The 2016 Revolution.

 

Hamilton. Because: Revolution.

This year I wanted a revolution.

Well, be careful what you wish for, AM I RIGHT?

When you want a really big life, you have to make room for the really big things. And I guess what 2016 has taught me is that sometimes you have to sweep out all of the tiny little things that just take up space in order to allow for better things to come.

I always tell my friends and colleagues when they are feeling down about something..”Hey, think back to what you were doing exactly five years ago and think about how far you’ve come.” Right now I’m going to take my own advice. Hold on.

Ew. I just got an image of myself in short red hair. We all make mistakes.

Earlier this year I read that book about tidying up. Like you and your mom and neighbor probably did. And I really started treating items in my house differently. I got rid of five bags’ worth of clothes and..crap. I kept getting this feeling like I needed to downsize, get lighter. None of it really made sense to me until now.

This year I stopped chasing things that I thought were important to me for a really long time. Because I am a hard worker, I assumed that I should automatically take part in certain projects, do the SAME thing as every other actor, and overall just shut up and stand in line. But I’ve seen what it’s like on the other side, where  I create my own work and do my own thing… Do the thing no one else is doing and watching as people frown and say, “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” I gotta tell ya. It’s awesome.

I decided to just do what I wanted. I got back to my very first love, something I have always relished in..making other people laugh.

I LAUGHED A LOT THIS YEAR. I LAUGHED TIL I CRIED.

I also cried til I laughed.

It’s been a year, okay?!

This past year has prepared me for this moment. To let go of all of the stupid things people worry about (and usually don’t let go of until something catastrophic happens to bring clarity to  their lives) – being good enough, money, what your friend thinks, having the ideal life, wanting someone to do what YOU want them to do, yadda yadda yadda.

dontworrywellfigureitout
from explodingdog.com

All that’s left for me is knowing how I want to feel every day when I wake up – that sure makes your dreams crystalize faster and with more intention.

When you get really clear on what you want? The people who are NOT clear about what they want start to fall away. I had heard of that before and I think I thought I believed it, but it wasn’t until this year that I really saw people get cleared from the decks, while some others show up more than ever.

Like I said, I started this year asking for a revolution. And I kicked my own ass. And when shit got hard – and did it ever – I held on to my faith and I held onto my ideals and I’m still here intact. And I can laugh about it now. Even though it’s not far from this moment.

I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen next and I don’t know if I’ll be anywhere near where I am a year from now.

But what I do know is that five years from now I’ll be like
“Yeah, I’m better off now, but damn did I make that revolution look good.”

 

Looking the Part

“This is a good shot of you.”

As the casting director flipped over my head shot to scan my resume, I sort of smirked to myself as I shifted my weight and listened politely.  After saying “thank you,” of course.

That particular shot was 11 years old. I had just gotten new shots done, but I hadn’t received the files yet, so I was using some older shots that most resemble my current look.

And I knew the actual head shot had nothing to do with anything.

—–

I have come to the conclusion that when people say you need to “look the part,” what they really mean is “be ready” and what they really mean by that is “be comfortable with being yourself.” When I say yourself, I assume you know I mean your BEST self, but YOU none the less.

There have been times when I have perfected “looking the part,” using 10485% of my classical acting background and training and costuming skills and come nowhere near getting the part.

There have been times when I was called in to audition just after arriving, with no time to look over lines, improvised when requested and gotten the part. (PS the only thing I remember about that particular day was that I had woken up and remained happy before and during my audition).

There have been times when my hair color was growing out, I hadn’t gotten a chance to work out in over a week, and my head shot was hanging on by a thread. It’s where I was. But I was comfortable and ready and I felt fantastic and I knew the sides inside and out. And I got the part.

I’m not recommending being a mess going into your audition. But I am recommending SHOWING UP in LIFE as your best self wherever that may be. Like, here’s a thought.

If you are in a rut with monologues or auditions or just not “feeling it” lately, take a break. Go do something (else) fun! Go out dancing! Meet up some friends and don’t talk about acting. Learn to crochet!

Last year I had to take some time to get some perspective, but when I really think about it, all it ever really is, is getting back to myself.

Cause it’s not really about the role. It’s about you playing the role. And life is really about you. YOU are the main character in your life. So, shouldn’t you look the part of you?

Slow Clap…Right? Nailed it.

casey-mcdougal-192-web
One of my new shots,  mid-laugh. Credit: David Noles Photography NYC

 

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. 🙂

Control

Lately I have had to come up against the topic of control.  The word means different things to different people, but ultimately, everyone wants control of their own lives. Sometimes that includes control of others, resources, and of course that can escalate from an esoteric idea of control to a full blown crisis.

When you think about it though, we don’t really control very much. When you wake up in the morning, you don’t know what the weather is going to be outside. You don’t know if someone is going to punch you in the face before you even have your first cup of coffee. You go through the day and you can’t predict your workflow or how people are always going to treat you. We all know that we CAN control HOW we deal with the situations that are dealt us. We can be the victim. We can change our attitudes. We can look at the transient nature of life and decide to embrace it.

But what about other people? Think about the people who you live with. Think about your family. Your spouse. Your boyfriend. Now think back to the last twenty four hours. When was the last time you tried to control someone?

