You’ve got a resistance problem and you don’t even know it

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There’s something you really want to do. You have some dream, some goal, some thing that you really, really, really want to do but haven’t yet done. You’re resisting it. And probably without even realizing it, you are doing all kinds of random stuff to feed this resistance. This book will awaken you to your resistance and give you courage to overcome it, so that you can bring your dreams to fruition.

Two choice quotes from the book to get you fired up:

“Have you heard this story: Woman learns she has cancer, six months to live. Within days she quits her job, resumes the dream of writing Tex-Mex songs she gave up to raise a family (or starts studying classical Greek, or moves to the inner city and devotes herself to tending babies with AIDS). Woman’s friends think she’s crazy; she herself has never been happier. There’s a postscript. Woman’s cancer goes into remission. … Is that what it takes? Do we have to stare death in the face to make us stand up and confront Resistance?”

“Look into your own heart. Unless I’m crazy, right now a still small voice is piping up, telling you as it has ten thousand times, the calling that is yours and yours alone. You know it. No one has to tell you. And unless I’m crazy, you’re no closer to taking action on it than you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. You think Resistance isn’t real? Resistance will bury you.”

How to get organized once and for all

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The young, sweet-faced Japanese woman who wrote this book looks like she’d be a pushover, but she’s not. She does not accept your foregone conclusion that you’ll just hang onto “important” papers, sentimental items from school days, and even user manuals for electronics and gadgets, forever. She sure as shit doesn’t want to hear your excuses for keeping a drawer full of soy sauce packets and rubber bands. And she’s not into finding clever storage solutions or buying storage products. In fact, she says “storage experts are hoarders.” Oh snap. She believes peace, mental clarity, familial harmony, and even figuring out what you really want to do, all come from “tidying up.” Which it turns out is code for throwing away 3/4 of the crap that you may or may not realize is cluttering up your house. (Even if you think your house is relatively uncluttered, every room inevitably has at least a small amount of stuff piled in little stacks or hidden in closets and cabinets. And it needs to go. It’s bringing you down.) Specifically, Marie instructs you to physically handle each item and if it does not bring you a “thrill of pleasure” when you touch it, you should throw it out. It’s not unusual for her clients to discard 17 bags of stuff at a time (I think she said the record was 200 bags?). She also believes that tidying up should be a special, one-time event; she’s not into tackling it slowly and she’s not into your tailoring her method to suit some halfassed approach. Decluttering should be done in one go, and then you’re done forever. She says none of her clients backslide. Once you start discarding stuff and see how rewarding it is to live in an uncluttered environment, a “click” occurs, in which you discover what amount of stuff feels right (hint: it’s not much), and you never go back to your old ways.

Marie thinks there are only two reasons we can’t let go of stuff: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future. Even if you were to hire her (she is famous in Japan and has a three-month waiting list), she doesn’t do the hard work for you. She makes you decide what to throw out, facing your belongings and, really, your life.

Interestingly, sales of her book took off when Japan had its last big earthquake. Evidently because many people had lost their belongings and they looked to her book for reassurance that we don’t need stuff—whether a billion photos from vacations, mementoes of a past love, etc.—to remember the good times and to be happy.

Marie believes that your real life begins after putting your house in order. Most people gain confidence in their decision-making ability, some drop excess weight, and many realize what they want to pursue next in life.

Following are “After” pics of ‘junk drawers’ and closets I’ve KonMari-ed (that’s what she calls her method). When Jimmy discovered he was missing some unnecessary, clutter-y item that I’d discarded, he said, “I don’t have my (such-and-such), because you read a book??”

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I don’t have a title or ending for this

Without intending to, I conducted an experiment for the past year or two. Basically what I’ve been doing is seeing if I could be happy not making another movie. Instead, I’ve made other things—paintings, food, some dresses, this website. I was hoping I could be happy doing other stuff because making a movie is hard, there’s a lot that can go wrong, and there are a few key reasons why independent filmmaking is currently, arguably, a foolish pursuit. But what I’ve found is that avoiding doing what you really want to do can be as painful as reaching for something that always seems just out of your grasp, which is how I view writing and making a movie: it’s like you’re never going to be smart enough or good enough to capture on paper, and then on film, what’s in your head.

I wish I had a good ending for this but I don’t.

See what I’m saying? It’s just like writing a movie—you know there’s a better, more perfect ending, but…

Anyway. When I turned a corner on this, when I realized how tired I was of avoiding writing a new script and decided I was just going to plunge ahead, despite it all, I felt like a big weight had been lifted off of me and I burst into tears.

Laugh, or the cortisol will kill you

As you probably already know by now, it’s been proven that stress causes disease and laughter can be curative. So, watching these clips of comedian Sebastian Maniscalco is not wasting time, it’s improving your health.

Sebastian is from Chicago, he’s Italian-American, and he appears not to be jaded after living in LA. For example, he still seems to enjoy meeting fans after shows and taking lots of pics with everyone. I had wanted to cast him as the standup comedian, “Ryan,” in my movie (“What Other Couples Do”), but he didn’t respond to my email until after I’d cast Mike Friedman, which turned out to be a blessing. Mike is an experienced actor, was great in the role, and now I can’t imagine anyone else as Ryan. But I thought it was nice of Sebastian to respond to my email.

