By Olivia Petzy-Binning (Restore Your Roar Co-facilitator and unbelievable human being)
Dear Roar family,
Hi! I’m Olivia and I am so pumped to chat with you today. I can still barely believe that Amanda and I re-connected (you can read about our history here) and that Restore Your Roar is happening in 136 days. Four months and 14 days. 525,600 minutes.
Ok so not really the last one because that’s a full year away but you get it.
There are a few things you should know about me: I love swimming in the cold Atlantic Ocean, I have been a vegetarian for 3+ years but I still eat Haribo gummy bears, and I believe we should all just do it now, whatever “it” is.
“Do it now” is truly what’s behind Restore Your Roar. Amanda and I want you to love your body now. We want you to enjoy moving your body now. We want to talk about fears and worries around eating and appearance now. We want to sit on our private patio in the jungle and look at the Pacific Ocean and connect with other women now.
Now is the only time we’ve got. Sometimes the days can feel endless, especially if we’re stuck at a shitty job, or in a crappy relationship, or just plain feeling worn out by the daily grind, but life itself is short. It’s fleeting.
Today is a perfect day to feel amazing. Today is an ideal day to do something big. Today is a great day to walk away. Today is a wonderful day to say “I love you.” Today is the day.
I want to throw a lei around your neck in Hawaii on January 15th because if not now, when? If not you, who?
I want to share a toolkit I put together for you. In the spirit of doing things and feeling good NOW, it’s 21 prompts to get you feeling fab FAST. Each one has a suggested time limit because I know you’re busy and have things to do, but please, I beg of you, don’t let your things get in the way of your life. Dive in and pick one (my personal faves are 1, 10 and 21).
Say yes. Feel good today. Don’t wait. Don’t die hesitating.
See you in Hawaii!
21 Prompts to Feel Fabulous Fast
1 MINUTE – IN & OUT
Close your eyes. (Do it! we’ve only got one minute!) Take 5 really deep breaths. Silently say “All is well” on every inhalation, and “it is done” on every exhalation. THAT’S IT. The power of the breath, y’all.
2 MINUTES – WIDE EYED
How many beautiful things can you notice in your immediate surroundings in two minutes? On your mark, get set, GO!
3 MINUTES – DANCE BREAK
Get up. Yes, now! Put a great tune on (may I suggest THIS or THIS) and dance it out. If you’re feeling down, this is gonna lift you up and if you’re already feeling groovy, this is only gonna take you higher. Endorphins, here you come!
4 MINUTES – TAKE A VACATION
Did you know you can search “virtual vacation” on Youtube and watch videos of beach scenes with relaxing music? Check out of reality for a few minutes and take a beach break while you take deep breaths (and dream of a poolside smoothie!). May I suggest this tour of Kalani, home to Restore Your Roar?!
5 MINUTES – WHO LOVES YA?
I know you know that you are always being supported by a benevolent and loving Universe. but who else could we add to your list of cheerleaders? Write out a list of every single person who is rooting for you. You’re never alone. Life itself is on your side.
6 MINUTES – EXPERT WITNESS
Write a list of all the things at which you are a straight up expert. NOTHING IS TOO SMALL! If you are the only person who can get your nephew to stop crying when he’s tired, then you are an expert! If you know an absurd amount about cheese from a stint as a server in a Swiss restaurant (ahem), you are an expert! If you can throw a football in a sweet spiral, then you are an expert spiral thrower! Don’t be shy!
7 MINUTES – LUCKY DUCK
Buy a few scratch off lottery tickets (say, five of the $1 ones). Hand them out with a penny to the people behind you in line. You can spread so much excitement and happiness for 5 bucks and 5 cents!
8 MINUTES – MAGIC 8 BALL
What do you want your life to look like in one year? Write it out and here’s the kicker: write it out with CERTAINTY. Write it as if you are POSITIVE IT WILL HAPPEN. You can do this for any amount of time in the future. Visualize, intend, and get ready to magnetize.
9 MINUTES – BLISS LIST
Write down 10 things you are grateful for, ten things you are excited for, and five BRAGS. Yes, that’s right: brag about your bad self.
10 MINUTES – FILE A COMPLIMENT
Wanna feel like a Queen? Lavish praise on someone! Receive fabulous service in a store? Grab a manager on the way out and compliment the employee. Are your garbage collectors unfailingly polite and smiling, even while they do their dirty job? Call your town and praise them. Fill out that survey listed on your receipt and leave positive feedback. Write a glowing Yelp review. Please trust me when I say this feels amazing and you will be hooked!
11 MINUTES – IDEAL DAY
What does your PERFECT DAY look like? How does it start? Where do you wake up? Who’s there? What do you do? Where do you go? How does the day wind down? Write out your perfect day and spare NO details — the more specific, the better. We’re visualizing here, people!
12 MINUTES – DREAM DOZEN
What is your dream way of spending your time? What do you never, ever, ever get tired of talking about? Listening to? Thinking about? Reading about? Learning about?
DO IT for twelve minutes.
13 MINUTES – MAIL CALL
I still get excited when I see something that isn’t junk in my mailbox, and that feeling keeps getting rarer thanks to email. Send someone a beautiful note card to let them know you’re thinking of them.
14 MINUTES – HISTORY LESSON
Where were you ten years ago? Five years ago? One year ago? How have you grown? How have you changed? Does your life look different than you thought it would? What miracles have you experienced? What lessons have you learned?
15 MINUTES – INSTRUCTION MANUAL
Often, the silver lining to mistakes we make is the lesson we learn. In the spirit of generosity (and to remind yourself what a smart genius you are), fill in the blanks:
So you screwed up and did _________. Here’s how to fix it: __________________.
16 MINUTES – TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY
You know how we all love hearing the backstories behind the successes of our favorite stars? Like how Jon Hamm was a teacher and Kristen Wiig sold peaches before hitting it big? Write out YOUR True Hollywood Story, and frame everything you’ve thought of a setback or challenge as a PLOT TWIST leading up to your overwhelming success.
17 MINUTES – SECRET ADMIRER
Write a note/email to someone you really respect and admire. Perhaps it’s your mom, maybe it’s Ryan Gosling, or your boss at your day job. Let him/her know that their skills and gifts are recognized and admired. Be specific and prepare for a contact high.
18 MINUTES – ADVICE COLUMN
If you need advice on something that’s holding you back or causing confusion, write it out like you’re writing to Dear Abby. Then, write the answer back to yourself! YOU are the expert on YOU.
19 MINUTES – PICK UP THE PHONE
Remember when we used to use our phones to TALK to people instead of scrolling through your various feeds? Call someone that you know doesn’t use social media etc to stay connected. Savor the thrill of filling him/her in your delicious life, and enjoy the feeling of hearing how your friend is doing/feeling straight from his/her mouth instead of a status update.
20 MINUTES – FLIP IT (this is Amanda’s absolute favorite)
One of my specialties is doing a story flip: when I feel like things are falling apart/crappy, I flip that shit around and write a new story. Here’s an example of one of mine from a particularly disastrous morning:
My old story is that I booked a perfect plane ticket to visit Rich today…except for the fact that I had to leave at 6:30 am for Newark, and I got home from work at midnight. Well, I got up so early that I was ready to go and decided to set my alarm for an extra ten minute snooze. Obviously, that was a terrible idea. The next flight to Savannah is majorly inconvenient for so many reasons, but that’s the flight I’m on, so here is my new story:
I am an amazing independent woman who figured out the best way to deal with a mess at 7:30 am on a Saturday. I made the best decision I could. I am going to fly into Savannah like the hot New York woman I am, wearing a hot outfit for the show and cast party I am attending tonight. My hair and makeup is perfect, I am a brilliant packer so I have one tiny suitcase, and my dress is hot. I will arrive in Savannah, pick up the car I rented at 7:30 this morning, and drive myself to Hilton Head Island because I am smart, savvy and independent, and I am fearless. I will arrive at the theater with ample time, and take my seat in the front row. The first time I see my husband will be when he opens the show wearing a tux and we will share a look of love and apology and humor. The show will be amazing, i will have a cocktail at intermission, and we will reunite in the lobby when it’s over. Then we have two and a half days to enjoy each other’s company. This is actually a romantic and sexy story and I am lucky to be alive and in it.
