“Whatever life takes away from you, let it go.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

Recently, I had the uncomfortable experience of being sucked into some drama. Unfortunately, I don’t mean the kind on stage and screen, though that has been keeping me busy lately too.

Over the years, one of the hardest things for me to accept was the fact that when people moved away, or a lot of time goes by, or when people change, you have to let them go. In some cases, when someone is blatantly disrespectful or cruel, it is easy to do. But I find that I can be so nostalgic about a person, place, or thing, that I often forget that things don’t always just “stay the same” because we feel the same way about them.

Something that has helped me ease through transitions, loss or a knowing of a permanent change to come, is to stop labeling them. It’s not good or bad. It just is. And when it just “is,” I don’t have to feel so attached to it and I don’t have to take it personally.

Out of nowhere, (at least at the time it felt that way) a friend of mine dropped something on me that was so surprising, it didn’t hit me what he meant by it until I had walked a few blocks away. You see, something is changing in his life and while I don’t know all of the details, I do know what happens when you label friends, family, people, events, and it ain’t pretty. But that’s what he’s done.

letting go

Right now I’m giving it some space because I had all of the following reactions: surprise, hurt, anger, blame. And I had to remind myself that it is NOT about me. Whatever comes of this, it’s not really about something I did or didn’t do. It’s about how people relate to each other and how they process change. Part of me was quite sad about this, when I began to think about how things might be different in the future. I resisted the thought of it.

Then, I remembered that often times we have outgrown something long before we realize it. Whether you lose a job, a sentimental object, or a friendship…Sometimes it’s for the best and it doesn’t have to be painful. It just is.

I’m a fighter. Not physically and not like RAWR I AM GONNA YELL AT YOU (though I am capable of both). I fight for those I love and for my integrity. I plan on holding up my end of the bargain, but at the end of the day (I have turned into someone who says that phrase..sigh lol), I can only control my reaction. That’s okay and that’s enough.

 

Balancing Act

You know what phrase I cannot stand?

goodneighborconcierge.com
goodneighborconcierge.com

“Life – work balance.”

Does anyone truly know what the hell that means, anyway? I am sure if you google it right now you will come across a gazillion blog posts about it, as well as a lot of “ten steps to life-work balance” type content as well.

I’m going to go ahead and throw out a crazy idea..what if there is no such thing as life / work balance? I say there isn’t, and here’s why.

The entire assumption that a balance between life and work is needed implies that there is something wrong with you. As in, you either are spending too much or not enough time at work or home or vise-versa. Everyone’s looking for the “secret” to success. “What does it take to have it all?”  It also suggests that your life is compartmentalized. Um. Your life is just your life!

I think there’s a new way of looking at this all together. What if we just start accepting that parts of our lives are going to sometimes be more chaotic? That some of our time is spent having fun? that sometimes life gets outweighed by certain things more than others because hey, they good and the bad both happen when you least expect it and adjustments need to be made accordingly.

An example of things not going to plan.
An example of things not going to plan.

But just because something may be chaotic, or you might have had one too many GTs at the company picnic or didn’t get that gig yo uwanted..it doesn’t mean that you have to get riled up over it. Right? I know, easy for me to say.

To get more specific, in this world of acting and the entertainment business in general, there are a lot of misconceptions. Some common questions:

How can you drive that far?!

Is it really worth it?

Don’t you get sick of auditioning?

And the list goes on and on from there. I think that what happens to a lot of us is we try to fix problems.PROBLEMS. You know what I say? I say there are NO problems. I say

from pinterest
from pinterest

EXCUSES.

I can’t do this because I don’t have this

I can’t do that because I don’t have enough money

I can’t work out because I don’t have enough time

I don’t audition past the state line because it’s too time consuming.

But what do all of those things really even mean?!

I think there’s a whole lot of stress getting shoved around and mislabeled and overdiagnosed with medications and distractions when really, a lot of the time many of us are just afraid to live.

