Clear Headed

This is long, but bare with me, it’s got a point, I promise.

I’ve been sick this week. I had big plans in October and big plans for November. Alas, last week I started to feel like I was getting sick and I fought back with turmeric, vitamin c, honey and cinnamon, ginger tea, lemon water and getting more rest. I thought I kicked it. Which was perfect because last Saturday I had a wedding to go to that I was very much looking forward to. I felt healthy and happy and I danced and celebrated and saw old friends and Curtis and I had fantastic time in a beautiful setting and we felt enchanted by the magical night full of joy and love.

The next day I was tired and so I gave myself a rest day. But I was achey and my throat was dry. By Monday it was like there were daggers in my throat when I swallowed. The rest of this past week has been a revolving door of awful symptoms. I managed to stay semi functional yet foggy headed and exhausted through Wednesday on cold medicine, but by Thursday I was just defeated. I spent the rest of of the week giving up on any productivity and just living in bed and pajamas trying to rest while sipping tea and and juice. Today is Sunday and while I am certainly not 100% I am feeling on the mend. It’s always surprising to me just how much we take our health for granted until we don’t have it. I have been miserable all week. And as much as I have always wanted days on end of rest when I am feeling stressed and sleep deprived, actual days of forced rest is kind of exhausting in itself. Oddly, after a couple days of bed rest, all I wanted to do was get up and clean. Go figure.

For anyone, being sick and out of their routine is almost always a bit hard and at the very least an unpleasant annoyance. For me, it is actually quite stressful due to my body image and weight issues. On any given day I am usually on some clean eating and work out plan. Oh sure there are splurge days and sometimes I just plain fail to stick to the plan, but essentially, especially on weekdays there is a plan. So, when I get sick and need to rest and can’t exercise or work out, I kind of freak out. Unless it’s a stomach virus. What’s that lovely phrase from “The Devil Wear’s Prada”? “I’m only one stomach flu away from my goal weight”? Yeah, so anyway, when I am sick with something that is not a stomach virus, I end up feeling a bit stressed about my weight. Well, let’s be real, I’m kind of always stressed about my weight. But it gets worse when you tell me I can’t work out. 
But this time, I just kept reminding myself that I clearly needed a break. My body was begging me to give it a rest and to just focus on getting it healthy again. I needed to eat healthy things and just give it what it needed to feel and get better. It helped but there was still that voice in the back scratching at all my insecurities. They just never really go away. 
I took this and the other two Eiffel tower photos on my trip to Europe in 2001. 

Then, on Friday the news broke about the terrorist attacks in Paris, Baghdad and Beirut. We are unfortunately accustomed to such news involving Baghdad and Beirut but that does not make the loss of the innocent life there any less tragic and sad. However, in contrast, even though there was a terrorist attack earlier this year in Paris, the scale of this new attack was still jarring and surprising. It seemed like that could never happen there. Also, many of us have dreamed of strolling through the streets of Paris with a loved one or have taken a photo in front of the Eiffel tower.  Those dreams and memories of Paris don’t include fearing for your life from a suicide bomber or watching people get shot in front of you. It’s a scary thing to be reminded that we are, none of us, safe anywhere really. Which of course, is the whole goal of terrorism. To make you angry and scared and to make you fight back so that we all just keep fighting over nonsense instead of working together. Because, we could, you know. Work together. Make the world a better place. We could. But we don’t. We prefer to keep to our tribes. We look out for our own or worse yet, ourselves. We like to blame others and have someone to point fingers at and blame. It’s a big part of the animal brain still inside us. Unfortunately, the world is so small and growing smaller and more bended and shaken up every day. We are all so very connected. I truly want for us all to just accept that we will never all feel, think and believe the same things and just get along because we love our kids too much to have them go to war and die over nonsense and pride or differences of belief. 

