Sunday, April 29, 2012

If You Don't Like What You're Hearing, There's The Door

Holy hell! Ever since I quit my job in order to make space for writing, I've been working more than ever and have absolutely no time or energy to write anything other than ranty facebook status updates. 

My last day at PF looks to be sometime during the second week of June. A replacement has been found and I'm already training her in my sleep. I keep waking up stressed out over dream-conversations about finance reports. I am SO ready to get out of this day job and into whatever the world brings me, which at the moment looks to be bar work.

Lately the lessons have been flying hard and fast and I am so grateful that most of them come through joy now, rather than through hurt, anger, loneliness, mistakes and confusion the way they once did. I can see how much my decision-making played into having to learn that way, and that finding and then following that deep inner voice is the only way to step out of a bad cycle. It took me a long time to be able to hear it. Sometimes you have to act like you're a healthy thinker, even when you're not. And then eventually the thoughts align and things get easier.

My latest lesson is this little bar shift I'm doing at Bowery Electric. Jesse gave me the shift so I could get used to bartending again and have a foothold into earning money once I am out of my current job. I expected to suffer a bit, talking to afternoon drunks or forcing my friends to keep me company, but it has been so much better than that, and I know this has to do with my energy at the moment. I am sharing it with you now not because I want to brag about how smooth things are going, but more to talk about how when we are aligned with our inner choices, the outside world follows suit. I want everyone to experience synchronicity and lead the fullest life possible.

Someone said to me recently, "I'm so glad you're putting yourself out in nightlife again because you belong in the public and you've been hiding in offices for too long." This struck a chord.

I landed onstage "back in the day" not because I had major self-confidence. It was the opposite. I had a deep secret fear that I was a bad, useless person, so like many people, I created a persona that seemed more interesting, and I put that persona out there. I found I felt more comfortable on a stage than in one-on-one situations, much like many performers. The adrenaline of that overrode everything else, and on top of it I could garner positive attention that belied the way I truly felt about myself.

I was never a true musician or singer. The world can survive quite happily without ever hearing me sing again. I was able to get out there because of charisma, looks, and probably destiny. Although as much as I craved the attention, I think there was a part of me that felt overwhelmed by it, and I ran from it in the end. And once I did that, I had to find work.

I can see (NOW) that I purposely chose situations that mirrored those bad feelings about myself, not just with relationships, but with jobs. I chose to work with people who saw me as old in my 30's, plain when I once had been told I was beautiful, not skinny enough in a size 6 (yay...fashion!), and for the most part not relevant in my taste or opinions. I believed this to be true and felt older than I do now. I didn't know who I was or what I wanted and the outside world reflected my confusion and fear. I went into hiding.

I thought that I wasn't important unless I gave something someone required. I felt that I could only earn what I received if I worked twice as hard as everyone else for it. Can you imagine? I have this "rock star" history that I can call upon to feel cool, and it was that hard for me. What about the people who don't have that? What if you never feel cool? How susceptible are you to someone telling you you're less than? I would imagine very.

I recently heard Bishop TD Jakes say something fabulous. He said (I'm paraphrasing): "I am sitting on this speaker and it is serving me as a chair quite well. But it is not a chair, and that is not its higher purpose in this world. It was created for something else."

I frigging LOVE that. I can do bookkeeping. I like certain aspects of it and I can administer the fuck out of insurance and bank statements. But is it my destiny? Maybe for a time it was, for the lessons it taught me. But if I am a speaker, I don't want to serve as a chair.

So shut your eyes and picture yourself doing anything, ANYTHING in the world. Swimming with turtles. Singing onstage. Kntting tents. It doesn't matter. It might not be possible. But it might be possible. And maybe the journey toward whatever that is could lead you somewhere you hadn't even thought of, that unknown that might truly be where your happiness lies.

So, back to the bar shift, my own personal lesson in alignment:

I put in my notice at work, freaked out solid for a couple of weeks about doing something so rash, and about how bar work was gonna drive me crazy, about how confused I feel about who I am and what I'm supposed to be doing, about how I would die broke and alone, the oldest living bartender. And then slowly a sense of freedom crept over me as I realized whatever it was, it wouldn't be the same old thing that I hated. It might be something new that I hated, but at least it would be fresh.

