Living my Dream

I am writing to you on my new magic keyboard, connected to my MacBook Pro (I destroyed my keyboard ages ago) on the floor of my bedroom in a shared Penthouse in Los Angeles, sipping tea and relaxing after working on a film set.

I am beyond happy. I have dreamed about this kind of life for so long, but I had no idea how it would come to me. I planned, and scraped, and spent countless hours talking it out and analyzing and trying to “figure it out.”

Nothing could have prepared me for (OK now I sound like Buzzfeed Clickbait) what got me here.

I simply came here with a plan to check out Los Angeles after a five year hiatus from the city. It was at the top of my to-do list after wrapping on “New Mutants.”

I came out here, visited UCB Sunset for the first time, tried Veggie Grill, hiked a mountain at Griffith Park, and caught up with some very dear friends of mine. I happened to pick out an AirBnB with an absolutely stunning view of the Hollywood Sign. And what a sign to wake up to every morning whilst contemplating your dreams! I walked down to the little cafe where I spoke with Necar Zadegan from Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce. I just reveled in the beauty and fun and ease of this place.

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My girl Delane and me @ Griffith Park

And then I got a job interview

And asked to move in with someone

Within a five minute span!!

If I am being 100% honest, I knew right there, standing in front of the Netflix Building where I received the call, that it was already all working out. I wasn’t going anywhere. I was here to stay.

So yeah, it means I found out Friday I got the job (can’t talk about the film) and it means on Saturday I signed a lease and it means Sunday I “moved in” with a carry on suitcase and my bag. It means I spent all day with one of my best friends shopping for furniture. It means that I get to come home to my place in LA after doing what I love with people whom I love very much, and know that I deserve to be here. I show up, I listen, I learn and I adore every minute of it.

This summer I made a vision board. I left a lot of space on it. I asked my mom to snap a photo of it and send it to me this weekend. Because it’s the fastest vision board that’s ever manifested:

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I’m here. And I plan to do something my friend texted me the other day:

“Make it and never come back except by choice.”

 

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Speaking Up

Staring into the eyes of a potential future employer, she asked, “Does everything sound good so far?”

I felt that icy feeling expand across my stomach. You know the one. Well, it may come in a different form for you, but for me, it happens when I’m “saving face,” or, in non euphemism terms, telling a lie.

I said, “Yep.”

You know those nights when you’re having the time of your life? You’re in a good mood, playing the perfect host, dressed nicely, everything’s great…and then someone says something “off color” or in non euphemism terms nasty. bitchy. RUDE. You find yourself stammering, playing with your napkin, taking a sip of your drink to wet your suddenly dry throat. The person walks away or changes the conversation and you can’t help but kick yourself for not defending yourself or another person right there on the spot? Later on in the evening, when you’re cleaning up dishes you have a flash of insight into the perfect comeback. “Why couldn’t I have thought of that THEN!?”

Apparently there is a part of our brain, that when sensing a threat (caveman days this meant a tiger, nowadays it’s just about anything socially threatening), causes our bodies to move blood flow to our limbs, away from our critical thinking centers of the brain. We get prepared for Fight or Flight Mode. The problem is, obviously, you don’t need to run away from an asshole at a party, though you may be inclined to. So literally, you are stuck with not enough critical capacity to form a compelling comeback.

Okay, back to my interview the other day. No, the person I was speaking with said NOTHING that was mean at all. However, after being asked that question, I felt myself panic. And it’s easier for me to pretend that my brain wasn’t allowing me to be 100% true to myself at the time. It was a simple question. I could have just said, “No, sorry. It was great to meet you, but I’m going to leave now.”

Instead, I nodded my head and proceeded to audition and perform in a bunch of fun ways that were all overshadowed by the fact that I knew I would not be accepting an offer if given one.

Was this the right thing to do? Looking back, I’m pretty sure it was the best option for me at the time. But it was also a good learning experience. What’s the big idea?

As an actor I was always taught to believe, “Try your best,” “Take everything you can get your hands on and DO IT.” and “Be happy they offer you any money at all.” And perhaps, had this been right out of college, I would have felt differently. But I’ve had too many experiences, both good and bad, to know that “Taking anything I can get” is not good enough. And that is okay.

I have reached yet another critical cycle in my career that I shall lovingly call “Speaking Up.” We all go through these periodic shifts as actors and artists throughout our careers.

Here’s an example that just popped into my head.

I was on set doing some driving as background for the day. I had arrived to set on time, been told to get breakfast, and then was immediately whisked away to set. No big deal. I didn’t eat for several hours, but that’s not my point.

