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

To Share Or Not to Share, That is the Question

I got called out today, by a classmate. A colleague, really.

And it got me thinking about something that I don’t like thinking about.

It is about my tendency to hold on to the really personal things from my life.

I crave connection and intimacy. I love to go deep. But there are some things that I keep for myself.

Now, I am an actress. And the kind of acting that I am interested in practicing and experiencing is deeply, deeply personal and requires of me that I get deeply, deeply personal. That I bring to it all of me, the good, the bad, the ugly.

I want and need to bring myself to my art. I truly do.

And I need to take care of the part of me that needs to hold on to certain things.

So how, you may ask, do I navigate these two needs?

I am figuring that out as I go.

See, when my classmate called me out today, she was basically asking that I be more forthcoming about the details of the things I am working on in class.

It is not that I am withholding. I know that. I am generous about sharing my experience, my struggles. When asked, I will give all I can.

When asked.

The tricky part is that there seems to be something in me that doesn’t feel the need to share about it otherwise.

My colleague’s desire to know more has filled me with questions. Some are new, some I have been kicking around for decades.

The truth is, I do not seem to have the same need to talk about my personal process. In acting, in life. I like to be in it, experience it. To talk about it feels so…empty and falls so short of the experience itself.

Is this because there is a young part of me still very much alive in me who was traumatized at age 6 and who has held on to that experience with her life, as if to put it into words means to give away the one thing she was able to retain during the ripping apart, the shattering apart of her soul into a hundred pieces?

Yes, that is for sure. I have always sensed this. But it wasn’t until two years ago after years of healing layer upon layer of wounds that I finally got to almost rock bottom and found this part. I was astonished and honored when she let me in and let me know her. I was so grateful when she trusted me enough to let me share her story with a trusted healer. It became my responsibility then (at least my adult part’s) to make her number one. To make her my priority. To make her feel safe and seen and attended to. And I have.

But, I have also wanted to begin to share myself more and more with others through my work and in my personal relationships. This blog has been a big part of a series of actions towards this end. And thankfully, this young part of me has trusted me through the process so far.

And I know, as far as I have come, there is more to go. And so when my colleague called me out, I knew that the time has arrived to go further.

Even writing this feels like a bit of a betrayal, but the adult actress in me also needs my loyalty, doesn’t she?

I also come from a family lineage steeped in “keeping a stiff upper lip”. “Not letting the neighbors see” the truth. A family of secret-holders with Olympian levels of the ability to deny and to pretend.

I have had to dismantle these inheritances within my instrument in order to be present in my life, as well as my art. In order to have meaningful relationships. To become intimate with myself and others. And I have done a great deal of hard work to get where I am today.

What is my responsibility to my fellow artists in this class? I mean, it isn’t about me accounting intimate personal details. That is just story. I have always told myself that I am personal through my work. Well, perhaps I need to get even more intimate with my work, then. Perhaps that is what I need to take from my classmate’s words to me.

Or is that yet a continuance of my ability to avoid really sharing?

How do I care for that part that needs protection from exposure and get deeply personal in my work? Do I have to share my process to be a generous artist? I thought I was generous. I do share in detail when asked. As a scene partner or a director, as a blogger, a storyteller, I am willing to go to the mat, to put it all on the line.

But otherwise, it feels a bit like chit chat or gossip or something. It feels like I lesson the importance of it in the sharing of it. And for that part of me, it feels like she is in danger of losing the one thing that she could hold on to when the trauma was happening. All those soul parts flew away. What remained was the pain and the horror, and those became new pieces of my self. The adult me knows that can never be hurt like that again. Knows that I do not have to give anything away like that again. The young part? I think she feels a loss in the sharing of it.

Do I need to share if I do not need to share?

I know in twelve step programs and group therapy, we do not just share for ourselves. We never know when we share our experience how it will help another. I know this, and have given freely in those situations.

I am not sure what do to as a result of her request. Or even if there is anything I need to do, or change. I am simply asking, digging, considering, examining.

Is my approach to protecting that part of myself limiting me as an artist? If so, then I really want to grow my ability to go beyond the places that are comfortable.

I sit with all of this, feeling a mix of sadness, of fear, of loss.