What current story of yours do you need to FLIP? Any old beliefs you need to turn on their heads? This is a fun one, and it’s addictive! Write out the junk and then get your flip on!
21 MINUTES – LEAP OF FAITH
Write a letter to the Universe. You can state your intention(s), write what you want to release, questions you have, anything goes. Put it in an envelope. Decorate the envelope so it is super gorgeous. Address the envelope to “The Universe.” Put it in the mail.
See what happens.
Want to meet Olivia in person? We can’t wait to lei you when you step off your plane in Hilo, Hawai’i this January. To reserve your spot, contact Catherine May at Kalani before September 15th to use our extended Roar Rate of $985 (after that, the rate goes up $100). Just email email@example.com and put down a $200 deposit to hold your spot – we don’t need anything else til the day you check in girlfriend! Feel free to check out our itinerary and FAQ’s, but act fast – there are only six spots left! Roar!
You guys, we have to talk.
I am so in love with you, and really truly, I do not mind your Facebook messages asking me the difference between Pennsylvania and Hawai’i. I don’t mind you posting on my timeline that you’re visiting Hawai’i and can we see each other. And I absolutely appreciate your interest in the culture here.
I just think, that maybe, it’s time that we take a moment to clarify a few things.
1.) I am so happy that you have the opportunity to visit Hawai’i. And it would be absolutely lovely to see you and catch up, even if we haven’t spoken since I had a crush on you in sixth grade. However there are eight islands that make up the state of Hawai’i. Out of those eight, you will probably find yourself on one of the four main tourist islands – Oahu (home of the city Honolulu), Maui (a popular honeymoon destination), Kauai (the most beautiful and lush of the islands), or the island of Hawai’i, commonly known as “The Big Island” (where I currently live and teach). The rest of the islands are less traveled to, and two of them, you’re not even welcome on unless you’re invited by a full-blooded Hawaiian or part of the military.
When you message me to let me know you’ll be visiting, I will always ask you first and foremost, what island you will be visiting. Please know that if I let you know that I can’t see you, it’s not because I don’t want to. It’s normally because there isn’t a ferry between the islands, and I don’t currently have the funds to fly to Honolulu to meet you for pupus and Mai Tai’s. I totally want to hang out – just make sure you include the Big Island in your visit so we can make that happen.
2.) Every Hawaiian island is extremely different. I live on the Big Island, where local farmers thrive, aloha is prevalent most anywhere you go, and the population is small compared to the size of the island (about the size of Connecticut.) Oahu contains the hectic city of Honolulu, home to the second worst traffic in the country as well as some of the best surfing on the planet. Maui is populated with beautiful resorts and beaches and offers breathtaking sunsets from the top of it’s dormant volcano, Haleakala. Kauai is the second oldest Hawaiian island, and it’s lush jungle is some of the most beautiful you’ll ever see if you take the time to visit. Molokai and Lanai are both within ferry distance from Maui, and with the highest sea cliffs in the world and pineapple farms galore, they are less visited but equally as beautiful. If you are moving here, or visiting here, your needs and your wants can help you pick which island to see. I am happy to answer any questions you may have about the Big Island, and I’ll do my best to help you navigate the other islands if I can.
3) Hawaii is not a third world country. Although not every Hawaiian is pleased about it, we are an actual state in the fifty United States of America. We speak English here. We have a Target and a Wal-Mart and even though I hate shopping corporate, Costco is our best friend. We drive on the right side of the road, and we eat hot dogs, and we have a regular education system, although the amount of homework these kids go home with is absolutely ridiculous. Do we sometimes eat different things than on the mainland? Absolutely. Do we have strange animals and bigger, scarier bugs? Unfortunately yes. We also respect the land here way more than people on the mainland do. There is rarely litter, we’ve banned GMO’s, and we support local farmers more than I’ve ever experienced in any continental U.S. state. There is an entire “aloha grown” movement supporting the backyard revolution and local crops. It is amazing and inspiring and gives me hope that this world is slowly moving back towards what has kept us alive for thousands of years – farming and growing our food, instead of processing and genetically modifying it. If anything, when it comes to agriculture, we’re more advanced than the rest of the U.S., and by no means less “civilized”.
4) Aloha. Aloha is everything. It’s why I stay. It’s healed my heart. It’s given me hope. It’s not just a “hello” and a “good-bye”. It’s a spirit. It’s a vibration. Read this postcard I found last weekend in a Hilo coffee shop selling Hawaiian-grown coffee and cocoa.
5) It’s expensive here. Food is shipped in, so cereals and meats are normally the same price as the grocery stores in NYC. The cost of living is high – electricity is obscene, gas is sometimes $4.88 a gallon, and restaurants have to keep their costs high or they’ll never survive. However, most of us are still happy, grateful, optimistic people despite the financial sacrifices. Paying these prices in the middle of winter in a major city while trudging through the snow can be depressing. Paying these prices all year round while driving past the ocean and shopping at local farmer’s markets for apple-bananas – not so depressing. In fact, I’ve just completely gotten over it. Either I’m gonna pay an arm and a leg to live in a fifth floor two-window walk-up in Washington Heights, or I’m gonna pay an arm and a leg to live in town by the water where I can ride my bike to the coffee shop every day. I’ve happily accepted my fate without too much of a fight.
6) There are three terms used for people who live in Hawai’i. What I’ve come to learn, is that to be “Hawaiian”, a person has to have been born here and be of Hawaiian descent. To be a “local”, a person has to have been born here but doesn’t have to be of Hawaiian descent. Then there are people like me and Johnny, who moved here and now work here, and we are referred to as “kama’aina”. Which brings me to my important point: people who live in Hawai’i have to work to live here. We do not just pick coconuts and float in the turquoise bay all day long. I do not get to the beach every day. In fact, I haven’t been there for three weeks, even though I can see it from my kitchen. I do watch TV, and I do work five days a week, and I do have bad days, just like you. Hawai’i is a great place for a lot of reasons, but we are all still human. We have to deal with PMS, taxes, and traffic just like the rest of the world. Please do not tell us that our life is what everyone dreams of and we have no right to complain. It makes me want to send you moldy pineapple in the mail if the post office would let me send produce. Life is full of ups and downs no matter where you live on this planet. It’s just a little easier to get over when you live in a tropical place.
7) Speaking of moldy produce, let’s talk about that for a second. I seriously want to send everyone I know a care package. I want to send you mac nut butter and avocados and starfruit and jams and coffees and chocolates and banana breads. However, anyone who lives in Hawai’i eventually discovers that care packages will empty a wallet just as fast as a weekend shopping spree. We have to space out sending packages or we’ll be paying off credit card debt for the rest of our time on this earth. A small care package from Hawaii, even without produce (since we aren’t allowed to send any fruits or vegetables in the mail) costs me about $30-$40 before the $15 shipping costs. (Macadamia nuts run about $8.99 for 10 ounces, and a pound of Kona coffee can cost as much as $35.) Local products are well worth the money, but costly. I love you so much, so please know that just because you don’t get a wonderful Hawaiian care package from me, or anyone you know who lives in Hawai’i, does not mean that we do not love and appreciate you. Just wait your turn and eventually, you’ll be so grateful for your patience.