For example, I used to get (ok and sometimes still do) extremely stressed out when I looked at my schedule for the week (See Episode 2 of Holding) and didn’t understand how I was going to get from point A —–> Z without running on fumes or without failing miserably or whatever, really.

running on caffeine
running on caffeine

I am not saying that this is the same thing as overbooking yourself. That is something that needs to be determined on an individual basis and I am happy to explore that in another post because I have a classic case of burn out in my repertoire.

Anyway…

What’s the big deal? You got big dreams? Well, chances are you won’t have a lot of down time. There will be a lot of doing and trial and error. Sometimes you may have stretches of nothing on your schedule and that doesn’t mean anything bad either. It doesn’t mean that you are not perfecting the “work-life” balancing act. Cause guess what? It’s just some construct some uppity person with too many degrees decided was wrong with the overworked working class.

Start from where you are. Accept that you have chosen a life for yourself that is not always full of certainty. Hell, even if you have a stable job there is always going to be uncertainty. Live one day at a time. Then one moment. You can do it. You can get everything done that you set out to (IF that is what you really want to do!) Just believe.

And here’s my run down of Don’ts

Don’t judge:

that you haven’t gotten enough sleep

that you didn’t get that part / job / internship / contest

that you haven’t had a vacation in…ever?

Don’t listen

to people who tell you you are “doing too much” (they are probably just jealous or shocked or both)

DO:

Give yourself time to breathe every day.

Enjoy each moment

treat your life, work, and play all with the same integrity. It’s your life.  Compartmentalizing things physically and emotionally doesn’t work in the long run. Screw life / work balance. How about just living with integrity?

Let yourself be YOU. That’s all any of us can do anyway. 🙂

Scam Artists

I would like to bring up a subject that is all too often in the news and gossip pages, but can easily be avoided with a gut feeling and some good old fashioned common sense.

gut

I am going to divulge some information without getting especially specific. If you really want to know more, shoot me an email.

The other day I thought I had stumbled upon an “opportunity.” I showed up to a wealthy town in CT (that sounds redundant but it’s not), “old money,” as it were and met up with some people who were interested in similar things as me: writing, meeting new people, and making money.

From what I understood in the email I received, I would be using a particular skill to get particular information to form it into a creative product. (See, told you I wouldn’t be TOO specific). This sounded like not only a lot of fun to me, but something that simply gives you the warm and fuzzies.

You know how sometimes things just don’t go “right?” And upon reflection AFTER the fact you go “Oh, duh! I should have known right then!” Well. I was late. I walked into a lobby that was dusty and full of old…. things. An older…gentleman asked me if I needed any help. I almost left right then but I didn’t know why I wanted to. So I thought I must just be you know, over-thinking or something.

dsa-overthinking-3

He directed me to the room where a meeting was taking place. There were probably 6 people total, all from completely different backgrounds. The ringleader, as we shall call her, was going on about this great company and how we could all be small business owners too!

RED FLAG RED FLAG!

After browsing through the products they were offering and biting my tongue several times for wanting to mention that you need to use proper formatting and dimensions on a photo or it’s going to look like crap, per the object I was holding in my hand, I realized this was nothing like how I thought it would be.

Let me break it down in my list of
DA-DA-DANGER ZONE!!!!!

-for a small fee of of four ten dollar bills, you could order you own business cards THROUGH the company. (Have these people never heard of Vista print?)

-you had to buy your own equipment. I almost choked on my cough drop.

-It was totes a pyramid scheme to boot. I loved how she tried to cover it up by saying “This isn’t a pyramid scheme BUT…”

-Also you had to purchase a custom name badge. RIGHT.

Obviously, by the time this thing was over, I knew right in my gut that this was terrible. I looked around at the others in the room and I was horrified. They were eating it all up, probably desperate for any kind of job. It was then that I realized that it’s not only in the entertainment industry that people get ripped off repeatedly. It’s everywhere, man. People will do anything to make a buck.

The way I pinpointed that she was a definite fraud was that she mentioned she was good friends with someone I have known for several years and I could see she was lying through her teeth. Amazing!

