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

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 Get My Work Out There Challenge

So it is officially Day Five of my Get My Work Out There Challenge.

And today, I am really gonna go out on a limb.

You see, I made a little video for day one on day one, but then I did not use it.

Why? Well, because of the very things that I am attempting to push through doing this challenge! Fear of being “too much”, too “self-centered.” Perfectionism. Concern that others will think it (aka “I”) am “stupid.” Just writing that makes it seem ridiculous. But trust me, these have held me back more times than I care to admit. But no more.

So I am posting it, on Day Five. Shocking, I know! Will the world stop turning on its axis?

It is NOT perfect. But I am GETTING IT OUT THERE!

What have you been sitting on? Come on, get it out there!! I double-dog dare ya!

#TheGetYourWorkOutThereChallenge #antiperfectionism #courage #createdaily

How to Move a Mountain

Every time I start a new project, I am terrified I will not be able to do it.

Every. Single. Time.

This terror is not my initial response. My first response is elation. Excitement. Passion. Thrill.

This is a delightful and short-lived phase of my process. Much sooner than I would like, the excitement and celebration morphs into abject doubt and fear.

Suddenly, I am overwhelmed by the work ahead of me. My mind makes it all seem like an enormous mountain that I am at the base of, seemingly without any equipment or wherewithal of how to surmount it. It is like some weird fog of “forgetting” comes over me and seduces me into believing that:

  1. I do not have any business embarking on this endeavor, and
  2. I do not have a clue as to how to do anything.

I am grateful to have a partner in life, my husband, who very fortunately has borne witness to my process over and over again. (He was actually the first person to point it out to me.)

While his reminder to me that this is “just a part of my process” does not in any way change my process, it does allow me to find somewhere within the knowing that “this too shall pass.” The knowing that this is not the end of my process. That this is actually letting me know, in a way, that I am on my way. As in, the fear and doubt kick in because I am entering into my creative process. It is a sign I am doing what I love.

That knowing makes moving through that phase a bit easier. Then I can recall, if need be, that I have felt this doubt and fear every time in the past. I can reference back and remember that every time in the past, I not only survived, but that I even succeeded in accomplishing what I took on in the end.

Awareness is everything, they say. That I have found to be true. If only awareness erased the anxiety! But I have found that only action alleviates the anxiety (to some degree.) I am lucky to have learned that as well.

My antidote to the fear and doubt is this: when it sets in, as it always will, I make sure to start the work right away. I begin the work NO MATTER WHAT, and as soon as possible, and I continue to work at it daily. I do it in chunks, and in this way, I navigate the treacherous waters of the part of me that wants to interfere with my creative endeavors.

The part of me that Steven Pressfield writes about valiantly fighting. If you are not familiar with his work, do yourself a favor and check him out. His books have been invaluable to me in my learning how to work with myself and my resistance.

And so I prevail. Not in spite of the resistance, but alongside it, through it, with it.

I am writing this as a reminder to myself as I have just begun a new project and after being very excited about it for a day or two, just about an hour ago, I got really scared and filled with doubt.

What the hell was I thinking? I cannot do THAT! I am not equipped. I cannot handle it. Reasons flood my mind as to why it was a bad idea. Dread filled my gut.

So what did I do? I took two actions in support of the project before I could fall into paralysis or start dreaming up ways to get myself out of the commitment. And I am writing this. And I am feeling somewhat better.

The jitters and the fear are still there, just waiting to take over. But for today, I have held them at bay and given more attention to my work. And somewhere in the mix I feel inside, there is a knowing.

After all, this is all just a part of my process. I am right where I supposed be.

The man who moved a mountain was the one who began carrying away small stones.

Ancient Chinese Proverb

Inspired by The Daily Post Word Prompt June 10, 2016: mountain

Soul Tattoo

Allow me to assure you

You are intricately woven into my psyche

I’ve taken elaborate measures to leave you behind

To erase the traces of your affect on my personality –

On my life – to little or no avail

It seems that I carry you, etched into my soulskin

You are colored into the lines of a million needle sticks

Just as a pickle can never become a cucumber again

I am forever altered, forever changed

And yet, that is not the end of the story

I have decided to turn the design you’ve created

Into a whole new pattern of my own creation

Just try to recognize yourself in it

Allow me to reassure you

You won’t

 

 

 

 

 

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: elaborate

The Dance*

When I was a little girl, I took dance lessons. From the age of 4 or so, I took, tap, jazz and ballet. I have vague memories of doing some kind of moving across the floor and the teacher saying “Jeté, jeté!” as we stepped from foot to foot.

I loved those lessons. There was a big dance recital, where my mom made costumes for me: I played a bumblebee and a munchkin.

When we moved to Dallas when I was 5, for some reason, the dance lessons stopped. It was a hectic year, and the business venture that my Dad had moved us there for failed, so after the year, we moved back to Houston, to a different part of town and a different set of circumstances. Finances were tight, so extras like lessons were put to the side.

But. I did not stop dancing. I would put my parents’ albums on the record player and dance my little heart out. This was way before MTV or dance videos. The only references I had were old Hollywood musicals, which I adored. So my dances were my own versions of what I had grown up watching: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Doris Day, Audrey Hepburn moving dramatically across streets and fields in passionate, emotive and song-filled scenes.

I had plenty to be working out. In my young life I had already suffered a great deal. But my trauma had been locked away tight in a safe room of my psyche, so I wasn’t consciously trying to tell any particular story through these dances. My body-mind just needed to move and my soul just needed to express through that movement.

