Take a Little-Known Web Series ...

This past Saturday marked one year and one month since I started the ‘Go Big or Go Bust’ blog. 

With you cheering me on, things have certainly changed.

But then oddly, last Friday, for the first time since starting it, I forgot to title the blog ‘Go Big or Go Bust’. And I’ve decided that I’m going to follow whatever unconscious part of me made that decision: the Go Big or Go Bust part of the blog is ‘over’. We’re not going to go bust. We’re going big. I don’t have a signed deal or a contract to back me up on this, but I have a feeling.

Since posting on this blog last Friday, I pitched our half-hour, single camera comedy based on The Louise Log to an industry insider who’s been in lots of pitch meetings. He sat across from me, eyes narrowed and cold, with a critical and (what actually felt somewhat) hostile attitude. (Mr. Green says he was trying to ‘read me’.)

But his coldness didn’t throw me even a little. I kept up my ‘pitching to a seven-year old’ energy all the way through the pitch and then asked him what he was thinking.

When he responded with the suggestion that I should see if I could get into the YouTube classes to learn how to beef up viewers on The Louise Log, I nodded politely.

When he suggested that I look into IFC’s just-announced online streaming channel for web series, I think I might have winced and said “I’m pitching a television show”. And then I asked if he’d like to see one of our two minute episodes on my phone.

He agreed, he watched #4, laughed more than a few times (in spite of himself) and pronounced it ‘Cute’. I didn’t react even though ‘cute’ felt like a put-down.

But at this point, his attitude seemed to improve: he asked how good our pilot script is. I told him that Sundance’s Episodic Lab seemed to think it was good enough to make it to the final decisions. By the end of the meeting, he came around to suggesting that my job is to find a showrunner to complete the package.

And then I walked out into the cold February evening unflustered.

I don't care if it takes a hundred meetings, I'm all in on this. Of course, I’ll keep you posted. 

Just below is a late Valentine's Day present from me to you if you click the Like button ...  And if you want to Share this, please just hit the 'Share' button right next door. Thank you!  \o/

Plowing Ahead In Spite of Fear - inspiration from "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert

One of the little-discussed aspects of pIowing ahead on a creative path is the fear. Even when things seem to be going swimmingly, there can be that hesitation, sometimes great, sometimes reduced, but always lurking there, that bad habit of doubting the next step.

I'd heard about Elizabeth Gilbert's new book "Big Magic" and had been meaning to get it for months, just like I'd been meaning to read all the books on my bed table written by brilliant people I actually know. There's sometimes a benefit to insomnia.

"Big Magic" is a laugh-out-loud page-turner that's chock full of wisdom and love. If you're interested in "creative living beyond fear" this could be your handbook. Elizabeth Gilbert's own bracing story of artistic hard knocks is threaded through the wisdom of the ages. I found it inspiring and hilarious.

Here's an excerpt about Gilbert's "mother's thinking on wrapping Christmas presents which was much in line with General George Patton's":

"A good plan violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan executed next week."

Still from a video starring Maria Bruni and me which will be appearing in its entirety soon.

Still from a video starring Maria Bruni and me which will be appearing in its entirety soon.

Just below is a late Valentine's Day present from me to you if you click the Like button ...  And if you want to Share this, please just hit the 'Share' button right next door. Thank you!  \o/

Practicing a TV Pitch for Feedback: Go Big or Go Bust

There is still a list of things to do before I can get out there and start with the darn pitching. Most of it involves the rather less than telegenic activity of ‘writing’.

One job is to figure out what 40-something actor could play me. ANY SUGGESTIONS?  If you have any, please leave them in the comments and thank you in advance!

Now for your viewing pleasure ha ha, here’s a little clip of me asking for feedback just after having pitched to the force of nature, Suzanne Dottino and using one of pitch coach guru Susanna Baddiel's suggestions - to pretend you're pitching to a seven year old.

  (12 sec)

Meanwhile, here's a late Valentine's Day present from me to you if you click the Like button ...  \o/ And if you want to Share this, please just hit the 'Share' button right next door. Thank you!

Go Big or Go Bust: Personal Impact Training ... So I Can Make An IMPACT

I met Susanna Baddiel last Spring at the launch party for Veronica and David James’  (wonderful) book “Going Gypsy” and was taken with Susanna’s lovely English accent and her warmth.

