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

To the Core

I used to hate myself.

Seriously. I hated just about everything about me. I was fixated on the way I looked: I felt like a monster, something grotesque, misshapen, disgusting.

This was painful, and difficult. It is hard to relate and be in the world when you have that kind of hatred for your body.

But as I look back, the most painful kind of hatred I felt towards myself was the hatred I felt for the ways I felt and thought. I felt tormented by my own mind and feelings and sought escape in every way imaginable, including close contemplation many times and one failed attempt at ending my own life. I could not get away from this internal self I so hated. I felt like a freak trapped inside a monster’s body.

I wasn’t born with that kind of self-hatred. It developed slowly over time in my early years following trauma that created a kind of split from my own core. Losing connection to my core made me vulnerable to the outside world in a way that was devastating.

With a healthy core intact, dealing with bullies and the other social pressures at school is painful and impactful but does not warp one’s self-perception.

With a healthy core intact, a person can withstand the challenges that exist in most childhood homes where there are people with untreated mental issues, and where there are emotional, sexual and physical abuses or neglect as a result of parents who themselves were abused or neglected.

Without a healthy core intact, the affect of these kinds of external forces become stronger, louder than one’s own innate internal sense of self, sense of well-being, of any innate self-support. As a result, these events, people and experiences bend and shape one’s sense of inner and outer self and reality.

The best way I can describe living without that connection to my core sense self is to have been like a tissue blowing in the wind, this way and that, getting stuck wherever the wind took me.

I do not have multiple personality disorder, so I cannot speak to what that experience is like, and I do not mean to offend anyone who does. But I have sometimes imagined that what I experienced was somehow related. I could not hear my own internal voice most of the time. I was “hearing” the world, and it was loud and dangerous to me.

Living when you are disconnected from your core is terrifying. It is suffocating. It is lonely. It is deadly.

I am lucky, because even though that connection was severed, there was always somewhere deep within me some sense of something to keep fighting for. One tiny shred of connection to a core that I could imagine if not feel or often hear. I didn’t trust it or understand what it was. But it was there and I could sometimes hear it in the very darkest moments.

Like the moment some years ago now when I had the razor blade that I had bought and planned to use in my fingers and held to the skin of my left wrist, ready to end my suffering. That tiny shred began to whisper to me, “What if I am wrong? What if it could get better?”

That tiny shred, and the realization in the moment that followed that I was reneging on a promise I’d made to my two cats – whom I loved desperately – that I would always look after them, that they would never know fear or be homeless again after their difficult early lives feral on the streets of NYC, saved my life that day.

I have written about coming home to my own core within myself in previous posts Dormant Child and Cutting the Cord.

The work of healing my fractured soul has been profound, difficult and beautiful. It is on-going work, but I have come such a long way.

To re-connect with and then feel a permanent connection to my own core self – to know my own essence – has been at times a shockingly powerful and painful process. And at the same time, the most intricate, exquisite and intimate experience I have ever known.

One of the greatest gifts of this this connection to my core, this freeing of my inner selves (every age I have ever been) and this healing of the traumas of these selves into wholeness, has been a growing love and appreciation for my self.

I have learned to love my body for what is does, not how it looks. I have grown a gratitude for my physical abilities and strengths, and try to find joy in moving my own body, using my own voice. Today, I have reverence for all that my body contains. It contains multitudes and is wise beyond my mind’s own wisdom. It holds the Truth, and it never lies.

I look for the miracles within and without, and because I have cleared away what I can of the detriment that is not of my true essence, I find them. The detritus that remains from my past does not clog my joy as it once did. I love the detritus, too, for it holds important information. There is often even gold to be found in what remains.

I genuinely enjoy my own company today. I like the way I experience the world: my own peculiar sense of humor, the unique way I think and feel. I am no longer tortured by my own thinking. I am no longer tortured by being me.

This is huge. Not to say I do not experience anxiety, racing thoughts, negative or critical thinking (the Inner Critic, the Critical Mind, the Ego, whatever you want to call it.) I do experience all of those things and more (panic, depression, the pull towards self-destruction.)

But I am no longer a tissue blowing in the wind.

I am a mighty tree, strong and constantly expanding into the world around me. Yet I am flexible and can withstand whatever weather comes my way because I am rooted, and those roots go deep. I take nourishment from the elements that support my growth. I no longer look for sustenance from sources that can not provide what I truly need to thrive.

I live in light today. There is darkness, yes, but it is a different kind of darkness. I no longer fear the dark places, because I am always there. I trust myself to see myself through whatever comes my way.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: peculiar

With much love and thanks to the gifts and work of Suzanne Connolly.

Diminishing Returns

Every time you let anger lead

Every time you pull away

Know there is a cost

Something else is drained

Something in me

Is whittled away, bit by bit

They say that real love is


But it is not a bottomless well

Of forgiveness

There is a finite store

There is an invisible line

And one day,

That amount will be used up

Take care, my love

Chose your battles well

And refill the well of goodness

Between us

Create a surplus of love

From which we can draw

When love is strained by conflict

I am rooting for us

But there is a natural law we can’t fight

Just like no one lives forever

No love survives incessant onslaught without damage

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: finite


Welcome to the gate to my heart.

