tiny bottle of glass cleaner by bathroom mirror

it’s the little things

Did I say that 2012 was a doozy? From that long-ago year’s relatively cushy vantage point, I quite literally did not know the half of it.

This was the year that the other shoe dropped. I still haven’t sorted through 2013’s considerable lessons sufficiently to retrieve salient talking points, much less wrangled the time to get them in some kind of order, but trust me when I say that finally, after 52 years, I walk around with the sense that everything is, at its root, just fine. If you were worrying, please stop. And if you weren’t worrying, for god’s sake, don’t start. I mean, I also finally get that what you do is none of my business, but one of this year’s lessons was that worry solves exactly nothing. Action, on the other hand….

Alas, 2013 is not the year that sees me returning to the extensive cataloging of yore. On the other hand, I no longer view submitting fewer items than the “full” 100 as some kind of defeat; hell, I barely see it as less-than.

Without further ado, then, here are 52 things that I learned this year—one for each year I am old. A new tradition! For a new year!

  1. Surrender.
  2. No, really: S-U-R-R-E-N-D-E-R.
  3. Crap, like rust, never sleeps.
  4. Crisp sheets are worth the ironing.
  5. This includes pillowcases.
  6. But not, strangely enough, the bottom sheet.
  7. Pink is my favorite color.
  8. I am more surprised by this than anyone else.
  9. Never underestimate the entertainment value of random shit.
  10. Always let your wig do the heavy lifting.
  11. I’m just not that into Twitter.
  12. People are awesome.
  13. Occasionally, this includes elected officials.
  14. No matter how broke you get, you won’t regret what you spent on art.
  15. When in doubt, write like you talk.
  16. But above all, write.
  17. If it came from anywhere other than the place where your legs meet, get it in writing.
  18. Especially if “it” has to do with health insurance deductibles.
  19. More often than not, I’m the dumbest person in the room.
  20. More and more, I’m down with that.
  21. When you have to produce the goods, a dress makes you feel like a million bucks.
  22. Alas, the shoes that’ll get you there safely make you look like a tiny duck.
  23. Sign heaven exists, and it’s just east of the 110.
  24. I’m not done with acting.
  25. Oh, boy, am I not.
  26. Less gossip = mo’ better.
  27. The truth shows up when you least expect it.
  28. True miracles help make more miracles.
  29. Whether you know it or not.
  30. And most of the time, you won’t.
  31. Jacarandas!
  32. Death by a thousand cuts works the other way, too.
  33. Stories make more sense the more you tell them.
  34. Getting old means everything seems like it happened yesterday.
  35. If it’s good and it’s loving, it’s a “yes”.
  36. The journey of 3,798,493 steps starts with a single Fitbit.
  37. A solid deadline beats good intentions every time.
  38. The cure for loneliness is not more “me”-time.
  39. You meet the strangest people opting-out.
  40. Parties aren’t the worst way to ring in the new year.
  41. Subscribing to just one magazine is okay if there’s just one you want to read.
  42. The undocumented life is well worth living.
  43. It’s okay to ask for help.
  44. No, really: IT’S O-K-A-Y.
  45. Heaven on Earth is a voice lifted in song.
  46. This is the last year Facebook puts together a better highlights reel than I do.
  47. Those Buddhists know a thing or two about a thing or two.
  48. Getting fired feels horrible.
  49. Reconciling yourself to it with grace, however, almost compensates.
  50. Almost.
  51. There will never be a “done”.
  52. There will never be a day when this doesn’t make that a little easier to bear.

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

Posted in: The Personal Ones,The Silly Ones

chapbook in a cabinet with printed books

I have never been especially good at math. I am also highly distractible, and find that I can lose time when I’m focused on something. Or not focused on something! Which is to say, pretty much anytime.

At some point in this series, I lost a day. No, really—go back and count the days. I started on the 24th of August—a Saturday—specifically so that it would end on a Friday—the 13th of September, my birthday. I used two different online calculators and then counted out the days manually, just to be sure.

