Falling Off the Wagon

I got very caught up in getting my work out there yesterday and did not post.

I am tempted to say that I “fell off the wagon.”

But the fact is, I put my attention elsewhere. And as one of my mentors, Erin Stutland recently posted about, there is no wagon! I was just living my life. Sometimes I get to everything I plan to, sometimes I do other things.

So here I am today, taking the time to post. I had a casting this AM and am now in the midst of preparing scenes for classes and for auditions. I am also finishing the first draft of the teaser for the web series I am co-creating with my production company collaborators.

I can see that there’s a steady flow of getting my work out there going on this week.

But it doesn’t really feel like it.

That, I think, is one of the tough things about being your own boss. Running your own business. There’s very little tangible feedback the way there is when you work in a division, under a manager. You have to remember to give that to yourself. To inventory and acknowledge accomplishments (however small). To take time to make an honest appraisal of where your time and energy are going.

There’s no wagon to fall off, but there is a plan, after all. And there is a living to make…

And there is life to be lived. Today, I am choosing to live it with joy and grace and ease. And some sweat. And laughter. And maybe some dancing. Lots of creating.

What about you? How are you choosing to live today?

#TheGetMyWorkOutThereChallenge #daytwenty-two #keepgoing

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

 

Done is Better Than Perfect

Yep. This mantra has been life-changing for me over the past few years.

As a recovering perfectionist, I can go at something a zillion times to try to get it “ready enough.” I am all for high standards for oneself, but not when it becomes prohibitive to sharing my work. Not anymore.

Today’s blog post was another video I made. This one from day two. Again, not sent.

But today, it’s message applies as I was in a similar situation. I was asked to take on more and I said “Yes!” I am so glad I did. Stretching doesn’t always feel good in the moment, but over time, the benefits outweigh the discomfort.

And in the spirit of following through – of not holding on to something I made just because it isn’t perfect or I am not “made up enough” or I am second-guessing it because it is a week late (who do I think is coming, the internet police?), I am posting it today.

What will you say yes to today? How will you stretch tomorrow? Anything you are sitting on that it is time to let go of, let it fly into the world?

#TheGetMyWorkOutThereChallenge #DaySeven #DoneisBetterThanPerfect #SayYes #daretogobare

Unexpected Turns

I just discovered that I love directing!

This is after a lifelong love of acting.

I had never even considered directing. Always thought I didn’t have the brain for it.

(And who knows, maybe I don’t.)

But a fellow actress recently asked me to direct her in a one woman monologue play, and though I hesitated at first, something in me wanted to.

That part was almost drowned out by the voices that said what was I thinking? Who am I? I’ve no formal experience directing.

(Never mind decades of being directed, studying theatre and acting. Never mind helping fellow actors countless times stage and work on their auditions over those decades.)

But somewhere in the midst of the cacophony of negative voices, I felt a curiosity, an interest in the play, an interest in the actress who asked.

And so I said yes.

And it turns out, I am loving it.

Now, I have no intention of stopping acting.

But.

I want to continue exploring this new perspective within acting alongside my acting pursuits.

I want to do more directing!

Who knew?

(I’m so glad I listened to that quiet little voice.)

A Wrinkle in Mine

I recently got sent to a casting that actually welcomed wrinkles.

(Full disclosure: I am still not sure how I feel about being invited to attend the casting!)

Here is the actual wording of the casting notice:

These men and women are portraying people who were leftover hippies in their youth. They were drug users back in the day; this is how they contracted Hepatitis C. Bright Eyes are important. Somewhat weathered faces would be beautiful.

Now, there are some pretty “out there” notices that come across one’s computer. I have seen some real doozies. The wording used for many women’s roles can be pretty atrocious. (Also, those dealing with race and skin tone.) There is actually a blog that collects such notices, to “out” the people writing such sexist descriptions called Casting Call Woe.

This issue has gotten some press over the last few years, and there has been a commitment by some in the industry to do better. Rachel Bloom took a poke at this with a hilarious-in-a-sad-but-true kind of way in a well-publicized tweet in 2016.

I think the above notice handled things pretty gracefully, I think. It is unusual for “weathered” and “beautiful” to be in the same sentence in the advertising world. Knowing the casting director for that job, I am not surprised that the notice was so sensitive. If only they all were.

I have come along way in choosing to move through the remainder of my time on this planet with dignity, passion, grace and creativity. I am committed to being a part of changing the way our society views aging and older people.

And yet, I get called in for such a casting, and I admit it: I am relieved that I was not cast.