I just wanted to share this with you all as a reminder that even though you might have been fooled once or twice in the past and sort of know the scent of a liar and scam artist, know that they are lurking around everywhere!

After having several unsavory experiences all in a row upon graduating college and getting into the entertainment business, I can spy:

A) A harmless, selfish, in-it-for-the-money-go-getter (not quite a scam artist)
B) A scam artist that doesn’t know s/he is a scam artist
and
C) A full blown scam artist who walks it, breathes it, lives it.

Once you can see past the sparkly optimism that you have carefully cultivated over the years, you learn to balance a healthy level of optimism and skepticism in matters of your overall well being.

This especially goes out to people NEW to any kind of business, whether young or old: If it is too good to be true and you have that nagging feeling in your gut, don’t ignore it!

The lesson I learned this time was just because it checks out on paper does NOT mean it will in person. Unfortunately, I haven’t quite developed the psychic internet sense yet, but when I do I will let you know.

I am hoping I will be able to go into this topic more in the form of a new project I am creating with a colleague of mine.

For now…watch out for those sketchballs!

Running.

things I love about running:

– it’s a practical workout.

– it’s free

– runner’s high

– the detox

– being outside

– the challenge

My sister and I have been training for the Manchester Road Race.  Yesterday I reached 3.25 miles, the longest I have ever ran.  For some people that may be something to laugh at, but for me it’s a big deal.

Note of honesty: I actually thought the MRR was a 5k. incorrect.  It is 4.748 miles.

Nothing like an added challenge, right?

Terrible Traditions.

Did you know that wedding cakes got their origins from ancient Rome, where a groom would eat a piece of a loaf of barley cake, and then break the rest over the bride’s head, symbolizing dominance over the bride, and the “breaking” of the bride’s virginity, to put it lightly?

I first learned this when I was 16 years old, when I was doing extensive reading for my Honors World Civilizations Class.  From that moment on I said, “I am NEVER having a wedding cake at my wedding..if I ever get married!”  From then on I have stuck to my guns with that belief.  Many people roll their eyes at me, or say “Whatever, that was back then, it’s not like that anymore!”

I have a serious problem with….tradition.

To me, traditions are the sort of catch-all basin of homogenous, conformist corporate-mongering brainwashing.  I am sorry, I said it!  I know, I sound like an elitist hipster, I get it. But hear me out.

I think the IDEA of traditions are quite beautiful.  Traditions are a “handing down” of beliefs and customs through family and culture over generations.  Sure, customs and traditions change, and I think with good reason.  But, did you ever stop to think that maybe your ancestors had traditions in place for a REASON?  I bet you have.

Okay, I want you to sit back and think about why you do certain things you do.  Holidays, celebrations, etc.  I have heard of many unique family traditions, which I think is very cool, especially when people have stories to go with them.

But why..WHY, I ask you…do people do things because it’s “tradition” without stopping to think about why they are doing them?

For me, reading about wedding cakes when I was a teenager was a sort of light bulb moment for me.  What other sorts of sexist, polarized, or factional sorts of traditions had I been taking a part of my whole life without realizing it?!

Think about it.  African Americans now are socially allowed to call each other the N word I refuse to write out.  But think about where that was based out of!?  Why would you want to call each other something that was originally meant to put you down as a second class citizen?  Now it’s supposed to be liberating or something?! I call BS.  Same with women who call each other “whores” and “sluts” and “bitches.” These were all slurs created by men to exercise verbal dominance and emotional abuse over women.  Now it’s “okay because everyone uses it” I call BS AGAIN!

Okay, back to traditions.  I have always had a problem with weddings in general. Many people thought I was being bitter and cynical, which may have been I would say half true.  But the other half of my cynicism is based in the idea that I don’t want to just DO something because society dictates I do. NOT to say that many traditions of weddings aren’t beautiful (for instance, vows, readings, etc).  Many people go through aspects of weddings that they can’t stand because they think they are supposed to!  Why not just make your wedding the way you want it, and only go through the motions that YOU believe in?