In any case, as this was all unfolding, I was thinking about all of these things and about my life. The things I worry about. The stress that I put on myself about my weight, looks and things like that. It’s hard because as an actress I have to be aware of how my looks are perceived in terms of casting. And I must watch myself on film all the time. It’s part of the process and scrutinizing your face for how it portrays emotion on screen also means noticing every line or puffy cheek as well. It’s the same for dancers and models and athletes as well. Your physical form is constantly being assessed and scrutinized sometimes for valid reasons, sometimes not. But no matter how you spin or shake it the fact remains that none of that is truly important in life overall. Oh sure, everyone wants to be seen as pretty or attractive or at the very least pleasant to look at. But the things in life that you will be remembered for truly do go deeper than your looks. When someone dies even if they were super model gorgeous, there is generally a list of many other qualities that people describe with honor about that person. Or at least, we hope that there is a list of other attributes. And when people are dying I don’t think many of them lay on their death beds lamenting that they didn’t diet more and deny themselves more or that they never got back to their high school skinny jeans weight. 
We live in a world where we admire “self control” and we associate a trim body with “being in control”. But what if having a super skinny body means that everything else is completely out of control? Is it worth it? Is it worth feeling skinny in photos if you never get to bake and eat cookies with your kids or nieces or nephews? Is it worth feeling guilty after a night of fun and laughter and bonding with friends over margaritas and chips and salsa because “Oh my gosh I ate SO much!” and then feeling bad and possibly avoiding those outings in the future? 
So, yesterday, I suddenly had a craving for some pumpkin bread. I wanted some comfort food and I had a really easy mix I could use in the pantry and I thought, why not now? Sure I’ve not done any exercise in a week. But I’m sick. And it’s autumn and it’s finally a little cooler and autumn like. So what if I m a few pounds heavier that I like to be? Is that the worst thing that can happen in the world? NO. No it is not. The worst thing that can happen is more like going to a rock concert with your friends and watching them get shot and killed for nothing. It is laying under a bunch of lifeless bodies and not crying or screaming because you have to pretend you are also dead so that maybe you will survive. (as one girl in the attacks wrote about) It is getting the call that a friend or relative has been killed and realizing that you will never see them again. All your plans for the future will not include that person. It is realizing that even with all their imperfections you would give anything to have them back. It is the torture of replaying the fight you had the last time you saw that person and wishing that you had just hugged them and told them how much you love them no matter what. 
In fact the worst thing that could happen is already happening all around us. And it has been for thousands of years. The worst thing that can happen is that we humans, smart and evolved and awesome as we can be, still feel the need to fight and kill over differences. That we still resort to violence to solve things. That we can not agree to take care of each other and to take care of the planet that we are on and the other beings on this planet with us. The worst thing that can happen is that we forget that we are, all of us, in this together. The worst thing that can happen is that we become apathetic to the plights of people in certain parts of the world because it’s just been so bad for so long that it just seems like the way it is and it doesn’t surprise us anymore. The worst thing is that we get so caught up in trivial things that we stop getting outraged over the bigger ones. 
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There are other worst things too. The worst thing could be me letting these 8 pounds stop me from doing other things I love. Like taking a new dance or exercise class. Or filming something fun. Or going to an audition. I could let my weight be such a huge factor in every minute of my life that I self sabotaged dreams for a decade or two of my precious life. Years squandered. In fear of judgement over being seen as chubby. I mean really think about that. It’s insane. We all know how precious life is and what a gift it is to wake up in the morning. I keep a gratitude journal and I often give thanks for waking up healthy and with all the opportunity I have before me in this new day. I know it sounds cheesy but it’s true. And yet…. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t still obsess and stress over my weight daily. That’s how deeply it’s ingrained. And it’s not just me. We as a society never stop talking about looks and weight and food. But to people who live in those war torn countries, who have no idea where their next meal comes from, who have lived under a ceaseless threat of bombs or shoot outs just getting to and from the market? There are people who would do anything to have the problems that we have here. To have the luxury to worry about what size they are wearing or if they should eat the cupcake or not? To stress about eating too many chips instead of how they would eat anything at all. 

