Tag Archives: passion

New Year, Old Ego, Open Heart

7 Jan

New Years 2013Every January lends itself to a fresh start, a new perspective, or a clean slate. Those first couple of weeks I’m typically pretty energized and motivated (as I’m sure many are) to get organized and go after the things I really want. Making lists, goals, stacks, piles and files. This January is no exception. I’m just hoping the enthusiasm doesn’t wane and get forgotten like it usually does, and all of those life changes, bucket lists, and closet purges get forgotten about yet again, gathering dust until the next new year…

One major “cleaning out” I would like to do, or I guess one aspect of my life I’d like to be more aware of, is my EGO. I don’t mean it in the sense of being full of oneself. Rather, the attachment we may have to identity. In taking this new full-time job and then having a two week break in the peaceful, distraction-free, snow-blanketed mountains, I realized something: I got to get rid of my ego. Well, maybe not get rid of it entirely (I have a feeling it will always linger in some form or another) but to at least lessen it, quiet it, learn to let go of it, not let it rule all of my actions and decisions. Am I still being vague? Okay, let me get specific…

My passion is acting. Making stories. Writing them, telling them, painting them, performing them, sharing them. But it isn’t teaching them. Not full-time anyway. However, I feel that at my age, and where my peers are at in their lives, I should be at that point, too– with a “career” job, an annual salary and paychecks that come like clockwork every two weeks, and health benefits, a retirement plan. You know the drill. “Grown up” stuff. But what is that, really? Why do I feel like I should be in that place? Because it’s what I really want, or because of my ego? Sure a steady income is nice, don’t get me wrong. I am absolutely terrified of being financially unstable. But I’m equally, if not more so, terrified of each year going by where I’m NOT doing what I love and taking this back seat to my own life… letting things happen to me (this job literally fell into my lap) instead of making things happen for my life. It’s my life and I only got one of it, so why spend it doing what I don’t want to do? Well, there’s that fear of course.

This year I want to learn to be okay with (and feel good about) taking an unconventional route and how taking an alternate route does not mean failure, laziness, immaturity or the other labels I’m afraid of. It just means something different. If there’s one thing that acting has taught me is that there is no one right way of doing things– not in building a career as an actor and certainly not in this game of Life. I read a great article in GQ the other day about “The Cooler Me.” Basically, this guy who took the more “conventional” path (married, with children, steady job, etc) wanted a glimpse into what his life could’ve been had he gone a different direction, so he became friends with a doppleganger, a guy who with similar age and background is living his life as a musician, unattached, in a house with a million roommates. Reading the article, I’d say I’m somewhere in the middle. But it did make me realize what is important to me right now, to listen to my heart.

My heart is in making stories in every form that entails. My heart yearns for travel, freedom, adventure, friends, acting. This year, I would like to make more room for all of this. I’m in a fortunate position where I don’t have many attachments. So instead of letting my ego rule my actions, I want to let my heart do more of the decision making.

When It’s Dangerous to Dream

12 Nov

It’s been a while since my last post, and for good reason. First time grad student, first time full time teacher, directing a professional theater festival, directing a high school production, completing my fundraising trailer, and trying to survive. So, posting went to the wayside. Needless to say, so did acting. And that disturbed me. A lot. It’s been an interesting couple of months adjusting to all of this. I spent most of September trying not to have a nervous breakdown. And then most of October stressing out about how I’m never going to act again. Now, in November, I have come to realize the potential dangers of my Dream.

As those closest to me (and maybe readers of this blog) have heard me say a million times, I’ve wanted to act since I was 9 years old. I hold on to this moment pretty dearly. In many ways it defines me. It’s the one thing I can say I know for sure. But what if all my life I focus on this one thing and ignore all the rest? What if this one thing never gives me the financial means to live a comfortable life? What if this one thing limits me so that I am constantly striving after an ever-changing goal (what does it mean to find success in acting?) and thereby never reaching it? Well, I’d be constantly disappointed. And unhappy.

This awareness has been slowly growing these past few weeks, it’s not an easy one to realize. Do I really want to be unhappy and dissatisfied all the time? Of course not. So I must shift my focus. As my boyfriend helped me realize (as he has so patiently listened to countless long, emotional rants over these past two months) I have to see what I do have and what I am accomplishing, which, when I really think about it, is a lot! And if acting is something I must, no matter what, have in my life, then I’ll make a way to have it in my life– even if it’s not the traditional make yourself a slave to hourly submissions, CD workshops, showcases, scene study classes, postcard mailings, thousands upon thousands of dollars down the drain. Not that there’s anything wrong with that either. I might be going back to that grind soon, too. But there’s more to an artist’s life than classes and casting.