If you understand the tradition and its roots and still want to go through with it, COOL!  That’s awesome! It’s the blind “doing” that I can’t stand!

The man asks the woman to marry him. HA! This used to irritate me most of all.  There is a stigma in society (not as much as there used to be, I agree) that if a woman pushes the idea of marriage on a man it will drive him away.  Women are supposed to “patiently wait” for the man to ask them to marry them.  Gotta wait for the man.  I’m SORRY. But if the man and woman really love each other, who the hell cares who brings up marriage?!

This leads me to share with you the fact that I recently proposed to my boyfriend.  2012 is a leap year, and back in the 5th century, legend has it that St. Brigid approached St. Patrick (another clown but that’s a whole another story all together) to ask why women weren’t allowed to ask men to marry them.  They discussed and bantered back and forth.

ST. Brigid: How about women ask men to marry them?

St. Patrick: While I find that to be radical, how about let’s cool it and say..sure every seven years.

St. Brigid: Not only is that lame, but why every 7?

St. Patrick: Hmm good call. how about once every four years?  The leap day of the leap year?  Normal rules and religious laws don’t apply on that day anyway since we don’t really know what to do with that extra day.

St. Brigid: I see this isn’t going much further, so I’ll say yes to that and hope that some day my sex will once again be equal to yours.

St. Patrick: Yeah, I need to go see about some goats now, ttyl.

Fast forward to 1288, when Queen Margaret of Scotland (who was actually just a child, so she must have had some really awesome administrative royal staff) was like F that.  Our ladies get the WHOLE leap year to ask for their hand in marriage.  Oh and one other thing. If the man weasels out and says no, they have to pay her. In nice dresses. Or chocolate . Or money.  Or all of the above.

So actually grasping where the tradition came from, and loving the fact that it was kickstarted by strong women in history, I planned out my proposal to my boyfriend on the leap year. YEP. I did. On our one year anniversary.

Was he freaked out that I asked? No.  Was he amused? Yes.  Did he say yes? uh YEAH.

And I love telling this story because many people I come across first looks down at my ring (I wear a claddagh ring in replacement of an engagement ring) and then, disappointed, ask how he proposed. And I smile and say that I proposed.  “Oh but what about a ring?” Well, he got a claddagh ring from me, why would I get an engagement ring?  Most people are surprised, but everyone has really just accepted it as a good idea because..well..it was. If I do say so myself!  Because who cares?!  We love each other and that’s all that matters.

So what will I have at my wedding?  A croquembouche.  This is a french wedding style cake that originated in the 1500s when a tower of sweet cakes and rolls were piled on top of each other and the bride and groom tried to kiss over the tower of goodies without knocking it over, bringing good luck if they were able to.

Now that is a tradition I can gladly sink my teeth into.

Yoga 101

noun /ˈyōgə/

  • A Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation ( PS I can do that.  Okay, no. I can’t do that YET!)

OK, most people know what yoga is.  By definition, anyway.  And I know that as soon as you saw that, you conjured up your own personal assumptions, beliefs, and ideas about it, whether you practice it or not.

In high school, I didn’t know anything about yoga except that you know…earthy, hippie people did it.  And by the time I was in college and hearing more and more about it, the more it sounded really fascinating.  So, my freshman year of college, I took a class at UCONN.  The room was sort of dark, there were a bunch of people, and I had no idea what I was doing.  Worst of all, it really hurt.  I was like, “PSH yoga sucks. NO way.”

Then, my senior year, I decided to take yoga again. This time at a studio near campus.  The year before I had hurt my lower back in a truck accident where I was hit..bodily Ahem. I probably should have double checked on the class requirements, because again, I took the class and had no idea what I was doing.  Plus, it was overly crowded, and some old tall white guy with dreads was breathing really weird and making odd noises.  I was terrified and I actually remember thinking “maybe I can just leave.”  Well, the teacher kept coming over and pressing my body deeper into different postures and it hurt. badly. I SHOULD have just said “Hey, this isn’t working out for me, my back is in pain, so is that cool?”  Nope, instead I suffered through it.

