2017 – Time to Align

This morning I went to a New Year’s Meditation at the Healing in Harmony Center. The idea is, you go and sit with a group of people and the Spiritual Messenger / Owner of the center acts as a channel to give a message about the new year.

Last year, the key word that struck a nerve with me was REVOLUTION. Leave behind what you don’t want and stand up for what you DO want. (My last post definitely covers this).

In 2016, especially for the most part, I decided to not think so much about what I SHOULD be doing with my life, and started following my heart. I did and found a great community of people, namely in the Improv world, who brought me a lot of joy and laughter and helped me to ease up out of stress.

I definitely didn’t have all the answers to everything last year and I got tired of trying to figure everything out by myself. So I gave into joy. Then, weird things / cool things started happening. I would get free things. Random strangers would go out of their way for me. I saw friends I hadn’t seen at years at the perfect time. Everyone I met had a smile. I knew it was because I was overflowing with joy. I knew that thing would work themselves out and all I had to do was show up every day, giving it my best shot.

But by the end of 2016, some big challenges came up that I wasn’t expecting. My first reaction was not to freak out, but instead to take everything in. I knew that no matter what was happening in that moment, it was all going to be okay…

As time went on though, I found myself going back to my habits of blaming myself for everything and trying desperately to fix others and my situation.

Every day I woke up with a choice. I was in a lot of pain and trying to wade through suffering. I didn’t close off. I never gave up. I showed up and opened my heart, made amends, and offered myself as I am, which is a person with flaws but who has perfect love to share with the world.

The hardest lesson of 2016?

Sometimes a revolution shows you WAY more about how strong and capable you are and how much of a good person you HAVE BECOME already. The hard part is that sometimes people, situations, and circumstances have to change because YOU ALREADY HAVE. Sometimes you have to LET GO, in fact most times you have to LET GO and just be your best self. Because that is all you can do.

I didn’t realize it until the proverbial shit hit the fan, as they say, that I had been making myself small and convincing myself I didn’t want to be as loud and big and wild as I actually am – in order to comfort others.

I already felt an immense amount of love and clarity. I was absolutely sure of what I wanted. I fought with the strength of a peaceful warrior. But sometimes, the best things for us are not in the packaging we expect.

So today I woke up and I decided that I need to honor the woman I have become. I shed more baggage in 2016 and I handled a splintery, jagged challenge with a lot of grace. It was painful. It could have been easy if I just ignored the problem and threw it away. But I will never do that. I am stronger for being honest and true to myself.

At the meditation group I was met with a lot of fun, tired, but mostly energized people, who are clearly seeking a community of folks who want to be their best selves.

Before the meditation, we received some messages, which can be found in more detail at the website (Priscilla Bengston). But I wanted to share some notes I took:

We have everything we need. 2016 had a lot of comparison model energy, but that only serves to keep us stuck. The revolution from last year continues – it is time to stand up for what you want and draw away from what you don’t want.

People (ahem me included) tend to follow cycles, planets, and astrology. There is some power in cycles, but we all have a choice, which is more powerful than anything else.

2017 is all about opportunities presented. Take what is most aligned with you at that moment. NO decision is ever right or wrong (right or wrong is a human creation) – it’s just the best choice we can make at the time and moves us either closer or farther from where we want to be.

It’s important to pay attention to our bodies. Let them get back to their natural state. Breathe, Nourish. Our body is an antenna.

It’s time to change and reconnect to people in the eyes of love. Release judgment. BE what you desire. Live, learn, grow, evolve. Find like minded people to grow together. You are love and you are loved.

Regardless of predictions, you always have a choice. The energy this year is more ripe for choices. It’s time to get more aligned with what you want.

I don’t know what is making me think of this, but there’s this great little scene in one of Lady Gaga’s videos, in the very beginning. She is lying in a hospital bed and has hit rock bottom. She says to the nurse:

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“I’m gonna make it. I’m gonna be a star. You know why?”

“Why?”

“Because I have nothing left to lose.”

————

I wish you a Happy, Healthy, and Passionate 2017.

new stuff.

In honor of me going on and on about 2016 being a revolution, I am going to periodically post new stuff I am doing. Accountability. Be all You Can Be. And blah, blah blitz..

