The Wall Within

Well, I hit a wall of resistance. (And I lost.)

I had planned last Friday to post a video I made for an audition submission, and then, promptly got “too busy” to post it…

Monday came and went…Tuesday came and went…

I could have posted some other content, but some part of me knew I was rat-finking on myself by doing so, so what did I do instead? NOTHING.

Well, that is exactly the sort of behavior that will keep me stuck in my room with my own creations. And that is not where I want to be, ultimately.

So here I am, today. Here is the video I intended to post Friday. Day twenty-five.

Not sure why it is so scary. Fear of judgment? Certainly. But life is filled with judgement. Judgement need not be a four letter word. Judgement is preference, choice. I am all for those.

Fear of criticism. OK, now we are getting closer. Ahhhhh. Sensitivity to being criticized. That is where I need to work up a callus. Develop a thicker skin over the tenderness of my own creations.

Be with the tender and raw vulnerability of sharing creations and yet stay on my own side around whatever chips may fall as they may.

I am good with constructive criticism until I am not…I mean I say I welcome it, and the artist and professional in me do, but deep down inside another part of me dreads it.

So here I am, holding that part’s hand as I share something I made for a general submission for theatre representation. I am resisting pointing out the flaws that I know are in it so as to pseudo-cushion any “blows” that I imagine coming my way.

Today’s post is about being more interested in sharing it than of my fear of doing so.

To be more curious about sharing something and then moving on to create the next thing than of holding on to something and never letting it see the light of day.

What are you keeping in the safe space of your own home that needs to be put into the world?

Do you want to stay with fear or go with curiosity this time?

#DayTwentyFive #TheGetMyWorkOutThereChallenge #facedownresistance #thecreativeprocess #creativityiscollaboration

In the Meanwhile…

I did a solo cabaret show in 2010. I loved every moment of co-creating it, preparing it, rehearsing it, performing it. Every moment.

Then I recorded five songs from the show, also in incredible experience, though quite different.

Here’s a song from the show and from the CD. (I have copies for sale, but at the time, I was too shy about it to share them, and now, of course, no one buys CDs anymore! But I loved creating it, and I feel like sharing it, so here it is.)

The song is “Hey There” from the 1954 musical Damn Yankees by Richard Adler & Jerry. One of my idols, Rosemary Clooney, made it a huge hit. Here’s a video version of her singing it that includes the song’s verse, which is seldom sung. She’s amazing.

My cover of “Hey There” was recorded with Rick Jensen playing a beautiful grand piano and Mark Wade playing his upright bass in the beautiful Laughing Buddha Studios, NYC.

From the show and CD “In the meanwhile…”
Arrangements & Musical Direction by Rick Jensen
Recorded at: Laughing Buddha Studios, NY, NY 2005
Engineered by: Jim Sweeney, Julio Pena

Photography by Joseph Moran
Graphic Design by Dayna Navarro

#cabaret #thegreatamericansongbook #standards #cover #singer #recording #TheGetMyWorkOutThereChallenge #Day Thirteen

Nothing

I got nothin’ today.

Seriously.

I did go to my acting class, which is something. I have been taking a serious craft class for years, whenever my teacher is here in NYC teaching, which is four times a year, a month at a time.

How does this constitute “getting my work out there?” Does it?

Does working on may craft count? I may not have anything to “show” for my time there, but boy there was a great discussion in class tonight.

The words that jumped out at me were “tolerate”, “risk” and “intimacy”.

Tolerate as in the tolerance of exploring deeply. As in the ability to develop a tolerance for the discomfort that is necessary in the course of exploring deeply. Tolerance is a muscle I can strengthen. And in doing so, I will expand my ability to dig, go to places that plays and characters require of me. I have felt this muscle get stronger in my own journey. But it is very easy to let that muscle get flabby. To get lulled into seeking the comfortable or the known.

Risk-taking as the means for learning, for gaining new information. Re-thinking or reframing what “failure” means in exploration. Full commitment to an idea to explore for a scene, whether it “succeeds” or not, will bring information that cannot be gained by doing nothing or waiting for perfection.

But the greatest thing I heard tonight is this: “Intimacy is transformative.” WOW. The idea that it is the intimacy in art that we respond to. Autobiographical versus personal — that there is no risk in the former as it is factual. But being truly “personal” is intimate. And intimacy in art can create change, shift, connection, association, reflection.

I am reflecting on all of the performances that have moved me, and they all contained intimacy. Whether it was a clown show, or improv or stand up, or a play, or a film, or a song. Or a storyteller.

One of my recent mantras is: Life begins at the end of my comfort zone. I think the Universe is trying to tell me something!

#TheGetMyWorkOutThereChallenge #DayEleven #intimate #art #create #risk #tolerate

 

 

The Party Bus

I love working on my birthday. I know, strange.

One of my favorite working birthday memories was some years ago while on tour with the zany musical, “Church Basement Ladies.”

I loved doing the show, and being on tour was a welcome distraction from the grieving life had brought me to following my mother’s death earlier that year. It was autumn and we were in the Blue Ridge Mountain area. The foliage was breathtaking.