The bar shift started off mostly with friends keeping me company. My friend Christa, who works in real estate, strong-armed her co-workers into joining her there after work most weeks. I owe her a dinner. Then my old friend and Squeezebox/Coney Island High comrade Tim Greer stopped in on the third week. He said, "I have time, and I want to DJ for you." I told him I had no budget to pay him, to which he responded: that'll come, let's just shut up and do it.

Well all right! So he started playing great music for me, and showing entertaining videos over the bar that keep people guessing or reminiscing or laughing. And then he named it "the Ho and the Mo" and began making flyers. I know, I know, heaven sent, this guy.


Each week it's gotten more crowded and more fun, I believe primarily because Tim and I are enjoying ourselves and that rubs off. People I haven't seen in years have stopped by to visit, and that brings great happiness. I'm so grateful to be re-connecting. And because I've been buried in offices for well over a decade, I'm in a mood to socialize and open to meeting new people in a way that I wasn't for many years. I'm friendlier than I was when I quit the clubs 15 years ago, because I feel better inside and ready for it.

My friend Sami Yaffa, a bona fide lifetime achievement rock star, said, "Lemme come down and DJ for you one week, just for fun." So Tim and I were like, hell yeah, let's get a guest star in here. 


Sami came on Friday and rocked the house and we had an amazing time. He also came up with our new tagline, which is: "If you don't like what you hear, there's the door!" Which in a way, can be applied to every aspect of our lives. Anyway, he had so much fun he's coming back for two more weeks before he leaves town again to play music with the Mike Monroe band.

I was so busy that I couldn't stop to talk to anyone, which I didn't necessarily love, but my wallet liked it. As I looked around the room at people smiling and talking, I could see that Tim and I had managed to create our own little rock and roll clubhouse. Because it's happy hour, it's early enough that all the "straight" people haven't come out of their expensive caves yet. It's not jammed, just comfortably populated with the rock and roll crew. It's our space for those few hours, to mold in whatever fashion we want, hear the music we want, then get out and have a life by 10pm. And now I'm ringing enough at the bar that Tim can get some pay for his effort.

So the lesson for me has been that if I bite the bullet and do what my inner voice tells me to do regardless of how fearful I feel, the Universe responds in kind. I finally understand that fearlessness is more about taking action to push past, rather than about quelling feelings of fear, which will probably always be there. I don't know how long this particular gig will last, but for now it's great and I'm making a bit of money, and I think that's the point of the exercise.

My time of unhappiness is done and now I can pay it forward in some small ways through this blog. I know I have certain things in my toolbox that others don't have which might make it look easier for me. But it's not that simple, and you have things that I don't have as well. 

We were not created to feel shitty, we just don't know how to make a move all the time. So just make a tiny move. Take a small step in the direction your heart is crying for and see what happens. Then when you're comfortable with that, take another step. It's not about making this giant goal and jumping from here to there. Thinking that way paralyzes people. It's more about following that voice regardless of the panic that dances around in your head. Fear and resentment are the enemy, an open heart is the path. If you step out, you will be rewarded. 

And if you need a drink to calm your nerves, you know where to find me. Just don't ask the DJ to play Gaga.



3 comments:

Skullgal said...

Another wonderful, inspiring post. A friend of mine is considering a big career change - I'm sending this her way. I wish more people understood the power of that first, tiny step. So many unfulfilled lives would change. May this post encourage someone to take that chance!

Anonymous said...

Wow. I needed to read this. Happened to look you up after many years and this was a great gift to me when I was feeling bummed on my sobriety birthday. Thanks for the inspiration Raff. I miss you! - An old friend from 50 west 23rd street :-)

Lisa J. said...

Thank you for this. :) I stumbled on your blog bc I was looking for more info on Larissa. Reading this bought tears of pain and relief. I'm in an office job and trying desperately to break free ( a begin my creative life)while healing pain from the past. Thank you for making me feel less alone.