As we chatted, I discovered that Susanna is a Shakespearean actor who teaches ‘personal impact training’ and helps people to become more ‘dynamic’ and more ‘focused communicators’. She might help, for example, people who are going to be interviewed for the first time on the radio or television or people who are, God forbid, taking a crack at ‘public speaking’.

At the time, I had no inkling that within the year I’d be planning to be pitching a television show. (I’m putting ‘pitching’ in the category of ‘public speaking’ even though my public may be showing up only one at a time.)

And so, being on the verge of pitching, I emailed Susanna. She happens to be abroad these days so we set up a time to Skype.

Susanna is like a combination smart and funny best friend crossed with a fairy godmother. She’s businesslike and time-efficient in sharing her wealth of knowledge and tips and then she turns into a gentle and fun coach.

My favorite exercise was that she had me pitching ‘as if’ to a seven year old.  It's great because with that audience in mind, I get less inhibited and a lot more fun.

I'm sorry that I can't post a whole video of me pitching cause I'd love to show you my pitch and get your feedback. The thing is, I've got to keep it under wraps so that when I actually get into a room, the pitch is still fresh. 

Meanwhile, here's a late Valentine's Day present from me to you if you scroll down a little and click the Like button ...  \o/

Susanna Baddiel, Personal Impact Training coach of coaches

Susanna Baddiel, Personal Impact Training coach of coaches

And if you want to Share this, please just hit the 'Share' button right below:

Go Big or Go Bust: Ready or Not, Here I Come With My Pitch

Now that I've memorized this pitch and gotten the go-ahead from both Mudd Lavoie and Mr. Green, I'm unstoppable. Sheila invited me up to her place:

Scott listened to half of my pitch in person and then the whole thing on the phone.  Roni came over here and let me try it out on her.  Mr. Green told me to stop practicing, that I was going to ruin it.

I never took the obedience vow when we got married so Mhairi Morrison and Holly Payberg of Feathers & Toast and I pitched to each other over Skype. As you can see, we had fun.

L to R Holly Payberg, Mhairi Morrison and me, the wee person over in the corner

L to R Holly Payberg, Mhairi Morrison and me, the wee person over in the corner

There's still more writing and memorization for questions I may have to answer but it feels like I'm in the home stretch.

I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, early Valentine's Day present from me to you if you scroll down a little and click the Like button ...  (this is just a picture of it.... the one to click is a little further down the page)

And, if you want to leave a comment and run into any problems, here is advice from the people who run Squarespace:

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Thanks for checking in and cheering me on!



Go Big or Go Bust: How This Pitch Wrote Itself (With Help From The Runes)

Oh so many lessons. It's clear that I’m not nearly as evolved as I like to think I am.

But at least things seem to be working out, regardless of the amount of << suffering through >> my karmic path requires. THANK GOD FOR FRIENDS.

Lisa Levart tweeted the link to this very interesting piece on creative minds which is making me feel more accepting of the fact of ‘the way I work’. (Will not use the hated “P” word.) "Creative people have messy processes, and often messy minds, full of contradictions."

And good old Mudd Lavoie turned me on to the Runes which, no, does not mean you have to go out into the woods and try and read broken sticks and stones. More about that in a minute.

As you may know, I’ve been trying to get it together to pitch a half hour comedy series to cable since last August. At this point, it feels like it’s been years. Everywhere I turn, I get help and advice from people who've been there, done this and know what the heck they’re talking about. My reaction has been growing confusion to, frankly, the verge of hysteria.

Last Friday night, desk stacked high with piles of papers, each one with suggestions on how to boil everything down into a 1 - 20 minute pitch (whaa?)  It felt like I was going to be facing another Slaughter on Tenth Avenue weekend with the possibility of That Moment when you seriously want to rip your hair out. And so, before coming to that point, I decided to ask The Runes (Ralph H. Blum’s book and set of Runes) for guidance.     

What a surprise.  A three rune spread turned up this advice:

- counsel against overreach and striving (I am (what I suspect is) a classic case of someone trying to ‘overachieve’ which would explain why this very term annoys me so much.)
- don’t try to exceed your own strength (ditto)
- go within (Ew.)

- the battle is with the self. (no comment)
- observe pain. don’t try to deny it.
- timely right action and correct conduct are your only true protection (Now this one put the fear of GOD in me as all the astrologer/psychic types told me that delay could sour everything, that the time is at hand.)