On the day of my birth this particular year, it was a “two-show day,” meaning we had matinee and evening shows. We’d been in this small city for a day already, and earlier in the week I had hatched a plan for celebrating my big day.

So when we got to this city, I found a bakery nearby and ordered myself a huge decorated sheet cake – my own birthday cake – the day before. I told no one.

On the day, in-between shows, I did laundry, and walked a few miles to find some booze for the cast and crew. I was throwing myself a surprise party that night after load-out! I didn’t drink, but the cast and crew highly valued a drink once we were all packed up onto the bus and on the road again, headed to a new stage, a new city.

I was so excited about my surprise “party”! I just felt so good, I wanted to share the feeling.

I think they were a bit stunned, and who knows what they really thought about it, but I loved it.

(Especially the cake.)

I look back and see that that was a key birthday for me. I was beginning to get something…that I didn’t have to wait around for someone to throw me a party. I had full license to make my own joy, however and wherever I could.

What a beautiful lesson and gift.

For day eight of my Get My Work Out There Challenge, on this day of my birth, I am working, and glad for it.

Here’s a press clip from that show – so fun. William Christopher played the pastor (remember him, from M*A*S*H?), and the cast and crew were so talented. I made some good friends on that tour, and got my Equity card. The musical was funny and touching, and the music and harmonies and dancing were just pure joy.

Today I celebrate my life, my art, my joy, my ability to make life a surprise party.

What do you celebrate today?

#TheGetMyWorkOutThereChallenge #DayEight #celebrate #tour #actress #ontheroad #birthdayparty

 

HeartSpace

My post today was inspired by an incredible poem quoted by the incredible Erin Stutland in one of her meditations. [Erin’s work is amazing: check out her book “Mantras in Motion” and her app The Movement.] Dorothy Hunt’s work is also amazing. Both women’s creativity and lives inspire me to follow my own creativity in my own life.

Peace is This Moment Without Judgment
by Dorothy Hunt

Do you think peace requires an end to war?
Or tigers eating only vegetables?
Does peace require an absence from
your boss, your spouse, yourself? …
Do you think peace will come some other place than here?
Some other time than Now?
In some other heart than yours?Peace is this moment without judgment.
That is all. This moment in the Heart-space
where everything that is is welcome.
Peace is this moment without thinking
that it should be some other way,
that you should feel some other thing,
that your life should unfold according to your plans.Peace is this moment without judgment,
this moment in the heart-space where
everything that is is welcome.

HeartSpace

Somewhere deep in the recesses of my heart

There lies a nook that houses secret things

Like a child’s hiding place of special tokens

In a treehouse or the back of a closet, where

Treasures and other things of import reside

Become forgotten in the process of growing up.

I found that nook, I unearthed what it held

The hurts from being bullied, the times I never told

The part of me that broke apart when I didn’t get picked

to be in Drama Club, that sorority, a date for the dance

The times I was terrified I was losing my mind, felt so alone,

When really, I was finding my sanity, waking up from a coma.

I found these things and so much more – and I dusted them off

I found a prominent shelf in the middle of my heart

And placed them upon it, one by one, with a kiss and a caress.

I have inventoried and know my parts intimately now

Nothing’s in shadow, I shine the light on all I am

Nothing more to be hidden for I am a child no more.

 

#TheGetMyWorkOutThereChallenge #DaySix #truth #heart #dorothyhunt #erinstutland

 

 

 

 

 

Camp

One of my favorite commercial experiences was a commercial for Verizon Wireless for Comedy Central. I can usually tell how a shoot will be from the audition. Not always, but often.

At this audition, they actually wanted us to go “big.” These days, the more “real” you can be, the better. So when they asked for it to be big, I was shocked, and I was thrilled. And when I got the word that I had booked it, I knew it was gonna be a fun one.

I arrived to set, anticipating a great day. I had seen from the call sheet I got the day before that the director was a woman. This was really exciting! Kathy Fusco, a seasoned director, had a body of amazing work and I could not wait to play under direction. (A sobering fact: she is still to date the only woman director I have worked with on a commercial in all these years.)

I went into hair and makeup, and there my hopes were confirmed: this was gonna be a campy romp of a commercial. The makeup artist was directed to go all out with my makeup. Remember Faye Dunaway’s look in “Mommie Dearest?” I looked like her cousin when they were done with me. I loved it.

Once in action on set, things moved fast. But I loved every moment of it. My scene partners were great, and I was able to find some space to improvise, which is my favorite thing. Once the commercial came out, I was so thrilled to see that one of the unscripted moments had made the cut.

How about some cheese with that ham?

I left flying high, so happy to be doing what I love. Appreciating the chance to be campy and big. Sometimes it all just flows, and this was one of those times.

#thegetmyworkouttherechallenge #daytwo #commercials #actress #camp #comedy #comedycentral

They Call the Wind Maria

In the very mysterious and incredibly miraculous way that most of life’s best experiences happen, I had the opportunity of traveling to Greece a month ago. We stayed on the islands of Santorini and Mykonos. I could (and may) write numerous posts about my experiences there. But today, all I can think about is the wind of Mykonos.