There are families all over the world lamenting the loss of someone they loved that died senselessly over the weekend. There are hundreds of people who will not get to dance and sing and enjoy life on a beautiful evening celebrating love at a wedding again. There are people who will never wake up again. They did not have “tomorrow”.  At every wedding, birthday, holiday they will be missed by someone or many someones. There are people in your life that you may have lost through disease or tragedy or just old age that you will miss forever. I myself still can’t believe that I never got to take my Uncle up on the offer of going to his favorite jazz club in New Orleans the next time I was in town because the next time I was in town he was dying of cancer and it was too late. I can never get that time back. 
There are so many worse things than the extra 8 pounds I’ve been carrying since summer. Dreams deferred, lives ended too short from so many things, animals on the brink of extinction due to human greed, animals tortured and abused because of human greed, children going hungry, parents watching their children suffer or die, war, terrorism, hatred and violence. I know several people who were the victim of random violent crime in the last two months. There is no sense in that and that in itself is so much worse than whether or not I can fit into child sized yet somehow “adult” clothing. And when I really stop to think about it, it makes me feel ridiculously stupid for spending so much time and energy on “managing” my weight. How stupid am I? Honestly. We really are spoiled and privileged.  And it’s sad that it takes a scary savage attack on another first world country or any sudden tragedy in life, to remind us of these facts. 
I hate the times we live in, but let’s be honest, I can’t think of a 100 year period in history where there was ever world peace. I wish that we could get to a time where everything is fine and I can honestly say that the worst thing that could happen is that my jeans are tight or that I look fat in a photo. But we are not there yet. Not by a long shot. And so, I am doubling up my efforts to not focus so much on things that don’t matter and to focus more on the things that do. 

I want to focus on the things I am passionate about in life. To bring happiness and joy to others either through my art and pursuing my dreams in life (because I can) or through supporting theirs and their dreams. I will continue to raise awareness for things and causes that are truly worth focusing on. I will continue trying to help change the out dated and hurtful beliefs that still exist in all of society around the world. To spread positivity and love and acceptance. To save and respect all the other creatures on this world that share it with us humans and often suffer at our greedy, careless hands. To help people remember our similarities as humans instead of our differences. I don’t think that it will happen in my life time. But when I die I want to be remembered for more than my dress size/measurements/weight/looks. I want to be remembered as someone who was one of the helpers. I want to be remembered as someone who brought joy and beauty and love to the world. Who made people happy and maybe helped them to think or to love themselves more. I want to be an inspiration for more good. These are the things in life worth pursuing. 

(Note:Being healthy and taking care of the bodies that we are given is also important, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a difference between being healthy and obsessing over our physical appearances. And while we have a duty to take care of these vessels that carry us through life, they also have a capability of joy and pleasure and it is our duty to appreciate and enjoy the life we can experience through them. Occasional indulgences are just another way to appreciate the life we have.) 
I want to remember this. I want to be held accountable. So I wrote it down here. I am worth more than any number on a scale or piece of clothing. And it is not just for my sanity that I say that but for my soul. This is not just to comfort my or your insecurities. It is because we literally ARE here for more than the pursuit of beauty or physical “perfection”. We are here with a duty to leave the planet better for having had us on it. We are here to make the best of the all too short lives that we have. We have not just the right but the DUTY to be good human beings and to make the planet better.

Notice the peace signs. It felt especially appropriate to post this one. 

So, while I know we will, all of us, struggle in this endeavor and that we will still bond mostly over cat memes and silly music videos and selfies, I hope that all of you will join me in being a beacon for the kind of changes that we truly need in the world and remember the truly important things in life. Spread love. Do what makes you happy and what you are good at. Be accepting of people. Fight for those that need help fighting. Speak for those that have no voice. Work towards peace at home, peace with your neighbors and hopefully it will spread. Spread the love. Not the fear. Not the hate. Press your governments for peace, not for more and more war.

Spread joy and love and peace and understanding. Teach your children to love. And maybe just maybe, you can start by showering yourself with love and acceptance for who you are. Then just work outward from there. 

Dream. Do. Detach.

Do you love autumn? Well, I do. 
It was 90 degrees before noon the day we filmed this. In October. 
However, I live in Southern California, land of eternal summer. 😉 

I’m really pale for living in a land of eternal summer right? That’s because I kind of hate the sun. I’m also vitamin d deficient. No joke. I’m sure those two facts are related. 

When I was a kid it wasn’t so bad. It usually cooled off a bit for a while from October-March. But in recent years the heatwaves just seem to keep coming all year. It was in the 90s here when Curtis and I were in New York in March. It was in the 20s and 30s in New York. Extreme “unseasonable” weather seems to follow us one way or another.