Here’s another thing…I was in really good shape.  I was an Acting major and we had many dance classes and such that demanded that we be in some sort of good shape. Plus I worked out at the gym several times a week for an hour.  So I was very confused about this yoga business.  So I gave up.  I didn’t do it again…UNTIL.

I broke my foot pretty badly in 2009 whilst working on a film set.  It took surgery and months of recovery. I had plenty of time to think and I was anxious to lose the 10 pounds I had gained from sitting around unable to do very much. (I will note that my arms were incredibly strong and looked great due to using crutches,and moving myself around all the time with my arms.)  I talked to my surgeon as time went on and he agreed that exercises that were low impact on my foot would be best.

Well, even after I was able to walk, my foot was still swollen for several months.  It was something I just had to deal with. This meant no heels, no walking around for hours at a time, etc.  I tried going to the gym but it was more painful than beneficial.  But before I was even able to walk, I was given the go to try yoga before anything else.

This time on a whim I decided to google local yoga practices.  I found one!  Breathe…More LLC.  I was excited because it was only 10 minutes away. I wouldn’t have to drive to Manchester or West Hartford!  I went into class with my mother and I tried it out.  We took a gentle class to begin with.  I thought, “This will be so easy.”  It wasn’t.  I forgot how terribly out of shape I was. I also forgot that I was still in physical therapy and my foot would still need some time to stretch. So I took it slowly. I took class a couple times a week, and I slowly got my flexibility back.  Also, I lost the 10 pounds I had gained from sitting around and doing nothing.  Most importantly, I loved the studio!  A gorgeous studio, supportive teachers who encourage you , rather than berate you, in an overall peaceful and loving environment.

I first took class in the fall of 2009 and I have been a practicing yogini ever since.  I have taken all the classes, and I vary what classes I take depending on my needs, moods, and what my body wants.  Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Yin / Yang, etc. Sometimes all I want is to blast my way through yoga. Other times I like taking yin classes which allow you to relax into poses for a long time.  Sometimes I’m having a rough day and all I want is a relaxing yoga class.  I originally took it because it seemed like a good idea for my body. But what I’ve learned is that it has amazing benefits for the mind and spirit as well.

The day after Thanksgiving, Breathe…More was having a special class called “Find your abs” or something of the sort. It was a blend of yoga and pilates (Another class I have picked up fairly regularly) and holy mother of God was it intense.  It was one of the hardest classes I have ever taken, but it was relatively “easy” because it is mostly mental.  Pain, I mean.  Difficulty.  That’s one of the beauties of yoga.  You learn that outside forces aren’t what cause you to “suffer,” but rather, it’s the internal battle of your will and ego.  And once you can fully accept that and utilize that to your advantage, the possibilities on and off the mat are endless.

Yoga is also therapeutic.  When I first started out, one of the owners and my very first yoga teacher said, “Sometimes, stuff comes up when you do yoga.  You may find yourself laughing or crying or drifting to a peaceful state of mind.  Whatever happens, don’t judge yourself, and fully embrace what happens to you.”  Being an acting major, I knew that physicality has a lot to do with releasing emotion, so I was prepared.  Nothing happened. Until recently.

A few weeks ago, I took a beginner’s yoga class. I needed to clear my mind.  Obviously I’m not a beginner, but I wanted something a little slower paced and relaxing.  And something strange happened.  I was doing some poses to warm up, and I felt my eyes well up, and my breathing start to stagger.  I took a moment to acknowledge that something was surfacing, but I focused on my breathing and kept moving with my practice.  At the time, I understood immediately what was happening.  The instructor was going through corresponding chakras (energy centers in the body) with different poses.   I had not felt balanced in a few weeks, and I wasn’t dealing with some issues that had been bothering me.   Yoga helped me face them and wash them away, and then come to terms with the fact that I needed to remember to deal with things as they arise, not hide them away.