- disperse resistance, then accomplish the work.
- the will must be clear and controlled (NOOOOOO.)
- may need expert help.
- modesty and patience

It was all so clear. Forget the desire to be brilliant or to even have a 'great' pitch. Just do what you can do. Keep it SIMPLE. Keep it short. (Susan Kouguell had locked eyes and said: “One minute.”) I was going to have to do the hardest thing:

stop trying
let go
simply do what I can do

AND BOOM. The pitch was written and memorized by Sunday night. HOW WAS THAT SO EASY??  (immediate and gorgeous early Valentine's gift if you click the 'Like' button below)

Go Big or Go Bust: This Pitch is Getting Real

Bursting with good news.

I pitched the two minute version of the pitch to Mr. Green last night. He started off looking at his lap, looked up tentatively a few times and finally LOCKED eyes. He thought it was good, even very good. He said I ‘had’ him.

This afternoon, I pitched the two minute version by Skype to my friend and coach Mudd Lavoie. She threw both arms in the air and shouted “I LOVE IT.”  Then she gave me the two thumbs up.

There are a few more things to organize and then ... I’ll keep you posted.

Screengrab of the elusive Mudd Lavoie giving me two thumbs up after I pitched to her over skype

Screengrab of the elusive Mudd Lavoie giving me two thumbs up after I pitched to her over skype

Go Big or Go Bust: On How The Crazy and Mysterious Hand of Fate Intervened and Hijacked My Plan

Even though it never feels like I have the time to meet a friend for lunch, I decided that I was going to do it anyway. I hadn’t seen Susan Kouguell in decades and we’d been talking about getting together since last summer. I really needed a break from the alternating frenzy and paralysis of my pre-pitching state. We set a date.

In the early 1980’s, Susan and I had both won top prizes at the Black Maria Film Festival with our first short films. As I remember, we met at the awards ceremony. Susan wore stiletto heels as if she’d been born in them.

Over the next years, we’d run into each other at various film-related events but we never hung out. Life for an indie filmmaker, especially in the pre-digital days of 16mm, was busy and expensive. Between a job to pay the bills, a second job to pay for film stock, lab fees and equipment rentals and then the third job of making the darn films, who had time to hang out?

That was part of the reason. Another part was that I felt both competitive and timid around Susan who seemed so much more accomplished and confident. And then Susan moved out of the city, we both got married and had kids and decades flew by.

Thanks to the miracle of Facebook, we talked on the phone last summer, a long, no holds barred catch-up which lead to this lunch.

No sooner had we sat down in the booth (Susan had had a word with the maitre d’) than she fixed me with her laughing twinkling eyes and asked about all these references on Facebook to me and ’pitching’. It turns out that Susan has had more experience pitching than almost anyone I know, and from both sides of the table. She’s even been drafted to teach seminars on how to pitch!

“How can I help you, Anne?”

I had to forcibly close my mouth which was hanging open in astonishment. Apparently, when the student is ready, the teacher really does appear.

Our lunch lasted three hours. Luckily I’d only ordered soup cause I have a hard time eating and talking and this was going to be so much more than ‘talking’ having suddenly morphed from gabfest into pitching tutorial.

Susan can be very focused as she lounges in a booth, laughing, and tossing out suggestions on how to structure and write a pitch. I sat across from her, bolt upright/hunched forward, scribbling on the single (mercifully over-large) receipt in my pocketbook and trying to keep up with her fountain of ideas. It was a very stimulating three hours, but it wasn’t till we parted that the full effect hit me. I was ready to collapse.

Two subways and a dazed walk later, I was still in such an altered state that work was out of the question. It seemed like a good idea to watch a sixteen minute interview with Mick Jagger (1985) and then compulsively read a novel until bed.

Tomorrow is another day.  

But in case you want to get a dose of Susan for your own work, take a look at how she might help you.

Go Big or Go Bust: Keeping Going toward Pitching

I want to tell you that, as much as the last few blogs have been all about how scared I am at the prospect of getting out there and pitching, the fear is countered to an extent by excitement. I’m actually on fire about “the project” I’ll be pitching.