So anyway, a few weeks ago, at the beginning of October I walked into Curtis’s office and said “Every year around this time I get a really strong urge to be anywhere but here. I just suddenly need to be somewhere there is a real autumn. Every year. I don’t want to be here. I want to be where the autumn is!” And then as I said that last sentence, I heard the familiar strums of The Little Mermaid song “Part of That World” in my head and I sang “I want to be where the autumn is….” and I turned to Curtis and said “THAT is our video.” and he laughed and said “Ok, well go write it.” 
We have conversations like this a lot. I am full of good ideas that we never do. Or that I wait too long to do. And then the next thing I know, Amy Schumer did it and it’s too late. I’m kidding. Kind of. Anyway, we are always saying that if people won’t hire us for stuff, then we’ll just make our own stuff. But then we get so caught up in just trying to get by, that it usually ends up falling sadly by the wayside. But this time I was on fire. The Little Mermaid came out the year I also started voice lessons and I used to sing these songs on a constant loop. It may be decades later, but baby, I was born for this! 😉 
So, I went to our room, pulled out a notebook, and started to write parody lyrics to the “Part of That World” tune. An hour or so later I walked out and sang it for Curtis. I think he was a little shocked. Then he said “That’s good. Now get me a shot list and any casting you might need.” And so I did. 
It took a little while to actually get it filmed and then it took even longer to get it edited and posted because, well, Curtis was a one man crew and he also just happens to work at 4 jobs: His day job in marketing, his teaching of acting classes, his performing with Teatro Martini and his performing with The Writers Room. 
In the meantime I started to panic a little. I had gained 8 pounds over the summer and was feeling puffy and not exactly camera ready. My voice is a little rough and not as trained as it once was and even though I am working on that, it’s still not where I’d like it to be. I know a lot of professional working singers. A lot of them. And I know a lot of vocal coaches and have some very musically inclined friends. All of these people would immediately hear every little waver and not quite supported note and every time I rushed or fell behind musically. I’m not gonna lie, this was one of my biggest fears in making this. 
But there was no time to over think or worry over things. This was a time sensitive subject. It was now or never. We had to record the song when we had a quiet house in which to do that. So I basically warmed up and sang and we did a few takes and that was that. We had to film in small chunks in between Curtis’s jobs, so lots of takes and hair touch ups were out of the question as was trying to assemble any other cast since we never really had a set shooting schedule. But most of all there was no time for me to be hesitant or fearful or to try and lose 10 lbs before we started shooting. I had to be brave and just jump in. I had a new motto too, that helped: “Dream. Do. Detach.”  Dream it, do it and then let it go. I have no control over how people react to this, but I can’t worry about or obsess over that. I need to do it and get it out. It’s the only way I can get better or move forward. So, on that note, I am super proud of myself. 
But despite all these fears and obstacles, I was having so much fun. Every day I woke up and felt exited for the day in a way I hadn’t in a long time. It was just really exhilarating. It feels good to do something you love. Most of my life I’ve wanted to be in or make a music video and I finally got to do that. It was as much fun as I thought it would be! 
We even got to use my nieces in it and we had fun shooting with them too! 
Anyway, eventually we got it done and Curtis got the editing done beautifully. So far people have been very kind, encouraging and supportive about it so I feel really grateful and happy for that. 
So, we posted it yesterday. This is me being brave. 🙂 Here it is for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy! 
(For those of you who might not know you can view it in a larger format by clicking on the “youtube” or Fullscreen  “[ ]”option at the bottom of the video. ) 

WWMD?- What Would Meryl Do?

Being an actress means a lot of things to a lot of people depending on who you are. But it is a truth universally acknowledged that being an actress in Los Angeles means that there is a LOT of pressure to be what we call “Hollywood Skinny.” This is a different kind of skinny than most “normal” “non actor”  people might aspire to. This is a kind of thin that makes grown women aspire to wear child sized clothing.