I know that most of you are probably recoiling at the thought. “Hrrmffph! I would NEVER try to control someone else.” Oh yeah? Really?

Really.

Here’s where things get dicey when it comes to control. You are in full control of the choices you make and how you want to live your life. Even if you aren’t “100% there yet” you still have control of the direction your life is going. So what happens when we bump into someone saying, doing, or simply EXISTING in a way we don’t like? Usually most of us don’t go around angrily kicking each other or screaming so loud we spit on each other at business meetings. No, instead, it’s usually quite subtle.

Someone parks in your spot. When someone uses your bathroom, they put the toilet paper on the “wrong” way. Someone does something you would never do. Someone engages in behavior that bothers you.

So you comment on the parking spot. You argue about the right way to stick the toilet paper roll on the hook. (or whatever). You suggest to someone that they might want to approach life “a little differently.” You make passive aggressive comments about someone’s diet or exercise or lack thereof.

When we lack control in a situation, we generally as humans try to find ways to correct it. BUT WHY?! Why do we want and feel that we have a need to control a situation or person or place or thing?

Control makes us feel like we matter.

I’m guilty of this as much as the other person. When I was younger it was a lot worse. My budding type A personality would not settle for anything less than an A, and the solution was usually just work harder for better results. That sufficed for a long time. But that doesn’t always work. Feeling in control is great, but what about when you think you are in control and an outcome is created that is less than desirable?

I have found that when I am at my happiest is when I let go of control. It is tempting to attempt to control people and situations in our lives, but in reality we can’t really do that. If we just let go of the idea that we can make others do what we want through sheer will power, a burden is instantly lifted.

          business

                 I appreciate quotes like these because it’s a reminder that not only do you not have to justify yourself to others, but the same applies for others and yourself. Just because you are a family member or best friend or spouse of someone, does not mean that you can run their lives. Telling and suggesting someone what to do may seem like a harmless thing, but over time, it causes more harm than good.

                Instead, worry about yourself. Put your best energy out there. LIVE YOUR DREAM. Set the example. Because when others are ready for change, they will feel and be pulled towards the impact you are creating. But it’s when they are ready. And some people will fall out of your life. But the ones who really matter will stick around. And new people will keep coming.

                This applies to the entertainment industry as well. So many people think that worrying about a role or a project and how it will be perceived will actually control the outcome. In reality it just ties you in knots and keeps you from focusing on your joy and the present moment. So put yourself out there. Be in control of your emotions and what you project. But as for the rest?

Let-it-Go_0

                I needed to remind myself of this today. So I thought I would remind you too. Remember, we can’t control anyone or anything except for who we are in the world. And that’s the best and only type of control we should ever really want. Because when you take care of yourself, everything else falls into place.

“How does one b…

“How does one become a butterfly? You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” – Trina Paulus

I think it can be easy to read a lot of “positive” quotes and not really think about them. You say, “Oh that’s nice” and stick it to your fridge without giving it much thought and probably not really noticing it again.

Have you ever read a quote that stopped you solid in your tracks because you it resonated with exactly what you were experiencing inside?  Those are the times when we finally understand the quotes that we have read over and over and over and have just mistaken for some sort of slogan that gets slapped on a mug or bumper sticker.

I was listening to an “On Being” podcast with David Hartman who said that any sort of epiphany that human beings have, it can’t really be done through being told about it or reading something many times over.  Instead, it’s through experience.  When the experience comes, understanding follows.  The quotes and texts then start to make more sense and illuminate the experience better and vice versa.

I knew I was ready for some really fresh and wonderful change this year when it hit me that the burden of hanging onto my old thought patterns, ways of pursuing work and the way I viewed the world in general, was becoming too heavy to carry around.  The moment, truly the exact moment that i finally decided once and for all (and not half assed like I have done before in spats of pseudo optimistic glints) to let it  go (you just thought of Frozen), I instantly became lighter.  I finally gave myself permission to be 100% happy with my new choice and since then, there is no going back.

Sometimes in iife we are offered the very thing we have always wanted.  We can choose to take it, experience it, and go back to the mundane safety of our everyday lives, or we can decide to rise above where we’ve been and be even better and bring more of what we want into our lives.  

A good friend of mine went through a similar experience in which he had to let go of all of the people in his life who kept putting him down.  They were insecure about his success and so they tried to knock him back into the level of familiarity they had all safely clung to for so long.  When he decided to finally let them go, his life improved and even more success flowed in.  

The same theme repeats itself.  Why stay miserable and unsuccessful for the sake of comfort, when there’s a whole world out there waiting for you to grasp it and make something of your life?

These are the thoughts I had the other morning when I read this quote.  I was drinking my coffee and as my eyes trailed across the words, I froze.  I was there.  I knew exactly what this meant and that I had a decision to make.  And so I did.

I have actually never read this quote before!  I had read the one about the world being over and becoming a butterfly but I think that quote MISSES THE POINT!  You have to CHOOSE to become the butterfly.  But you can’t get something new in your life until you make room for it by clearing out the old.  Ya feel me?

Cue Pharrell Williams.