And when I lose touch with that, what do I have? I have you. Your encouragement and kind words ring in my ears, in a reassuring and comforting way that is precious beyond description. You are my polar-opposite version of Louise’s downer inner voice, sort of a personal cheering squad, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Go Big or Go Bust: The Practice Pitch (Part 2 - with mystery professional *Lynn*)

And so last Friday morning I set off to meet Lynn, someone I’ve known for almost forty years during which time she has worked in top positions in Development.

When I was trying to make the leap from shorts to a feature, Lynn was the one who suggested that I give her a call each day before I’d sit down to contemplate the ream of blank pages I would have to fill to write a feature film. She further encouraged me to give her a call five (or two hundred) minutes later, whenever I finished. Without her support and encouragement, it’s an open question if I would ever have made “How To Be Louise”.  

And so, sitting under this auspicious grouping of photographs, I explained that after Thursday night’s pitch fiasco with Mr. Green, I was going to try to wing it, abandoning all the preparation of the past weeks and flying by the seat of my pants.

Lynn chuckled and encouraged me to give it a shot and so I dove off the high board, (this is a metaphor) pitching the essential short summary (the so-called ‘logline’), relating it to my own life experience.

Lynn listened, beaming at me with love and acceptance even when, after the opening summary, my pitch became somewhat scattershot. There were some good moments and at these Lynn nodded and called out ‘YES’. There were also a number of weak moments which began to overwhelm the good moments and so, after a while, I ground to a halt, admitting that I had lost my way.

We sat for well over an hour while she brainstormed what directions I might take, what points seemed essential and in the meantime, she came up with evocative and hilarious language to get the substance and the tone across in the fewest number of words.

She reminded me that this pitch was going to be a work in progress, that the people I’d be meeting would also have suggestions on how to improve it and that it might be a good idea to set up a camera on a tripod and practice practice practice it.

It’s funny that I left feeling neither elated or dejected as I’d imagined I would.  Instead I left with clarity that this job is a big and new challenge which has mostly to do with letting go. It has to do with radical self-acceptance and with figuring out a way to connect the points I need to make to my life experience so that it comes out as naturally and effortlessly as an anecdote.

Naturally I was so thrown by going out to do this first serious practice that I ran out the door leaving my house keys in the house. There’s certainly at least one telling metaphor in that ... the deciphering of which will have to wait for another day.

Check back on Wednesday to hear about TODAY'S meeting! And if you got even a shred of pleasure from reading this, please scroll down and click the Like button. I love that. 

Go Big or Go Bust: The Practice Pitch (Part 1 - with Mr. Green)

Before I launch into the story of today’s FIRST EVER serious (practice) pitch, I have to tell you about last night.  

I was getting myself and my many pieces of paper (never a good sign) organized for the morning and realized that I should try the pitch out on Mr. Green.

Because I didn’t have my pitch solidly memorized— okay, it was no where CLOSE to memorized— (but only because it was so well written and rewritten)— I had to mostly read it to Mr. Green. 

photo by Julie Clark Shubert

photo by Julie Clark Shubert

Of course I didn’t read it in a dull or flat way, I looked up frequently, my face bright and animated, my voice modulated and full of excitement in all the right places. And when I’d made it all the way through, Mr. Green and I locked eyes. He looked away, shook his head and looked back, locking eyes again: “Terrible.” he went on, “It’s TERRIBLE. NO ONE is going to listen to that.”

I was too stunned to react. Lucky for me because it looked like Mr. Green had more to say.

“It’s a comedy, right?” (as if he didn’t know) “It sounds like a tragedy! It’s not funny. At ALL. Tear that up!”

It was eleven o’clock at night. I actually like to be in bed at ten thirty.

Mr. Green suggested that I approach pitching in a completely different way. Instead of writing up a-script-to-memorize following a so-called ‘pitch template’, he asked if I could tell it conversationally. “You know the story inside out, it’s your story. You can do this!”

Amazingly, with my first pitch meeting scheduled in less than twelve hours, I was able to go to bed and fall right to sleep.

(to be continued on Monday)

(immediate and gorgeous early Valentine's gift if you click the 'Like' button below)


Go Big or Go Bust: Down To The Wire with Thanks to Sam Smith and Razia Iqbal of the BBC

I frequently listen to the BBC World News on the local NPR station which broadcasts for an hour starting at 9 AM on weekdays. But when I flicked on the radio the other day, expecting to hear the reassuringly authoritative and professional voice of Razia Iqbal reading the news, I was surprised to hear music. And it wasn’t just a sting of music at the end of a story, the music went on and on. Double-checking that the radio was set to WNYC, I figured the BBC must be doing an interview with a musician and went about cleaning up the kitchen.