So, one Friday night, after stuffing myself with In N Out fries and chocolate shake along with my homemade veggie burger AND Trader Joe’s JoJo cookies,  I rolled myself over like the bloated beast I was at that moment and checked my email. I was lazily scrolling along when there it was, a glowing beacon of opportunity: The c-mail! The c-mail is what you get when you submit yourself for acting jobs on a popular site called “Actor’s Access” and it generally means that you are being asked to come in and audition! Exciting right? Until I saw the date of the audition. It was Monday. A mere 48 hours after my ingestion of the gluttonous, bloat inducing (but REALLY tasty) meal! “Noooooooo!” I wailed. Curtis looked at me with concern. “I have an audition for MONDAY and it’s for a superhero web series and they want me to come in wearing “athletic attire” on Monday! That means I have 48 hours to try and de-bloat and not look like a Beluga whale in spandex! ARGH! I hate acting. Why do I do this to myself? Shit!.”

I was in a complete panic now and immediately began beating myself up over my splurge. What was I thinking eating all of that? I’m an actress. I really can’t ever assume that it’s safe for me to be a bloated mess! How stupid was I? What do I do? Do I go to the audition? Do I cancel? ARGH!

And while I’m already on a roll beating myself up, what was I thinking even submitting for that part? I’m not in perfect shape! I’m not ever going to be confused with a fitness model! Why don’t I stick to submitting for stuff that is a little more lenient on body types like “Mom” roles and “Quirky Best friends”?

Well, I know why I submitted for it. I submitted for it because super heroines are awesome and it would be awesome to play one. And what if they want a super heroine like me? I mean, it could happen.

But then, yes, what if they DO? What if I was actually cast? Then I’d have to diet and workout even more! Oh God. Why do  do this to myself? Why is being an actress so hard and stressful. I have never seen Curtis stress out about how he looks or what he weighs before an audition ever. EVER. And he’s gone to approximately 1000 times more auditions than me. But they never mention body type preferences in his character breakdowns and they never ask him to come in in workout wear. Men have it so much easier.

Maybe I am just not supposed to do this at all. Maybe I am just not cut out for it. Maybe I should just stick to stage work. Nothing on camera. Or maybe I should just give up all together so that I can just live my life like a normal person. And not freak out every time my weight fluctuates.

I’m tired of wanting to act but being terrified and shamed by how I look on camera. It’s exhausting.

This was essentially what went through my head for the next couple of days. I considered declining the audition. Then the morning of the audition I woke up. I read a somewhat inspiring article about doing what you love and then I was thinking about how I had recently read an interview with Viola Davis and how she had thought about dieting when she got cast in “How to Get Away With Murder” and then she thought (and I am kind of paraphrasing here) “Why? She’s a real woman who is good at her job. She isn’t a model. I know women like her and those women, those REAL women should be represented.” And I just loved that. It’s so true. The only time a woman’s weight or fitness level should come into play is if it is something that would be required for who she is. Like if she was a soldier/boxer/model/dancer/professional athlete or something along those lines.

So, I was still apprehensive. I mean, here I was auditioning for a superhero after weeks of being off my normal eating and exercise regime. What was I thinking?

And then I remembered that Meryl Streep Quote:


If you don’t want to take Meryl’s advice (but really why wouldn’t you, LOOK at her!)

then there’s other kick ass women who don’t give a flip what anyone else thinks about their looks or weight such as:

Jennifer Lawrence doing interviews for The Hunger Games and how she had refused to diet to play Katniss and how she was proud to portray a real woman and not some dieted down “not really her” version of herself. And I thought,  “Yes! What would Jennifer Lawrence do? Would she be afraid to audition for a super hero because she wasn’t feeling like a fitness model? Hell NO! She’d go in with confidence, show those people what was up and then leave and eat a sandwich!

So, if you’re feeling insecure over anything that you want to do because of your body, just ask yourself  “What would Meryl Streep/Jennifer Lawrence/Viola Davis/Amy Schumer do?”  because honestly none of those awesome, kick ass women would care what anyone else thought about their bodies. And they are right!

So, if I want to be an actress I can’t let these things continue to scare me, or worse, define me. There will hopefully be a lot more auditions in the future and I can’t let every one of them freak me out like this. I need to cut myself some slack and let myself find a healthy balance in my food and weight and not freak out over an occasional indulgence just because there might be an audition. And I needed to go to this audition because the world needs more superheroes that are strong and healthy but maybe not necessarily “perfect” looking. I needed to go for all the girls that were afraid to even submit for the part because of their non “hollywood skinny” bodies. Real girls need role models too. We can’t all aspire to look like we are airbrushed even in real life.