Alas, somewhere between Tuesday the 27th (a tiny piece on meditation) and Thursday the 29th (a poem), I had a time bubble in my brain, and lost a day—a Wednesday. I was posting things quite late in the day already at that point, as usually happens with these series, and people were responding to each day’s post the following day, as the emails were arriving at rather weird hours in the inboxes of America, and so I somehow convinced myself that not only had I gotten that day’s work done, but also the next day’s.

I did fret about this a little. I HAD BROKEN THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT. I had made a promise to write every day, 21 days in a row, and now I’d ruined everything. I thought about coming clean right then. I thought about doubling up (or is it down?) the next day. For a brief moment, I even thought about proceeding as if nothing had happened, finishing out the run, and leaving things at that.

And then I came to my senses: this was a series about letting go of perfection to make way for something, anything at all. Was the point—the larger, capital-“P” point—to write perfectly, or to write, period?

* * * * *

One shelf of one cabinet in my apartment is devoted to books written by people I know (and one dead relative I never met, but about whom I figured, “Good enough”).

Over the past few years it’s gotten fuller and fuller, which is wonderful, but which is also a little sad, because it was never one of my books that got to do any of the filling. Yes, I wrote a couple of chapters in a really terrific book, but that book counts as a collective win, not a personal Everest scaled.

There are many, many reasons why there is no Colleen-Wainwright book on that shelf, but they boil down to the same, sad, scary word: perfectionism. If nothing can ever be good enough, it’s hard for anything to be, period, let alone be something as big as a book.

So a few months ago, I took matters in hand and signed up for a class—a writing class focused on process, designed to get new writers who don’t think they can write and long-time writers who either need a little reinvigoration or a full-on (gentle) ass-kicking, and, via various tools and exercises and gentle (but ass-kicking) encouragement, gets them writing—a few pages, every day, for six weeks.

What’s funny about the class (other than the teacher, and many of the students, which really makes for a delightful way to spend a few hours of your week) is that somehow, just by writing a little bit every day in a very specific way, all of that process ends up in a not-insignificant amount of product. To drive this point home, each student in the beginning level of the class is asked to compile a handful of pieces into a chapbook, and to make enough copies to share with the class.

I called mine GOOD ENOUGH, because it is.

* * * * *

I took the liberty of printing up a few extra copies of this first—and likely, only—run of my first (chap)book. 21 extra copies, which I am making available for (PAUSE FOR COLLECTIVE GASP FROM PEOPLE WHO KNOW ME) sale.

There are short 10 pieces in it, only one of which has seen the light of internet day so far: poems and tiny essays and bits of creative nonfiction. (There are also some pen-and-ink drawings, which you may recognize if you were a reader of my late, lamented newsletter.) One of my longtime readers and dearest critics has pronounced it the best thing I’ve ever written. She is also a friend, but not of the variety to blow smoke up an ass—mine, or anybody else’s. I’ve seen her not do it.

The price is $5 for the book, tax included, plus $2 to ship it to you anywhere in the U.S. Each one is numbered (x of 52 copies), and I will happily sign it for you, and/or include an inscription of your choice. One per customer, please, in case you were thinking of hoarding chapbooks.

* * * * *

It’s been a relief to write again, and a consternation, as well. Any thoughts I had of getting past my perfectionism and writing happily ever after vanished somewhere around Day 5. Or maybe it was Day 2.

Irregardless, as I heard someone say just today and let roll off my back without so much as a shrug, I will write. Certainly here and increasingly, I hope, Out There. I will do it imperfectly, with my full self, or as much of me is available at the time.

Thank you, and excelsior!

xxx
c

The skinny on, plus all previous 21-Day Salutes™.

 

Posted in: The Personal Ones,The Quotidian Ones

a coffee cup with the name "Pauline"

I have a joke I use to offset the dig-me factor in my crowdfunding talks about how, by the time I was 50, I’d done everything one could to mark a birthday—twice—so that I was forced for the first time to try something not-so-selfish.

It’s funny because it’s true: I have been self-involved my whole life. Even when I did nice things for you, it was so you’d think better of me. I mean, nice things got done, anyway, and work, and all of this is good. But it was for the cookie, and no mistake..