But when Razia Iqbal finally did come on, her voice was hardly recognizable. She was irritated to the point of petulant: “Well I have no idea why we had to listen to such a long piece of music there!” and then went back to reading the news.

I was dumbstruck. Listening to this woman for years, I have never heard anything even approaching personal emotion, much less unprofessionalism. But before I could dry off my hands to Google Image her, she was back, a dark and almost nasty tone in her voice: “And now we’re going to listen to even MORE of that song!”

The song, The Writing’s On The Wall by Sam Smith, continued. And as I listened to the passionate (soaring and cringing) finale, the lyrics ripped my heart right out of its safe little cavity behind the ribs:

(selected lyrics)

How do I live?
How do I breathe?

Tell me is this where I give it all up?
I have to risk it ALL!

It occurred to me that higher forces had interfered with poor old Razia’s broadcast and I considered shouting at the radio: THAT WAS FOR ME, RAZIA!!  I NEEDED THAT!  Because in fact, I’m so scared about this imminent pitching thing that I’ve been bloodying my fingertips ripping off anything that resembles a hangnail.

I know I’ve got to give it all up, whatever IT is. The control I guess. THE FEAR. I’m trying to psyche myself out asking: “What’s the worst that can happen?”  I’m not actually ‘risking it all’ … cause even though it FEELS like I might die of fear or humiliation, I’m not going to die.

Leave it to another filmmaker to stun me with his crazy logic, my old/new pal Joe who knows first-hand about the path that lies ahead of me: “If fear of pitching holds you back, then it's your life purpose to go and do it anyway no matter what. No matter what the result or fear in doing it.”   

My first serious practice pitch is on Friday.  I’ll let you know how it goes. Check back Friday night. (Early Valentine's appreciation to all who click the 'Like' button below ... RIGHT NOW.)

IMG_6241 (1).jpg

Go Big or Go Bust: Blizzard Watch NYC

The Blizzard was more than enough of a distraction to keep me away from getting down to brass tacks this weekend and finishing up the pitch.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the presence of mind to ask Mr. Green to tape me "shoveling during the storm" - probably cause he was shoveling too. And it was snowing.

But when the Emergency Message sounded an alert on every cell phone in NYC announcing that all cars had to be off the streets ‘in one hour’, I couldn't resist throwing my shovel down to rush over to join the lines around the grocery store.

Back in the house, I was pinned to the only radio station worth listening to as it whipped me into a lather of excitement with the 1010 WINS “Traffic And Weather Together on the Ones”.  Except when I had to rush to the door to verify that we were actually getting the 2-3” per hour we were supposed to be getting.

And then, there was the morning after.

Round Two of the shoveling followed. (I wasn't aware until today that the muscles in my arm pits are the 'shoveling muscles'.) Mr. Green took a break to get a shot so you'll understand why I'm still not ready with my pitch. Hoping to have better news on Wednesday.

(Special bonus if you click the 'Like' button ... sort of like an early Valentine's Day ... )

Go Big or Go Bust: Plaster Jackets, My Rogue's Gallery

So to wrap up this saga, I wanted to show you some examples of this 'plaster jacket' in my work from 1990 and 2010. I had no idea what it meant at the time but couldn't resist using it. Who knew this image would turn out to be a message to me about myself, just like in a dream, where everything (allegedly) represents the dreamer.

"How To Be Louise" (1990)&nbsp; Maggie Burke and Mr. Green &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Dir. of Photography Vladimir Tukan

"How To Be Louise" (1990)  Maggie Burke and Mr. Green         Dir. of Photography Vladimir Tukan

"How To Make Matters Worse: The Louise Log #22" (2010)&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Pascal Yen-Pfister is under there.

"How To Make Matters Worse: The Louise Log #22" (2010)           Pascal Yen-Pfister is under there.

Go Big or Go Bust: On believing that you're good enough (Part 4)

Because I’d been struggling with building an audience for The Louise Log and because being on panels is one of the few free-bees that exist in the world of marketing a web series, the producer in me went to war with the scaredy-cat.  “Go. Just GO.”

I remember my feet acting on their own, stepping down from the sidewalk onto the street to jaywalk and paying no attention to the silent scream in my head: “Hellllllllllllllllllp!  Help me!  HELP!”

