The Connecting Project: 16 Days of People Doing Interesting Things

UntitledJust in case you didn’t get the memo, there’s 10 days till Christmas and 16 until the end of the year. Egads!

This has been such a great year for me in terms of giving back and all the cool stuff that people are doing. I learned about new platforms of giving as well as wonderful organizations that are doing some terrific work. So I decided that starting today until the end of the year, I am going to share information about organizations that my friends are connected to in order to bring awareness to their causes. I am also going to share some of their projects that may be of interest to you.
First up is ME! My personal charities are the National Multiple Sclerosis Foundation for which I am participating in the Climb for the Cause and God’s Love We Deliver for which I have been volunteering. I will be climbing 66 flights of stairs in Rockefeller Center in March. If you would like to join my team or would like to support the cause, I’d love you on board. You can read my story on The Good News Project called Following My Dreams Through the Valley of the Shadow of MS.
I have also been delivering food for God’s Love We Deliver. It just happened to be the worst days we have experienced weather wise here in New York City. However, how lucky am I to be able to walk and be of service when others are sick and home bound. That’s what I kept fresh in my mind when I was knocking on doors and chatting with these wonderful people.
Happy Holidays!

Stop! Go! Wait!

Picture courtesy of Rob Zukowski
Picture courtesy of Rob Zukowski

Mixed signals are very difficult to process  if you are the one receiving them. It paralyzes because you don’t know how to react, respond. The synapses stop firing and you’re a deer in headlights. You get frustrated and freak out or you completely shut down (please replace you with I).

I don’t have the exact answer for dealing with a difficult situation.  However, I have found some techniques which have helped me. Hopefully, they will help you too. After all, why keep all of life’s secrets.
I find that one of the ways that has helped me in this area is by taking care of myself for a few hours. That means shutting the world out. I usually have one day that’s dedicated to my spiritual practice. That sets the tone for the week.  I write, watch Super Soul Sunday, nap, hang with my cat.
I also have a health regimen which includes visits to the chiropractor, physical therapist and most recently,  an acupuncturist. Those visits help my MS and back pain. It also forces me to be still for a period of time. Time to reflect and sometimes even nap.
I also have a hobby that, believe it or not,  is not theater. Besides writing this blog, I also write poetry. That has been a really amazing outlet. These days my poems have been New York City inspired.  I walk through the city with a different pair of glasses.
The Artists’ Way is a great book to read if you are experiencing a block.  I started to doing the work in it which includes stream of consciousness writing every morning and going on an artist date (see above). I also read one inspirational passage from a book or site.
I try a few times a day to meditate. It’s not sitting cross-legged- fingers- touching- chanting- ohm mediation. Though I have done that. It’s usually just taking a pause and be aware of the present moment.
These practices help me not go off the deep end or into Crazy Town. They help me to listen and to respond in a normal manner. And when none of those work, I just rant for x minutes and try my best to move forward.

Queen of Denial

The Lance Armstrong interview with Oprah has been on Dszpics1my mind since I watched it in its entirety on Friday night. A great character study for an actor. Armstrong’s mannerisms and physicalities said more than the stuttered and staggered words that fell from his lips. The one word that kept replaying in my mind is denial.

Denial is tough place to live. One lives in a constant lie and the manufacturing of those “truths” becomes difficult and exhausting to maintain.  You become defensive, sensitive to criticism,  secretive. You change your habits and routines. You become cranky, irritable, agitated. The psychological manifests to the physical.  You are in the funnel.  You can’t escape the tornado.

When I was first diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis six years ago, I was in complete denial. I refused to accept my diagnosis and chose unhealthy avenues to deal with it. I didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t talk about it. It was as if it wasn’t happening to me at all. As a result of my choice to neglect my condition, I started to feel emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. My body felt like it was falling apart. I was in complete despair. Watching Lance’s depositions where he was lying triggered some of the same feelings I went through at that time. Granted I was not in the Tour de France but I was on my own personal journey. Once I conceded to the truth and finally let go, I  clearly addressed and accepted my condition.

Acceptance means a few things to me: to stop fighting the truth; to not get in my way to manipulate; and to really just let it be.

I hope that Lance can find that acceptance and not let his ego get the best of him. He helped many cancer survivors and is a role model. It’s sad that his whole career is tarnished due to an act in which he denied. But who am I to judge. I proudly donned my crown as queen of Denial.

Specificity (or What I Have Learned from My Infusions)

I learned this term about 5 months ago when I was sitting with my consultant, Michael Roderick. Simply, he is a problem solver who also produces and loves theater as much as I do.  We were discussing about a certain frustration I was feeling. I felt pretty lost and not sure what to do. In this instance, it was regarding theater. Writers have writers block. Producers and directors go through the same thing. And then we are upset that we are stuck or burnt out because we have created in our heads that we are lucky to create. It’s a vicious cycle. Anyway, what I realized is that I have been really lacking some specificity. For example, I want to do everything in addition to my very specific goals. I soon found out weren’t very specific. 

I began my steroid infusions this week to maintain the flair ups of my Multiple Sclerosis. I got really lucky as all my appointments are at 8:00am. That means I have about an hour or so to sit, infuse and reflect. I realized that I should really start being more speficific in all aspects of my life. I have moments when I am all over the place wanting to accomplish everything but at times still feeling unfulfilled. This diagnosis has helped me step back and look at all I have done and what I want to do. For example, deciding which area of theater best serves me and what will be the next big goal; how can I continue to be of service  others to the best of my abililties; what seemed impossible or a dream is slowly becoming a gift which I am truly enjoying.

Being unspecific doesn’t mean one can’t find one’s self but rather narrowing down what speaks to you the most. What do you find yourself always going back to that causes you to light up? What makes you smile? What tugs at your heart and soul?