Greece had never been on any list of mine, and yet I found myself drawn to go there for reasons that were unclear to me at the time. I was in need of ease and a low-key kind of trip when this decision to follow my “yes” to go to these islands made itself known to my heart, so I did not plan anything about this trip. I did not do any research (unusual for me,) and as for the travel details, I left it all in the hands of an amazing travel agent, Judy Likouris. (This was a first for me. It was terrific. She is a fantastic human and super good at travel arrangements!)

So when we left the languid heat of Santorini for Mykonos, disembarked from the boat and promptly lost our hats to the whipping wind, it was a total surprise. The “it” I am referring to is the wind of Mykonos.

I have never had an especially particular relationship to the Wind. I did grow up loving a song from the movie musical “Paint Your Wagon” called “They Call the Wind Maria.” Maybe it was gorgeous baritone and heartfelt rendition of Harve Presnell, the actor who sang it in the film. His voice held such longing for the woman he had lost — I wanted to know being loved with such a longing. I have carried that song with me ever since. It finds me at odd times here and there and I will find myself singing or humming it with a great nostalgia. If you’ve never seen his performance in the movie, you are welcome in advance.

That was my relationship to the wind until I stepped onto that island. The wind of Mykonos is famous, as it turns out. The island’s name “Mykonos” translates to “The Island of the Winds.” You have to experience it to believe it and understand it, but trust me when I say that this wind is powerful, fierce, mysterious and alive in a  very special way.

Much of the detail I could give you about the wind would be sourced from this wonderful blog article by Rika Z. Vayianni on the very subject from the website “Greece Is.” It is so well-written I leave it to you to read, but I brought just a few tidbits to tempt you here:

Because, you see, there are many names and there are many winds. And then there is “The Wind.” The Meltemi is a mainly northern wind that often joins forces with its neighboring directions of the compass – mostly pairing with the east to create the Gregos, or slightly less often, with the western wind to produce the Maistros. The Meltemi itself is a child born of two extremes: Every summer, the low barometric pressure from the Balkans clashes with the higher, hot blasts from Africa. In this way the Meltemi is formed, fluctuating in force from playful to fierce, gaining strength as the sun rises and calming down as dusk falls. 

This natural “air-conditioner,” as the locals call it, tames the heat and lowers humidity. Deeply Greek in its essence, it has shaped the geography, architecture and civilization in this corner of the world for millennia. From classic antiquity, when the etesians (“yearly winds”) were thus named after being studied by the great Aristotle himself, to this very day, the Meltemi (from mal tempo, or “bad weather” in Italian) still affects the lifestyle of both locals and visitors. It will ultimately leave its mark on your own Mykonos holiday album.

Some tourists who visit the island spend their time complaining of the wind. I can understand that. I am an aural person and can, at times, have hearing sensitivity. The wind in Mykonos is not just about texture, force or velocity. It doesn’t just blow around whatever is in its wake. It also has a voice.

The people I was visiting with were mostly irritated by the wind on its strongest days. It kept many indoors. It was incessant. It felt even dangerous at times. Granted, we were on the northernmost tip of the island where the winds were the strongest.

I felt at home in that wind in a way I cannot explain. I felt held, supported, encouraged, nourished, spoken to, given to. I felt the wind matched the internal character of my spirit. No one would ever look at me and think, “Oh, she seems like the Mykonos Wind!” But inside, I feel like it. So I suppose, in a way, I met my soulmate on Mykonos. The wind.

I would go off and sit on Mykonos’ craggy bluffs and whisper into the wind. I howled and raged into the wind. I sang into the wind. I pleaded and cried into the wind. I gave the wind my secrets, my heart’s dreams, my deepest wounds. And she generously took them all and gave me to hold in their place a knowing in my bones that I was more than enough as I am, that I already had all that I needed to do whatever it is I want to do, and that everything would always be alright. That I had finally found an essential  part of myself that I had always been longing for.

It has been a month since I set foot there. But I carry that wind with me. It only takes an instant when I turn my mind to it for me to realize that I am hearing it, too. It calms me to connect with it. I feel less alone. I do not in any way understand this. I know I will be there again, someday. But more importantly, I know it is forever with me, too.

I am not the only one. The wind of Mykonos is a generous Goddess. As Vayianni says:

You might stay forever, you might leave and come back or you might never set foot on the island again. But the sound of sea and waves, the continuous murmur of the ever-present Meltemi, will leave a distant echo locked in memory.

I have a name for this phantom wind, too. I call it “Windmills of your Mind,” after a melody composed by Michel Legrand, for the film The Thomas Crown Affair. I liked the title and stole it to name my very own ghost Meltemi, my Mykonian wind of nostalgia.

I have not given my own personal name to the Mykonos wind. And I no longer call the wind Maria. Me and the Wind, we are beyond names somehow. We just know each other. And that is more enough for me.

#Mykonos #wind #soulmate #soul #elements #thegetmyworkouttherechallenge #dayone