8) Hawai’i is really far away from everything, and everyone. If you are planning on visiting, it’s a fantastic, gorgeous, worth-every-penny getaway and vacation from everything you’re used to. However, if you are planning on moving here, I need you to seriously contemplate everything about moving here. We do not have an IKEA. We do not have a Trader Joe’s. And, we do not have an underground train to the mainland.
Flights home to visit loved ones are expensive, and the jet lag is comparable to the hangover I used to get after a three day bender. Friends’ weddings become huge expenses. Holidays become a bit bittersweet and heavy with Skype dates and phone calls instead of family gatherings and home-baked cookies. Being away from your nearest and dearest while they are having babies, making their Broadway debuts, and celebrating their 40th birthday in New Orleans is REALLY REALLY HARD. I questioned my permanent move here for quite a few months until I really started settling in to my wonderful job and making new friends. It can be a wonderful new chapter in life, if you are completely ready for everything to change.
For me, the aloha and the nature and the spirit here has made my move mean a lot to me. I absolutely feel that at this point in my life, the Big Island of Hawai’i is where I am supposed to be. I am lucky enough to have incredibly supportive friends who mail me things from home and make time for me over FaceTime quite frequently, so I feel connected to them enough to make me feel like I can really handle living so far away. But all of these things are important for you to consider.
9) If you do visit, just for a week, or even for a month, please, for the love of all things beautiful in this world, take what you learned here home with you. Buy local. Be nice. Love people. Hug everyone. Take the aloha that you experienced here and carry it with you into your daily life.
In conclusion, let me just say mahalo for loving me from wherever you are in the world. Mahalo, put simply, is gratitude. Mahalo for reaching out and asking me questions, and sometimes, making me giggle (out of love, I promise). I’m not teasing you, I’m just educating you. I swear. (Okay, yes, maybe the title of this post came from me wanting to tease some of you.) But hey, how could you possibly know these things if you’ve never visited?
Which brings me to number 10………
10) Visit Hawai’i. It is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Sure, the Florida Keys are great. The Caribbean is stunning. Europe is unbelievable. But there is something special here on these eight Hawaiian islands. And I personally think, experiences like the ones you will have here, are the reason we work for a living. The reason we save money. The reason we explore and travel. There is nothing like Hawai’i, for a variety of reasons, which I actually plan to write about even more in coming weeks.
From ancient lava to snow-capped mountains to sea turtles to papayas, we have things here that you just need to see to believe. Just know, that you will have the experience of a lifetime here if you try new things, meet new people, and really immerse yourself in the culture.
Come experience the aloha that has changed my life. You will never be the same. This video, of the humpback whales who invade our waters each winter, proves it. So dear friends, until we meet at the Kona coffee shop in what I hope is the near future, aloha, and have a great week.
Next week’s posting:
Finally, The Big Announcement I Keep Blabbing About!
So when I started this blog I said this would be a place to come for real talk.
So here goes some real talk.
I’ve fallen off the wagon.
See, the thing about a food addiction, is you can’t just give it up cold turkey. You gotta eat. If you don’t eat, you’ll end up at the other end of the spectrum… Which would still be a cause for a blog about eating disorders in the performing industry.
So basically what I’m saying is, I have to do this crazy thing where I learn how to live my life without food controlling it.
Which I started to do this past May. Which has been so inspiring and enlightening and wonderful.
But what I didn’t realize was that Hawaii was not gonna just cure me in the snap of a finger. Like, it was really awesome to think I was gonna come here and drop thirty pounds and be really tan and always crave kale and come back to NYC in a skimpy shirt and have people hug me and tell me how amazing I look but actually, that’s not the reality I’m living right now. So I’m gonna write about it and actually explain what happens when you come to Hawaii in hopes of healing an eating disorder.
Come to Hawaii feeling really confident and curvy and sexy and happy with the accomplishments that took place in July leading up to touchdown in Hilo Airport.
Go through the breakfast buffet and praise Jesus there’s always a vegetable with breakfast along with a fruit bar. Think to yourself “OMFG I’m gonna lose so much weight without even trying.”
Go without trying the homemade ice cream on property for a good two weeks because you don’t even crave it and you haven’t been hungry between meal times.
Start feeling comfortable in the social environment and completely forget to listen to hunger signals when you’re woofing down fresh fish and orzo with basil pineapple sauce and lilikoi cake with ten people at dinner every night.
Realize that you don’t even always want dessert but that you’re also being a pussy and not trusting yourself enough to know that you can live without it and also not binge later so you take dessert every night anyways.
Start eating when you’re not hungry just because it’s mealtime and someone else controls your mealtime and then also eating ice cream when you are hungry between mealtime.
Finally see yourself naked in a full length mirror and not hate everything that you see. In fact, noticing how great your legs look and your waist looks. But still thinking it’s not good enough.
I’m not sure what happened but I forgot everything I learned. Also, I saw pictures of myself and was completely shocked that I look like that right now. I have the opposite version of body dysmorphia. I see myself as a size 4 in my head. Pictures prove otherwise.
Feel lost. Eat chocolate. Sneak ice cream. Go back for seconds. Crave cigarettes.
Admit that you’ve taken a step backwards and maybe, you have to start all over.
Cry. Breathe. Cry. Wipe your eyes and be thankful for the little things in life – like living in the jungle and never wearing makeup and not having to worry about racoon eyes when you cry. Laugh a little bit. Accept that you’re not done working on shit. Breathe again. Start over.
So the thing is here, that in the midst of all the mental and emotional work I’ve been doing – letting go, moving on, feeling pain, and living in the moment – I’ve also been trying to take on this huge fucking project of a) not binging, b) eating healthy food, and c) trying to tell the difference between craving chocolate because I’m a woman with PMS, or craving chocolate because I’m a binger.
As I was so kindly reminded today by my beautiful friend Rachel, maybe, just maybe, I can’t do it all.
I’ve always been that girl with the huge plans. Long ass to do lists. Amazing ideas as to how I’m gonna make it, how I’m gonna do it, and how amazing life will be once I get it all done.
And I have these big plans that seem so simple. You know, like getting up at 6am and going for a bike ride before going to the linai for breakfast at 7:30. And at breakfast just having some eggs and a banana instead of granola, potatoes, eggs, oatmeal, and 8 different kinds of tropical fruit. And then journaling or practicing ballet and then also hitting yoga and then also updating my blog and then also posting a new YouTube video so New York doesn’t forget about me and then also calling my mom and then also making my bed and then also writing a novel all before 9am.
It’s like I never even heard of that fucking mantra I’m always writing about. “Baby steps.” Yea, that one? It’s like I can sure write it down. But I don’t allow it to apply to me. I want it all NOW. I want to be fixed NOW. All on my own. No help. No books. No process.
Well, see, that’s the thing. What I learned this week is this:
Recovery is a process.
Rushing the process sounds like, super fun. Like, “I beat the system” kind of fun. Like, “what’s next” kind of fun.
But rushing, is not even remotely close to being helpful.
Recovery is a process.
And so in the midst of being very (virtually) bruised from (virtually) beating myself up every single day, I took a pen and wrote “recovery is a process” on my foot today. And I did the same thing last Sunday. And I don’t know how I feel about getting it actually tattooed on my body but it is literally a reminder that I need every day. And just in case you need it every day, I’m gonna say it again.
Recovery is a process.
And if you need to Sharpie it on your mirror, or post it on your dashboard, or engrave it on your iPhone case, know that you’re not alone in needing to hear it every day too. Whatever you’re recovering from – a divorce, an addiction, a career loss, emotional baggage, an eating disorder – just please remember, to stop beating yourself the fuck up.