I am in an enlightened mindset this week. I have so been enjoying the early morning me time while I begin to feel better. I guess this diagnosis is a gift.  I need to look it that way right now…then cry about it later…and contiinue on.

Grace with a Splash of Sass

“Grace is not a do-it-yourself project.” What a great quote from an email I received first thing this morning.  I have been thinking a lot about grace as of late.  I have also been thinking about support. I really love both definitions. Grace is  ease and suppleness of movement or bearing  and support is to keep from fainting, yielding, or losing courage.

Isn’t that just so good?! I have to say that I have a support system, near and far, that keep me from losing courage. Or rather WON’T let me. This past week I was rediagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Being diagnosed a second time came with a flood of emotions. Yet, I chose to accept the news with grace and a plan. I know that this wouldn’t have been possible if I did not have an amazing circle of supporters. Whether it was my mother-in-law on the phone while I was at the doctor’s office, my family and friends rooting for me or my doctors explaining how this is not a death sentence, the support was in the tools that they all were offering me.

It is difficult to be graceful all the time especially since I am broad with tons of sass. It’s part of my charm. However, I have found a lot of humility in choosing to be zen and in the present moment. It is also easy to confuse support with reliance. I thought for a long time that I had to have a reliable group of people to catch me. I need to catch myself. It’s the only way I can keep my eye on the ball. 

So, really, this blog is a thank you to all my readers who send tons of love, support and remind me to be graceful.

My Name is Malini and I am a Workaholic

How Do I Know if I’m a Workaholic?

  1. Do you get more excited about your work than about family or anything else? Sometimes, yes.
  2. Are there times when you can charge through your work and other times when you can’t? Absolutely.
  3. Do you take work with you to bed? On weekends? On vacation? I have on many occasions.
  4. Is work the activity you like to do best and talk about most? Yes. And I know it sometimes annoys people.
  5. Do you work more than 40 hours a week? Yes.
  6. Do you turn your hobbies into money-making ventures? *sigh* Yes.
  7. Do you take complete responsibility for the outcome of your work efforts? Always.
  8. Have your family or friends given up expecting you on time? I tend to be a prompt person.
  9. Do you take on extra work because you are concerned that it won’t otherwise get done? Yup.
  10. Do you underestimate how long a project will take and then rush to complete it? At times.
  11. Do you believe that it is okay to work long hours if you love what you are doing? Of course, why wouldn’t you.
  12. Do you get impatient with people who have other priorities besides work? Grrr. YES! 😦
  13. Are you afraid that if you don’t work hard you will lose your job or be a failure? I have finally moved forward from that fear.
  14. Is the future a constant worry for you even when things are going very well? Worry was a best friend. We’re now acquaintances.
  15. Do you do things energetically and competitively including play? I am getting better about that.
  16. Do you get irritated when people ask you to stop doing your work in order to do something else? All the effing time.
  17. Have your long hours hurt your family or other relationships? It did.
  18. Do you think about your work while driving, falling asleep or when others are talking? Sometimes.
  19. Do you work or read during meals? No but only because I love to eat.
  20. Do you believe that more money will solve the other problems in your life? Not any more.

If you answer “yes” to three or more of these questions you may be a workaholic. Relax. You are not alone.

Well, thank goodness I’m not alone. I thought this was a normal way of life. As I wait for the next phase of my diagnosis, I have been doing some writing. And you know what I learned about myself? That I have a busy schedule. I knew that I did but I didn’t really KNOW or want to ACCEPT. The first step is knowing. I did a google search of workaholics and the Workaholics Anonymous link came up. I truthfully answered the questions and read some of their literature. Interesting stuff. I was told I have to slow down and reevaluate my schedule.  I also did a comparison of this year and 2006 (the year of my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis). There were a ton of similarities and a difference. The difference being that I don’t party like I did but the crazy schedule remains the same. I have lots to think about and some changes to make without compromising my dreams and passions. As I have blogged, I know what I want but I know that I don’t want to hurt myself in the process. What fun would that be? To finally achieve everything I dreamed but not be able to enjoy any of it. One day at a time, folks.

So keep me in your thoughts tomorrow morning 🙂 Everything will be the way it is supposed to be. And if you think you may be a workaholic, visit www.workaholic-anonymous.org. Great site. I highly recommend it.

This is Spinal Tap

“Your sister was such a trooper!”

That’s what the nurses said to my sisters after my short stint at the doctor’s office on Friday. And you know what? I was a trooper.

I had a lumbar puncture (aka a spinal tap) on Friday in order to fully diagnose whether or not I have Multiple Sclerosis. I could have gone into the procedure with trepidation, fear, worry, anxiety and dread. However, I decided that I would not do that. Besides my father and sisters going on the field trip with me, I also received a ton of love via text, email and calls. That made a difference. I also let go of the outcome. I stayed in the present and was  jovial.  I made the environment comfortable for everyone involved.I laughed and chatted with the staff. In doing that, the procedure went by fast, the recovery was easy going and I got to spend time in silence and with my family.

In the past, I would have created negative and anxious pomp and circumstance. In retrospect, that kind of manufactured drama was unneccessary but I am so glad I experienced it. Simply, I now have a comparison and contrast on how to deal with situations. It is never easy to deal with a diagnosis or misdiagnosis or non-diagnosis. However, how you decide to approach it rather than automatically react to it,  makes the difference.

I watched The Secret a few months ago and there was a segment on a woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer. One of the ways she healed herself was through constant positive energy and laughter. Her cancer disappeared at the time of the taping. I kept thinking about that on Friday. I will continue my affirmations, continue to laugh, continue to  be grateful. 

After spending the rest of the day with my family, I went home and surfed Netflix.

Yep, I watched This is Spinal Tap.

For Ian: “Stonehenge, where the demons lie.”