Favorite songs were Wings’ “Live and Let Die” and most of the album “Whipped Cream” by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Band. But I would dance to just about anything.

The dancing stopped somewhere around age 11. By that time, I had discovered food and TV and they became a kind of narcotic, a way to numb out the confusing feelings and thoughts that made life difficult. They became my number one coping mechanism, and saw me through until the teen years when other substances became available and appealing to me.

Did I dance again? Sure. At dance clubs in the 80’s and 90’s, where alcohol and often drugs were a part of the mix. At weddings, always somewhat self-consciously. There were a few attempts to go back to dance lessons so that as an actor I could be more marketable for musical theatre. I’ve danced in musicals and loved every moment. But the kind of dancing that I did in that living room back when? Nope.

Through my 20’s and 30’s, I had pics of me from that recital in my costumes, beaming. I think I even still have a bumblebee wing. Over the years, I have often used those pictures as self-reference, proof that there had been a time when I had been confident, happy in my body and free-feeling. I looked to those pictures to try to find hope that perhaps one day, I could find those ways of being again. Through much healing over the years, I have made a lot of progress. I go deep in my work as an actor and singer, and work from a place of a great deal of freedom often. But it has always still seemed to me that the girl I had been – with her total lack of self-consciousness, innocence and creative freedom – was to be forever out of my reach no matter how hard I worked for it.

dance2

Then. Last week, a young director reached out to me and asked me to do his film. He’d had me in mind for the Woman in the script, he said, and he really, really wanted me to play her.

In the script, during the character’s most private inner moment, she transports herself through fantasy from her home bathroom to a gorgeous copper bathtub in a tiled tunnel in Central Park by the Bethesda Fountain. She is wearing a beautiful dress and a sax player is playing music in the background as she has this very free, very private, very joyful moment.

From the moment I read the scene, I imagined the woman dancing around the fountain.

I asked the director had he imagined the Woman staying in the tub in her private moment. He said yes, but that it was my private moment, and he wanted me to have complete freedom. (What a wonderful gift he gave me, that freedom. So grateful for his desire to collaborate.) So I had imagined my moments in the tub and was excited and curious for how the shoot would go.

I had not seen the location, so did not know that the tiled tunnel was a beautifully lit space that had arches in the background and copper hues, and that the tub would be placed in it, not near the fountain.

So that morning, as we arrived on location, when I saw the actual scene – the brick tunnel and the beautiful space that was surrounding the copper tub – and then heard the song the saxaphone player was to play, I knew that I had to dance out of the tub and around that beautiful tunnel.

And so on the first take, as the camera began to film, I began my private moment, made my way out of the tub, and I began to dance.

It was one of the most magical experiences I have ever lived. In the moments of my improvised dance, with the sax player playing for me and with me, the sun beginning to come up behind the fountain in the distance, hearing only the music and the echo of my own laughter, I felt myself dancing simultaneously as the woman I am right now and the little girl I was then. The tunnel and that living room became one across space and time. The joy that bubbled up through my body was total and whole, and it was such an honor to be in those moments bringing the Woman of the film and the director/writer’s vision to life.

Afterwards, we did more takes, and they were each wonderful but different in their own ways. There was no way to repeat that first take, and that was perfect too.

But I walked away from that shoot forever changed.

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There are moments in life where you feel that you are in the exact right place at the exact right time doing exactly what you were meant to do. In those moments, you can see that every other moment of your life has been a part of the making of this one magical moment. Every thing you’ve lived, every person you’ve met — the good, the bad, the ugly — it all makes total sense in those moments.

Those moments are astonishing. They are when I know I am a wondrous creation, a part of the whole that is this incredible Universe. I know in those moments that my life has been intricately designed, just as a rose has, or a peacock, or snowflakes. That nothing in my life – from the worst trauma to the most brutal pain – has been for naught. That it has all led to this moment in time, to this me that I have become.

That dance is forever in my heart now. It lives inside me, and it is the beginning of a whole new level of personal and creative freedom. I do not know what will grow from it, but I know that I have re-awakened something important inside, and I am so very grateful for that role finding its way to me, for giving me back the Dance.

#actorslife #danceforever #theheartremembers #itsnevertoolate #TheDanceoftheHeart

*Repost Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: dancing

This is a repost, but I really, really needed to re-read this today. I am feeling a bit lost, especially creatively. It feels like that connection with The Dance inside me is very faint if not non-existent – there’s been too much chatter going on inside lately that has nothing to do with joy, freedom and the sheer bliss of creation.

I needed to remember that in-between the astonishing moments of feeling like I am exactly where I am meant to be, there are moments of feeling totally lost. And each gives value and meaning to the other.

Sometimes I am dancing, sometimes I am stuck, or falling. Sometimes I am in the fetal position. Sometimes I am flat on my face.

I m reminded of a spiritual teacher who taught me to write a letter to myself during a time I am very, very happy and to save it for my unhappy self to read, to give me hope during the down times, to help me remember that there will be better times again. To remember the ebb and flow, the ups and downs. The times of movement and the times of apparent stasis. It has been a powerful exercise at times.

I will dance again, soon.

May we dance for each other when it is time to dance. May we dance for those who cannot hear their own music today.

 

 

Unchained Melody

There will be a day

When my choked throat opens, when my tongue can relax

And my breath flows free

There will be a day

When the cacophony of other people’s voices inside my head

Become quiet, stilled for good

There will be a day

When all the many tunes of the me’s within

Harmonize as one, swelling chorus

There will be a day

When my I speak, full-throated, my songs of truth

Authentic arias, free at last to soar

Oh yes, there will be a day

 

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: harmonize