Recovery is a process. And you are not alone. And life isn’t always peaches and cream, says my Grandma. But that’s okay because the beauty of a life with ups and downs is that you’re reminded you’re alive. And the ups will always feel more amazing once you’ve experienced the downs. The appreciation that comes with the highs and lows of living this life that isn’t always easy, is so fucking lovely.
So. I will continue to share with you the ups and downs of my process. And I accept that it’s okay that I don’t have a positive Pinterest message for you every week full of hopeful solutions and miracles and cheery kale recipes.
I just have a lot of love to put out there in the world and I know that if I keep putting it out there it’ll come back around. And the support of all the love will help me through this journey of mine. And hopefully, by next week, I’ll be writing to you with less (virtual) bruises from less (virtual) beating myself up and I can share yet another thing I’ve learned in this crazy, amazing, awesome, gorgeous journey we call life.
We are so lucky to be able to experience all this shit, man. So lucky. Continue to feel it and process it and enjoy the fact that although sometimes painful, it’s a beautiful thing to be able to feel, let go, and move on.
I’m totally rooting for you.
Next week’s posting:
Dude. Yesterday, I vacuumed up a cockroach bigger than your head.
With fucking gusto.
I hope my friend Rachel is reading this right now with her mouth wide open, as she remembers me calling her two summers ago from atop my bed, weeping, telling her how there was a huge roach in my 5th floor apartment and I trapped it with a glass but there was no physical way I could proceed from there because I was so terrified of bugs. I stood on top of my bed and called six friends that day to come help me, including my mother who lives in Pennsylvania, and finally resorted to calling the closest person to me at the moment – my super – who swore at me that this wasn’t his job as he came up and took it away for me.
I slept at my best friend’s apartment at Cornell for two weeks because I was so scared I would end up cuddling with a roach.
The other day, I climbed up on top of a sink to dust the hanging light above the vanity in a bathroom here.
If you went to London with me my senior year of high school, your mouth might be agape right now as you remember me being too scared to even go to the second level of the most beautiful cathedral I’ve ever been in – St. Paul’s – because it was high and it was grated steps. So I stayed at the bottom and cried because I was too terrified of heights.
I have been scared of so much shit for so long.
Seriously. Scared and overwhelmed of the simplest things – renting a car, trying tempeh, dying my hair (gasp, what if I don’t look like my headshot?!), asking for what I want, back-ne, you name it.
When I started all this therapy for all this binging, one of the questions Geneen Roth asks in one of her books is, “what are you afraid of losing if you stop eating compulsively?”
I took a deep breath and closed my eyes and exhaled and then I wrote down, “my sense of humor.”
And that’s when I realized that fear runs everything.
Dude, fear runs EVERYTHING.
Like, everything though.
I realized that if I took care of my chocolate addiction and my binging and excessive drinking, I would also run out of “fat” jokes. No more, “if I smell a beer, I gain five pounds” . No more, “should we get an entire ice cream cake and eat it while we talk about that dance call we got cut from today?” Down to during tech for a show, no more “i’m gonna kill someone if we don’t find a jar of Nutella right now.”
My next fear came up like word vomit. “Not making it.” And then another one. “Never having a man propose to me.” WHAT?! All these years I’ve spent making fun of marriage?! Ding ding ding. Defense mechanism.
OH SHIT. Just being put in my place by my own brain.
And then the idea for this blog came along. And for the first time in my life, I didn’t think TWICE. I was never scared of putting all my dirty laundry out there for the world to see. Because I knew it could help. And I knew it was right. And I knew it was time.
The other thing I never thought twice about? Wasn’t scared about? Nervous about? Coming to Hawaii. I never, ever questioned it.
And I guess the universe was on my side. Because now I’m here just surrounded by things that scare me. Thanks universe. We’ve got gnarly spiders. Fucking gigantic cockroaches that fly. Like I can see their eyeballs, you guys. We’ve got one too many reasons to be in a bikini. There’s so many flavors of ice cream. And there’s new people that I had to meet, without the security of my self-deprecating humor.
And guess what. Despite all that, I’m doing okay. I’m doing so okay you guys.
Because when I finally sat down and had an honest conversation with my friends Eddie and Natalie – the most beautiful, awesome, compassionate couple in the world who share my loft with me – we talked about fear. They opened my eyes and I realized that fear has basically controlled my entire life up until this point.
We talked about how I am fucking scared of failure. Scared of food. Scared of calories. Scared of getting caught eating. Scared of networking. Scared of men not wanting me. Scared of taking my clothes off. Scared of not making it to Broadway. Scared of trying all the things I’ve always wanted to try.
I put words like “overwhelmed” and “mind-blowing” in the same category as “fear”. For instance, I know that it’s not scary for a typical person to plan a trip to Maui from the Big Island – the whole booking a flight, renting a car, finding a hotel – but it’s just so overwhelming to me and so I give up and just stay where I am. Same with learning with guitar. Same with trying yoga (before I arrived here.) I get easily overwhelmed and then I don’t go for it at all.
So there we are, right? Eddie on the laundry folding table. Natalie folding towels. Me sitting on top of a dryer. And I decided that I am a stronger bitch than fear thinks I am. Fuck fear.
I’m doing something that scares me every day.
I went to The Point the next day, the Hawaiian cliff I always tell you about where magical things happen and there are sea turtles, and I made a list of things that scare me.
Um. Some of it makes me giggle. Some of it doesn’t.
- Wearing lipstick to dinner in a place where no one wears makeup.
- Asking questions about yoga and meditation.
- Going vegan.
- Holding someone else’s baby.
- Bringing Nutella into the house.
- Something happening to my grandparents before I get home from Hawaii.
- Falling in love with a woman.
- My mother’s opinion of tattoos.
- Falling in love again.
- Telling the truth.
- Maxi dresses.
The list goes on and on but I will tell you that at the end of it, one of the things that spontaneously came at the end of the train of thought was “losing weight and being a sell out” in regards to this blog. Right after that I wrote “I need to go write right now.” And so I left The Point and got to my computer and completely blanked. I was afraid of addressing the list that I had just written down so I had a beer instead. See? Nobody’s perfect.
That night just happened to be open mic. I had nothing prepared and I was so against performing. I thought that people were expecting this high-class performance from me and I was like, no way, I did not come here for this. Plus, I didn’t feel like putting anything together.
And then my dear, dear friend Robert posted a tap video on Facebook. That day. I love you so much, Robert. And I remembered this memory of dancing with Gregory Hines when I was 12 and saying to my father later, “I want to be Gregory Hines when I grow up.”
I had been doing some tap improv since I got here, but always in the company of some guitars and some drums during a jam session.
No one had seen me tap improv. Like, including myself.
So I fucking took a deep breath, went to dinner, put lipstick on, and got up for 130 people completely unprepared.
In college, all they teach us is “be prepared, be prepared, be prepared.” I am terrified of going to any audition unprepared. Like terrified.
So I prepared nothing. On purpose. And I got up, and pulled this here out of my ass. Actually, let me be less crude for once. This right here, came directly from my heart and soul. And I guarantee when you hear these amazing people cheering for me as I pull this shit out of thin air that you will smile because it makes me smile and I am so blessed.
Two days later, I went stand-up paddleboarding. With all the algae in the bay. All the fish. All the unknowns in the sea. And scariest of all, I went in a fucking bikini.
There were totally straight men there. I mean look at the muscles on the instructor, people.
Too bad. I got my ass up there and I fucking STAND-UP PADDLEBOARDED. I was terrifed that I wouldn’t be able to stand up and that I would be the weakest one who was at the end of the pack and I just wouldn’t be able to do it.
