reframing

Saying thanks, dammit!

I am unofficially on Day 3 of my first cold of the New Year, and, with the exception of getting the paper yesterday, am going on three days housebound. Honestly, I was so hungover on Saturday from whooping it up on Friday night with a bottle of Burgundy and my boy, Harry, that I've no idea whether I was sick with the actual cold that day, too. But I'm pretty sure my asshole move of Cup of Coffee #2 that afternoon marked the onset, although it might also have been my insistence on catching up with three weeks of email or researching HTML coding websites or working on a design job instead of adding a few much-needed hours to the sleep bank.

Anyway, I'm nothing if not an overachieving Do-Bee, and I'm pretty sure now that sickness is my body's way of making me do the things (e.g. read and catch up on movies and sleep) that normal people (i.e., those who find recreation enjoyable) look forward to. You'd think that the five months I spent ill and/or recuperating from my Crohn's onset would have made me better at this Enforced Relaxationâ„¢ thing, and you'd be right. But I'm guessing the recidivism rate is about as bad for workaholics as it is for other -holics, and good intentions notwithstanding, I tangle with my demons all the time.

Worse, I starting slipping down the woe-is-me slide this time, too. I mean, it is the new year, and we're all supposed to be at the fucking gym and scrubbing our grout with bleach and a toothbrush and all that other crap. And here I am, barely able to distill an Adobe PostScript file because I am so sick and brain-fogged and achy. Loser.

Well, enough. Enough, I say. Get a little perspective, I also say. Every part of me knows this is the road to nowhere. So I let it go for five seconds and damned if the Universe didn't grab my attention immediately by shouting the answer: THANKS.

THANKS ?!? For being sick!? This is an answer?! FUCK YOU, Universe!!!

To which the Universe replied, in the nicest way possible: no, asshole, GIVE thanks. Or maybe it was, "No, asshole, give. Thanks!" because the Universe is nothing if not polite.

So I went to Oxfam and donated $15. It's the minimum donation via credit card, but it's a lot of money for me these days, what with most of my TV spots in payment cycles 3 & 4 and nothing new booked since, oh, June, and a big copywriting job that I was kinda counting on whittled back to 1/3 of the original contract. (Ugh. See how easy it is for me to go down the dark path? Scary.) And I'm going to go back and give (gulp) $15 every time I feel myself dressing up for the pity party.

Result?

While I'd be lying if I said I felt like the fabulous, new, 2005 Colleen I long to be, I felt a lot better. I have friends and a home and even a little family left, which is more than a large chunk of the world has right now. And the cold? Well, this, too, shall pass. And probably pretty quickly.

I just hope it leaves the lesson behind.

xxx c

P.S. That tissue box above left is available here. Although I think the real Shakers would be cool if you put the $25 somewhere else. (Lots of old images didn't make the move during my migration from TypePad. Because TypePad, while excellent in many ways, is not great with the moving of images.)

Does luck come in flavors?

It's official, I'm sick. I hung in there for awhile, but I've been exposed to too many germs from too many people in too small a space, and I've succumbed. (Theaters, nursery schools and hospitals are notoriously difficult places to stay healthy. They're dropping like flies at the show these days.)

My dumb luck, right? Getting sick in the middle of the holidays?

Well, maybe. And maybe not.

You see, two years ago, I had what some people would characterize as a really nasty streak of luck. In February of 2002, my father found out he had to go on full-time dialysis. In May, my live-in boyfriend of 3 years and I broke up. And finally, in September, I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease.

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, Crohn's is a super-chic disease whose symptoms include fever, weight loss and diarrhea. And we're talking high fevers (104ºF +...several!), severe weight loss (I was 90 lbs. when they released me from the hospital), and, well, I won't even detail the horrors of my bowel movements except to say that at my nadir, they were happening 32x/day and necessitated the replacement of 2 pints of blood.

The thing is, when I'm done cataloguing the many delights of my illness, I always follow up by assuring my now-horrified listener that it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Because it was. Not only did I have a bona fide epiphany in the hospital (worth the price of admission, alone, believe me), the sucker actually took. My outlook shifted. I relaxed, for one. I began greeting each day with genuine delight, instead of worry or aggravation. I began to rely less on "The Colleen Show" and got more in touch with my authentic self.

If I hadn't gotten sick, I wouldn't have found the amazing diet that not only sent my Crohn's into remission and improved my overall health, but taught me that I was the best authority on my health, not some doctor. I might have met my new best friend, Jan Pessin, in fact, we already had met prior to my illness. But if I hadn't been sick, she wouldn't have been my advocate in the hospital. We might never have bonded over our illnesses and become good friends. And we certainly wouldn't have written our show.

I don't mean to discount the tragedies great and small that befall us all; I would never use the word "lucky" to describe someone who has suffered a loss of any kind. But since my own so-called misfortune, I much more leery of automatically classifying something as being bad for me, whether it's an election outcome, a relationship that ends painfully or a much needed job that falls through. I enjoy my good times, but it's my difficult ones that have moved me to look at the world differently, to become more compassionate, to educate myself, to change.

I suppose that sometimes a rotten thing that happens to you ends up just being a rotten thing that happens to you. Lord knows I don't have all the answers (I'm still learning to recognize the damned questions.)

But sometimes, just sometimes, what you think is the worst thing that ever happened to you can turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you.

If you're lucky, that is.

xxx c

How? No...YES!!!

Wednesday is List Day here at communicatrix.com. Imagine my consternation, then, when I pulled up this entry from Evelyn Rodriguez's always-stimulating blog this morning in my RSS reader and realized I could not possibly coast on Fave Rave Eric Rohmer Flix or 10 Ways to Ace Yourself Out of a Date with the Communicatrix Through Your Profile Alone, but would have to address the role of risk in effecting change. Unless...

Well, unless I can combine the two. How would it look if I did? What could be gained by compiling a list instead of writing an essay? How might I feel if I were able to do it? What impact might it have on my life as an artist, a blogger, a designer, a friend & companion?

Okay, enough. You get the idea. Or if not, you can go read Evelyn's post about Peter Block's book, The Answer to How is Yes and the leap of faith required in any great venture.

And so, my list. I put these things forth not to toot my own horn, but to tell everyone within shouting distance,"if an a**hole like me can do it, imagine what you smart people can do":

"IMPOSSIBLE" ACCOMPLISHMENTS ACCRUED BY SAYING "YES," NOT "HOW?"

  1. Got copywriting job with worst book in ad history.
  2. Got into Groundlings Sunday Company with no prior experience being funny.
  3. Did not die when world collapsed after being unceremoniously booted from Sunday Company. (NOTE: Seriously, this was worse than any breakup, divorce or death of a loved one I have experienced. Yeah, I'm nuts; I'm an actress, for cryin' out loud.)
  4. Wormed my way into best 99-seat theater company in L.A. with worst resume in L.A. theater history.
  5. Became working actress at 36 (that's 207 in Hollywood Years).
  6. Despite dour prognosis from Son-of-Mengele Colorectal Surgeon, went from Miss Bloody Hamburger Intestines of 2002 to a clean colonoscopy in two years.
  7. Co-wrote & produced play about aforementioned bloody colon that people actually came to see.
  8. Taught myself enough graphic design to pass.
  9. Got invited to blog for honest-to-jesus metblog.
  10. Met blogging idol.

What dream can you say "yes" to right now?

xxx c