Happy Holidays!   I love Christmas with the breathless passion of a toddler.  I wrap presents for weeks and look forward to the all-day-morning of the 25th where PJ’s are the uniform, and by noon I have a sugar hangover. But, my friends, so much bad stuff has been happening around our country and our planet that I find it hard to go about my regular life, much less prepare for the Holidays.

I mean, how do I prep for my daughter’s slumber party when 300 schoolgirls have been abducted from their families?

How do I wander the aisles at Target when there are massive garbage dumps in each of the world’s oceans, some twice the size of Texas!?

How do I worry about how moist my Thanksgiving turkey is when climate change will cross the tipping point by 2020 producing permanent catastrophic consequences? And when 16 million children in our country go to bed hungry?

I could go on and on, but you get it.

Simultaneously, comes the disemboweling feeling of, “it’s pointless, nothing I can do will help.” Yet not to do something feels ostrich-like and stupid. It seems my choices are either selfless dedication or hopeless hibernation.

So I asked my sisters and friends how they approach this dilemma and they pointed me in the direction of a statesman, an activist, a philosopher and a poet.

Vaclav Havel when asked if there is hope for the world said:
“Hope is a state of mind, not of the world…. it’s not essentially. …(an) estimate of the situation….Hope, in this deep and powerful sense is not …. (a) willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.  (Emphasis mine)

Martin Luther King advised:
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

That eloquently speaks to the larger dilemma of despair, but what of the insignificant things of my life placed against the backdrop of pain and violence that’s in the world?

Eckhart Tolle writes:
“The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for. Everybody’s life really consists of small things. The present moment is always small in the sense that it is always simple, but concealed within it lies the greatest power….Only when you align yourself to the present moment do you have access to that power. Or it may be more true to say that it then has access to you and THROUGH YOU TO THIS WORLD.” (Emphasis mine)

Mary Oliver says:
“Mostly: I believe in a lot of things….the inside of a wrist. Mostly: I believe in little things. This place. You.”

So, I guess the message is clear. Yes, have hope, the hope that resides beyond the assessment of our circumstances. And, yes, worry about the turkey, plan the slumber party, and even enjoy your sugar hangover.

When the problems seem insurmountable, I would love to know how each of you stay centered, hopeful and moving forward.

Happy Holidays,

Flicka

P.S.  Next week, in light of HOPE moving into ACTION (becoming part of the solution), I am asking people what their favorite charities are.

Let’s rejoice in the season of giving.

I used to wish I were Jewish. The coolest people all seemed to be Jewish and I wanted in the club and even have my own belated Batmizvah. But after spending four months in Austin, Texas I have replaced wanting to be one of God’s Chosen People with wanting to be one of God’s Texan People.  

Or maybe some mix of the two?

One of the many perks of being an actor is that you often get opportunities to live in different cities for months at a time. I have lived in South Carolina, Washington DC, Key West, Toronto, and London to name just a few.

But my newest love is the Lone Star State.

It’s the southern hospitality that makes me swoon.

My first day in Texas, when a man held the door open at Starbucks, I looked around expecting to see his family following or a person in a wheelchair, but no he was holding the door open for ME. This has continually happened. Men open doors for me, which instantly makes me feel giddy and oddly worthy. If more young men had held the door for me when I was younger – a lot more young men would have gotten lucky. I think this is the definition of “easy.”

Then there is the Texan warmth. On my third day of attending the same yoga class a woman (whom I now know as Amelia) came up, gave me a hug and said, “Hi, wanna go shopping sometime?” Amelia now texts me whenever there is an amazing sale going on in some cool, little, Austin store.

Next, some Texan friends invited my daughter and me to join them at a UT football game. First, a package arrived in the mail containing 2 bedazzled “Texas Longhorn” t-shirts. Then our new friends picked us up in their HUGE car, popped the back, filled HUGE cups with Skinny Margarita Mix and proceeded to throw a mini tailgate party in my driveway. We designated the 16 year old as the responsible driver and 3 Moms with 6 kids partied all the way to the stadium. Man, these people know how to turn anything into an adventure.

                                           The bedazzled Longhorn t-shirt. Wore it proudly.                                     Big car, big cups, big fun.

