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. 🙂

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2014 and how I got here

I read this amazing, kick-in-the-ass blog from Talent Manager Jenn Lederer this morning.  I was having one of those weak actor moments on the couch, by the fire, wearing three layers of clothing, bundled up with my dog and sort of resenting myself for over-analyzing every move I am making in my career.  I also blame my inertia on winter weather and the arctic blast, but I’ll leave that to someone else to blah blah blog about.

Just then I decided to take moment of reprieve from my pity-fest and saw an email come in from Jenn Lederer that absolutely grabbed my attention and made me say, “Well that’s a weird coincidence,” considering I was going through exactly what she was detailing in her blog post.  The next words I read?  “don’t even get me started on coincidences, btw.”  

I had taken a seminar with her this summer that was extremely moving and encouraged me to just plow forward with my career in brave, new ways.  This email was a much-needed brush up.

You see, I normally go into a new year without TOO much of a plan.  Yes, I make vision boards (laugh if you want, but call me up and I will convince you to make one in less than 5 minutes) and yes I am all about working hard with goals in mind, but this was the first year EVER that I had already acquired employment in December as an actor for the first 8 months of the following year.  WHAT?!  All I could think was, “Gee, last year I did say I wanted to teach to supplement my income.  Gee, I did want to do this and that and this.   Maybe it’s all just working out.”  WELL, here’s the thing.  It’s important to remind ourselves that we  didn’t just magically end up where we are right now.  Whether it’s on the 100th floor of an office building, or sitting on the floor playing  games with kids, or driving cross-country to pursue our dreams.  No, we make our lives.

Jenn also points out in this fabulous blog post (yes I will provide a link so you can read it too) that we tend to think that the GOOD things in life just “happen” to us, while the bad things that happen to us are the only things that we are responsible for.  But what if we adopt the idea that WE are responsible for everything that “happens to us?”  And find the goodness in that!?  Holy crap, it’s a mega-mind shift.

Several years ago I was in an accident in which I was hit by a truck while crossing the street.  I had finally processed what had happened to me, and I was talking to my friend Jim Hetrick about it.  He said, “The thing that people don’t seem to realize is that everything in their lives…everything that happens to me, everything that happens to you, we bring it upon ourselves.  We attract it to us.”  I had JUST started to feel that was true, but I needed someone else to say it out loud.

Now I know what some of you may be thinking.  “I didn’t ask to lose my job!  I didn’t want a disease!” etc.  Yes, some EVENTS do happen in our lives that we do not personally control. BUT…what if you just accepted the idea that you have the power to change events in your lives?  That you weren’t just floating along through space?  Cause if that’s what you think, that’s what you get.

Obviously, I wasn’t thinking to myself “Gee, when will I get hit by a truck!  I really feel like eating some asphalt!”  BUT you know what I  WAS repeating to myself for YEARS?! “Nothing ever happens to me.  Nothing ever happens to me.  My life is so boring.” I was ungrateful and I needed a really huge wakeup call.  Well guess what?  Sometimes that’s why accidents happen!  And they aren’t coincidences…

Anyway, back to my worried self.  I thought about all the good things that are happening for me right now, and I decided to embrace them entirely as my own creation.  Then I spent an hour and a half laying out the groundwork for what I want in the new year.  Here’s what I ALREADY have laid out for myself this year:

Teaching Kids, ongoing acting as a patient at Yale Medical School,  shooting a short film, “Tracy on a Bench” with the magnificent John Henry Soto, releasing “Holding” for all the world to see, oh yeah…and going to Cannes Film Festival for a  production internship.

So I noticed that after the holidays I was feeling kinda down.  Like…what power do I have to actually shift my career to the next level?  When DUH, it hit me that I already am responsible for all of the great things I already have laid out for the year. And if I want more, I can go get it.  And obviously, I want more.

NO MORE EXCUSES.  NONE. ZERO. ZILCH.  No more thinking that good things just happen to me.  Cause I’m bringin it to myself!  And I wish you the same for 2014.

Also, check out the blog I was speaking of earlier (even if you aren’t an actor, this still applies to LIFE my friends).

http://jennlederer.com/blog/

Cheers.