Be Like Mike

PastedGraphic-7

When I was a young girl I was OBSESSED with Michael Jordan. I had a life size poster of him at the end of my hall that I would kiss every time I passed by. I swooned like one of the screaming, crying girls you see in the Beatles documentaries any time he came on TV. Sure, I thought he was gorgeous with a dashing smile and a strong, chiseled body that could soar above the rim, but looking back, I recently realized the real root of my obsession. HE WAS THE BEST.

Michael Jordan was sexy because he was the best basketball player on the planet. Period. Talent is sexy. But talent mixed with passion and dedication is irresistible. I still remember exactly where I was when I found out he was getting a divorce from his wife. I was sitting in a cab going northbound on 2nd Ave. at 29th St. in New York City when it was announced on the news. For a moment, I was flooded with exhilaration and hope that perhaps, one day, the now single Michael Jordan would meet me and requite my mad, passionate love for him. But upon further investigation, I discovered that Mrs. Jordan was leaving him because he had cheated on her. (Insert abrupt record scratch). In the blink of an eye, my world came crashing down and I learned that my knight in a shining Bulls uniform was not the perfect man I had fantasized him to be. Uh, in two blinks actually. I did have the thought, “Well, Juanita must not have been the best wife to him, so maybe we are meant to be after all!” But then I shook that thought out of my no longer naive little head and realized my hero had turned out to be a pig.

The point of this story is not that all men are pigs. The truth is I don’t know for a fact what #23 did in his free time on the road. Nor do I have the right to judge anybody’s decisions but my own. The actual point of this lil’ anecdote is that I often regret not being the best at anything. I was great at a lot of things, but never the best. I was a great soccer player, great snowboarder, great student, great annoyer of my older brother, and a great driver, to name a few. Any of you men out there saying “pfft, yeah right” to themselves about that last one, remind me to tell you about the time I smoked Tobey Maguire and Leo DiCaprio driving official Nascar race cars on the Texas Motor Speedway.

To be the best at anything, I believe it not only requires God-given talent and relentless hard work, but also single-minded focus. MJ was all basketball. I mean, he dabbled in baseball, but we all know how that turned out. Meryl is all acting, Muhammed Ali all fight, Einstein all science, Shakespeare all pen. You get the picture. So did I do myself a disservice by having too many interests? I got into UC Berkeley because of my “well-roundedness” so that’s saying something, right? I got to experience a wide spectrum of fun and developed a laundry list of skills that I can pull from at any time. But I am still super competitive and I want to be the best, dammit! So the regret is still there. Why didn’t I only focus on soccer and skip all the other sports? Surely I would’ve gotten a scholarship to Stanford, been on the US national team, and had a few gold medals by now! Why didn’t I only focus on acting as a child? Surely I would have an Oscar by now! Instead, I just have a colorful array of memories and some less than stellar performances in movies you’ve probably never heard of. And look at Leo! He does have God-given talent, single-minded focus, and years of hard work behind him and yet, that much deserved Best Actor Oscar still eludes him. So whats the key?

The truth is not everyone can be like Mike. None of us know the destiny of this lifetime, so all we can do is strive to be the best version of ourselves. A little golden statue or a championship ring are noble goals to shoot for, but only we can be the true judge of our best self. So how do we break through the conditioning and the fear that holds us back from our highest potential? Over the last 15 years I have been trying to figure out exactly that. So often we find ourselves doing what society says we should be doing, or not following our dreams because someone along the way made us feel like we weren’t good enough to achieve them. I have read countless books trying to understand how the human mind works, what the meaning of life is, how the laws of the universe work, and what the hell my purpose is. Ive made tons of mistakes, spent years paralyzed by fear, learned about different spiritual traditions, tried on different “purposes”, loved deeply, hurt deeply, played small, manifested big, thought I knew everything, realized I knew nothing and attempted to please everyone along the way. Woooo, it was exhausting. And even though I feel more authentic and clear about who I am than ever before, I know I will be learning, growing, and shifting until the day I die.