Admire the wrought ironwork that guards my essence.

I chose it for its superior weathering properties.

It’s been in place since my adolescence.

You can look but you cannot touch:

this will be your forever-penance.



Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: gate

And The Five Sentence Story Prompt: admire 

Invisible Shield

For as long as I can remember, I have not been a “huggable” person.

This used to confound me, and I actually experienced a lot of pain around it.

Huggable people are people who others want to hug freely. Hug, as in express affection for.

I remember first noticing this in college. As a freshman at a women’s college in Virginia, my friends and I would travel to the surrounding men’s colleges for parties. I would literally be standing with my other two best friends, Katie and Laura Lee, and people would come up and they would hug Laura, then grab Katie. And when they got to me, they would suddenly adopt a more subdued or formal manner and greet me verbally.

Now, Laura Lee was a beauty pageant winner who was stunning and had a perfect figure and a winning smile. I knew she was the first to attract others’ attention anywhere we were. That was just natural. Katie was a fun, fiery redhead and short; she fit right into the curve of your body, so being draw to her also made total sense to me. Who wouldn’t want to hug that?

And I was, well, me.

And I was just so confused. What was wrong with me? Why would they want to be so distant from me? To literally not touch me?

Of course, having little to no self-esteem, I immediately went to the idea that I just wasn’t pretty or interesting enough to deserve their attention. I was less than and so did not deserve a hug. This was a painful interpretation of the situation. I had no facts to support the theory, but it seemed to make sense to me.

I remember sharing about this with my high school friend Mary when we were home at Christmas break. What was wrong me? Why did no one want to hug me?

She thought it was great. She thought it gave me a sense of mystery. That people weren’t quite sure about me. And she thought this was a really big plus.

I did not think this was a plus. It felt like further evidence of my less-than-ness, my separateness. I wanted to be someone who people wanted to hug!

Later, as I got older and began to mature emotionally (aka got into therapy,) I started on a study of what in my presence could be creating this distant response of other people to me.

I began to connect dots. I looked back on the fact that over the years, I had tried to adopt a nickname or two. My name was a three syllable mouthful and was also fairly old-fashioned. It seemed like everyone had an aunt or a mother or grandmother named Margaret. So I’d attempt Maggie, or Meg, or even Mac (my initials.) But whichever version I’d try, it never stuck.

As a matter of fact, I did get nicknames, but it was usually an even more formal version of my name, such as Miss Margaret.

What I began to realize is that for whatever reason, there is a kind of formal quality to me. There is something about me that leads people to feel that they need to keep a distance physically.

What this because I was raised in a Protestant, somewhat physically non-demonstrative family? Possibly. I come from a family who believed in keeping up appearances above all else. Keep a stiff upper lip. Never let them see you sweat. And so forth. Yes, I learned to be very cautious of others, outside of the family. To hold my cards close to my chest. To watch what I said and did.

I had also developed a protectiveness in my system when very traumatic things happened to me at an early age. Anyone who has had trauma in their life knows how PTSD exists in your body.

OK, so I figured out some possible alternative theories to decry the original “I am just not lovable or worthy” theory of my youth.

What now? Well, I had to look at who I really am underneath all of that, and help myself allow that essence more space inside.

I know that at my core, my essence is warm and loving. That I am kind, and that I really want to connect.

I no longer hate or judge myself for my invisible protective shield. I have compassion and amazement at my ability to have survived as well as I did. I am patient and kind with my self and my body as I allow my essence to grow and flow.

And I have adapted the old adage if you want to be loved, love well into: I want to be hugged, so hug. I initiate the connection.

That invisible protective shield that I found so painful and frustrating before, today I claim as mine, and therefore worthy of my own love, just like any other part of me. Plus, I have it when I need it, like Wonder Woman’s invisible plane. I have a choice of whether to have the shield up or down.

Do I sometimes still wish I were more like Katie naturally and did not have to work at it? Sure. But I am me, so I do.

And so I do.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: distant


Ghost of a Chance

Yes, you made an impression on me.

Didn’t you see the way I stopped and waited for you to pass by me once again?

What did you think I was doing? You silly thing.

Nobody is that interested in an ad for a car service in this app-driven age.

And besides, I was pretending to take down the number and it was all 7’s!

Not much to me if I couldn’t remember that, now would there be?

Is that why you didn’t turn around? Didn’t come back to “find” me again?

Surely you couldn’t be that shallow. Not you. Never you.

I was ready to say hello. Ready to start a conversation. Ready to…

But no, you just walked on and out of the station. Not even a quick glance back.

You left me with the ghost of the you and the us that might have been.

The arm that you brushed as you passed me by still tingles from your touch.

You silly thing. I’m very cross with you. I’ll never talk to you again. Until the next time.

I’ll be there tomorrow around the same time…by the car service ad? (Our spot?))

You can make it up to me then…I seldom hold a grudge. Life’s much too short.

But a first impression…lasts forever.
Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: impression