My personal theme of 2018 was THE YEAR OF NO. I settled on it last fall when trying to make plans with a friend, as we scrolled our calendars to February. And I decided then that overcommitting doesn’t mean I’m “living my best life” or “seizing the day,” it means I’m an asshole saying shit like “Can we look to sometime after Valentine’s Day? Monday nights and Thursday lunches are best on my end.” As a society, we wear stress like a badge of honor (literally – Tony bought me a ring that spells out XANAX in pretty gold cursive). I’m particularly guilty of this; if I haven’t worked myself into a frenzy, I haven’t worked hard enough. If I’m not burning out, I’m not “giving it my all.” (Any other perfectionists out there translate the soothing advice “Just do your best” to really mean “Just do it until you have a nervous breakdown?”)
So, this people-pleasing doormat made the resolution to say NO. No to working with people who don’t see my value, or wear their sunglasses indoors during meetings, or scream cliches over the phone like “You’ll never work in this town again” without a hint of irony. No to hanging out with toxic friends. No to following Instagram accounts that make me feel awful about myself. No to self-imposed, arbitrary, impossible goals and deadlines that set myself up for failure. No to everyone else’s passion projects, so there’s space for my own.
It’s almost 2019, and it’s still very much a work in progress. I’m married to an Energizer Bunny who works out 7 days a week, wakes up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with endless patience and optimism even if he only slept for 4 hours, and is essentially the slogan “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” personified. I’m trying to accept that if I live with a “sleep when I’m dead” mentality, it will kill me. (Or at the very least, make me a shell of a person that no one wants to be around. I’m melodramatic enough on my good days, and a truly nasty human if I’m running on fumes.) I can’t wait to sleep when I’m dead; in order to function in society I need to sleep every now and then now.
But while “no” may be an admission of defeat, a sign of weakness or selfishness, for my husband – for me, I discovered “no” was actually a source of strength, a sign of self-respect, a line in the sand that drew necessary boundaries, a refrain that cleared space for the projects I’m passionate about and, most importantly, time to spend with people who leave me feeling energized, inspired, confident and supported, not drained. People I love.
Society puts a hideous pressure on women to be likable. And likable women don’t say no. I recently made the unfunny joke to Tony that if someone tried to kidnap me at gunpoint, I would probably whisper “I’m sorry” instead of screaming so as not to upset anyone nearby and quietly get in the van.
Like I said, it’s a work in progress. But my “negative” mantra cleared out a lot of unhealthy crap and opened the door to so many positive things… CUE AWKWARD TRANSITION TO 2018 HIGHLIGHTS:
Our dream of visiting Africa with my parents, experiencing our favorite place in the world with them, became a reality, and it was even better than we dreamed.
And we got two awesome visits with our niece and nephew, the latter of which was hosting Thanksgiving, where we succeeded in neither burning the turkey nor the house down.
Tony and I developed a show with my hero, a woman who is living proof that there are good people in positions of power in Hollywood, that you can be as kind and supportive as you are hilarious, talented and successful (all of which she VERY MUCH IS.)
After GP made it chic, I went to my friend’s fertility acupuncturist and tried cupping, then made Tony take this douchey photo of me:
I seriously dropped the Heels in the Hills ball, only writing 7 other blogs this year… But 6 of them were sharing the things I promised you guys and myself that I would prioritize this year: Writing and acting, chasing down my insane La La Land dreams. Reading more books and less social media. Traveling.
I started the year ending a relationship with a manager who averaged about a month in email response time, and ended the year signing with a manager I’ve dreamed of working with my entire career. I’m in production on an indie feature, surrounded by badass women, from the female writer-director to the cinematographer, ladies who are getting shit done and breaking down barriers.
I did NOT meditate every day. I still spent too much time on Instagram. I had cake for breakfast more often than I would like to admit, or is advisable from a mental or physical health perspective.
Tony and I were a team. I cheered him on, celebrated, supported and was inspired by him as he achieved massive milestones, ones that would never have been possible if he hadn’t gone through the heartbreak of his show being canceled last year.
And he did the same for me, from taking care of our life and keeping it running while I shoot this movie, to directing a presentation for a show I created that we can’t wait to sell in 2019.
On all of these projects, we made new friends. I used to worry that a “NO ASSHOLES” policy would mean that insane producer was right and I truly would never work in this town again… But instead, we worked with heroes who proved again and again that you can be a good person and operate at the top of your game.
We got more time with old friends we love (and still wish we could see more). We even got to work with a few of them, further proving the point above.
I in no way got my online shopping addiction under control. I did not even try. I hope this public shaming will make me try. If you know of an activity as soothing as putting crap in your Amazon cart, please share.
I watched my best friend get engaged to her perfect person; if there was a machine where you could design soulmates, he is what would be crafted for her. I watched my other best friend go through a difficult pregnancy like a warrior, with a kind of bravery and humor that left my jaw on the floor. She’s living proof women, moms especially, really are superheroes.
I don’t take any of this for granted and I’m grateful for it all every day, the tough lessons and the good shit they led to. My game plan is to make like Amy Schumer, laughing into 2019… I’m excited for what the new year has in store, and hope yours is equally full of necessary no’s that make room for the beautiful yes’s. HAPPY NEW YEAR!