The next thing I remember is an inexplicable and bizarre feeling of having a vertical version of a barcalounger type chair:

pressed against the back side of my body from shoulders down to my knees, pushing me, all the while supporting me, as I zoomed toward the front entrance of The Paley Center.  

(dramatic recreation)

Once I have to actually function in the moment, like pulling open a door and asking a person which way to go, I seem to be able to manage.
And so I got to my seat on the stage and the panel went off without a hitch. People laughed at the right places. I learned things from the others, I even remember enjoying myself. And after it, Matthew Kirsch one of the best people in web series, introduced himself. How could I have let fear stop me from all this?

To quote Mr. Green (on his flaws of character): “I’m capable of anything.”

Back to 2016, after writing up Part 1 of this blog, the memory of the phantom barcalounger never even crossed my mind. For days I was relishing the new looseness and freedom from the plaster jacket in my back before I remembered the feeling of the barcalounger pressing into that same area.

It’s so obvious that the common elements seem to be:

a) extreme discomfort

b) surrender (which leads to:

c) asking for help

d) feeling

e) getting help from an inexplicable source  

Sounds like I’ve only gotten to a) in the recipe to get me out the door to pitch.

Looks like I need a deadline.

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Go Big or Go Bust: On believing that you're good enough (Part 3)

So before moving on to other topics, I want to tell you the story of an evening in 2009 when I had a very odd to downright bizarre but relevant experience.  

I’d been invited to be on a panel at the Paley Center for Media on 52nd Street. Midtown. Fancy. It was an event organized by the Writers Guild on the subject of writing in the then-new medium of web series with Fred Graver as the moderator. There was a conference call to prepare us all after which I’d memorized some bullet points so I wouldn’t ramble or drift off-topic. 

We were each supposed to supply a short video to screen and so I’d spent hours preparing a hi-res version of the episode about Louise and The Hot Repairman and had delivered it to the technician at the Paley Center. 

Everything was going as planned.

With my unique ability to delay leaving the house until the last possible second and still squeak through the door on time, I’d headed off to the subway, nervous and wishing I’d worn more comfortable shoes.

But then as I rode uptown on the E train, a lump rose in my throat and with it, that strange experience of anxiety, the extreme fascination with but detachment from my fellow straphangers, the acute awareness of every passing second as if I were actually headed to my own execution. 

By the time I got off the train at 53rd Street, nervousness had ratcheted up to panic and I decided that I simply couldn’t go through with it. I was too frightened. I’d make a fool of myself. Everyone would be better off if I got back on the subway and rushed back home, calling to say that I’d been suddenly taken ill … as I sort of had.    (to be continued)

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Go Big or Go Bust: On believing that you're good enough (part 2)

As you may know, I’ve been feeling over-the-top anxious about my next step in this adventure of ‘going big or going bust’: pitching the pilot is on my list just above ‘having fingernails pulled off’. But because it's under the surface. I'm not usually conscious of feeling anxious. I'm taking actions! And you (wonderful people) are giving me all kinds of support and encouragement ... so I have some new tools!

Naturally it came as a surprise to wake like a shot at 3 AM the other night,  and then to toss and turn for a full hour and a half.

But, lucky me, I had what might turn out to be a life-changing revelation.

I’d tried all my tricks to get back to sleep, the breathing, the hypnotherapy, the hot milk and honey. Lowering my expectations to simply ‘stay warm’, I huddled in the fetal position in the 40º room (window open, the way I like it) covers pulled over my head. Sixty minutes passed, seventy, ninety, BOOM.

It came out of nowhere: the image of a jacket made out of plaster. MY jacket. The jacket I’ve unconsciously chosen to wear for my entire life. But one that is no longer serving me.

Imagine this four inches thick, made of plaster and with crumbly bits of plaster and gauze hanging off the edges.

Imagine this four inches thick, made of plaster and with crumbly bits of plaster and gauze hanging off the edges.

What was once maybe protecting me, feels like it’s become the problem. I think I’ve been wearing fear 24/7 in the form of a rigor-mortis-stiff, pretty much impenetrable jacket. Sure, it blocks the possibility of getting a knife in the back, but it also makes receiving and even 'feeling' next to impossible.  