-Barre Classes – ass kicking and ballerina habit-forming! That sounds weird!

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This photo is borrowed from http://www.lowcountrypowerpilates.com, so check them out. But those little squishy ball thingies?! SO awesome for a core workout.

-Street Parking – By this I mean, I have been parking in different places when I work at Yale, or tried driving new routes home from places. You know, switching it up. You know what happens when you do that? You see new things, like a cupcake truck that has only one vegan cupcake left and you get to have it!

-FitBit – Now, I am pretty strict about NOT counting calories and instead using common sense and intuitive eating with my vegan lifestyle. However – that being said – I love counting my damn steps. Running, working out, walking city streets..it becomes a game and who doesn’t love a game?

-One Woman Show – I wrote and performed in my own one woman show. I am working on doing it again over the summer with some rewrites. But I finally did it and it was scary and awesome.

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This is a photo from my show, “Love &…” This photo makes me laugh. So many things happening here. Caption contest?

-Bootcamp Classes – DAMN I haven’t sweat like that in a long time. The numbing sensation of breathing so hard (this is quickly sounding like I’m talking about something dirty but I am not apologizing for this) you don’t care anymore, is an awesome feeling. Plus obviously great for the ol’ metabolism and also  endorphin producing. I get super talkative and hyper after a sweat-breaking workout*

*When I was in high school and we would go running, my friends used to tease me for the first fifteen minutes post-run. Why? Cause I would say words backwards.

Example: “Hey Casey, where are you going?” Me “I’m French Class going to.”

“Cool socks!” Me “Thanks, I love socks orange!”

-Ben and Jerry’s Non-Dairy Ice Cream: So far, I’ve had the Double Fudge Brownie one (Solid B) and the Coffee Caramel Fudge one (A-) I still have two more to go!

What new things have YOU tried so far in 2016?

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In Review

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It is a balmy 50 degrees the day after Christmas. It hasn’t been a white one, but I am perfectly content with that. The afterglow of the holiday is still lingering in my house and I am grateful for the opportunity to have my family spend time here over food, drink, games, and stories.

This year in a word has been: unexpected. I could not have predicted the events if I had tried.

Coming off the whirlwind of 2014 with travel around the world, production planning, awards ceremonies, and film premieres, I was left feeling shocked, happy, and a bit unsure of my next step. So, I spent the majority of last winter writing up a storm while trapped inside due to the stormy weather outdoors and did a lot of thinking. Those who know me well may say perhaps too much thinking.

So for me, 2015 was a lot about boiling everything down to the essence of why I was doing art in the first place. It wasn’t until I decided to give up trying to perfect the search of the next “career move” that it found me in a series of fortunate synchronous events.

I made a drastic choice that left a lot of my family and friends scratching their heads. And I couldn’t explain why, but I knew that this year, if I did something completely new and different and perhaps off the course, I would find what I was looking for. I couldn’t explain how I knew this, but I did.

I was right. It took some pain this year and it took some tears, but I arrived at a fresh perspective in my acting work. Right near the end of the year, I landed a wonderful role in a feature film I was able to work on with old friends in the industry, as well as new friends whose work I had admired on the big screen from a young age. Around the time I booked this job, I suddenly had this familiar sense of clarity that I honestly don’t think I have had so viscerally since I first graduated college, determined to make a go of this whole acting business.

I know what to do now because I know how to listen to myself. 2015 was about scraping away the gunk, shaking off the old, unplugging from beliefs and throwing out the same stories to get back to the whole point of performing and bringing joy into other people’s lives by virtue of what I do.

My January 2016 is already booked solid with work. This fall, right after my birthday, I gave myself the best gift of all: the gift of yes and no, determined by no one else but me. I am only going to work on projects that make my heart race with excitement. I am going to work with people who respect my time and want to create beautiful collaborations together. I want to share my creative talents to make the world a healthier and more fun place to be.

You know that Tolkien line, “Not all who wander are lost”? That’s exactly how I feel. I knew I needed to wander a bit to get back to where I was always headed in the first place. I highly recommend wandering, and letting go of the need to control everything. Because once you do, only the important pieces of your life stay in place. The things that are holding you back and holding you down will simply fall away.

