FUN

I woke up on January 1st of this year without a plan.

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Kristen Annese, myself and Mai Deplapa on set .

As I surveyed my snow-covered landscape, I suddenly knew.. “I’m moving to Los Angeles.” It was a quiet moment, alone in my house. I had no goal, no plan, no idea of what was before me except that I would need to do a lot of shoveling. I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t justify my decision. I just made it.

My type A, goal-oriented, list-making, chore-scoring rattled brain had enough. I was just done with objectively making decisions in my life. This winter I was like, you know what? I’m gonna have fun. FUN.

FUN. I don’t mean a vacation. I don’t mean coloring in one of those adult coloring books. I mean I decided this year that I was going to chase the fun.

Everything has fallen into place since I embraced this simple concept: I worked on hands down the most magical (YEP) set I have ever been on, made the type of friends I know I could live forever on a deserted island with, had wonderful opportunities fall into place, and guess what? I didn’t make a list. I didn’t predict this was going to happen. I just let go and trust myself and I have had the privilege and honor of working with and being surrounded by so much talent and love that I literally had moments where I cried I was so grateful.

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At the wrap party!

This isn’t the kind of thing you plan for. It’s the kind of thing to which you OPEN yourself.

One of my friends said, “When one door closes, and five more open, why would you try to keep walking through the closed one?” I have had a strong feeling this year that I would be headed somewhere new and that is exactly what I am doing.

Next month I begin work on another film.

After that, I fly out to LA.

Who knows what will happen after that?

But this time next year, I will be writing a blog post from California.

And if something isn’t fun, I won’t be doing it.

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Near the end of filming… ūüôā

Folks, it’s so much easier than everyone else is saying. Just be yourself. Make a decision. Go have fun.

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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.”

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

Two more chances!

This weekend is the last I will be playing Sister James in “Doubt,” by John Patrick Shanley, a part I have wanted to play for a long time!

Your last chances to see it are:

Tonight, at 7:30pm

Tomorrow at 2:00pm

And then the four of us will do that thing actors must do when their performances come to an end: Say “Goodbye” to this pattern of doing things in a particular way, with a particular set of blocking, props, costumes, set dressing – essentially to something that will never be this way again.

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Theatre is such a powerful and temporary thing. I used to marvel in college at huge and beautiful sets being built up, used for a number of weeks, and then torn down again. It really made me realize that even if we all did the same show years from now, it would never be the same show again.

Theatre can be a reunion, an introduction, or a mingling of the two..but it ALWAYS ends in a figurative and literal..break up.

This show in particular is 90 minutes of non stop emotional escalation. I’ve carried Sister James with me everywhere I’ve been this late spring / early summer. Her experiences have infiltrated my dreams ! It’s creepy, but also tells me that I am in the right place.

I’m proud of this production of Doubt because it’s never black and white, and our awesome director, Hunter Parker, never intended it to leave people with a comforting feeling of “I know who did it.” Instead, it gets people thinking.

Every single person has a different response at the end of the night. I see that as a good thing. Theatre is best when served with thought. There’s a name for a theatre group in there somewhere.

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To my friends, colleagues and show patrons who have come out to see the show -Thank you so much. It has been a pleasure sharing this show with you. So please spread the word! Looking forward to leaving it all on the stage these last two performances.

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.

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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. ūüôā

Cannes

Cannes

I love this photo because it’s taken from right in the midst of the Cannes Film Festival, right on the red carpet. My new friend Asta, from the UK and I are standing on the steps to the Grand Theatre Lumiere (I’m short, but not THAT short haha). Cannes was a whirlwind of me assisting a producer, running around from one thing to the next, red carpets, after parties, meetings, and an amazing amount of truly inspiring moments. It was just what I needed as the boost of energy to catapult me to the next stage in my career. So grateful for the experience!