Pivoting from Excuses

Chapter 2 is incredibly personal.

Most DAYS fans know about Alyssa’s and Freddie’s car accident in October 2014. Freddie takes us through the accident and the aftermath, and Alyssa shares the mental and emotional steps she took to heal her whole self while in recovery.

I swear, these two. How they saved themselves and each other is truly awe inspiring. The car accident wasn’t their only tragedy, either. When they were down, life kicked them in the collective nuts a few more times. (I won’t get into detail here because seriously, you should listen to this chapter right now.) They faced all of it with the mutual decision to learn from the events and to not make excuses when life was sh*tty. They each could have crumbled under the weight of these incidents, but they showed up to life every day with a positive attitude. They pushed themselves and pulled each other along.

I now understand why these two millennials are wise beyond their years. I’m so grateful I found their audiobook. Who would have ever thought that indulging in a sudsy soap opera when I was so sad would lead to so much positive change in my life. I hope I can thank them someday.

At the end, they present questions to help you pivot from your most-used excuses. I was like, I don’t make excuses. I have real-life reasons why I don’t write or exercise, which you celebrities don’t understand! I don’t get up early to work out because I need to sleep. I have a demanding job. Sometimes I’m up too late the night before – it’s my only time to catch up on my binge shows, or I get sucked into social media. I could hit the gym after work, except I’m usually too tired, or we have plans. I don’t write in the mornings because that’s my time to work out. My brain is too fried at night to be creative.

Oh my god, do you see this? I’m not only full of excuses, they are LAME.

What do these excuses actually do for me? They must serve some purpose because I make them all the time.

I think excuses help me placate my ego. If I have an excuse for not trying, I’m not exactly failing because I plan to try. Excuses enable me to fantasize that I’ll succeed without putting in any of the work. I keep my hopes and dreams alive because of the illusion that I’m working on it.

Oh, man. I am my own worst enemy. I’ve got to break this self-sabotaging behavior.

“Don’t wait until tomorrow,” Freddie says. “Please don’t give us that excuse.”

Pivoting from Fear

January 16, 2020. It took me exactly two months to get back to The Pivot Principle.  I’d been on a serious roll just from the Intro and Chapter 10, and I was eager to see what else Freddie and Alyssa had to teach me. I dove right in to Chapter 1: Pivot from Fear.

There is a lot of valuable material in this chapter. You should listen for yourself. Here are the top things that spoke to me:

Freddie: I’ve been on 500 auditions. I was told “no“ for 485 of them. The other 15 made my career. That’s a 97% rejection rate. 97%!!

Freddie: Ask yourself, “Why do I care if someone rejects me?” I’ve never asked myself why I care about rejection, especially from strangers. In my late 20s, I quit my entire life to break into television and it was a disaster. I was rejected from loads of jobs, and when I finally got a job, I was told “no” every single day in one way or another. It was a demoralizing experience but it didn’t break me. It’s like I worked my rejection muscle really hard during that time, but now it’s soft as I’ve become comfortable.

Freddie: Rejection is inevitable so you may as well go for it. If you don’t try, you definitely fail. If I could withstand a 97% rejection rate like Freddie, then I go into it knowing that most strangers won’t like my writing. OMG! I get it: It’s not personalThat’s how Freddie lets the rejections roll off! That’s how he stays true to himself! MIND BLOWN.

Alyssa: To reach new heights, you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I’m more comfortable eating whatever I want and complaining about my weight than denying myself junk food. I’m more comfortable living a life where writing comes last than I am with doing whatever it takes to write every day. Change takes effort. I’m not making any effort. I’m very much into instant gratification. I’m not stuck. I’m…lazy. I’m very uncomfortable learning this about myself. Darn you, Alyssa.

Alyssa: There is no perfect moment. “Being ready” is an excuse. Seriously, how is she this wise at 30?

Alyssa: How are you going to put yourself out there and work on your fear and rejection muscles? I don’t know. What do unpublished writers do to put themselves out there? It’s got to be more than send query letters to agents. Looks like I just gave myself a research project.

Little Bites of Reality

My husband and I went out with friends Saturday night to see Stephanie J. Block perform at a small jazz club on the upper east side. Over drinks, I brought up Generation X and our disappearance from the culture conversation. “We either have to go with the baby boomers or the millennials,” I finished.

“We’ll take you,” Rachael grinned, “with open arms.”

“I hate the boomers,” Molly, a fellow Gen-Xer, said. “They won’t get out of the way. They’re why I had to quit my last job. I was stuck at the director level for years because they won’t retire.”