Um. I was second one in the pack to make it out there. And then, I did yoga on my paddleboard.
Most empowering day of my life. I am so much stronger than I think I am.
In between the big stuff, like open mic, stand-up paddleboarding, vacuuming roaches up like a champ, I’ve also branched off into the littler stuff that scares me. Talking to people of authority and going out of my way to get to know them. Instead of assuming they wouldn’t be interested in talking to just little old me, I sat at lunch with them instead.
I told a dude that I was hooking up with that I had an eating disorder as he was taking my clothes off. What? He told me his story. So I shared mine. I just put it out there, boldly and fearlessly. And then I was naked. And he could see the stretch marks. And the cellulite.
And then he did really, REALLY nice things to me.
I also had someone hand me their child during a day time community party and she didn’t cry. In fact, we danced together. And I didn’t cry out of fear either. All those years of teaching kids and thinking I couldn’t stand kids anymore after disciplining them in a dance studio for so long. All gone. This warmed my heart.
And then there’s the most important accomplishment of all. Skipping dessert.
The big thing since being here is Hawaii is this fear that if I don’t eat whatever I want at mealtimes that I will go back to binging.
Like when there’s oatmeal raisin cookies for dessert, I take them anyways and eat it anyways even though I think that the most disappointing thing in life is when you take a cookie and the chocolate chips happen to be…raisins. LIKE WHY THOUGH.
But what I’m saying is, I eat the damn oatmeal raisin cookie anyway because I am so scared that if I “deprive” myself that I’ll binge later.
Basically what I’m saying is, I have given myself no credit for being strong whatsoever.
When you’re a binger, you will stop at nothing to get what you want, right?
You will leave social gatherings, you will bail on friends, you will steal food out of friend’s cabinets, you will eat your roommate’s Nutella, and you will literally kill anyone who gets in your way of you and your drug of choice – which is food.
But guess what? I skipped dessert. And I didn’t binge. At all. That night, or the day after, or the day after. I had half a bag of miniature Twix the other day at a campfire but I mean, hey, baby steps right?
So. What are you scared of?
Is it telling your mother to stop commenting on your Facebook? Is it to reach out for help? Is it to tell someone you love them? Is it to go to yoga? (Cuz I thought we took care of that one. Don’t make me come all the way home and slap you cross the head. Get your sexy booty to that damn class!) Is it to tell your roommate that she has to stop having loud sex?
Make a list. Make a list and let it flow. Let that shit flow and see what comes up. Like a long string of spontaneous thought. Write it down even if it seems silly. Let it happen and some of it might even make you laugh but that’ll be good. Laugh while you can.
Cuz I’m about to CHALLENGE you, honey. And you might not be laughing so much.
I challenge you to start conquering that list. Do it with me. Conquer your list with me. Seriously. Is it renting a car? Because we can try doing that one together. Is it to go biking through Central Park because there’s hills? Because I’ll hook you up with one of my friends and they’ll take you along with them for a ride and light a fire under your ass. What do you need? You tell me. We’re gonna make it happen.
I challenge you to make a list and start checking things off. Because if you do, you could end up with a beautiful orange head of hair like mine, since “going blonde” was one of your fears. And you might just be able to laugh at yourself for the box of hair dye not working the way it was supposed to and also feel really hot all at the same time.
Make a list, check it twice, some of it may be naughty more than nice. But you’re gonna feel so fucking good when you start checking things off. Like climbing a mountain, one baby step at a time.
The other day, I was in my friend Mandi’s room keeping her company while she packed to go back to home. She wanted to show me a funny Thought Catalog article and at the very top, there was a blurb about Amanda Bynes. And it was obviously making fun of her. But underneath the blurb, in italics, it said, “baby steps, Amanda. Baby steps.”
I couldn’t even handle. My mantra, popping up in the most random places. That’s what’s up. That’s why this place is magic.
So as one last fear to conquer before I published this today, on this beautiful Sunday morning, after having a breakfast of rice, eggs, and Portuguese sausage with two men here who I love so dearly, I stepped on the scale.
I have refused to weigh myself since May because the number on the scale defined me for so long. It would seriously make or break my entire day. I was so scared of allowing that to happen again.
But after living on the Big Island, the island of “healing”, for over a month now, I’ve learned I have a choice about what makes or breaks my entire day. And I can choose to not let a number on a scale affect me.
So I stepped up on there. 160. Seven pounds less than May. I had no idea, because I’ve been too busy hating my stomach and watching my thighs jiggle when I walk to yoga class. And is that number still too high for my liking? Absolutely. But it’s also not going to define anything about today. Or tomorrow. Or next week. Or the rest of my life.
It’s my choice whether that number makes or breaks me. It’s my choice whether fear runs my life or not.
And the choice is all yours as well. Do something that scares you every day. We have no idea how much it will change our perspective, and our self-love, and our entire lives, until we try.
I wish you a week full of strength, courage, and ballsy moves.
The other night, under the stars, after a boy here kissed me, he said to me that I make him so happy because I’m so alive. He said I’m so alive, and so many people in the world aren’t.
If he only knew me six months ago.
But he didn’t. He knows me now. And he’s right. I am so alive.
Now, that doesn’t mean life has been all sunshine and rainbows this month. I’m alive because I’m feeling shit. And feeling shit is a new concept.
When we have an addiction, it’s normally something that most of us turn to in order not to feel the sadness, the hurt, the anxiety, the depression, the void within us. We use our drug of choice – whether it be sex, food, alcohol, you name it – to fill the void. Whatever that void may be for us as individuals, we use our drug of choice so that we don’t have to feel it.
When we start recovering from addiction, we start to feel the sadness, the hurt, the anxiety, the depression. It’s just there, and we have to sit with it and breathe it in and…feel it. We can’t really run from it. Because we’re aware now of what we were using the food, the alcohol, the cigarettes, or the drugs to do. To fill the void. And like I said before, once we’re aware, we can never become unaware again.
So here I am, feeling all the ups and all the downs. As my fellow Pennsylvania-born-but-moved-to-New-York-to-chase-opportunity friend Matthew says, our highs are higher here and our lows are lower here and that is what makes us more alive.
So here in Hawaii, I’m more alive than I’ve ever been.
But dude, it takes a little while to get used to.
For instance, I have to look in the mirror every day and accept that I haven’t lost any weight here. It seems that my body is holding on to all that it can because it’s probably terrified that I’ll go back to starving it tomorrow. I have to look in the mirror and feel the disappointment, the disgust, the anger at myself for destroying my body for so many years. Can’t run from those feelings.
I have to see men at breakfast that look like ex-boyfriends and accept that they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. I have to talk to them and sit with them and feel the hurt, the sadness, the memories that I thought I had erased long ago. Can’t run from those feelings.
And most of all, I have to accept that I cannot go back to New York at my current weight and book work.
That’s the most profound realization I’ve had to date.
Like, one of those wet face, sobbing, can’t breathe, rocking back and forth on a Hawaiian cliff realizations.
And I can’t run from it. I have to sit with it and breathe it in and…feel it.
With the talents that I possess, and what I am known for with the directors I’ve worked with, and the theatres I’ve worked at, I need to look like a completely different person to continue on my own career path. The career path that I’ve worked so hard to create.
I mean, what a devastating reality to face.
All this time I’ve been taking life by the reigns and steering my way out of this horrible disorder that’s run my life for years. And I’m living life and I’m getting laid and I’m taking yoga and I’m making people laugh and I’m tap dancing under the stars next to a bonfire and I’m not thinking about my next meal all the time.
And that’s so great and so baller and I wish that for everyone.
But I’m also, still, not good enough for the career that I’ve worked so hard to chisel my way into.
What the fuck am I supposed to do?
