Thursday, March 19, 2009

Toxic Love

Many people are in toxic relationships with a significant other, family member, friends, or with the person reflected in the bathroom mirror. We're taught as children to respect ourselves, and that love doesn't hurt. As we age and shed childish dreams and distance ourselves from our parents' protection, we slowly forget these important lessons and enter into destructive relationships that corrode our confidence and self-worth in order to hang onto somoeone we'd be better off removing from our lives.

It takes two or more to create a toxic situation. The spiritual vampire is normally at the center of the storm along with his/her willing victim. Love and/or the promise of love is seductive, intoxicating, and can be overwhelming in its early stages. I'd venture that most of us enjoy the pursuit, courtship, and initial euphoria of new romantic love or a platonic friendship.

Is love about power, egos, and manipulation? When dealing with an insecure person, certain relationships can resemble a corporate acquisition. These spiritual vampires are quite skilled in what to say and do to attract fans, admirers, and pawns to move about on their Chess board.

Manipulation is both subtle and overt, and oftentimes when we realize we've been lulled into a walking coma, it seems as if it's too late. The Kool-Aid has been digested and taken up residence in our flesh and bones. At this stage, panic sets in, and we feel woozy, stuff our clothes and last remnants of our pride inside an old suitcase, and head for the door.

The dominant one in a toxic relationship isn't always the one with strongest personality or the most intelligent. S/he is a master manipulator, skilled in guilt, and various partner dances to keep victims cheek to cheek whenever the scent of an escape wafts on the air.

All toxic relationships aren't created equal, and some can become dangerous or even turn deadly if left unchecked and untreated. The battered woman who forgives her mate after the first assault and remains in the home is asking for a repeat performance if she doesn't seek help or altogether leave.

Habitual arguments between romantic partners, roommates, or platonic friends should be examined for their root cause. Dancing with a demon isn't fun, as we rise and fall, sway back and forth in that familiar and hypnotic, addictive Tango or Waltz.

How many of us endure toxic relationships because we think we can't do better than the person we're involved with or that we don't deserve mutual friendships? How many of us keep stoking the flames of a relationship because we'd otherwise feel lonely? Rational thinking is abandoned because we yearn for attention, encouragement, and support. Granny always told us, "You can do bad all by yourself. You don't need anyone to help you with that."

I'm not advocating President Obama allocate money to research this oftentimes puzzling interpersonal dynamic, but we need an open dialogue for those who suffer, and treatment for the perpetrators.

I'd like to hear from you on how you ended a toxic relationship. Was it difficult to sever all ties? How long did it take?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Morningside Writers - MFA Acceptances!

Great news I’d like to share with everyone.

Morningside Fiction Workshop Member Jenn Brissett has been accepted into the MFA program at Stonecoast at the USM, low-res program in popular fiction concentrating in Science Fiction.

Morningside Screenwriters Workshop Member Gregg Meller has been accepted into the MFA program in Film/TV Production at USC.

Congratulations to you both!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Tri-State Production Company

Seeking writers (script/TV, commercial, and documentary), filmmakers, photographers, videographers, creative (make-up/hair, wardrobe), technical (lighting/sound/boom), composers, admin/interns, PA's, financial wizards, grant writers, and location scouts to form a new production company to script, workshop, and produce direct-to-DVD projects for resume builders, reels, and distribution. 

Seeking actors who want or need experience with cold readings and scenes for reels. Interested in meeting people with access to locations (residential and commercial), props, and transportation.

Culinary wizards, coffee shop and restaurant owners, don't hesitate to contact us -- we'll need a place to greet, meet, and eat. New or mid-career catering companies are also welcome to send a note.
This is not an offer of employment. The goal is a collaborative company to work on group projects.

Please send cover letter, letter of introduction, resumes, headshots (actors, stunt people), and current projects you're working on to harlemeditor@aim.com

Looking to meet in person mid to late April, so will repost on various online boards, blogs, etc. until then. Thanks in advance for your interest!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Personal Twitter Guidelines

Several self-proclaimed experts have written their official Twitter rules, most of which I don't accept. When I first read about Twitter, I wasn't too sure if it was for me. I knew what a blog was, but this thing called micro blogging, I'd have to observe from a distance.

My initial and ongoing reaction to Twitter is that it's similar to merging into oncoming traffic at a busy metropolitan intersection or highway. You want someone to stop and notice you long enough so that you can join others in a conversation.

We've all rules of engagement, stated or subconscious, and Twitter is no exception. I don't like social media pundits, gurus, and experts offering unsolicited advice on how and why I should interact with people in cyberspace. My understanding of Twitter, MySpace, or Facebook, is that it's self-paced and voluntary. We're not in high school English class with a daily mandatory journal entry. However, some people feel compelled to share the trivialities and minutiae of their lives. God bless them that they have followers who enjoy reading such grocery lists. I personally do not. I prefer differences over a bleating sheep mentality any day.

The beauty of a global audience is that each person has an online signature, much like a fingerprint, whether or not they're aware of it. My opinion: it's sad day online when more people than not follow the beat of another person's Djembe, dun-dun, or snare drum.

I'm flattered when someone wants to follow me, but I don't automatically follow back. No apologies. I'm not concerned with accumulating thousands of followers. I launch Tweet Deck because I like interacting with people I might not otherwise have an opportunity because of time, time zones, and geographic distance.

Why should I automatically follow someone I've no potential personal, professional, or social interest? I don't respond well to unofficial online rules of engagement.
Back to my temporarily being flattered when someone new sends a request to follow. I think someone or something (Mr. Tweet) has advised that I'm worthy of being followed, but that doesn't guarantee I've any interest in following back. I don't want to read one-word tweets "hot", or "going home", or "stuck in traffic".

