It’s an early evening in late April in Los Angeles. I’ve been running in La Cienega Park, around and around that dusty dirt track, spurred on by pop music pulsating through my ear buds and the excitement of a little league baseball game nearby. The sounds that echo through the spring evening – the crack of the bat smacking the baseball and launching it into the outfield, children’s voices cheering, parents clapping – give me an extra spark of energy to keep going, to keep running, to keep pushing my body forward.


I finish my last lap and leave the track. Tired and sweaty, I run across Olympic Boulevard and turn down Alfred Street, slowing to a jog and then to a fast walk as I enter one of my favorite enclaves in this historic South Carthay neighborhood. iTunes skips to the next song – The Lady is a Tramp – and suddenly everything slows down. As Sinatra croons into my ear buds, I take in the soft blue watercolor sky melting into pale yellow, the amber rays of the waning sun casting their golden glow across the tiled rooftops of stately Spanish style homes, the statuesque palms, the immaculate gardens carefully landscaped with delicately blooming roses and cactus flowers. I feel my steps getting easier, almost as though I’m gliding down the sidewalk, and the air rises in my chest and catches somewhere near the back of my throat in a sharp tingle. Water springs to my eyes and though I don’t cry, I am overwhelmed with emotion as I realize that everything in this moment is perfect. It’s as though I’ve been transported back to a Los Angeles of 60 or 70 years ago, frozen in time, nestled away on this perfect street, at the perfect time of day, with the perfect song creating my soundtrack.

I want to hold on to this moment – and how I feel in it – forever, but even as I’m aware of it, I know it’s almost gone. I think about my Dad. There’s a word he would have used to describe this type of evening: halcyon. It means peaceful, tranquil, carefree. In this one moment, I am all of those things. And I’m also grateful: grateful for the memory of a word that comes to me like magic at a moment when time seems to stand still.


And just like that, traffic starts buzzing down the street, the sky grows darker as early evening inches toward night, and the moment is gone. And I head home.

For most of my life, I’ve been moving too fast to notice moments like these. Always in a hurry to get to the next big thing. Ever looking forward to the next exciting date on my calendar, the next time I’d get on a plane to travel somewhere new, the next creative project on the horizon, the next vacation or holiday. Ever looking forward as I skipped over all the “boring” day-to-day moments in the process.

And then when my life started to unravel and people I loved started getting sick and dying, all I wanted was to be on the other side of it. I wanted so badly for things to be the way they used to be, to feel “normal” again, that I threw myself at life as hard as I could. I pushed myself to “get through it” by working hard and setting ambitious goals. My intentions were good – realizing how short and precious life was, I was driven by an internal fire to make the most of it – but my efforts were futile. I learned the hard way that life unfolds as it will, despite my stubborn refusal to accept what it had in store for me, and despite all of my best laid plans.


I’m a control freak by nature, and learning to let go has been difficult for me. But little by little, I’m getting there. I’ve started paying closer attention to the here and now, and I’ve become more comfortable living there. And I’ve started realizing the truth in these words from Julia Cameron’s beautiful book “The Artist’s Way:”

It may be different for others, but pain is what it took to teach me to pay attention. In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past too painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to right now. The precise moment I was in was always the only safe place for me. Each moment, taken alone, was always bearable. In the exact now, we are all, always, all right.

I am no longer in a place where the future is too terrifying to contemplate, and the past, while painful, is getting easier for me to remember. Yet it is still the present moment, most of the time, where I feel most OK. There’s a freedom that comes from not trying so hard, from not pushing so desperately to make my life conform to some idea of what I thought it was supposed to be, and instead, to let it be what it is. I still crave adventure and travel to far-flung locales. I still aim my arrow toward the challenge of tackling the loftiest goals. I still want the big moments in life, with all of their excitement and (sometimes) heartbreak. But in between all of those things, there are many, many smaller things: the small moments that make up a day, and that make up a life. Moments like catching the perfect sunset at the perfect time of day in the perfect place to witness it.

Those little moments are worth holding on to. Those little moments – for the moment – are where my happiness resides.

Until next time, friends.



The Cottage on Cashio Street.