And, too, a feeling of gratitude for this colleague, for putting her need on the line, for taking the risk to ask more of me.

Perhaps I am ready to go beyond what I know about all of this. Maybe all the healing has brought me to a new place. Maybe the part who needs my loyalty is trusting that I will always honor the validity of her experience and keep her number one, forever, no matter what else.

Maybe this is what is known as wholeness, of integration.

I do not need to know all the answers today.

Today, I take my 6 year-old’s hand. I hold her on my lap and sing her a lullaby, and the actress/adult me writes this post and asks the Universe to show me the way through.

I breathe and I type and I sing and I listen.

#theartistsway #integration #healing #wholeness

I share my posts here.

 

 

Word for the Year Follow-Up

I did it. I finally found my word for the year.

Or, rather, it found me.

As 2018 ended, I went through my end of year review and my year ahead intention-setting. And I began to live in the questions: what did I want to be my guiding word, an anchor as I traversed the days of the year ahead?

What did I want more of in my life? What was I calling in?

I kept circling around different words. I’d try them on for a few days. I’d think I’d found it. I’d think I’d found it, but in time, something would not feel quite right about it. t was like wearing a new sweater that looked great in the store, but doesn’t really feel like me when I get it home and wear it for the first time.

And then one day, as I was driving home, just sort of trying on the sixth or seventh word, free-associating, a new word came to me. And as I repeated it to myself, I found myself deeply moved. So much so that I had to pull over.

And then I just knew. It was “the one.” It was something I was ready to live in, to aspire to, to own.

The word that I heard was “Core.” And then “Ownership.”

So 2019 is all about Core for me. And Ownership. It is about living from my core. Owning my truth. Knowing and expressing my true feelings.

Getting to intimately know my core self. My power. Living from my power. Listening to my gut. Trusting my intuition. Living from my creativity.

Trusting my own sense of reality and living as fully and freely as I can from a place of deep authenticity.

Expanding and deepening my inner strength. I have been doing Pilates for a few years, but I want to really gain mastery over the deepest, inner-most and lowest abdominal muscles. To fully know my own strength. To move from my strength, my Yoni.

It makes so much sense to me now that this is the word that found me. The work of the past few years have set me up for where I am now. From Track Yoga:

The third chakra—the manipura chakra—is the center of personal power. As you’d expect, it’s located in the core of the body, at the solar plexus. To fully be ourselves, we need a strong core. Balancing the third chakra means maximizing personal power and strength.

When energy flows through the third chakra, we feel a strong sense of purpose and self-worth. We’re able to exert power without being controlling or dominant. In other words, we take our rightful place in the world and live in peace among all beings. We are energetic and enthusiastic about the life we are meant to live.

The first and second chakras govern our sense of security and our ability to express ourselves creatively and emotionally. We need a strong sense of our own personal power to use those abilities. The third chakra, then, unleashes our creative force when we feel secure in the world.

And so here I am, 29 days in. It is my guide as I move through my day, making decisions. Am I listening to my core? Am I acting from a place of ownership?

I remind myself to breathe. To listen. To sense.

It feels so right. I cannot wait to see how the year unfolds.

What is your word for 2019, if you have one? How is it going so far?

#wordfortheyear #2019 #guidingword #intuition

I share my posts here.

Word for the Year

It is that time again. Time to choose a word for the year.

I began this process a few years ago, and it has become a personal tradition.

It is essentially finding a word (or words) that represent a theme for the year ahead. It can be a reminder. It can become a kind of anchor or guide. Something you are calling in. Something you are exploring. Expanding or growing into.

There are many ways to do it. Get creative. Have fun. Make your own.

I was introduced to this and still follow Susannah Conway’s way through. If you have not been introduced to her wonderful offerings, check her out. She generously makes them available for free! Go to Find Your Word for 2019.

I am taking my time. I have not chosen yet. And after I choose, I will write in the sand on the beach and let the waves wash it into the future.

Last year I had a slew of words! (I could not settle on just one.)

Daring Greatly/Stretch/Curious/Creative/Depth/Credibility/Courage

Guess what? My year was filled with exactly those. I look at those words and feel them residing in my core. I know them intimately.

I cannot wait to see what word I choose for 2019. (Or will it choose me?)

What word will be yours for the year ahead?

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