When I post a tweet, my goal is to offer news, tips, or interesting tidbits that I would appreciate reading. I talk about my personal world, but not to the point of self-indulgence or sheer boredom. Is there a mute button on Twitter? Yes, it's called block or unfollow.

A few reasons why I will not follow, block, or unfollow:

  • No personal picture or avatar.
  • No personal/business profile or website/blog link.
  • No updates: "I've not updated yet!" (When you do, get back to me.)
  • The person is obviously online to push their product or service, and has no personal stake for using Twitter.
  • The person is more concerned with accumulating followers, similar to notches on a bedpost of sexual conquests.
  • When there's an obvious disconnect. The person hasn't read my blog, website, or tweets, and has no understanding of who I am and why I'm online.
  • Not understanding that all relationships require time, nurturing, and maintenance. Those seeking instant gratification might be in for a surprise.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Fitness Log: Metamorphosis

Working out requires time, energy, discipline, and healthy eating habits.The time isn't an issue because my trainer is punctual three days a week. I've only to set the alarm and get dressed before he arrives. I've yet to schedule time when he's not with me to guide me through a series of exercise homework. It's not that I don't like or want to work out, it's an issue of time away from work or chores. The goal in the coming days and weeks is to block out at least three to five additional hours for physical fitness.

I've posted an ad for an early morning jogging buddy so that I will be accountable to someone else, and they in turn to me. It works the same with my trainer. I expect him three days a week, so I know I have to schedule that time to work out, or it'd be a waste of his time.

I must allow time to shed unwanted pounds and inches around my waist. Even if I could afford it, I wouldn't have liposuction or a tummy tuck. I'm not a candidate for either. Cosmetic weight loss procedures are quick fixes to lingering health and emotional challenges, similar to weight loss supplements, the results are almost immediate, but the maintenance becomes the real test.

I've enough mental and emotional energy to workout, it's the physical endurance in the early stages of retraining my body and mind to perform exercises that seem to contradict with the natural flow of my body. Where does one summon the energy to exercises regularly? Caffeine? Weight loss capsules and powders that contain preservatives, additives, and caffeine?

Time and discipline work in tandem for me. Or is it the chicken and egg conundrum? What needs to happen first? If I'm disciplined and focused in my goals to workout, I'd automatically set aside time to workout alone so that I'll achieve the body I want sooner.

Working with a personal trainer is new to me, and I'm glad that Ryan has the patience, training, and experience to help transform me from sedentary to active once again. I don't remember when something shifted inside, and I became a hermit save for my attending biweekly writing workshops. One cloudy or rainy day that I didn't jog, rollerblade, or dance barefoot in Central Park can't be the sole culprit for my expanded midsection. One day quickly becomes a week. Fast forward, and I'm struggling to button my shirt or pants, which was depressing. I'd always been skinny or slim. I still have the first pair of designer jeans I bought back in high school, and until two years ago, I could wear them.

My daily food logs have shed light on when and what I eat. Water, good. Fruit juice, bad. It's better that I eat the raw fruit. Chewing kick starts digestion, and increases metabolism. Three square meals low in carbohydrates, high in protein, and two to three healthy snacks a day are necessary to decrease the unwanted increase. It might not be easy because healthy living in any economy can be expensive if you don't have the disposable income.

The plump caterpillar is gesticulating in his cocoon, rapid heartbeats, random insecurities, dreaming of chocolate donuts, cookies, and ice cream. The plump caterpillar knows intellectually that physical fitness and fresh food are keys to a better life, and that he shouldn't complain about exertion or soreness. The caterpillar, once reborn, will take to the sky and soar higher than before with his carved physique.

*Feel free to leave comments on your physical, emotional, and spiritual transformation. Spring is here. Let's get rid of excess baggage and climb the mountain together.*

Monday, March 02, 2009

Fitness Log - Where Are My Abs?

I began working with a dynamic personal trainer a few weeks ago to rediscover my previous West African dance and rollerblade physique. The first few sessions were as I suspected: huffing and puffing on the exercise mat, cursing all varities of cookies, ice cream, and chips under my breath.

I didn't know what to expect after my initial weigh-in and fitness evaluation. Ryan, my personal trainer, was patient and detailed, measuring body fat, heart rate, and other prerequisites before logging them into an elaborate computer program. I was impressed and awed. He was as thorough as any general practitioner I've ever visited, minus blood test and urinalysis. He won't need to test internal items because my daily food log will reveal what's happening on the inside.

I workout three times a week, for approximately one hour, during which time he guides me through a series of balance, cardio, and aerobic exercises customized for in-home training.

The road to renewed health won't be long or treacherous. It'll require discipline, healthy meals, and daily maintenance. I'll have to get accustomed to logging meals, snacks, and liquid beverages. I know that I don't drink enough water. I don't need a food log to show me that. The log will serve as a reminder to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.

We're off to a good start, and I expect to increase my metabolism while decreasing my midsection. I didn't expect the importance of the mind-body-soul connection. Why am I working out (beyond the obvious health or vanity reasons)?

I invite you to take the journey with me every Monday as I log my progress under the Fitness Log heading. I welcome your comments and support, because I know I'm not the only one undergoing a physical/emotional/spiritual transformation.

*Photo disclaimer: The posted image is an idealized version of the body I could have if I pursue perfection. I'm not. My aim is a healthy lifestyle, not first prize at the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding contest.