If I keep going after the dream, I’m setting myself up to be only in the future and never in the present. And since when did that philosophy ever make someone happy? So though dreams are wonderful to have, and I know I talk about them a lot– to give you that spark, the passion, the drive— they can be dangerous if they become stale. If the dream is just an excuse to never realize all that you’re accomplishing in the now. Like, on my way to getting my Masters (once a dream, now a reality); directing an incredible LGBTQ festival (once a conversation, turned into a job); completing the first draft of a play (once an idea, now a full story); finishing the fundraising trailer for my feature length screenplay (once two friends complaining about the difficulties of acting, now on our way to making work for ourselves); teaching and (hopefully) inspiring kids to go after their dreams.

So, maybe it’s time to update the dream… I think, perhaps, I am already living that dream.

The Big Break

9 Jan

No, not the kind that makes you famous over night; the kind that gives you a breather, time to reflect, time to relax. In a similar post last year, I wrote that actors need vacations, too. And it’s true! So much of this career is go-go-go with no real defining markers, like vacation time or company meetings or whatever else marks time. Half the time I don’t even know what day it is.

Anyway, the past two weeks were somewhat of a whirlwind of a break from all that is acting. A little Mexico, Palm Springs and San Francisco to end 2011 and ring in 2012. I found myself taking a lot in, doing little thinking about acting (which felt so nice) and a lot of thinking about other things that are growing in importance for me. It’s important to recognize that I have chosen this career path and everything in between. (I chose to get headshots from a specific photographer, I chose to join a certain theater company, I chose to accept certain projects, etc.) For the past two years, I have been going along like this, going through the motions in my pursuit of this career. And I realized, recently, that not all of it necessarily makes me happy. I do it because I’ve been doing it, letting it take control over me instead of the other way around. I made those decisions and I can just as easily make new ones. It’s kind of like when I was at NYU and miserable, fearing I was going to be stuck there for four years in my misery when I had an “aha” moment, that looking back seems so simple and obvious but wasn’t at all when I was in the thick of my unhappiness. I realized, hey, I can leave! It didn’t mean I was quitting acting, it didn’t mean I was a failure. Afterall, NYU was my dream, I strived for and achieved. But just because I decided to go there didn’t mean I had to stay there. There was nothing wrong with rejecting the traditional four-year college experience if it wasn’t working for me. It’s my life, I can do it however I want.

So I’m kind of realizing that with my life right now. They aren’t fully formed decisions yet, because I’m still processing it all. But this recent break did give me the ability to see a lot of things about my life that I don’t get to see on a day-to-day basis in the throws of acting career stuff. It’s funny, because I always say there is no “right” way to do this. No instruction guide, no ladder to climb. And yet, there are lots of things I’ve been doing because I feel I should, I have to. I need to take my own advice! I can go about this any way I want. Besides, acting is not my one and only passion, though it is the most prominent now. Over the break those other passions and desires started to speak up. It’s what made me realize that I need to change this up this year. Nor sure how or when or where, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

“Sacrifice is Pain”

27 Oct

Week 2 of the incredible play I’m in, Skeleton Stories, involved more than the usual blood, sweat and tears required of this show. Typically, any blood I experience, extract, or drink is, of course, fake! Ah, the magic of theater. But, half way into the second act of the play, during the emotional peak of my character Maya’s journey, I step on a shard of glass. Ow.

The sharp pain was followed by that out-of-body experience all actors dread, where suddenly, you are you outside looking in. No longer in the character. All I could think about was how the next big scene was a crazy dance number… on a bloody foot. But what am I going to do? Go “Hold the show! There’s something in my foot!” Don’t think so. You make a little sacrifice. You work that much harder to concentrate, stay in it, deliver the best performance you’ve ever given. Why? Because this is what you LOVE to do. This is why you are here, glass shards and all.

Since then, I’ve added to my sacrifices: black and blue knees, sore arms and scabbed back (though I’ve done this show a million times, I somehow underestimated how long the altar was and got up too soon, only to bang my back on the wood frame). Just last weekend, the slightest blocking change caused a shiny black dress shoe to bang full force right into my shin. Once again, definitely had that outer-body experience but quickly reeled myself in to stay in the moment. And, as cheesy as it sounds, “used it”.

As Maya’s ancestor says, “Sacrifice is Pain… Sacrifice is a gift… Sacrifice is love.”