So, I went to the audition. I had absolutely NOTHING to be afraid of. There was a wide range of people there. A few were in fact, quite stunning, but most were pretty average run of the mill people. They were all fairly fit looking but not in an intimidating way and I actually felt like I fit right in. I also had a lot of fun at the audition. I did not get cast. But that’s ok. I faced my fears, saw that there was nothing to be afraid of and did my best. I’m going to try and remember that for every audition I go on from here on out. There’s nothing to stress over. Just face the fear, do your best and then get on with life.

The Day the Mermaid Died

When I was little I wanted to be a mermaid so bad. I wanted to be a mermaid with an intensity that rivaled my love of and need of horses. That’s a lot for those of you that did not know me as a kid. I truly believed that one day while swimming my tail would just appear much like Daryl Hannah’s in “Splash” and I would be able to swim for as long as I wanted and have dolphins as friends. I mean what little girl didn’t want to live in clam shell bras with sparkly iridescent green fins? That was the dream y’all.

So when I saw this video, many memories came flooding back to me! This video is so cute and yet, a little heartbreaking. I feel for this kiddo. That little whimper as her tiny child soul is crushed with adult knowledge? ARGH. My heart. Real Life blows sometimes.

And it got me thinking. I used to want to be a mermaid because I LOVED the water. I loved it so much! I was a total water baby and I was always wanting to be swimming at the pool or splashing at the beach. But at some point that changed. At some point pool parties became something to dread and going to the beach meant weeks of herculean effort to beat my body into submission before I was allowed to show up in a bathing suit.

When did this happen? When did the water loving mermaid in me die? When did I stop running around half naked in bathing suit with joy and enthusiasm for life and water and sand, with no fear of getting wet and mussing my hair?  When did I start sitting on the sidelines in the sand or with my feet in the pool instead?

I didn’t start out hating bathing suits. Look, I loved them even as a baby!

I suppose she died as I entered the dreaded teenage years and became completely and totally self conscious of my body and weight. I don’t remember a time past about 11 years old that I didn’t feel shame or embarrassment about my body in some way.

I still do love the water. But now I prefer to be in my own tub rather than anywhere in public. And I still do love the beach but now I like windswept beaches in the off seasons when I can walk along them in the brisk air fully clothed rather than run into the waves in a bathing suit.

That’s sad. I love the water. I want to enjoy the water again damn it!

Let’s stop killing the mermaids inside of us. Let’s bring her back to life if she’s already been gone. Let’s remember what joy feels like. Let’s take that plunge into the water because really, we’re all beautiful mermaids who deserve to enjoy the water. Life is too short to sit on the sand or the side of the pool.

How to Keep Going When the Going Gets Tough

I know I promised more NYC blogs but those are taking time (finding the right photos and links and such) and I just had a couple of conversations this week that inspired me to write this blog.

If you’re going through tough times, suffering with depression or an awful combination of both, how do you keep going? What do you do to get out of bed when you don’t want to get out of bed?

Well, for me in the past couple of years I have been trying a variety of things to help keep me inspired, motivated and working towards my goals, even if very slowly and I thought I’d share what has worked for me.

Vision Board: 
I have found that making a vision board is kind of fun and therapeutic in and of itself. Just the act of collecting images and words out of magazine and catalogs that speak to you and the life you want and putting them together in something pleasing and inspiring is enough to help renew your energy to keep working towards those dreams. And heck you might even realize that certain things speak to you or jump out at you that you never really considered before. But then having a visual reminder of what it’s all about, is also helpful. But just having it around isn’t enough. I found that over time it just becomes another part of life that we kind of glaze over everyday as we struggle to just get through the day. So, I started taking a little time (at least a few times a week) to really look at it and see what jumps out at me that maybe I’d let slide or have forgotten about. You have to keep consulting it or it doesn’t really do anything. If you meditate (and I’ll get to that in a minute) you can even incorporate it into that. The best way that I have found is to really look at it first thing in the morning and right before bed.