OK. This is more along the lines of what I can do. 😉

I’m not saying that everyone should do yoga.  What I am saying is we all sometimes need to try something (once, twice, maybe three times) out of our comfort zone if we want to grow.   Sometimes, you can really surprise yourself along the way. I hope you all have a similar experience, and I hope I have even more in 2012!  So here’s hoping you’ve had a safe holiday, and here’s to an even happier 2012!!  Cheers!

I went to Aruba.

You know how you always say, “MAN. I NEED a VACATION.”

Yeah.  I don’t say that.  Something is wrong with me.

When I hear people talk about vacations, I suddenly get tense.  My back gets all twisted in knots, my pulse accelerates, and I try to change the subject as quickly as possible.

Nope, I never had some traumatic experience on a family vacation.  Actually, I can count the number of REAL vacations I’ve ever had in my life on one hand.

The reason for me associating vacations with stress is this…All I can think about is how I won’t be able to get anything done!  And THEN I’ll come home and there will be SO much to do!  What makes anyone think they can go somewhere beautiful when there is SO MUCH WORK to be DONE?!

Let me set up the scene for you: the green wording represents my internal dialogue.  This is where the whole vacation thing all came up.

Dillon – Let’s go on vacation!

Casey- Oh.  Really?  (There has GOT to be a way out of this.  He doesn’t really mean it.  Maybe he’s just saying we need to try something different…like going out on Tuesday nights or eating leftovers or going on a nice walk or..something).

Dillon – Yeah.  When do you have some free time?

Casey – *staring blankly* (FREE TIME!? IS he CRAZY??  I don’t HAVE FREE TIME.  I’m an actor for God’s sakes. Back in college, David Alan Stern used to always say “You need a forty hour non-acting job to support your 20 hours a week of honing your craft and 20 hours a week of auditioning.”  Um..that’s an 80 hour work week!  Of which you only actually get paid 40 hours. Ew.)

Casey – Um. Later this year?  (this was early summer btw).

Dillon – OK. When?

Casey – How many days? (He’s going to make me pick a date. I can’t believe this is happening)

Dillon – two weeks?

Casey – Nope. (!!!!!)

Dillon – OK. How long?

Casey – Five..days?  (Maybe I should have said a week to sound more like a normal person.  But I wonder if I can make this a weekend thing instead…hmmm)

At this point Dillon throws around a bunch of dates until we settle upon a five day stretch in October.

Dillon – Where do you want to go?

Casey – I don’t know.  Where do you want to go? (Please don’t say a tropical place, please don’t say a tropical place.  What if all I can do is waste my time worrying about home?  Why do people want to go to tropical places anyway!?  Isn’t it kind of a mental torture?  IT IS NOT REAL LIFE!!  I refuse to go anywhere warm.  At least England or France has art and dirty cities and cloudy skies).

Dillon – How about the Caribbean?

Casey – Um. YEAH. COOL!  (I hope I sounded excited.)

Soon after we researched (THAT I can do) the best places to go, and after speaking to all of our traveler friends, we decided Aruba would be a good place to vacate..to.

To be honest, I couldn’t even get myself excited about the trip because i was so busy with work and other plans.  But finally the day arrived.  We shut off data to our phones and I didn’t check my email AT ALL the entire trip.  It was flipping gorgeous. We did nothing but walk on the beach and eat delicious food and drink pina coladas.  And something happened…I started to…relax.  I said things like “Wow Dillon my back isn’t all tense…and I didn’t even need to do yoga to feel that way!”

Sure it was an amazing trip and YES I realize I had the whole idea of vacations completely wrong.  But I think the best thing I got out of the trip is how I need to balance work with fun time.  Obviously my career is awesome and I get to be creative and well…have fun all the time.  But sometimes you need to rest and explore and travel and eat good food and try new things and NOT THINK to allow all that creativity to cultivate.

So guess what? I’m actually looking forward to my new plan of “I get one day a week to do no work and not check my email.” Oh. And my next vacation, too. 🙂

The view from our hotel room. You have my permission to be jealous.