“I know,” I said. “They won’t give up anything. Look at all the people running for President, they’re boomers or the Silent Generation.”

“My cousin – a boomer – told me last week that he’s ‘woke’ and thinks it’s Mayor Pete’s time,” Molly said. “I was like, No! My generation hasn’t been President yet! What the hell?”

“We won’t vote for Mayor Pete,” Rachael said. “Millennials don’t like him.”

“And the only Generation X candidate just dropped out,” I said. “Andrew Yang.”

“It doesn’t matter,” my husband shrugged. “Trump is going to win again. This is an exercise in futility.”

***

I met a friend for drinks a few weeks ago and broached Generation X with her.

“We gave the world Google, business startups, YouTube,” Melinda argued. “And the best music. Punk, grunge, hip-hop, that’s all us.”

“The indie film movement,” I added.

“Clerks!” she exclaimed. “Reality Bites! Although that’s a studio movie, but still.”

“Then why are we being forgotten?”

“I don’t know. But there’s no denying it, there’s a lot we’ve contributed,” she said. “And remember, we are the last of the latchkey kids. The last free-range kids. The last kids to grow up without technology. We straddle the boomers and the millennials. We are cynical about the former and skeptical about the latter. Can either of those generations make our world better? The boomers have had loads of time.”

“Is it up to us?”

She shrugged. “If no one listens, how can it be? Screaming into the void won’t solve anything.”

***

Last summer, I was volunteering at the Roosevelt Island Community Garden and overheard a millennial mother talking to her young son as she pushed a stroller among the garden plots.

“It is so. Frustrating. Some of these people have had these plots for decades. I just want a small corner to grow vegetables! I’ve been waiting for like, two years for a plot. Why won’t these boomers just. Let. It. Go! I swear, if I’d known it was going to be like this when we moved here…”

“Mommy, you’re getting mad,” her son piped up.

“Sorry honey, Mommy is just frustrated. It’s hard when you want to soar and your wings keep getting clipped by the damn boomers.”

***

I caught up with a musician friend over the phone a couple of weeks ago and told him about my idea to think like a millennial.

“I’m blogging and I’m tweeting a short story line by line,” I said. “Millennials put it all out there, so I am too. Trying, anyway.”

“I know, I follow you on twitter. I admire it,” Mark said. “You’re really brave.”

“Oh god, does my story suck that bad?”

“You’re brave because you’re putting your art out there,” he said. “I know in my soul I could have been a professional musician. I could have made it as a songwriter at least. But I was too scared.”

“It’s not too late,” I said. “You can still do it. We need art in the world. Now more than ever.”

“No,” he said. “I can’t bare myself like that. What if no one likes it? I’m not strong enough for rejection on that scale. I can perform for friends, but even that is terrifying.”

“But rejection from strangers? Who cares what they think? You’re brilliant! Your friends know it!”

“Okay, you know what I’ve learned from the boomers?” I heard him take a drag from a cigarette. “How to be afraid. Fear of nukes. Massive fear of losing money. Fear of all non-white people. Fear of gays. Fear of sex. Fear of women. They are f*cking afraid of everything, which is why they won’t let go of anything.” He took another drag. “And their fears manifest in us, in Generation X, as paralysis.”

10 Years Younger

Following the examples of millennials is working. My millennial advisors are celebrities who, obviously, don’t know me (which is a shame, because I’m a delight!)

Seriously, I need real-life millennials to advise me and who actually give a sh*t about me. Most of the people in my life are Gen-Xers or baby boomers with a few Gen-Zs sprinkled in (my nephews, for instance.) I’m not asking my teenage nephews for advice.

When my awesome hair stylist quit her Brooklyn Heights salon in a blaze of fire and glory (let’s just say the salon deserved it), she also took a break from styling to try flower arranging. (Because why not.) I posted a plea on facebook for stylists and got plenty of suggestions. I gave Brendon’s stylist Lucy a call because he is a millennial I actually know and that is now the rule of the game. Lucy is as great as Brendon said she is, and I’m so glad I went with his suggestion.