Daily Morning Intention/Gratitude Journal:
This simple activity has really changed my life. I’m not even kidding. I read this little article that someone posted on Facebook about how really successful people write out “Today is going to be a great day!” every morning and then write how they see their ideal day going and how even though it’s usually not going to all go according to plan (other human beings really throw a wrench in the works don’t they?) but it sets a positive tone and they found that while not everything goes to plan more stuff does than when they don’t do it. I’ve been doing it since January 23 and it has made such a big difference in my life. I also write things I am grateful for in it every day. Usually at the end of the day but sometimes, if I wake up a little cranky writing down what I have to be grateful for before facing the day is a good way to get back into a more positive mindset. But you have to truly try and believe it’s going to be a great day. If you do it begrudgingly, I can’t make any promises for it. 😉

A Daily Dialogue Jornal:
This is just to get out all those random thoughts and feelings. Letting it all out on paper is very therapeutic. You can use it in the morning or at night or any time of the day that you really need to get out some thoughts or emotions. I find that it sometimes just lets me vent, other times it helps me see things that were right in front of my face but that I was missing and sometimes it just lets my mind rest so I can go to sleep because I wrote down all my worries and fears. This should not be a fancy journal. Just a plain old every day notebook works. This isn’t a journal for posterity to hold onto forever, it’s just something to get down all your thoughts and feelings. Speaking from experience re reading those things once your over them is downright painful. 😉 Save the fancy things for things you’ve actually really put thought into that you might want to save or have someone else read sometime. Use this as a place to write comepletely uncensored and just for you, don’t write it like anyone else is going to read it someday. Burn it at the end of the year if that helps. 😉

Curtis has a great blog about journaling here.

Simple Abundance: This one is for the ladies. I talked about this in my New Years Post. It’s a book written by Sarah Ban Breathnach with daily readings and activities that are designed to help you find your authentic self and live a life of “Simple Abundance”. It was written in the 90s and it’s a little dated at times, but I have to say, that I have really enjoyed going on the Simple Abundance journey. I got the idea of the Daily Dialogue Journal from that book and they have a lot of other tools to use, a meditation, an illustrated Discovery Journal, a personal life treasure map, really there’s a lot of stuff in there about every aspect of your life. Having a daily reading and sometimes an activity to do every day is also something that helps inspire me every day.

This Article from Business Insider: It’s about how to find out what you’re good at. I just finally sat down to do this today and it lead to a lot of action on my part. Maybe it will help you too.

The Dragontree Rituals for Living 21 Day Challenge: I’ve talked about this one before too. It’s a great challenge that gives you a simple thing to do every day for 21 days that aims to help your mental, physical or emotional well being. Curtis did it with me and he enjoyed it as well! He didn’t love the meditations but he got a lot out of it overall. I enjoyed all of it! Right now they are launching a kickstarter but I encourage you to keep checking back in with them to see when the next 21 day challenge starts. In the meantime you can also check out their Instagram feed “thedragontree” for daily inspirational tips and quotes.

Meditation: Boy is it ever hard for my chaotic mind to meditate. But once I started I knew I needed more and more of it. I feel much calmer in general and after I meditate I feel more focused and ready to tackle other things. Meditation has a whole host of good things going for it. It can make you sharper mentally, see things more clearly and help you to stay relaxed in times of stress not to mention it can help to keep you on track with your overall goals. It has even been proven to help your body out physically and helps to keep you healthy. I encourage you to give it a try. If hippy dippy guided meditations aren’t your thing, then you can try just sitting and breathing and just focusing on your breathing for a while and then you can try a variety of types of meditation. For example, you could imagine your ideal life and really see it, the details, what would that be like? Really feel it out and focus on it. You could just repeat a mantra of some sort over and over again in time with your breathing. Some that I like? “I am what I am and what I am is awesome.” “Less of who you should be, more of who you are.” or “In with the good” on an inhale “Out with the bad” on an exhale”.  Or you can just try and relax every muscle in your body starting with the top of your head and working your way down your body inch by inch. This is used in acting class. It’s usually called “The Golden Orb” exercise because you imagine a golden orb going down your body and warming and relaxing each part. If you’re at a total loss then just get some sort of white noise and listen to that and try to just clear your head. It’s ok if other thoughts come into your head, that happens, just try to acknowledge them and send them on their way. There are also mediation apps for your phone. I’ve heard good things about Headspace, but I have yet to try it. I also downloaded Simply Being. It’s pretty simple, but I like that it has good white noise background options.