You know, it’s great that “strong is the new skinny” and “healthy is more important than the scale” but that doesn’t apply to all of us.
I’m not saying that women my weight don’t make it in the performing arts. But for what I do – for the dancing and character work and the abilities that I possess – my current body is not appropriate.
So amidst all of this “let’s change the world and sharing is caring” stuff that I’ve been writing to you, let me just vent one second here.
Because after all, I started this blog to talk about what no one was talking about. Eating disorders in the entertainment world.
I have been starving myself for a purpose for years. Okay? I have been skipping dinner for four days in a row for years so that I can go into a dance call looking skinny and then move on to binging all fucking weekend afterwards.
I get so frustrated here when people tell me that “this might just be your natural body weight” and “at least you are so strong” and “a body is just an encasing for the soul” and blah blah blah blah blah blah……..
They’re totally right. They’re totally right. Except…
All I can think is, “Yea! That is true for you! And that’s great! But that doesn’t apply to me! And a lot of other people in my business!”
It seems my body is sitting at this 165 pound weight right now and its just fucking SITTING there.
I haven’t lost ANY weight since I’m here.
I’ve been eating organic food and minimal meat, I haven’t binged, I barely drink, and I either dance or do yoga or work my tail off cleaning shit every day and my clothes fit exactly the same. My stomach still jiggles when I walk. My thighs are still cellulite-central.
I’m probably the healthiest I’ve been in eight years.
But still. What the fuck.
My mom thinks that my body is sort of holding on to all the weight because it doesn’t know what I’m going to do to it next. I’ve treated it so badly for so long that I think it’s so mad at me. So, so mad at me.
She’s right, I’m sure.
BUT IT STILL SUCKS.
Like, it still sucks. It SUCKS.
And I don’t know what will happen next. Which is confusing. Which is overwhelming. Which is hard to explain. All feelings that I feel here every day.
I’ve spent hours of my life submitting witty emails with my headshot and resume to directors I’ve auditioned for multiple times in order to get appointments so that I know how much time I have to lose the weight I put on last week. I’ve set up agent meetings in advance – enough time to go carb-free four days in a row so that I am thin enough to wear a slinky dress at Actor’s Connection.
And I’ve been waiting for years to be skinny to live my life.
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Ohhhhhhkay. Wait for it. That right there, that’s the key. Waiting for years to be skinny to live my life.
Breathe in. Breathe out. Slow down. That there. That’s the ticket.
Yea, basically that’s the ticket. I’m actually NOT going to wait to be skinny to live my life anymore. Sorry.
Because you know what? I can’t go home to my city and audition like this and book the work that I do best. But I’m not in my city right now. And I’m not auditioning right now. And I have time to figure out what I will do if I don’t lose any weight before I return. And I have time, to live my LIFE here in Hawaii.
So amidst all the very low lows, I will continue to enjoy the extreme highs.
Kissing under the stars.
Swimming naked at the pool in broad daylight.
Making music with brilliant, bold, ballsy people.
Uncontrollable laughter when Matthew and I are thinking something snarky at the same time over our gluten-free lasagna.
Hearing someone else’s story that is more horrifying than mine and seeing the smile on their face as they talk about overcoming larger obstacles in life than you and I could ever dream of.
Pure magic. Pure joy. Pure happy.
I’m living here.
I’m not dyin’ over here. There’s just a lot of FEELINGS happening.
So basically, it’s just…all happening.
My friend Joel says that this place is a great place to “introduce you to all your shit.”
What he means by that is, all the things you thought you let go of years ago – all the ex-boyfriends you thought you were over, all the issues you thought you had completely wiped away – have really just been tucked in a secret drawer all this time. And when you come to the big island of Hawaii to find peace and to love yourself, you have to open the secret drawer and let all that shit out, in order to find the key to the love and the peace.
And yea, it totally sucks.
Because I no longer smoke cigarettes or binge-eat to hide those feelings. I no longer have any sort of addiction to fill the void. I have to feel.
I have to feel.
But what I’ve learned is, the beauty of life and being alive is that we get to feel all these things.
Some of them are SOOOOOO HARD.
Pain. Sorrow. Grief. Loneliness. Inadequacy. Frustration. Anger.
So much anger at men from my past. Anger at myself for lying to myself, and people, all these years.
But I also get to feel joy. And unstoppable laughter. And overwhelming love. And courage. And I don’t know what the feeling is called for when you feel like a bad-ass – but that feeling too. I get to feel that TOO!
Yea, I’m living in paradise. Yea, I’m fucking living…in paradise.
But like Joel says, paradise is the place where you will be reunited with your shit.
So now what?
I don’t know you guys.
I just don’t know.
Well, that’s a lie.
I know some things.
I’ve learned some things, while living here in paradise.
I know that even on the darkest day – on the deepest, saddest day when I talk about my third date with Stallion where he gave me an Italian lesson and I laughed so hard I spit beer on the bar and how in love with him I was and how not in love with me he was, when I am crying and my heart literally hurts – that I still feel better sitting and feeling that feeling, than the feeling I used to feel after binging.
Because the binging would put that feeling off, and numb it for a bit.
But I’d still eventually feel it. And so in addition to the deep, dark, sad feeling, I was also fat, sick, and disgusted with myself for eating an entire order of Cinnastix and half a jar of peanut butter with a sleeve of Ritz Crackers.
This whole blog post is about the feelings that I used binging to hide and cover up, that are coming up NOW. It’s kind of a miracle. It IS something to be thankful for! Ten years of therapy in one month. And counting. Now, in Hawaii, the feelings are just chillin’ with me, and the ocean, and the sea turtles, and the fresh pineapple. Just coming up to the surface like the dolphins coming up for air.
And I’m so happy to tell you that I sort of feel, in a way, that every time an old feeling surfaces, that I, too, am coming up for air.
I think that the other day, on Secret Secret beach, with my friend Matthew, with the waves crashing around us while we sat in a tide pool made completely by lava…that I finally let Stallion go.
If you know anything about me, you’ll be nodding with tears in your eyes as much as I am nodding with tears in my eyes as I type this.
Jeez, I have goosebumps. Legit goosebumps.
I think I have finally let go of that man who made me laugh so hard, who had the sexiest smile, and who wasn’t emotionally available to be in a realationship with someone who loves as hard as I do. I think I have accepted that our time together was wonderful and he came along at a dark time in my life and he brought light into it for 8 months and it ran it’s course and I would never be in Hawaii had he not broken my heart and given me so much time alone to binge and hit rock bottom and finally reach out for help and be diagnosed and start living again.
I have allowed myself to feel the heartbreak and really accept it for what it is, and let it go.
I have goosebumps just thinking about the way I’ve finally been able to think through and process the way the Peruvian chef I dated in 2008 and 2009 treated me like an object. You know how I did that? There’s a volunteer here who looks, and sounds, exactly like the chef – who we shall call…The Little One. And when this volunteer was assigned to train with me in Housekeeping, I couldn’t even look at him. I didn’t want to answer his questions because I didn’t want to hear his fucking voice. I wanted to slap him across the face and go home from work that day. And when I brought it up to my English friend Robyn later that night at dinner, she laughed at me and said “yea, that’s the best thing that can happen to you here.” She’s laughing because she knows. Apparently that happens a lot here. Exes popping up in the form of someone else and you have to just fuckin’ deal with it. And I guess I’m dealing. This dude, this dude here who looks like The Little One, is so fucking sweet and quiet and asks me how I am every day. And it took my boss saying to me, “Amanda, you still have to work with him. He’s not your ex-boyfriend. I had the same thing happen to me when I first got here. And he was put here for you to be able to accept that you aren’t over that situation and it’s time to face whatever demon is still living in there.”