My friend Denise saw his most recent set at Hermosa Beach Comedy and Magic Club and said people were laughing so hard they were crying. But it’s always best to go into things with low expectations, so that you’re pleasantly surprised. So, forget what I said and just watch these clips and see if you don’t enjoy him. If you want to see him live, he is constantly appearing in clubs all over the country: sebastianlive.com.

A quote for writers

“Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft needs to do is exist.”

Jane Smiley

I was transfixed by the Poo-Pourri ad

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I don’t know why humans had to be designed to defecate. Even if you think it’s smart design, from an engineering standpoint (food goes in, waste goes out), why couldn’t the whole issue of fuel consumption have been solved in some other way that is not totally disgusting? Anyway, I was aware of the Poo-Pourri ad but had not watched it and was hoping to avoid it for the rest of my life. But I recently clicked on a music video on YouTube, the ad started automatically, and I was helpless to stop it. It’s like I was passing a grisly accident on the freeway and could not look away. Why is this girl in a 1950s-style party outfit? Maybe because if they’d dressed her in casual contemporary attire, like jeans and a t-shirt, it’d be sort of grungy, and the topic of the ad is already grungy. Why is she sitting on a toilet in the middle of parties and stuff? Oh, right—to get across the vulnerability one feels when one has to relieve oneself not in the privacy of one’s home. Why can’t I tear myself away? Because of the weird combination of her being cheerful, having a posh accent, and talking about something gross and relatively taboo. AND she is staring unblinkingly at the camera—locking eyes with you, the viewer, as if she knows that breaking her gaze will give you a chance to escape. Most compelling of all is she’s offering a solution to unpleasantness and embarrassment.

I don’t know what else to say about the brilliance of this ad or the product. Oh, except that I want to buy a sh*tload of stock in whatever company makes it.

Why straight men don’t use Pinterest

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The potential customer base for Pinterest is half of humanity–i.e., all women. Because most of us are bottomless pits of wanting and Pinterest gives us a way to catalogue the myriad things we want. It’s been hypothesized that men don’t use Pinterest because they’re ‘not into scrapbooking’ or they’re ‘too foggybrained’ to remember to pin items they like. But I think these hypotheses are wrong. Men don’t use Pinterest because they only really want 3 things, which don’t need cataloging:  food, sex, and TV/the Internet.

 

 

Two men talking on their cell phones compete to be the blacker black man (a sketch from last season on the Key & Peele show on Comedy Central, which recently began its third season).

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Technology addiction and the end of productivity

My sister says that each time we get a new text or email on our cell phone, the little ‘ding’ that signals its arrival causes the release of dopamine or serotonin or whatever chemical makes things pleasurable and addictive. So, being on our phones really is as addictive as, say, gambling can be.

And just the same as it is with gambling, in which coming close to winning can give you the same rush as actually winning, it doesn’t matter that YOU KNOW the text or email you just received is not likely to contain exciting news or even interesting information, you still get the rush. I don’t know if the dopamine or serotonin is released because we anticipate the social connection that can be provided by a text, post, email or tweet. But studies show our social ties are the most important contributor to our happiness. The question is, if we can gratify our need for social connection by texting, posting, tweeting and emailing all day, why do anything else?

Why go to the trouble of, say, creating something (a business, art, etc.), when creating is often hard, and texting, posting and emailing is easy?

One answer is because creating stuff offers its own rewards. And doing hard things (like creating stuff) is usually, ultimately, more rewarding than doing easy things (like surfing the Net). As for the social interactions we have online, many of them are arguably not as rewarding as the social interactions we have or could be having in person.

I’m a writer, I work at home, and I don’t have a boss. In other words, I can be online all day. And I am. I’m totally addicted. And it’s making me miserable. (I want the social interactions I get online, but I want to enjoy them quickly and then get offline, so that I can do or make something.) I should ask for help, but like a true addict, I don’t want to. I think I can beat this on my own. (Haha.) I am now going to try to limit my time online. Starting tomorrow. (Haha.)

Who’s with me? Anyone?

Why bother? Because there is only one you

 

I had met a friend for lunch at Marmalade cafe in Santa Monica and as I was leaving, I saw an amiable-looking guy in his 60s getting into a big, white Mercedes convertible. He had a personalized license plate that said, “YESUCAN.” This is going to make me sound stupid, but I called out to him, “Does your license plate mean… you know… that I can?” He smiled and said, “Yep.”

If you are wrestling with whether or not you can do or make something that scares but excites you, let me and the guy with the white convertible tell you what you already know: Yes, you can.

What about all the fears and expectations and desire for ‘results’? We have to let all that go. I have to let all that go.

A letter from the famous choreographer Martha Graham to her friend, Agnes DeMille, who was a dancer (I quoted the start of this in one of my last posts):

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost, the world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.

No artist is pleased…there is no satisfaction whatever at any time.

There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction; a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the rest.”