Still, the other part is true, too. By the time you’ve celebrated that many birthdays, you’ve covered a lot of territory. I’ve had parties thrown for me, surprise and regular, and thrown parties for myself. I’ve taken myself on trips and been gifted with them. I’ve gotten all kinds of stuff, most of which I don’t own anymore. I had the one not-so-selfish year. And last year, I flat-out hid, because it was all too much.

That was the year that taught me there must always be some sort of plan, some way to mark the day. Thank god for a dear friend who narrowly saved me from my self-created near-disaster with a card and gifts and a generous offer to join her on a jaunt around town doing errands, with a pit stop for smoothies.

By next year, I may be ready again for festivities; this year, I was not. My plan was to start the day with a solo coffee and end it over a low-key dinner with a friend, with plenty of time in between for meandering, and a few exits just in case. Was it the most spectacular birthday of my life? Clearly not: it wasn’t even planned that way. But neither was it the worst.

It was a day where I was grateful for all I had, reasonably sanguine about what I didn’t, and an ending that felt fuller than its beginning. A good-enough day with none of the buzzy highs and none of the dreadful lows of years past. Just me and other humans and our real, honest-to-God feelings, hanging out together. I would be happy to have another 53 just like it. If I got just three more, I’d be happy with those.

So maybe you live most of the days of your life before you get that this is the point: to live the days of your life, as Jonathan Swift said.

Works for Pauline. Works for me, too.

xxx
c

The skinny on, plus all previous 21-Day Salutes™.

Posted in: The Personal Ones

hidden author sitting beside a rose

I was going to return
with wisdom and grace,
the knowledge of lifetimes lived in our mutual absence.

Or, at the very least,
with my best Saturday-night smile,
and a dozen coral roses from the farmers market,
wrapped in a little extra flash and dazzle,
just in case.

Instead, there is this.
It is not exactly right,
and 17 miles from the morning shadow of perfect,
but it is true in the places that count,
and that, my friends,
is good enough.

The skinny on, plus all previous 21-Day Salutes™.

Posted in: The Personal Ones

A formerly-monthly, currently-occasional round-up of what I’ve been up to and what’s in the hopper. For full credits and details, see this entry. Video, above (or click here to view on Flickr) of the PALATIAL suite I got upgraded to at the MGM Signature, a distinctly non-sucky, non-casino hotel on the otherwise frightening Las Vegas Strip.

Colleen of the future (stuff I’ll be doing)

The last time I posted an update like this was the first where I admitted that I had (almost) nothing planned, networking- and speaking-wise. After years of go-go-go, it was time to stop. Full stop.

Now, after many months of rest, contemplation, and other manifestations of interior reconstruction, I’m sticking a toe in the waters of Real Life again—now, with the full knowledge that really, it is no more real than the other kind. It is, however, easier for others to attend and/or participate in!

  • DV Expo (Los Angeles, September 25) :: I will be giving a one-hour talk titled, “Sell Me a Story: Building Your Own Fan Base in the Digital Economy”—possibly my favorite talk title I have ever come up with. Like most things, it came to me when I’d all but given up on it.
  • PACA Conference (NYC, October 21) :: I’m honored to be giving the keynote address at the 18th Annual event for PACA, the Digital Media Licensing Association. This year’s theme is “Opportunity in Change,” and as we know, that is right up my particular alley.

I would love love LOVE to come speak to your organization or institution about marketing/social media, crowdfunding, and communicating across the digital divide. I’m especially interested in speaking at schools and institutions local to Southern California, including guest speaking in college programs for actors, photographers, writers, and other creative types.

Please see my speaking page for more information, or email me: colleen AT communicatrix DOT com.