And it sucks so badddddddddd.
But she’s right. Everyone’s right. I’m being re-introduced to my shit and I’m feeling it. And then, after I feel it so intensely and sit with it and accept it, not only am I not hungry, but I feel a little lighter.
Sure, it would be nice if the scale would fucking REFLECT THAT, every now and then… But regardless, baby steps.
Babbbbby fucking steps.
Look, I don’t know what will happen with my career. I actually do not know if my body will ever reflect all the physical activity and healthy food I’m eating.
But I guess the thing I’m learning to focus on is loving what I have regardless of how it looks. The rolls, the cellulite, the flab, the jiggles. My humor, my grace, my courage, my humility.
At least I’m alive.
The beautiful thing is, I’ve only been here for a month. My return to New York is months away, maybe longer, and when the day comes to return, I’ll have to take it in stride and re-evaluate what I can do in this tough, tough industry that I strangely still love so much even though it’s put me through highs and lows that can’t be explained by words.
Because there might be days where I walked out of a 42nd Street call knowing that I was too big to book the job. But there’s also days when I performed for an entire audience of volunteers, at this weight, here in Hawaii, who cheered me on while I tap dance improv’d for my life. And the joy that comes along with moments like that, are enough to hold me over until I figure out where I fit into this business while still continuing to live a healthy life not controlled by addiction and disorder.
So yea, I still cry, you guys. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Hawaii or you’re in Antarctica – when you have a realization about a broken heart or an overwhelming obstacle in the career you love, you’re still gonna be heartbroken and your’e still gonna cry.
But I’ve also learned that being alive is such a gift. And I would never want to go back to the way things were. “Cuz I’m a free bitch, baby”, and I wouldn’t trade in any of the pain, or the sad memories, or the profound yet sometimes devastating realizations, for the world. I would rather feel shit for the rest of my life than ever use anything to numb it again.
So the only lesson I can offer you this week, is that it’s okay. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to really sit with it and breathe it in and…feel it.
And if you face the pain head on, and really feel it, instead of doing something to escape it, you’ll be the most alive you’ve ever been in all your years of living.
Me and all my friends
We’re all misunderstood
They say we stand for nothing and
There’s no way we ever could.
Now we see everything that’s going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don’t have the means
To rise above and beat it
So we keep waiting
Waiting on the world to change…
I feel like it’s that time in this blog’s journey to talk about changing the world.
Dude, I know. My mind is blown at my new attitude as much as yours is.
I mean, I know there are skeptics out here who have known me for years who absolutely think that I have gone off the deep end.
Me. Amanda. Volunteering. Sharing.
It’s truly shocking. I know, you guys.
But it’s gonna make everything better!
The whole world is gonna be better.
Because I’m going to share with you what’s happening here and maybe it will hit a nerve in you that starts a ripple effect.
My volunteering here is starting a ripple effect.
When I called my mother to tell her I got accepted into the volunteer program here in Hawaii, I think the thing she was most excited about was for me to learn how to clean a toilet. Actually, I don’t think that. I know that. She said, “Thank God. It’ll be good for you to learn how to scrub a toilet.”
I was like, “Hey! I’ve always been a pretty clean chick!”
…but like, not really. My shit is always everywhere, always, all the time.
So now, I’m in Hawaii. Volunteering in the housekeeping department. And I clean a LOT of things here.
I’ve learned so many things.
And yes, Mom, I’ve scrubbed a lot of toilets.
We had a code brown this week and I had the pleasure of flushing it.
I’ve been bitten by fire ants while scrubbing the sink. (Fire ants, man, they looooooooove fat. So when I’m bent over and scrubbing a sink, my protruding stomach is in the perfect place for them to attack. #blessed)
I’ve made many, many, many beds and I’ve deep-cleaned campground showers and I’ve sorted trash.
All the humbling things are happening here in paradise, my friends.
And I like, love it.
Basically, I put in 30 hours a week with the housekeeping department in exchange for all of my food, housing, utilities, water, toilet paper (huge plus!), sheets, pool, yoga, art shed, coffee, juice, nature, stars, moon, workshops, love, community, and tattooed eye candy.
I sort of thought when I got here that the volunteering thing would be the worst part of my week but if I could just get through it, like any other survival job, I would be able to enjoy the rest of my time here.
It turns out that the people I’ve met in the housekeeping department are people that I am definitely supposed to meet in this life. People who I am meant to talk to. Laugh with. Cry with. Learn from.
Some of my days when I am working in housekeeping are my best days here. I get to have amazing conversations with people while folding laundry. I get to see the entire property. I get to meet guests that I wouldn’t have otherwise met. And I get to make things go from dirty to clean.
Something I was never, ever into before.
What’s more awesome than that is, none of us in the entire department, half-ass our work.
It’s like, we could totally get away with not sweeping the floor sometimes. We could totally not change the sheets when we are supposed to. Technically, no one would know.
But when you figure out that by making a room beautiful for a guest who is arriving, that you get so much satisfaction, you just go balls to the wall and work really hard every moment of your daily shift.
Because if guests who come here are happy during their stay here, their happy energy will carry throughout the entire property.
And then they will leave here with that happy energy. Relaxed, rejuvenated, and satisfied.
And if they go back home to their corporate job that they were taking a break from with this newfound energy, and light, and peace, they might impact someone else to retreat for a week or two in Hawaii.
And then that person will come here and experience the freedom, and leave here and spread the love.
Without even thinking about it. Without even trying. It will just happen.
And so on, and so forth, until more and more people are taking time for themselves to experience the love.
So I’m learning that by making beds and by scrubbing showers here, my volunteering is causing a ripple effect.
Me. Just little old me.
I never thought that just one person could make an effect on humanity. But here, it happens every day.
Just look at the things that I pass on to all of you that I learned from my yoga teacher. He’s just one person. And he affected me. And I’ve shared them and affected you. And you will share them and affect your roommate. And your roommate will share them and affect his girlfriend. And his girlfriend will share them and affect her mom. And her mom will share them and affect her hairdresser. And all of a sudden my yoga teacher has reached your roommate’s girlfriend’s mom’s hairdresser and she’s doing yoga with hair-dye stained fingers.
Dude, like, we can change the world. I did not know. And I think I’m on to something here with this whole volunteering thing.
This whole concept of volunteering – what is it really?
I’ve always considered volunteering the kind of thing where I donate my time to a friend’s play reading. Or when I choreograph for a web series (for free). Or when I sing backup harmonies on a demo (for free). All these things are “volunteering time” to someone’s project.
I sort of considered this my way of fulfilling the “volunteering and being good category”. You know, the category that consists of things like “donate my fat clothes to Goodwill” and “actually pay for my Broadway Bares ticket”.
I think a lot of us think that way.
I am not here to tell you that we are wrong in thinking that way.
But when you really come down to it, we are volunteering our time in hopes of it coming to fruition in some way, shape, or form. I don’t mind donating my voice to a demo if that demo will be heard by thousands of people. I don’t mind choreographing for a friend’s new musical if there will be producers at the showing of it. I don’t mind volunteering if there is a chance of getting something out of it.
Believe it or not, there are people in the world who also volunteer just to serve the greater good.
And I think maybe, if each of us starts to think just a little bit about adding that sort of volunteering into our daily life, little baby shifts in humanity could happen.
There’s these two different “categories” of volunteering it seems. The “good” – like volunteering at the soup kitchen – and the “selfish” – like when you clean yoga studio floors in exchange for yoga classes.
I don’t think that those labels are worth a damn.
Doing good is doing good. END OF STORY. I just think it would be nice if we all had a little bit of each “category” in our lives.