Sigh. I guess I have more work to do around this issue.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: wrinkle

Pay It Forward

Commit yourself to a mighty purpose.

– H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I was saved, in large part, by reading and acting.

Growing up, my friends, my hope, my pleasure, my education all came from what I watched and read. As this was before the internet, this meant books, magazines, television shows and movies.

I had friends, sure. And a family. But I didn’t trust most people, with good reason due to early trauma. So I turned to other resources for help. To what was available to me as a child: books and television.

Through them, I could enter into other worlds and become a part of them. This saved me from the intense loneliness I felt, the extreme “otherness.”

I have no doubt that were it not for books and movies, I would have descended into a kind of madness that might not have turned out so well.

Fortunately, I had a library and a television at my disposal. They brought me works that gave me hope that another life could be made for myself. They gave me company. They gave me connection.

Today, as I navigate my life as a performer and as a writer, I can think of no higher purpose for myself than to create work that can do the same for someone else.

I am on a never-ending quest to examine and understand both the light and the dark sides of human behavior. I’m drawn to works that explore and celebrate the human spirit. Stories of how people rise above the problems of life and the human condition to make change and follow their hearts. I have a soft spot for the seemingly ordinary moments and people in life: the underdog; the unsung heroes; the quiet, small moments that can sometimes hold a lifetime.

It’s my mission to collaborate deeply and bravely as an actor and singer with all of the people who make up a production, so that together we can create stories to inspire, educate, elicit, and evoke. To wake people up so that they may live life more fully and authentically and to embrace their lives.

I also volunteer as a reader with SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s BookPALS program. I read storybooks to kindergartners in hopes of sparking a lifelong relationship between children, reading and books that I hope will help them navigate the murkier waters of growing up, of life.

That is my mighty purpose. What is yours?

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: mighty

Freefall

I love to jump off cliffs.

This runs antithetical to just about every way I was conditioned growing up.

I come from very fearful people, stoic Protestants who practice “keeping things in the family,” “never let them see how you really feel,” and “stick close to home.” Cautious, careful, deliberate action-takers. Spontaneity? Not so much.

I never questioned it growing up. It was normal to me. Things like traffic and weather dictated activities. Never let them see you cry. Don’t show weakness. Therapy might as well have been witchcraft.

It is imbedded in my code, this desire to avoid potential problems. This fear of something bad happening if you are not careful at all times.

And yet.

I am no adrenaline junkie or extreme sports athlete. While I do enjoy a good rollercoaster ride now and then, I have not been ticking off a list of things I must do such as skydiving and bungie jumping, though if the occasion arose I might do those things.

But.

Years ago, at a quarry in Vermont, I discovered that inside me is a kind of a dare devil all the same. That there are times I want to take risks, when I must, in fact, take the leap.

I love to stand at a precipice and then jump off into a deep body of water. I just love that sensation in my body as I step off into the air, my heart in my throat as an unheralded scream of joy-fear comes out of my mouth. Those moments of being totally free and falling through the air are just so life-filled, so in the moment. I experience the rush of my own full life force. There’s a feeling of being at one with something outside of me and yet within myself all at once. And then, the landing into the water. Being encompassed, becoming one with it in those moments in the muted depths before surfacing. Astounded at having been saved once again.

Maybe those moments are my church, my sanctuary.

For those seconds I am not thinking, not watching, not taking care.

I just am, and I am far from alone, and it feels great.

I know that experience now, and I seek it out in other ways. In my work as an actor. I feel that same way when I fully invest in my character and truly lay deeply personal life and death needs on the line and take that same kind of leap into the scene. My partner and I leap into the air of the play and sometimes find astonishing moments of true experience together. Surprises, places unexpected. When it is over, the same astonishment and gratitude for having landed safely. This is also my church, my sanctuary. It, too, is holy.

My early conditioning and the family encoding have not gone away, maybe never will. I can still catch myself getting very anxious when it is raining hard and I am in the car with my husband, feeling as if we should go straight back home. I carry unwarranted dread around at times like a Pashmina shawl. It can feel comforting and necessary.

But that’s OK.

Today, I consciously choose times to allow my spontaneity to take the front seat, put caution and fear in the back and assure them that “I got this.” I look for more places to find my free-fall worship, and I’m so grateful that I do what I do for a living.

Acting as I know it is not for the feint of heart, and I am honored to embody the lives of people who are fighting to live better lives, love more fully, taking risks to get what they need.

For them, and for me, I am happy to take that step off into the air and see where it takes me.

#freefall #risk-taking #acting

Inspired by The Daily Post Word prompt: precipice