Colleen of the Past (stuff that has already gone down)

  • The Career Clinic :: I am thrilled every time I get to be a guest on my friend Maureen Anderson’s terrestrial radio show. She must love it, too, because not only does she keep having me back, but she lets me talk about all kinds of stuff that could only be very generously considered career-related. In June of this year, we talked about why I continue to shave my head some two years after my pledge to do it once.
  • Visual Connections blog :: I advocate for margins in this post for the visual media buyers’ blog, which I wrote partly as a warm-up for my talk at the PACA Conference this October. Also, it has my favorite title of any blog post I’ve written, ever—I’ve been wanting to use it since I dreamed it up back in 2008, and was thrilled to finally find a topic it worked for.
  • AdvancementLive :: My friend and colleague Andrew Gossen, Director of Social Media Strategy at Cornell University, hosted a Google+ chat on Crowdfunding and Higher Education and asked really good questions. I come at it from the individual/marketing angle, and Ryan Davies of Carleton University talks about it from the institutional perspective.
  • Walking Wilshire :: For National Walking Day, my favorite L.A. pedestrian, Alissa Walker, did a series of podcasts on Wilshire Boulvard for KCRW. Literally, ON WILSHIRE. She caught up with me after a panel at The SAG Foundation, and interviewed me on my 20 years (!!) of living in the ‘hood.
  • The Setup :: My rig has changed a bit in the 11 months since this interview ran, but I’m too much of a nerd fangirl not to share this interview with my favorite geek-paradise website.
  • The Strictly Business Blog :: Fifteen new posts on marketing, self-improvement, and a whole lot of other cool stuff since the last round-up! No, I’m not going to link to each individually!

I’ve also been fortunate to represent my client ASMP with some new talks on branding and marketing at WPPI, WPPI On the Road, the Palm Springs Photo Festival, and to return to both Cornell’s Alumni Leadership Conference and to HOW’S Creative Freelancer Conference (where, in what may be my craziest bit of serendipitous freakitude to date, I presented a talk featuring, among other things, a story about Jessica Hische while she was sitting a mere 20 feet from me! It was absolutely as awesome as you might imagine.)

Oh—and I also got to give a little teaching-style lecture to my fellow actors again on behalf of my longtime client, Casting Networks, and to a photography business class at Pasadena City College, which I LOVED. Did I mention I love speaking and that you should email me about doing it for your organization? WELL, I’M DOING IT AGAIN.

Colleen of the Present (stuff I do, rain or shine)

  • Act Smart! is my monthly column about marketing for LA Casting. Nominally for actors, there’s a ton of good info in there for any creative business person. Browse the archives, here.
  • Internet flotsam ::  I remain hopefully optimistic about social media, despite the crapulous happenings one must endure every day on the major channels. Currently, I am most active on Facebook, but I will occasionally post to Flickr and Twitter, and, once in a blue moon, Instagram and Pinterest. I’ve also been writing at least a very short summary about (almost) every book I read to Goodreads.

xxx
c

The skinny on, plus all previous 21-Day Salutes™.

Posted in: The Quotidian Ones

Good enough, Day 17: Easy readin’

On the walk that takes me to my mailbox, where I always hope to find checks and occasionally do, I discovered another lovely little box full of daily surprises. Not all of the books are my thing. A few don’t seem to be anyone’s thing—they’re there day after day, week after week. (Although maybe the […]

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Good enough, Day 16: The joyful frugalista

For most of my life, I have been obsessed with two things: looking cool, and never, ever getting caught trying to look cool. I’ve gotten away with it more than you’d think (though less than I’d have liked), and it’s made life easier in at least as many ways as it’s complicated it. Here’s the […]

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Good enough, Day 15: Arts & crafty

As the heat finally and mercifully receded this morning, it occurred to me that I need not put up with the crap design, lame typography, and gratuitous use of American flags that goes hand-in-hand with low-end school supplies. Not as long as my “Stickers” file remains well stocked. (Related: feel free to mail me your […]

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Good enough, Day 14: Going public

I like things the way I like them—exactly. I like being in my apartment with my things all where I put them last—these days, usually cleaned and neatly back in their rightful spots, but even before then, the crusty socks on the middle of the floor where I left them, dammit. I like working on […]

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Good enough, Day 13: Home for keeps

About a year ago, one of the finest humans I’ve ever met died after a horrific fight with pancreatic cancer. I’d known Susan Carr a scant two years by then, but she was one of those people who rocket straight to the top of your “besties” list if you’re lucky enough to come across them […]

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