My battle with stuff Vs feeling began as a child. I had a troll doll.

The early ones had rooted hair tied in a ponytail, hiding the entrance into a hollow empty shell. You gave your doll life by filling that hole with all that she needed to be happy and alive. Years later, I found my troll and dumped out the stuff I had given her. I found three slips of paper, written in six-year-old script. I gave my doll heart, guts, and feeling. Decades later, I return to the truth behind those three simple words. Who would have thought that my journey to a big life meant going small?troll-dolls

As a tween, I entered the rat race. Hierarchy replaced childhood simplicity.

Being the prettiest, sexiest, most popular, and a host of other ‘bests’ now defined my goals. I went after everything happiness could buy. I watched Miss America and I wanted to be her. I read about Margo Fontaine and I wanted to dance her. I read “The Happy Hooker” and my shy and inhibited self wanted to be bold like her. I’m horribly dyslexic and I hated to read, but I poured through biographies, learning all I could about the power of greatness. After all, wasn’t being the best the key to happiness?

I graduated high school, having no idea what I wanted in life. After a year of rock and roll rebellion, I went to college, got mostly A’s, won a big contest, moved in with a boyfriend, scored a prestigious Seventh Avenue design job. I was on track! After a few years at the big job and a brief affair with my bosses son, I moved up to a high-paying job at a cheap house, then left there for a low-paying job at a fancy French house.

None of it made me happy.

I remember sitting on an uptown bus, gazing into the lit up windows of The Dakota, and seeing a strange paradoxical misery behind each pane of glass. You can’t get into The Dakota without a high level of pedigree fame and prosperity. Shouldn’t a view into those lives scream freedom and joy? Why did the rooms behind the glass feel like sad lonely cells?Dakota-Building-NYC-2-L

At the time I was feeling imprisoned by my own life. I was young and courageous, and I longed for something that my chosen path to happiness wasn’t giving me. I wrote journal after journal, analyzing my heartbreaks, my victories, my failures, all in my search of the missing link. I knew I needed to get beyond succumbing to comfort and the desire to please. I knew I needed a pure unadulterated connection with my own authentic self. I just didn’t know how to make that happen.

Hollywood came calling with big adventures and I left the fashion world behind.

Bar jobs and acting classes followed. Eventually I found my niche as a writer. My journey to my authentic self was on, but I hadn’t lost connection with my old definitions of happiness. I wrote for commercial success. I desperately wanted to sell something. With that, my quest for bestness would be on track.

My first script garnered major industry attention. I dreamt of the validation, the parties, the money, the new friends, the new life. I even went shopping for new clothes that I would wear in that life. Ann Taylor was having a big sale, and this new person I would be would look savvy and smart just like those suits looked. The turning point came when two planes dove into the World Trade Center.

On September 10th, 2001 I flew to my parents’ home in PA for a joyous summertime visit.

On September, 11th, my mom woke me up to see the second plane fly into the tower. My first thought: “we are at war.” My second thought: “what am I doing with my life that matters?” Both thoughts left me feeling horrifyingly empty, like if the world ended tomorrow, how had I made it a better place? I wanted a life with meaning. that would be my goal. Ten days later, I flew back to Los Angeles and re-entered the rat-race, but a tiny spark within had been ignited.