When I wanted a peppy playlist to get me to move like I’m 10 years younger, I stayed with the 80s-90s music I knew. Music discovery now is so alien to me. I’m definitely stuck in my Generation-X ways, which are long gone: alternative music or college radio. I don’t fully understand Spotify or Amazon Music or other streaming services that expose you to artists song by song based on an algorithm. As a subway commuter, streaming services aren’t appealing because of signal loss in the tunnels. So, I did the only thing I could think of: I got a bunch of those “Now That’s What I Call Music” albums and added them to my phone. The best thing that came out of this was discovering Lizzo. I’ve completely fallen in love with Lizzo. ALL HAIL QUEEN LIZZO. (Childish Gambino too, but I’ve been a fan of Donald Glover since his Community days.) I prefer music a little less produced. I need to talk to millennials to find out who and what they listen to. This will take more research.

Change up my look. As much as I’m thinking, moving, acting like a millennial, I have Generation X skin. I haven’t tailored my skin care routine in a few years, and I suppose I should upgrade my makeup to be “selfie ready.”

I notice that millennials (and Generation Z) apply makeup on the heavy side. That is, you can tell right away they’re wearing it, especially with the contour trend. While makeup in the 80s was also obvious, some of us preferred a more subtle, natural look, like the hippies (a/k/a the baby boomers). It’s taken some adjusting on my part to get used to makeup being for selfies rather than everyday lifes. I seek a happy medium: heavier than I normally wear (because as I’ve aged I need the coverage) but not so heavy it’s mask-like.

  1. Get guidance. I went to MAC. The millennial who helped me was a dream. I’ve always known I was olive toned, but found out I’m actually olive with golden undertones. I also found out that even though I’ve tended towards oily skin most of my life (acne, large pores…yeah, the teen years were loads of fun), I’m now a bit drier and need to moisturize differently. I’m now the proud wearer of MAC Studio Waterweight SPF 30 Foundation and MAC Studio Fox 24-Hour Smooth Wear Liquid Concealer (for the dark circles under my eyes I’ve been blessed with since birth). I have to admit, my skin looks fantastic in photos! I do have to blot throughout the day, though.
  2. Up your skin cream. I wish I were shilling for this brand, but I’m not shilling for anyone. Maybe one day. This is just honestly the greatest skin cream for fine lines I’ve ever tried, and I’ve tried a ton: Bye Bye Lines Anti-Aging Serum by It Cosmetics. This is the sh*t. It’s expensive but you only need a teeny bit, like half of a pea-size dot. It plumps my under eye area so well I can only use it once or twice a week, otherwise I look like I have allergies. And it’s great for plumping lips, which millennials are obsessed with.

Thinking, feeling, moving, acting 10 years younger… sounds great to me.

What else can millennials inspire me to do?

Pivot Like an Irishman

Ask a Millennial: what else can I do for fitness?

If you’ve seen The Irishman, you were probably impressed with the CGI that makes Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci look younger throughout the movie. In the accompanying The Irishman In Conversation, director Martin Scorsese discusses how CGI was viewed as makeup to help create the age illusions, but that portraying the characters at different ages took much more than CGI. “Your whole body has to act,” Scorsese says. They had to stand straighter, talk a little higher, take the stairs with a spry step as their younger versions. “You can’t fix your acting in post,” Pesci says.

I definitely move like a heavy, middle aged woman. I walk, but I don’t walk fast. I take the stairs carefully for fear of falling, or I take an elevator or escalator. This feeds my perception that I’m old, past hope. Stuck.

Pivot! Think like a millennial. 10 years younger puts me in my 30s. If I’m thinking like a millennial, I’m acting like a millennial. Which means I’ve got to move like a millennial.

Goal: Pep in my step!

  1. Upbeat songs. I live in NYC and walk everywhere. Not knowing what millennials listen to (future post!) I made a peppy pop Gen-X friendly 80s/90s playlist. I defy anyone to not love Janet Jackson’s Alright. As a former marching band member, I’m programmed to step in time to any music I’m listening to, so the more upbeat the music, the faster I walk, the more I swing my arms, and – side benefit – the more I smile.
  2. Spry stair steps. My subway station is the 4th deepest in NYC, 100 feet below street level. (There’s a duplicate set of stairs and escalators at the top of the photo below.) Obviously, I normally take the escalators both ways. But now, Ms. Jackson-if-you’re-nasty and I take the 8 flights of the regular stairs down and I walk up both sets of escalators. I’m huffing quite a bit at the top, but it’s what a fit millennial would do.

These small changes have really helped. I have more energy! I feel younger, especially bouncing down those stairs. If I’m thinking and moving 10 years younger, can I look 10 years younger?

Welcome to 100 feet below Roosevelt Island! There’s another set of stairs and escalators at the top of the photo.