I rented a sweet little house in Austin with a screened in porch, where on my days off I have coffee and meditate. Within the first week of being here neighbors dropped off maps, lists of nearby grocery stores, and invitations to tea. One sweet woman brought over the contact list of all the neighbors in a 4-block radius which included their home phones, cells numbers, kids names and ages!

 Heavenly screened in porch where coffee and meditating happen.

On the weekends the kids have lemonade stands, and in the evenings I hear the neighborhood come alive with the sound of children playing in their yards. They are just dinking around, playing.  I can’t remember the last time I saw kids in that floaty-kind-of-bored-aimless space where they are actually MAKING UP THEIR OWN FUN.

Small Texan & trusty hound watching filming still wearing his gear from riding the range… and keeping Gotham City safe.

In a local grocery store, a very polite homeless man addressed Timothy Hutton, who plays my ex-husband. As Tim was wheeling his cart down the cracker aisle, the homeless man exclaimed, “Hey you look like… Tim….uh… Tim…Tim…”

“Hutton?” Tim replied.

“Yeah! Tim Hutton that’s who you look like!”

“Yeah,” said Tim, “I get that a lot.”

Then the guy looked at Tim with concern and said gently,  “Hey man, I hope I didn’t just insult you?”

I mean, I know everyone has a dark side (according to Kelly Clarkson and Carl Jung). I don’t agree with a lot of the politics in this state; I really get twisted up about the 13 women’s health and abortion clinics having been shut down and I don’t think we are on the same side of the fence when it comes to gun control. But this is America and we get to disagree and duke it out. I know for sure Texans are great to be around. They are enthusiastic and live life large; they are generous, polite and see the glass as half full. They go to church on Sunday and follow it up with a BBQ. I like their unapologetic stance that Texas is the center of the planet. Maybe it is. It takes a big state to grow Rick Perry and Wendy Davis.

True, Austin is the only city in Texas where I have lived, but it seems to me to be the jewel in the crown. Everyone here is a musician or at least a music lover. How can you not adore a city where within a couple miles you can find a band playing, kids dancing and older folks doing the two-step?

Older folks two-stepping – outside Central Market.

And I have happily tripled the number of republicans I know.

Giving thanks for Texas and for Austin and that I am lucky enough to experience new places and new people.

I wish y’all a Happy Turkey Day.

Love,
Flicka

Well, here it is, October 4th. I wanted to send you all October Felicitations and I have…nothing…nada…which is embarrassing.

I wish I could say, “The dog ate it,” or “I left it on the bus,” or “I dropped my computer in the toilet.” Or my personal favorite, used by an old boyfriend in college who shaved his head and told the professor, “I have a brain tumor.”

It’s… inexcusable… so here are my excuses:

I am commuting from Austin, TX for my work and back to LA for my family every 5 or 6 days. This means I am doing a lot of different jobs in two different cities and none of them well!

In Los Angeles, I am MIA for the “Teacher Appreciation Committee,” the middle school “New Parent Welcome Committee,” and field trips. My daughter got “dress coded” for her PE shorts being scandalously short. She grew two inches over the summer and I dropped the ball on getting her new school clothes. (She does look hot though.)

But, I also think I might be suffering from Anomic Aphasia, “A disorder which causes problems with recalling words or names.” (I was so worried about my symptoms I Googled it). The other week I sewed a button on my daughter’s uniform, and as I threw the skirt on her bed I yelled, “ There’s your Dirt! Get it in! And put on the car!” Two days ago as I was leaving for Austin, I kissed both girls at the breakfast table and said, “Goodnight, give me a bite.”

My daughters thought this was funny.

We all laughed and I said, “Oh my poor brain,” which made them hysterical because I actually said, “Oh my poor butter.”

In Austin, I have lost my car at the long-term airport parking and wandered around clicking my key fob hoping for a comforting beep … FOR AN HOUR! I have driven to the wrong shooting location six times. I now have the Assistant Director in my speed dial and consequently she answers my calls by saying, “Where are you?” I keep forgetting to wear underwear to costume fittings. As if publicly changing clothes for an hour isn’t humiliating enough, I now stand there in front of two or three people totally naked. I leave my belongings all over the set, in hair and makeup, in wardrobe, even on the sound truck which means at wrap I spend an extra 20 minutes wandering around saying, “Has anyone seen my…?”