At the end of the day, when I was in line to be wrapped by the PA, I overheard some comments spewing from his mouth that were not very kind. He was condescending and rude, particularly to a gentleman much older than he. When it was my turn, I handed him my voucher and he proceeded to complain that I hadn’t marked down my non-deductible breakfast (If this makes no sense to you, it’s not that important). I explained that I had never eaten that morning. He rolled his eyes, sighed, and said, “I told you to take one.” I smiled until it hurt and said, “Yes. You did. And then you told me to go to set.” He said, “Well, I need to write it in.” And I said, “No. You don’t. If you write it in, I am going to complain.” I heard some nervous rustles around me. And that pissed me off more. Listen. I know that doing background isn’t what I went to school for. I know that it’s a mostly thankless job and with reason. But there is nothing I tolerate less than one human being holding some sort of made up hierarchy over someone else simply because they are on a film set. Give me a break.

I persisted and he swore under his breath and signed my voucher. I stood there, and he looked up at me with a mixture of anger, frustration and a dash of fear. I didn’t move.

I said, “You don’t need to talk to me that way.”

He mumbled a, “sorry” and I walked away. As I started for my car, a few people asked me to look over their vouchers.

In this instance, I said exactly what I wanted to. I did have a few moments to prep, but I reached a point where I was all, you know what? This is BS.

And I think these are crucial times in our careers. It’s when you have to decide to speak up and do what’s best for you. NOT what you think you are “supposed” to do, or what everyone else thinks you’re “supposed” to do. It’s speaking from that place of truth in your solar plexus and just being real with yourself.

Now, back to my interview. At the end of the interview I had another opportunity to say, “You know what? You are a fun person. I enjoyed auditioning for you. But I don’t think this is for me.” I didn’t say that.

Instead, I beat myself up the entire way home. Not because of my performance. But because I didn’t stand up for myself by just being like “No, thanks.”

Most of my experiences in this business have been fun and exhilarating and just overall a good time. But there have been little bumps along the way when I knew it was time to speak up, or at the very least, say no and maintain my integrity.

Not interested in nudity for yet another role that proliferates women as sexual objects.

Not interested in doing that for negative dollars.

Not interested in you representing me after I called your office and you called me “Sweetheart” multiple times.

Not auditioning after reading that script.

The real lesson here is to check in with yourself often. Yes, it is important to be flexible, especially as an artist. But you have to know what your limits are. It’s a great idea to have some questions and expectations in your head, or written down before you walk into an audition or interview. And it’s okay to ask about them.

For some reason, this time around, I didn’t do that.

So I say again, know your worth. Value your experiences. And when someone calls and offers you a job you don’t really want to take, as was the case with me, don’t take it. It’s okay. There will be other opportunities. Speak Up for yourself, and everything will fall into place.

Embracing the moment

I knew what I was going to name this post before I even knew what exactly I was going to say in it!

I am still whirling and bopping from a fantastic weekend at the Mark Twain Museum Writer’s Weekend. I met fabulous people, including a fast friend who floats on the same wavelength as me. I heard a lot of words. I felt a lot of feelings. I was inspired.

I got a call last week informing me that I was invited to callbacks during the writer’s weekend. I embraced the moment and asked to be seen earlier in the day. Easily arranged. It was a gorgeous day and I kept the windows rolled down as I drove from the shoreline to Hartford after my audition. It was sunny and I sang along loudly to my shuffled iPhone playlist.

I went to a ton of workshops that day, but I kept my eyes open and went with the flow. I met Neil Labute, one of my favorite playwrights. I asked questions, I spoke without fully articulating my thoughts beforehand (also known as normal, improvised conversation.

In between the day and the keynote address, I sat with some new friends outside on the sun-soaked steps and drank cabernet sauvignon from plastic cups. I talked about theater, acting, writing. It couldn’t have been better.

Sunday morning, however, I was exhausted. I was sort of amazed at myself. How in the hell could I be so tired? I honestly don’t know, but I think it may have had something to do with the new environment and being inundated with tons of people and new ideas.

Over peanut butter and jelly, we talked about all kinds of things related and non to writing. I scurried inside for my last workshop, completely enamored with my new journey.

Last night I went to a book signing at the Mark Twain House (again) for a book talk and signing for the book “Redeployment,” by Phil Klay. My writer friend and I sat with her husband and listened in to a dynamic talk. I had heard Phil on the Diane Rehm show and was moved by his words and his eloquence, so when I heard he was coming I marked it down.

I saved a lot of my remarks for the diverse crowd for until afterwards,  when I blurted all my thoughts out to the author as we stood second to last in line.

Afterwards, my friend and her husband suggested that we go out for a drink at The Half Door. Irish through and through, I said yes. 🙂

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This morning, I went to a dealership to bring my car in for some work on the brakes and to remove a cabin air filter that I was later told “was awful…I think there were mouse hairs in it.”

I sat down, armed with a large coffee and my laptop, and a journal, and wrote. I worked a little here, I worked a little there, and applying the process of doing a bit every day and REALLY doing it, I felt fantastic. I started this new practice on Monday and I have been keeping it up ever since. It’s easier to keep a promise to yourself when you have fun with it. I tend to like to binge on my “office hours” and work like crazy. But I am starting to truly embrace (see how I am bringing it full circle?) the theme of life I have been striving for and sometimes failing and sometimes succeeding at, for years. We touched on it a bit this week on our podcast, about how to live an artistic life. Some people may be able to compartmentalize their lives, but I don’t recommend it. I have tried that before and found that it is extremely limiting. Instead, why not find a way to embrace the artist, the chores-doer, the daughter, the creative, the multi-tasker, and find a way to blend it into one fine day at a time?