When I got here, I was under the impression I would work my 30 hours a week in housekeeping and in exhange I would get my food and my loft and my electric and I would spend the rest of my days laying at the pool or climbing lava and that would be that.
But then I found out I can offer dance classes. And volunteer to help plan trips. And volunteer to help organize the the art shed. I even volunteer to help people clean gecko poop off of the floor of their A-frame hut. Just to help out. I guess this falls under that “just volunteering but not necessarily getting anything out of it” category, even though all these things benefit the entire community.
On top of that, I found out that I can volunteer to feed and brush the Icelandic horses on property. Horses remind me of my childhood. The smell of them reminds me of my weekends at my aunt and uncle’s property when I went for trail rides with them at the age of 8. So I volunteer to feed them every Tuesday and brush them whenever I want throughout the week as well. I certainly get something out of it – I truly enjoy it. And so maybe it’s under the “selfish volunteering” category. But I mean, what the hell? Who cares? I’m happy, the horses are happy, everyone’s happy.
So, here I am. Finding out that just volunteering for all the things has brought me joy. And I know that when I feel joy, it definitely spreads. I laugh more, I smile more, and I know that my joy has an affect on those around me.
The gift of volunteering keeps on giving.
SERIOUSLY THOUGH, WHO AM I????????
I’ve never been a woman of service. But better late than never I say. Because it’s the start of me putting good, good, good energy out in the world.
This whole volunteering situation leads to more opportunities to spread love. Somehow, without people even knowing that I have a blog here, people that have had issues with addictions and food have naturally found me and we’ve had deep conversations about the void that we are filling with whatever we have been addicted to all of these years. I have been able to spread the knowledge that I have gained in the past few weeks with these people who have been unaware of what their addiction might be stemming from.
Instead of the competition of “whose story is worse”, here, we just have conversations and find solace in the fact that we are not alone in our journeys.
Sort of like this blog.
Finding solace and having a conversation about real shit.
Volunteering your time to the art of conversation is a huge act of kindness too. Don’t underestimate it.
There needs to be more conversation.
Volunteer your time to listen to people when they find you because they need to talk.
Volunteering your attention and energy to a conversation is just as important as the charity work. Because it can change someone’s perspective. And amazing things can come from that.
You, too, can be a part of the ripple affect.
Let me give you an example.
I had this incredible conversation here with a man named Lino.
He overheard me saying that I was from NYC and he told me how he lived there for a bit. He’s a resident here who sometimes holds meditation workshops but he’s not around as much as some of the other instructors. Some volunteers here have never even met him. For some reason, our paths happened to cross. He asked me what I do in New York and although I had kept it from most people because I didn’t want all the questions of “what’s that like” or “will you sing for us pleeeeeease?”, I felt that it was okay to share with this man.
He went to the default question when I told him I was a performer and a dancer. “Oh, are you gonna do something here for open mic?!”
I went to my default answer. “Oh, probably not, I’d rather just enjoy everyone else. I don’t want to be defined as the musical theatre girl here. I really am, like, just, like, trying to take a break right now.”
He cocked his head and scrunched up his face a little in confusion. He said gently, “No one here will ever define you by what you did in the past. Most of the time, people forget about five minutes after you tell them. You’re here now. That was the past. You can be whoever you want to be here.”
I brushed him off. He was saying such a profound thing that wasn’t sinking in yet. I argued, “Yea, but like, I just don’t want to indulge in performance right now. It feels selfish. I’m used to auditioning and spending my time performing for the sake of promotion. Or to meet an agent. It’s a very self-involved career that I’m in.”
His face softened and he smiled at me with the most beautiful, kind eyes you’ve ever seen.
He said to me, “Amanda, you don’t have to perform here. You don’t have to put on a show for us. But it is okay to share your art with us. Art is meant to be shared. Art is changing the world every day. Please share your art with us.”
And my entire perspective changed.
Amazing things have come from that change in perspective.
Now, I hold these jam sessions at the Field of Dreams – which is this wonderful set-up they have here, away from all the guest rooms and volunteer housing so that we can make music and make noise and see the stars and just be – and people come and dance, and drum, and sing, and hum, and play guitar, and I bring my tap shoes and we just make music and movement happen.
I basically just went to the volunteer office and asked to reserve it a few nights a week and it’s become this magical thing. This magical thing. I can’t even tell you how magical it is.
I’ve seen people come completely out of their shell. I’ve seen people try things they’ve never done before. I’ve heard endless laughter that echoes way beyond the Field of Dreams.
And it all comes from this place of wanting to share. It’s not to promote myself. It’s not to network. It’s not to show off. It’s just this place of wanting to be a part of music and art and dance and love and magic and I want to help faciliate it.
For the first time in my life, I am doing things for the goodness of the group, instead of for recognition.
I am dancing to dance. Not to get a choreographer to notice me.
I am harmonizing to make music. Not to prove that I am a dancer who also sings.
I am facilitating the jam session to fuckin’ jam. Not to be praised for holding something great.
And I gotta get the word out so that y’all start facilitating shit too.
Share your art. Share your knowledge. Share your shit.
If you know how to do yoga, and you see a friend in desperate need of peace, gently offer to show them some simple poses that will help break them in.
If you know how to play the guitar, and your friend bought a guitar but is too overwhelmed by finding a teacher, offer to show them some chords.
And do it for free.
Volunteer your time for the greater good.
Look, I know NYC is expensive. Basically, the world is expensive. But donating an hour of your time to someone different every week is not gonna break the bank. I promise.
We can change people’s outlook by offering to share what we know.
As a community, as the performing/auditioning/Broadway community, share. Just for the sake of sharing.
And if you are an extended part of the community that I speak of, which is all of you who read this blog who went to high school with me, or who met me bartending, or who don’t know me but read about it by a friend of a friend who shared it on facebook, you’re not off the hook.
You gotta share too.
Everyone knows something.
Do you know how to knit? Do you know how to eat a pomegranate? Do you know how to dye hair? Do you know how to yodel? Do you speak Mandarin? Do you do energy work? Do you know how to use a SodaStream? Do you know how to make homemade laundry detergent?
Share that shit.
Or, trade it off. We also do a lot of trades here. It’s…awesome.
“If you teach me ukelele, I’ll give you a massage.” (We have a ton of massage therapists here who are licensed in other states but can’t be employed by the state of Hawaii until they are licensed HERE so they are very willing to share their gift.)
“If you teach me some French, I’ll teach you how to make vegan cheese.”
“If you shave the right side of my head, I will teach you how to paint your leather tap shoes.”
Or my favorite, the ones that aren’t really trades as much as they are explorations together.
“Hey, if I reserve the Blue Moon room tonight, do you want to go try to tango?”
“Hey, if I get us t-shirts, do you want to learn how sew them into cool tank tops?”
Like just share your knowledge with people. Or ask someone to try something new with you.
Your artistic or intellectual gift could be just the spark that someone else needs to change their whole life. Their entire perspective. You can help someone become less overwhelmed with something that they’ve been wanting to try. Something that might end up meaning the world to them.
Meaning their life will improve. Meaning they will find happiness. Meaning that they might impact another person with their happiness. Which means that you helped inspire more than just one person.
WE CAN CHANGE THE WORLD PEOPLE.
WE CAN WE CAN WE CAN WE CAN WE CAN WE CAN WE CAN WE CAN WE CAN WE CAN WE CAN WE CAN WE CAN!
Sigh. Life is good.
I know it might seem like I wrote this blog post while completely stoned. But I’m stone cold sober and I just had chocolate vegan pancakes for breakfast actually. So I wasn’t high. I think I’m just slowly calming the fuck down. And realizing that spreading good shit around could help everyone, a lot.
We’re gonna be okay.
It’s all gonna be okay.