See…it’s embarrassing. Do you feel me?

Bottom line: my working mother juggling act, which at its best was sadly mediocre, just fell to the level of “The Gong Show.”

So, if you happen to see me wandering around an airport parking lot pointing my key fob at the cars – throw me a granola bar and send me good thoughts.

Happy October, Halloween and Fall,

Love,
Flicka

My husband made me a mirror, for our sixth wedding anniversary.  It’s red oak with a wide-open grain. The style is American Craftsman and the hallmark of that era is that the beautiful workmanship can be seen. The joinery – where one piece of wood fits perfectly into another, where one-piece stops and the other begins, is visible. This mirror is not trying to hide anything. It wants you to see beauty in how it was built. Its purpose and its artistry are one.

But my mirror’s true artistry lies in how it reflects me.

It’s magical, because I look AMAZING in this mirror. No shit. I am not being poetic, or “loving myself the way I am.”  I look great. Whether I am rushing by in underwear to brush my teeth before dropping my kids at school, or stepping into a red carpet designer dress, my body looks smooth and strong and gorgeous.  It reflects back to me exactly what I want to look like.

And just in case you’re thinking, “Aw she just looks good in mirrors.” Let me set the record straight. I, like many women, have been known to leave dressing rooms in tears vowing never to take my clothes off in front of anyone again… including myself. I mean, when I stand in front of a normal mirror I look like a Lucian Freud painting. He makes everyone look like their insides are on the outside. It’s very artistic; I just don’t want to look like that.

Next you might be thinking, “Flicka, there has got to be another explanation – I mean all mirrors are created equal.”

Maybe…maybe it’s just that I don’t have my glasses on or the lighting is super-dim in my closet. Maybe if I really investigated the magic in this mirror, it would stop being real, but see, I DON’T CARE IF IT’S REAL!

The report this mirror gives me is so encouraging, such a relief, and so pleasurable, that I don’t care if it’s a great work of fiction, because this mirror, that my husband made for me, reflects back with the prejudice of love. 

I read somewhere that good marriages are built on who each of the people think the other person is – not necessarily who they really are.

For example, I worked with a man whose wife was a cold, nasty, controlling woman. Everyone who met her went, “whoa – scary.” But he thought she was the kindest, most wonderful woman ever. When he talked about her he would say, “ I mean, you know Carol, she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.” And, what could we do but nod our heads in wonderment.

But maybe that is HOW he saw her so that is who she was with him.

I can only assume that the magic in Bill’s mirror is the transformative power of love. Being reflected by somebody with love transforms your own experience of yourself.

Thank you for this, Bill, and I hope as our girls go through their teenage years I’ll continue to see the joinery of our family: where I stop and they begin. I know they will need to be separate from me, but still be joined and no matter what, that I reflect back to them with the prejudice of love.

I would like to pass this mirror down to my girls. But as I think of it, perhaps their husbands will have to build them their own magic mirrors.

Do you have someone in your life who sees you as a swan when you feel like a goose?

Do you have your own magic mirror?

Here is to love in August,

Flicka

Okay, I am going to drop the F bomb… ready?

Feminism!

Did you scoff? Did you roll your eyes? Or did you sit up and smile?

The stereotype of a feminist used to mean a man-hating Amazon with bad hair, prickly legs and orthopedic shoes. Old news, right?

But there is still a shameful residue associated with the word. Admitting you’re a feminist, feels a little like admitting you’re a Sister-Wife to an Elder Mormon. But possibly the prevailing attitude nowadays is more, “Hey! We don’t need labels! Aren’t we beyond all that?”

I have to admit I was in both of those camps. But in the course of the last couple of months, I have gone from knee jerk recoil to a full-hearted yes! Here’s why:

Back in May I was invited to be a panelist at the 2nd annual Forbes Women’s Summit, which is the brainchild of Moira Forbes.

There were women of all ages, all professions, all ethnicities, and all nationalities, coming together to share, brainstorm, and expand our horizons. How cool is that?

