid down ready catch their meaning at any point before the alarm clock interrupted my narrative. When I woke at 5:45am each morning, I forgave myself for not remembering much. I did know from the feeling whether they were pleasant (often they were not).

All night
the dark buds of dreams
open
richly.

In the center
of every petal
is a letter,
and you imagine

if you could only remember
and string them all together
they would spell the answer...

-Mary Oliver, Dreams

If you are not searching, if you are not seeking, if you are not questioning, are you really paying attention? If you are not giving yourself space to explore, then whose life are you really living? She asks her Self. 

I want chicken soup minus the noodles. Instead, I will go walk Charlie and sleep this off before it gets too late. 

Oh, and happy new moon solar eclipse in Pisces, heyyyy! It promises to bring a good renewal, I am told. :D 

xo, LBD

Out of Social

The spirit world appears to be of vast luminescence. -Michael Newton, "Journey of Souls"

I recently took a risk. Without knowing much about where I was going or with whom, I joined a group of retreaters to spend 7 days and 6 nights at Ananda Ashram in Monroe, NY. With only a few days notice, I took time off work and made myself completely unavailable to the outside world. I vowed to stay off social media and limit my texting, emailing and web surfing, which was part of the retreat protocol.

The purpose of this blog post is not to talk about the experience I had, one that was so powerful and impactful I know it will affect everything I do for the rest of my life, including (gratefully) my writing.  I got home less than six hours ago and have been up at 5:45am for the past week  in immersions of mediation, study, yoga, nature and meals until 9:30pm each night. Now is not the time to describe what this all meant because I am too tired to do it justice. 

What I do want to do with this post is simply acknowledge that I am following my own lead of taking myself out of certain spaces and into others. In other words, I took myself out of the city and put myself into nature. Out of work burnout and into rest. Out of virtual community and into deep, real human connection. Out of stress and into relaxation. Out of egoic self-seeking and into contemplative surrender. Out of running from myself and into acceptance. Out of running my own show and into following the leader. Out of the constant motion and into stillness. I took myself out of the world of the material and into the world of spirit, energy, love.

And, following suit, I am taking myself out of social and into this writing space. For years I kept a blog and it brought me fulfillment, not only through the honing of my own writing voice but because of how I touched my readers. I wanted to express myself, so I did. It snowballed into other forms of expression. My nourishment came from getting my voice out, and knowing that my words and intention behind them landed.

I have grown accustomed to updating a lot on Facebook/Instagram, and while the platform has many benefits (#beyou #dancevids #notmypresident) ultimately it exhausts and distracts me from my work and myself. I find newsfeeds to be incredibly overstimulating. I get fatigued, yet find it hard to detach. If you are a writer, you will likely be drawn to updating on social media and that is a beautiful thing. We tell stories after all. But if you are sensitive it can feel like plugging holes in a leaky dam (your emotions being the water and the dam being your conscious mind-body). 

Try taking a blank page (like this one) and pounding the keys without an emoticon button the bottom of the field. It is peaceful to write in a space that is not concentrated with so many other voices. A little distance from the LIKE button is a good thing. It feels different. 

None of us have a guaranteed stay on this planet, and in the grand scheme of things our visit is brief. It could be an adventure in angst or a journey filled with inspired energy and goodness. Sensitivity. Tears when you feel sad, unapologetic expression when you feel bold, belly-deep laughter when the silly spirit moves you, hedonistic pleasure when desire rings its bell, and joy. Joy in the utter importance and insignificance of it all. 

If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living...follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be. ~Joseph Campbell

I was there and now I am here, looking down on my baby Charlie and listening to him snore. (For any new reader, welcome, Charlie's my dog.) I hear his breath as I heard my breath for so many hours this week. It was the first time in my life I was ever so present to this element of my life force. I found a safety it its refuge, the kind of feeling you get when you are wrapped in the arms of someone who loves you and wants to prove they will never let you go. I found love in my body through my breath, a love so abundant in me that it almost rose in defiance against all the moments I felt like I had stopped loving my life or myself. 

In this capacity, we move more freely. We are lighter. We sing Prince and George Michael at the top of our lungs or under our breath (both more than acceptable), we let go of trying to control all the details in our lives. We stop trying to compete for a prize,  and cease to strive so tirelessly in pursuit of wealth or status. We settle. We let go of grudges and resentments.  We stay away from the darker energies. We attract the people who love us and we choose to love them right back. We live. Oh, how we live. 
 

Connections

Writing has always been my instrument of clarity. In the darkest times when my thoughts felt like they had a will all their own, I could still sit down and bust out pages that made sense. I write for me. This grounding practice of putting words on a page does not need to go viral, "going viral" always sounding rather ominous anyway. It only needs to bring me home to myself.

This year has sent me deep sea diving into my soul for answers. The questions bubbling up about my life are not from anyone else. There is no pressure, no attention and no persistent need to explain my choices. 

When I moved from my apartment of five years in Chelsea to the UES, I packed all my books. I made room in my smaller studio for these words on paper, and decided to take one out of the archives and onto the subway for my new, longer commute. It was a collection of essays by Montaigne. I have not touched that book in over ten years but this week I read three, including ON FRIENDSHIP, which draws comparisons between friendship love and the love shared between partners in marriage. 

Yesterday, I saw my dad and he told me I MUST read David Brooks's October 7th NYT Op Ed called 'Intimacy for the Avoidant'. Ok, dad, I will check it out because you do know what I like to read. This piece was about the "profoundly unsatisfying" addiction we have to social media. It is a call to action, really, an invitation to say no to "a thousand shallow contacts for the sake of a few daring plunges". 

While I can relate to this and am on Team Brooks, what struck me most is that he quoted Montaigne in the Op Ed about friendship. He writes:

When Montaigne was describing the accumulating intimacy he enjoyed with his best friend, he described an emotional interaction that was full and progressive: “It was not one special consideration, nor two, nor three, nor four, nor a thousand; it was some mysterious quintessence of all this mixture which possessed itself of my will and led it to plunge and lose itself in his; which possessed his whole will and led it, with a similar hunger, and a like impulse, to plunge and lose itself in mine.”

These little connections are more than happenstance or coincidences. I have not touched that book in years. David Brooks does not oft quote Montaigne. My dad does not point me to too many articles these days - I can't remember his last suggestion.

I don't even know what it all means. I just know that I feel so powerfully that my love of words is finding its way into the world again. My passion as a writer is unlimited. I can sit and do it for hours, despite what it does to frustrate my desire for perfection. I love other writers even as I also feel unworthy in their presence. I see myself in the words that come out on the page -- they unmask me to myself, and often to you, my reader.

Whatever you find in your day that reveals more of yourself to you, I hope you do more. You are worthy of being seen.

xo, LBD