Anxiety, Marilyn Monroe, Eating Breakfast and Embracing the Process

Maybe it’s the gray overcast days that come along with December, but I’ve been more instrospective than usual (and unfortunately, lazier). As someone who has a brain constantly thinking, thinking, overthinking, this can be a blessing and a curse.

Journal.

Anxiety can be summed up, in simplest terms, as worrying about the future or what could happen without a solid foundation or evidence that it will happen. Creating “what if” scenarios that cause sadness or hurt is a strange and unwelcome past time for someone who, really truly in the core of my guts and soul, is an optimist.

For every hopeful person excited to make (and keep? fingers crossed? invocation of willpower?) New Year Resolutions, there is someone saying “I don’t need to wait til the New Year, I just change something any time I need to.” While I subscribe to the latter sentiment, I also look forward to the collective fresh start. When time rolls into a New Year – this thing that will happen, worldwide, whether we want it or not – it’s one of the few small things that every single person on earth experiences together. 

That is truly inspiring. It’s a positive energy , an ambient background that hums and buzzes, lending encouragement to us which in turns let’s us give that support back to others.

The trouble with worrying, aside from the obvious wasted time on things that don’t exist, is it takes you away from the present moment and past accomplishments. If we can pause for reflection, we can search the last year and recognize how far we’ve come, the lessons learned, the people met, the goals achieved.

Maybe it’s the word “resolution” that doesn’t sit well with people. Last night on facebook, a friend posted that she prefers to set goals. I like this thought. A resolution made seems a bit concrete. If you resolve to eat healthier, it’s just going to take one piece of cake before you feel like you’ve failed or broken this promise of betterment. But a goal… that is expansive. “I will eat healthier” allows for cake, for the occasional vegan buffet, for the cozy winter night when you woopsies! finish off the whole bottle of wine. Because you will get a lot more chances.

Last week, I saw the film “My Week with Marilyn”, the story of one man’s week spent in a friendship and love affair with Marilyn Monroe (true story) while she was shooting a film. I was excited to see the lovely Michelle Williams transformed into Marilyn. (I’m not someone who follows actors or actresses, have no celebrity crushes, or know much about pop culture, BUT Michelle Williams always gives the most fascinating interviews in magazines and is a woman I look up to as someone classy, intelligent and poised in a field that gives a lot of credit folks who have the opposite of those traits.)

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I didn’t expect to be so emotionally moved by the film. I had no idea the personal internal struggle Marilyn dealt with, locking herself in her room to cry or sleep off drugs, her desire to be a perfect actress, the pressure of living up to the idea of a perfect actress that everyone saw her as. Marilyn Monroe was actually “Marilyn Monroe” – a role she played in public. A deliberate character. In one moving scene of the film, she is walking with Colin (love interest) through a castle, marveling at the library and architecture, the two of them having rare intimate time together. She comes down a hallway to find all the servents of the castle waiting for her as they heard Marilyn Monroe was there! As she moved down the hall approaching the crowd, she whispers to Colin, “Should I be her?”  And as she descends the stairs to the crowd of fans, she does so with a signature wiggle while blowing lipsticked kisses.

I had a sinking feeling the rest of the day, and I’ve thought a lot about the film since. How can it be that a true icon, arguably one of the most beautiful and beloved women to have ever lived, a celebrity with fans who span generations, could feel so lousy about herself? How can someone who seems to have everything feel like nothing? 

It got me thinking about the strange duality between who we are in our private lives versus who we show people we are in our public lives.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

If everyone believes in you but you don’t believe in yourself, does it matter?

The goals I have set for the year include many things. Some simple: make more crafts and handmade items, eat breakfast every day. Some complex: Maybe to take on the responsibility of becoming a dog-Mom; to write a book.

Though the main goal is to focus less on the ultimate outcome and just enjoy the process, no matter how mundane or overwhelming the process may be. I want to slow down and deliberately focus on the process itself – if it’s cooking, stop rushing to chop and boil and assemble and instead notice the textures and flavors, transformations and shapes. Use time folding laundry (actually fold laundry) to listen to an inspiring podcast or indulge in a guilty-pleasure TV show, without feeling guilty. Write a book without thinking about finding an agent, will it get published, how many rejections will I get, how many people could go online and leaving horrible reviews where they will exist on the internet forever…. JUST WRITE THE BOOK. None of those things can even happen unless I write first.

Today's reading.

This morning I woke feeling over whelmed (as I often do first thing in the morning), the vastness of a day off and the time to be filled and spent well. But then I remembered to enjoy the process… so I’m spending the day reading inspiring books, cleaning the house and planning for a shake-up in the decor (I am finding myself more and more drawn to simple, old-timey domestic looks and not so much the harsh lines and colors of modern design… how things change!), cooking a thick stew that can boil on the stove for hours filling the house with the delicious scent of a home-cooked meal. And for today, that will be enough.

Day 1 of remembering to eat breakfast: successful.

17 thoughts on “Anxiety, Marilyn Monroe, Eating Breakfast and Embracing the Process

  1. “…stop rushing to chop and boil and assemble and instead notice the textures and flavors, transformations and shapes…” If you haven’t seen it already, you need to watch “Cook Your Life” by Ed Brown, author of the Tassajara Bread Book, Zen priest and co-founder of Greens veg restaurant in SF. I think it’s on Netflix instant.

  2. It seems to me, that you have the right idea about feeling overwhelmed. Chip away and chip away and chip away, from the smallest seemingly inconsequential household duty, to a sentence on a blank but soon to be filled page – the trick is – never stop moving. Well done.

  3. I have a few things to say. First, I love Heidi Swanson, and I cooked A LOT from that book in 2011. Secondly, I am trying to do something similar: write without fear of consequence or worrying about what shape it will be or who will read it or not read it. I finally feel like I’m on the cusp of having something to say that’s book-worthy. And as for the rest? Fill those small tasks with meaning–whether that means enjoying the silence of folding laundry or adding white noise to help decompress. And do it for yourself. Who cares?
    On a somewhat related note, would you deliver that breakfast to Easton tomorrow morning? Looks delicious!😉

    • Carrie, as a writer and editor who I respect so very much , I really appreciate that comment! It’s so hard to get stuck on the worrisome parts, or feeling not good enough… but I can tell you, working in a bookstore I see a lot of stuff that makes me scratch my head and think, “Really, people BUY this?” And they do. And the author, who may not be my taste or the best most inventive person, still *actually wrote it*. So I need to have more respect for that. Let’s meet – I’ll bring you some food and we can talk about books! (And food.)

  4. I love the idea of making goals instead of resolutions! I tend to set myself up for disappointment far too often by making rigid ultimatums for how I should be living. It’s exhausting and depressing. This year I jotted down 3 simple goals for myself that hopefully will lead me on a better path. Thanks for the motivating read; I love how you write!

  5. Truly inspiring and timely. We’ve much in common. Thank you for your thoughts, your ambitions, your wisdom. I needed this at this moment. Thank you!

  6. About the becoming a dog mom:
    Go for it. You will never find a better teacher of how to be present, how to love with wild enthusiasm, and how to be joyful. Dogs are such a gift. Your dog is out there waiting for you.

  7. I think kids also teach you how to live joyfully and be present and with enthusiasm. But I say get a dog. Go for it.

    Also, Jaime, I just emailed you about getting together. This is your official notification to check your email.😉

    • Oh, thank you! I needed that.

      I have so much respect for parents. Not sure if it’s going in that direction yet (if so, no time soon) but my Mom always tells me it’s the most wonderfully indescribable experience one could have.

      #checkingemail

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