My panel took place on the first day and was comprised of five women. Our topic was, “The New Face of Feminism.” Carly Fiorina moderated it. She is the first woman to lead a fortune 100 company and is at the forefront of empowering women to be agents of change.
Next was Khalida Brohi, a young Pakistani woman who fled her small village in the dead of night after witnessing the “honor killing” of her 16-year-old friend after the friend married someone she loved instead of the family-approved choice. She has since started the Sughar Empowerment Society to help rural Pakistani women with education, skills and promote economic growth. Khalida quoted her father’s galvanizing advice: “My dear, don’t cry, strategize.”

There was Maysoon Sayid, a female comic, who is also disabled and Muslim. This trifecta she turns into the very rocket fuel she needs to succeed, be powerful and be really funny. Check her out on youtube, you won’t be able to stop laughing or stop yourself from falling in love with her.

Finally, there was Diane Von Furstenberg. She started designing in 1970 and has since reinvented herself numerous times as a fashion brand and remains a powerhouse today. DVF quotes her mother (who survived the Holocaust) with two sentences that deeply impacted her life: “Being a woman is a huge advantage” and “Fear is not an option.”
 
These women were feminists. It didn’t matter if they were wearing a business suit, a traditional Muslim sari, or hip New York black, they were the real deal and it was electrifying. They came to the issue from very different paths but ended on the same position: a level playing field for all.
 
I won’t be self-deprecating and say, “what was I doing on this stage?” …But come on!  What was I doing on this stage? What did I have to contribute? I wasn’t even sure what the definition of feminism was. So, in the weeks before the Forum, I feverishly read and researched women’s issues and the history of feminism. There were five or six BIG QUESTIONS the panel was going to tackle, and I didn’t want to embarrass myself.

I read a wonderful book, A Call to Action, by President Jimmy Carter.

He wrote, “I have become convinced that the most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge is the deprivation and abuse of women and girls. This is not just a women’s issue. It is not confined to the poorest countries. It affects us all.”

Okay, my first lesson: we are not “beyond all that.”

My second lesson came from my 13-year-old daughter. On a hike one day, I asked her what she thought feminism means. Without a pause she answered, “A person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.”

I was stunned! “Where did you learn that?” 
“It’s in Beyonce’s song ‘***Flawless,’” she replied and then she quoted Chimamanda Adichie’s TED talk  We Should All Be Feminists mimicking her English accent perfectly.  “Wow…and are you a feminist?” I asked. “Oh, yeah,” she replied, “Isn’t everyone?”
 
My third lesson was revelatory; I realized my original recoil was just an ingrained assumption, much like other ingrained assumptions over the ages: women belong in the home, shouldn’t have the vote, access to birth control or any number of beliefs that women first accepted, then questioned and finally challenged.

All of this led me to the conclusion that, yes! I am a feminist. I want equality for all women on all fronts. I mean, to paraphrase my daughter, who doesn’t, right?

On the day of the panel I sat backstage pouring over my 10 pages of notes; trying to pretend that chatting with Diane Von Furstenberg was not a big deal. She said things like, “I have never met a woman who is not strong. She might not show it, but her strength always comes out.” I said things like, “I like your fishnets.”

She also burst my bubble by glancing at the panel questions and announcing,  “Oh… they are all really the same question, no? Just … rephrased.” “Yes,” I agreed and surreptitiously shoved my 10 pages of sweaty notes in my purse.
The panel was a big success, the women were fascinating, smart and insightful, and I believe I held my own. I know I learned a lot.

So I want to ask the What The Flicka? community the first question and according the DVF the only one:

What does feminism mean to you and are you a feminist?

I ask this question because I think the first thing that needs to happen is an inquiry, which then moves into discussion and then into action. As Harvey Milk said, “Rights are won only by those who make their voices heard.”

Wouldn’t it be lovely if feminism were unnecessary because it has been replaced with equality?

I would love to hear your voices. What are your thoughts?

Love,
Flicka

It seems every billboard or ad I see is screaming about: “Get Back in Shape for Bikini Season!” or, “Your Summer Wardrobe – What Every Woman Needs!” Those ads fill me with anxiety and dread. “Oh God! I am not working on my summer body!” I say silently as I drive home eating my daughter’s leftover Fig Newtons from her school lunch. Or I wonder (as I troll internet shopping sites when I should be working), “Am I too old to wear shorts and high heels?”