Huddled there under the covers, I threw my shoulders back to break up the ‘plaster’ and wriggle out of the ‘jacket’. Yeah it’d leave my back completely unguarded and vulnerable to attack but I immediately felt more, and more free and more comfortable in my body. And that feeling continued the next day and into the following day and shows no sign of abating. (to be continued)

A hoop skirt from 'the good old days' when women WERE actually trapped by their clothes.

A hoop skirt from 'the good old days' when women WERE actually trapped by their clothes.

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Go Big or Go Bust: On believing that you're good enough (part 1)

I woke like a shot at 3 AM last night and, after an hour and a half of tossing and turning, had what might turn out to be a life-changing revelation.

Twelve hours earlier I’d met X, a dear friend of many years, in a café on the edge of the Village. X is a writer who’s pitched a lot and knocked some out of the park. I wanted to check with him to be sure that I have all the elements necessary to get out there and start pitching.

We laughed and talked and he pointed out some missing elements and then, midway through our coffee, X dropped his voice and leaned forward. “Anne, do you believe in the core of you that you’re good? Because if you don’t, I don’t want you to go out pitching. You’ve got to know that you’re good.” (something like that)

There were four 20-somethings sitting uncomfortably close to us, one on either side of each of us. Regardless of how absorbed they all looked in their own lives, I was not fooled. There was no way that I could come up with an answer to that question in that situation but I gave it a try and came back with a firm: “Yes. I do.” I even filled X in on some Louise Log-related justifications to back up my yes. And I was telling the truth.

But twelve hours later, in the cold darkness of my bedroom, I was not so sure. No matter how much I like my work or how many people tell me I’m ‘good’, I don’t totally believe it. And what’s more, I don’t have a clue about how to change this.  (to be continued Friday)

(Trying to keep the blogs to 250 words)

48 hours earlier - dealing with the same issue at TJ Maxx

48 hours earlier - dealing with the same issue at TJ Maxx

Go Big or Go Bust: On Learning the Importance of Play from Brené Brown and Settlers of Catan

Happy New Year! I hope you had as restorative a break as I did!  

If you're a regular here, you know all too well that my focus is always on work. But over this holiday it was anything but. I cooked up a storm (including not one but two pies, pumpkin and a fruit-sugar-only mince which even the chocolate fiends seemed to like) and I went as far away as Toronto. But the crowning highlight of my break was playing two rounds of the board game Settlers of Catan. Mr. Green remarked to our eldest (who’d given us this game aka 'Settlers' for Christmas) that he should be duly flattered as, in thirty-one years, Mr. Green had never once seen me play a board game. Damn straight he hadn’t. Me playing a board game? As if.

The game of Settlers is pretty complicated but the gift-giver so wanted us to want to play that he swallowed his considerable spirit of competition and coached us, all the while under-playing his own hand. And so, by the second game, I was winning. 

And oh boy do I like to win. With my modest accomplishments career-wise in a life devoted to work, being on top in this game was frankly at the level of what I’d call intoxicating. I was cackling, I was shrieking with delight. Naturally, unhinged as I was, I was also callous and merciless to my fellow players. 

Mr. Green leaned over and muttered to our child, his comrade in defeat: “You see what I have to live with? This is what she’s really like!” 

For reasons I don’t totally understand, this remark may well have been my highpoint of 2015.

I won't tell you the whole long boring story of how I *forgot my passport* and had to spend two and a half days solo *going to get it*. Let's pick up the story with me at the wheel, burning a diagonal from Toronto to NYC, listening on headphones to Brené Brown’s audio book The Gifts of Imperfection. (Mr. Green does not share my enthusiasm for self-improvement, hence the headphones.) Wasn't I surprised to have Brené confirm my recent experience with the board game! Everyone, including people who passionately love their work, benefits enormously from play. In fact play is actually as important as breathing. (something like that). ??? Seriously??? I’m determined to not forget this. 

Route something or other halfway between Toronto and New York City

Route something or other halfway between Toronto and New York City

And so 2016 is starting off on an exciting new foot.

Please check back Wednesday for the next installment and, if you want a special New Year's treat, click the Like button at the bottom. You'll have more fun than watching the ball drop at midnight in Times Square surrounded by a million people and a security alert. Tell me if I'm wrong.  \o/  

P.S. That is not a crazed version of 'LOL' or 'lol' there at the end. It's my homemade emoticon for a hug. I hug you.