Business people might tell you “organization and planning is key” to any successful venture, but I would argue that things need to get messy first. Sign up for that class you always wanted to. Go for a walk. Go drive somewhere and get lost. Once you have struggled a bit, you’ll come back to your office or studio and look at everything in a new light. You’ll know what to throw away, what to keep, and more importantly, what organization principles will work best for you.

Biggest lesson of 2015?

Joy should be easy. And your work should be your joy.

PS. If you haven’t read this book yet, do it. It’s a game changer. But go take a hike first 🙂

The Art of Dancing or…something like it.

I am not a natural born dancer.

In college we were required to take “movement classes.”  We sort of looked like this:

 

Sort of. Anyway, this was literally more along the lines of moving, rather than dancing.

Then, we were required to take a couple of years of Jazz dance.  The first year I got through, by the skin of my teeth.  There was a lot of “do it yourself” exploration and um, I wasn’t super great with that.

Then, in my second year of jazz, it got to the point where my jazz teacher literally took me aside and said, “Casey! Stop thinking so much! Just feel it!”  I was so…hopeless I guess.  I mean, isn’t this stuff supposed to come as part of a built-in package of being an actor?  I guess not.

Well, that summer I didn’t think about dance at all. Not once.

Then, that fall I made myself sign up for Jazz III AND Musical Dance.  Why?  Because it terrified me.  So  I figured there had to be something worth learning there, right?  Sure.

The first week of class was a breeze.  It was as though my muscles had a mind of their own (Um. What dancers or anyone else would call “muscle memory.”)  I wasn’t thinking!  And that was the key.  It was all about noting it, feeling it, dancing it.  Sweet!  I actually did learn a lot.  Mostly to be braver. Especially when it came to musical dance.  But that’s a whole another blog.

So let’s fast forward to this past summer.  Dillon gets it in his lovely little head that we should take ballroom dance lessons!

The last time before I had any sort of ballroom instruction was on an unfortunate evening on a community theater stage where we had to learn how to waltz.  Let’s just say the instructor had  one hand a little too…directly under my chest.  One forward progression of that and I had enough.  Thank God Jim was there and literally whisked me away with the CORRECT version of how to waltz.  An only slightly scarring experience.

Anyway, I thought Dillon had a fantastic idea.  However, I will admit that I started to get nervous just thinking about it.  “Oh no. I have forgotten everything!  This is gonna suck!”

Our first day of class, I kid you not….Dillon and I walk down into the studio with wood sprung floors, and what do we see?  A glitzy couple flowing like the breeeze across the dance floor.  Might I add…they were wearing costumes.  No I mean it.  Black, Red, sparkly costumes.  They were also smiling at a pretend audience.  That’s when I knew I was in deep.

To be honest I can’t remember the name of our instructor, but she was petite, a sheet of muscle, and she had an accent because she was from Ukraine or something.

“He has very beeg heel yes?  Grab it, ooo is strong yes?”  – a reference to proper form / strategic hand and arm placement.  In this case, his bicep.

Well, we danced.  It was so easy! I mean, for the most part.  These were all steps I had learned years before, and I was picking them right back up. SO EXCITING.  And surprisingly SO SWEATY too!  I had forgotten about that part.

It was fun. Until we found out how much they were going to charge for a month’s worth of lessons.  Trust me, you don’t want to know.  We had to keep reminding them that we weren’t interested in competitive dancing.

Fast forward to last week!  Dillon’s mom sent us an email about ongoing lessons nearby.  And what did we do!?

We signed up for SWING class (hardly any experience here) and ballroom (experienced enough).  And you know who else signed up for swing class? MY PARENTS!

If you know anything about my father in particular, then you know that this should play out like a sitcom.  I will be sure to update you on that.  Let’s put it this way…by the end of our first class this week, the instructor was saying, “T for Tim?  Maybe it’s T for Trouble!”

So, many of you reading probably think that dance is a very stressful experience for me.  Well, it used to be.   Well okay not used to be, it sometimes is. But I LOVE it!  It is so much fun.  It is a great way to build focus, blow off steam, and overall feel pretty cool about yourself at the end of the day.

It’s also a great way for me to tame my type-a personality and realize HEY you know what?  You don’t have to be perfect to do something you love.

All I know is, Dillon and I have plans every night now that involve practicing our waltz to Alicia Keys.  And that’s all I have to say about that.