In retrospect, I realize I spent the first part of my adulthood worrying about being too fat, and now that I am in the second part I am worrying about being too old, different lyrics, same tune. What’s wrong here?

The first part (before my legs melted like candlesticks and my face started falling off my face) when I was in my late teens, 20 and 30’s my body was slightly bigger than the ideal except for those years I was anorexic and bulimic, then I really had the size thing down. Of course my period stopped but who cares about such things when you can fit into a size 25 jeans?

I gauged every year, every era and every trip I took by how thin I was. “Oh I loved that trip to Mexico. I weighed 118.” “Oh, Ireland was awful, I weighed 150.” When I was twenty-two, I took a trip to St. Barth’s with my boyfriend (who later became my husband). We had a wonderful time sans a wicked bladder infection and ruthless insomnia. We ate bread, cheese and chocolate and drank wine until the wee hours. We got cool French cigarettes and smoked them out in the gravel parking lot of our weird cheap hotel. But what I really remember from the trip were the photos. I was running around topless in a Jane Fonda workout thong. My boyfriend snapped away as I frolicked in the waves. I thought I looked like Brooke Shields in Blue Lagoon, but when the pictures came back I looked like Honey Boo Boo in bright pink butt floss. I was devastated and humiliated, “Cover that shit up!” I thought to myself, “Have you no shame?”

Years later, I was sitting in a hairdresser’s chair on a movie getting ready for a day of shooting. I was cataloging my facial faults: my lips are too thin, my face is too long, my teeth are so big that my smile looks like a monkey’s attack face, blah, blah, blah. This wonderful hairdresser, who works with all the HUGE STARS, turned to me and said: “I have had some of the most beautiful women in my chair, and none of them, not a SINGLE ONE, ever felt beautiful. Not one of them enjoyed or appreciated what she had.” That sentence has stayed with me.

So, now the complaint is my body is too old. And as far as I know that’s not negotiable. I can’t go on a diet and “get young.” And, as my husband comfortingly told me, “it’s only going to get worse.” I am not sure what the answer is, but it does make me sad that I have spent my life regretting what is NOW.

unnamedSo, back to the question at hand,  what will I wear this bathing suit season? There is always my old standby: The Bhurkini: knee length swim skirt, turtleneck rash guard and sunhat the size of a large pizza? Or maybe I should follow the lead of elderly French women who have the guts to rock bikinis at 70 and 80 –  wrinkles and floppy skin be damned!

The answer is neither, but recently I found a fashion staple that if added to my wardrobe might lead me out self-loathing and into self-care. It wasn’t in Cosmo or Vogue, but on Facebook written by one of my hero’s (who I talk about a lot), Mary Oliver. She writes:

“I accidentally forgot to starve myself in December, or to go back to the gym, which I’ve been meaning to do since I had a child, 24 years ago…I can still get my jeans on, for one reason: I wear forgiving pants. The world is too hard as it is, without letting your pants have an opinion on how you are doing. I struggle with enough self-esteem issues without letting my jeans get in on the act.”

Yeah!! That’s what my summer wardrobe is going to consist of: FORGIVING PANTS! Actually, I want a whole wardrobe of FORGIVENESS. Maybe if I can get this concept to take root and blossom, I might be able to choose a bathing suit or jeans based on WHAT FEELS GOOD, as opposed to what it hides or what it proves.

And I am going to make you a vow right now! If I find a pair of pants in my drawer that make me feel bad or that comment on the size of my thighs or the puff of my muffin-top every time I put them on … I am going to throw those sassy-mouthed, nasty-ass pants away. (And there is a pair of pants in my drawer that know exactly what I am talking about, they started insulting me in the store and haven’t shut up yet.)

Clarification: I am not endorsing SAD PANTS, RESIGNED-TO-MY-SHAPE PANTS or ORPHAN PANTS. I don’t want to look uncared for, depressed or abandoned.

I want to follow the lead of my sister, Jane, who declared, “I will only wear clothes that put a smile on my face.” What about you? Any clothes that have been talking smack that need to be tossed?

Maybe we should start a club? We need a secret handshake or maybe we could just exchange Fig Newtons as we pass by each other wearing a grin. Waddya say?

Love,

Flicka