As the late afternoon sun descends, its rays catch the side of my face – warm, but not too hot. Directly in front of me, a lone, impossibly tall palm tree ascends up, up, up into the cloudless blue sky, stoic and proud, as though she were keeping watch over the entire neighborhood. The same gentle breeze that blows through my hair causes the palm fronds to rustle softly and rhythmically, the music of the trees joining the chirping of tiny birds and the occasional melody of a far-off police siren as this lazy late afternoon slides into evening.

Palm Tree

As I sit on one turquoise mesh folding chair, my feet propped up on a second turquoise mesh folding chair, legs extended, gazing out from a white stucco patio framed by an impeccably-manicured hedge blossoming with pink and yellow flowers, I’m willing to admit that the view from here looks pretty good.

It wasn’t always this way. In fact, for much of the year that I’ve lived in this one bedroom cottage bungalow with its near-perfect patio, I didn’t enjoy or embrace my life here. I didn’t relax and I didn’t settle in. But now, as my second spring begins to unfold on Cashio Street, I find myself inching ever closer to something that resembles happiness. It’s a feeling that’s been foreign to me for so long, I’m not quite sure what to do with it. It’s a feeling that, if I’m honest, scares me a little. What if it’s not real? What if it goes away?

When I first moved to the cottage on Cashio Street, it was to seek refuge. My marriage was toxic, my life was a mess, and I was reeling from an overwhelming grief that I hadn’t been able to fully process or accept. I needed to start over. I moved in with some friends, temporarily, until I figured out what to do next. And then it happened: with almost zero effort on my part, this beautiful little bungalow materialized. It fell into my lap so seamlessly, it was almost as if fate had stepped in on my behalf.


At first, the sudden change was exhilarating. Both my home and my life were a blank slate, to be redecorated and refashioned in whatever way I saw fit. I had a new neighborhood to discover and a new life to explore.

But after the novelty wore off, reality set in. I was isolated, living far away from most of my friends in a city where perpetual traffic jams mean that even a separation of a few miles can present a serious impediment to regular social gatherings. The more time I spent alone with myself, the more I realized that I no longer knew who I was. My marriage had defined not only my relationship status, but many of my friendships and associations – both personally and professionally – as well. I felt adrift, homesick, and unsure of where to turn. I missed the places and faces of my past life and wanted to retreat back to the familiar and the known.

But I couldn’t. And I didn’t. Gradually, I began to seek out new ways to fill the empty spaces left in my life by the absence of so many people and things. I used this blog as a tool to write my way through sadness and loss and the changes I felt unfolding within me. Through my writing, I met a community of other writers, both online and in real life. A few months after my move, I went on a writer’s retreat in the San Juan Islands in my home state of Washington and was amazed to find that there were so many other people out there just like me: people who were brave yet broken, people who had profound stories to tell, people who found their solace within the safety of the written word.


The void still gnawing at my insides, I kept going. Along with a close circle of friends, I started a weekly creative workshop for fellow actors and writers. I reconnected with a college friend, joined her theatre company, and began rehearsals for an autobiographical solo performance show that will open this upcoming summer. I became a volunteer for an organization that works to empower teenage girls in L.A.’s underserved communities and I’m now a mentor to a fourteen-year-old girl who has plans to finish her first novel before she graduates from high school. Once again, I picked up an oft-abandoned screenplay loosely (or maybe not so loosely) based on the worst year of my life, but this time with a renewed sense of commitment and enthusiasm. I’m almost done with the first draft, and I’m planning to hold my first table read next month.  And I’m finally – finally – in counseling with a good therapist.

I certainly don’t have it all figured out. I am a work in progress. Change is scary and it’s difficult, and some days are easier than others. But through stubbornness and persistence, I’m starting to find a way out of the darkness. I’m starting to find that this new, ever-evolving me is someone I actually enjoy spending time with. And I’m starting to recognize that caught as I am between impatiently pushing for a “better,” happier future and brooding over memories of a past that I can’t change, the only place I can safely reside, the only place I want to reside, is right here, right now.

One day at a time, as they say.

Until next time, friends.


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