We don’t have to be the best AT anything to be significant and sexy. We all have inherent value and unique gifts, and we all play a powerful part in the miraculous unfolding of this life. Michael Jordan wouldn’t be the best without you and me sitting in the stands cheering him on. Meryl wouldn’t be the best without the director, cinematographer, editor, and the audience to play for. We are the stars of our own lives and the support team for others. To me, a big part of the purpose of life is to find out what makes you happy and to generate JOY. Joy feels good. And when you feel good, people around you feel good. Crossing over Joe Dumars, flying through the air with his tongue out, and dunking on Hakeem Olajuwon’s head made Jordan feel real good. And when you feel real good, doing what you love, others find you sexy. So follow your heart, find your joy, stay focused on what you desire no matter what anyone else might think, and be the best version of unique, magnificent, sexy YOU.

girls rule

IMG_9876

I used to pride myself in being just one of the guys. I was one of three girls playing AYSO soccer at the age of 5; I played on an all boys tee-ball team when I was 8; could throw a spiral by the age of 10; started surfing and skateboarding at 14; snowboarding at 15; and throwing caps with the best of them my junior year in high school (sorry mom). Boys were cooler, less dramatic, and more attractive. My theory was confirmed when I went away to Berkeley and joined Pi Beta Phi. I justified the decision at the time because the girls in the house were the coolest, least dramatic and most grounded on sorority row. Or so I thought. After a year of living in a house of hormones, I was done. Not that these girls weren’t (and aren’t still) awesome and brilliant, but maybe I just wasn’t use to fast female connection. My girlfriend-ships at home had taken years to cultivate and this one-year-insta-bestie-click program just didn’t work for me. Plus the eating disorders and catty gossip were enough to drive any tomboy crazy. I don’t mean to seem insensitive to eating disorders, as I know they are a very serious epidemic in our society, but as a pre-Britney Spears era tomboy, I could not yet relate.

Did I mention I love sports? I have always played sports and love me a lil healthy competition. I spent half of my 20s dating a gambler. On any given Sunday, you would find us posted up in a sports bar with his picks and parlays displayed in front of us on his trusty yellow legal pad. Because our livelihood often depended on whether a team went for it on 4th and 1, I found myself paying very close attention. I learned the ins and outs of football and loved the thrill a little bet brought to every game.

At the age of 26 I broke up with the gambler (which is a whole ‘nother crazy blog post about chemistry and addiction for a different day) and moved back to LA to pursue my dream of acting. Many of the girls I found myself sitting next to in various acting classes/audition rooms tended to be (in my judgmental eyes) hugely insecure and annoyingly self absorbed. So, I continued to float in my comfort zone with the guys and a few best girlfriends, most of whom I had known since elementary school. That is, up until last December. I woke up one chilly winter morning and realized my soul was craving authentic expression and space to just be. And by “being” I meant creating something on my own terms. Not a casting director’s or screenwriter’s. So upon the recommendation of a very powerful life coach (Andrea Quinn) I signed up for Linda Sivertsen’s BookMama writers retreat in Carmel. Was I a writer? Not officially, but I had always loved storytelling and maybe I would be inspired to write something overlooking the ocean from our cabin in the woods. I just needed to carve out some “me time”, and if paying a hefty price to ensure I did so was the answer, than so be it.

That hefty price turned out to be worth its weight in gold. What happened that week in Carmel was simply profound. My whole perspective shifted when I realized how powerful women can be when they come together to support each other in purpose and creativity. I had been missing out on this delicious field of energy that inspires, supports, encourages and loves! We laughed, we cried, and we listened as each of us shed our masks and expressed our deepest fears and desires. We were total strangers from all over the globe, yet we felt extremely connected because of nothing more than the fact that we were all women seeking authentic creative expression. It was awesome.

I still love dudes. I am with an amazing one right now and hope to be for many years to come. I still love watching and betting on football. But I now look at the women in my life as my soul sisters. I see the beauty, courage, and brilliance in every woman I meet. I relate and connect rather than judge from afar. And I’ve learned that as much as I love my man, I still need my close girlfriends to laugh and cry with, and lovingly push each other to become our most powerful, authentic selves. I finally learned what men have known for centuries. Girls rule.