This for me, has meant unplugging and also using this great new app that Dani Shaprio recommended this weekend, called Freedom. If anything, it’s more of a starting place to learn to unplug from distractions.

Embracing the moment of the day for me means giving more time to myself and allowing my needs to come first. They come before I check my email, texts, social media. I do what i need to at the start of the day, so I am able to enjoy everything else without the stress.

My good friend, John Henry Soto texted me today because he saw that Paul Williams and Tracey Jackson are going to be doing a book reading and signing this evening only 36 minutes from my house!! I have been wanting to see them at an event for awhile. John first mentioned their work to me last year and I have been following them on twitter and instagram. Truly inspiring people who have lived amazingly creative and relatable lives.

As I stood outside in the warm sun doing yoga on my deck, I was so grateful to be connected to such amazing people who have such excellent timing. I believe that when you are aligned with yourself and ready to receive, timing all works out for the best.

SO. I am heading there this evening. Admittedly, I haven’t finished their book that my library director sister gave me first dibs on, and it’s last minute, but again…Embracing!!

EASIEST. RECIPE. EVER.

Good afternoon,

Welcome to The New Blog’s FIRST recipe of 2015. It’s a good one. It’s easy. It’s filling. It’s cheap. It’s vegan.

Cajun Chickpea wraps.

You will need: 2 15 oz cans of chickpeas (makes 2-3 servings. 1 serving = two mini wraps)

A package of mini flour or corn tortillas

A package of hummus

Cajun Seasoning

Olive Oil

Preheat your oven:

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Next, open your garbanzo beans and rinse them. Spread them out on a baking sheet or pan:

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Some people like it extra spicy. Like me. You can go easy on the Cajun Seasoning or go to town! You can also make your own blend with cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

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Throw that shizzle in the oven for 30 minutes.

While that’s cooking, you can warm up your tortillas either on a pan (no oil) for thirty seconds on each side, or heat them up in the toaster oven for about 5 minutes, wrapped in aluminum foil on 350 degrees.

DID YOU KNOW?!

Chickpeas help lower cholesterol.

They promote healthy blood pressure.

29% of your DV of protein comes from ONE CUP of Chickpeas!

They are full of fiber and very filling!

I chose to make a baby spinach salad with this as this dinner is obviously requiring very little effort and I like to make sure I get some sort of greens in with every meal.

DING! they’re ready! Make sure to slap on some hummus (or tahini) in the tortilla. Then pour on some chickpeas!

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I know. It seems like a small dinner. I ate two of these with the salad and I could barely finish my second one. The hubby ate three no problem. These are very filling and very tasty. They should be chewy and spicy. For vegetarians this is a viable option for when you are craving something substantial and full of protein.

Voila! Told you. Easiest Recipe Ever.

Let me know what you think!

Something’s Brewing with Judy Beedle!

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This week on “Something’s Brewing” we interviewed one of my favorite people of all times…Judy Beedle! She is a fun and hilarious person to be around, not to mention a very talented photographer. Judy and I met on a film set about 7 years ago and since then we have gotten together for parties, photo shoots, and you know..coffee.

Judy works and lives in Portland, ME. I have a lot of family from Maine, so I am familiar with the area. This summer while my family was up there, I decided to get a head shot and photo session in with Miss Judy. You know those friends who you see once every few years and it’s never awkward or weird, and you just pick right up where you left off? Judy is one of those kinds of friends. I’m super lucky to have people like her in my life!

I really hope you have a moment to sit down and enjoy our podcast. This week it’s two actors and a photographer and some interesting and at times off topic conversation. To me, those are the best kind!  You can learn more about Judy and if you are an actor, about head shots, here: http://www.beedlephotos.com

And of course…check out the latest and subscribe!!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/somethingsbrewing

New Style Blog Coming in the New Year!

Hey everyone,

Hope you are all cozy and warm whatever part of the country you are in! I wanted to let you know that upon much consideration and feedback from several people, my blog will be changing in the New Year. It’s still going to include my actor updates, but it’s going to incorporate more lifestyle tips, techniques, and my overall opinions on healthy food, products, music, and what I generally find interesting. I want to share more of the gems I have been finding.

People who I am friends with know me to be someone who gets very excited about sharing new health studies, tips for health and beauty and generally anything with good vibes attached to it. As I have already enjoyed making videos for Indi.com, I am going to expand into this arena with my own personal style and approach.

By subscribing to my blog you will get emails each time I make a new post (which will be twice a week, likely at least one video). You can also leave questions in the comment section or email me personally CaseyMcDougal@gmail.com with questions or topics you would like me to cover.

I am really excited about this and I hope you are too!

Have a lovely Thanksgiving. I have so much to be grateful for and i hope you feel the same.

Cheers,

Casey