Yoga and me have a love hate relationship. As a former dancer I have retained a lot of strength and flexibility but yoga moves so slow and this cardio queen had a hard time counting it as a workout by itself so it seemed like just more time in my day to add to my overall workouts, which I hated. BUT yoga, while SO good for your body is also really good for your state of mind. It’s like a physical meditation. It forces you to slow down (which SO many of us need) and it makes you really in tune with what is going on in your body. Many of us try to ignore our bodies signs and signals but we hold a lot of emotions in the tensions that are in our bodies and this mind/body connection of yoga forces you to confront that. It can really help you learn to feel your emotions and deal with them in a healthy way. The other lesson in yoga is to be flexible in life, physically, mentally and emotionally. Yoga requires focus and strength and also inner reflection. It’s worth adding to your fitness regime.

Getting The Blood Flowing: Getting some exercise every day is important. I’ve adapted the 30 mintues or 3 miles everyday philopsophy. I generally do more than that, (I also have a fitbit and I try to get in at least 10,000 steps a day) but if that’s the least I can do, then I feel pretty good. It doesn’t have to be hard exercise. It can be just a walk or jog, or some yoga or jumping rope or just turning on some music and dancing around for 30 minutes. When in doubt just dance! We aren’t supposed to be sedentary and if you sit all day then it’s going to be hard to find the energy for anything really. Getting the blood flowing gets it pumping through your heart and to your brain and gets the endorphins going and also gets the creativity and ideas flowing. So, whatever you like to do, just get up and move around and get those limbs moving!

Ok, well that’s all for my tips for today. I hope that you find at least something helpful here.

New York State of Mind

What can I say about New York that hasn’t already been said?

Being there for 18 days was an experience that definitely affected me. Hell, Curtis was only there a week (but he’s been there before) and it affected him too.

I was there to dog sit for my friend Kim. She has an adorable puppy named Inez that needed sitting and she also has a fabulously located Upper West Side apartment that I could stay in while sitting. Curtis came for the first week, but then had to get back home to work. But then I stayed on another 11 days. Lucky me!

I guess the thing that stands out about New York is that the energy there is so compelling. It’s just full of people doing things. And it has an old soul quality about it. Like it’s been there forever and it knows exactly what it is and how awesome it is. It doesn’t have to try to impress you. It is confident and sure of itself. HISTORY is there on every corner. But even better is that history is merged with the bright and shiny new things too. It’s such a great blend of old and new and of different cultures and ages and lifestyles and races. There’s just so much merging going on all the time and for the most part it’s all pretty seamless.

And because there is so much walking and public transportation you really feel like you are a part of a community. You are an active participant in life every day. Brushing elbows and knees with other people and seeing so much of humanity.

I was kind of unsure of how I would do in tight spaces like a crowded subway car and bustling busy sidewalks. But you know what? I did just fine. Oh I’m sure that if I lived there I would grow to be annoyed at stuff like that over time. But it was kind of nice to be amongst people and observing all them around me instead of being in my own little bubble of a world by myself in my car sitting in traffic.

New York felt alive and brimming with possibility. It made me feel more in touch with humanity. It made me feel a part of something bigger and better.

I figured I would like it there. I’ve always wanted to be there. And quite frankly, nothing has really worked out for me since chickening out of auditioning for post high school education there. While Curtis and I were there we met up with lots of friends that are “living the dream” there so to speak, which really made us feel the weight of some of our life and career choices. Both of us wished that we’d have focused more on our acting and doing more professional theater. Seeing our friends here performing and doing what they love was inspiring and yet also caused a deep longing and regret in us.

I personally felt like I was dipping a toe in a time stream that I was supposed to join 20 years ago. It all felt weirdly familiar and exhilarating. It made me feel nostalgic for things I hadn’t even done. It was like I was supposed to be there years ago, however, I made some bad choices (out of fear & a misplaced idea of safety) and so I didn’t. But then once I was there it felt like it was calling to me and trying so hard to tell me something.

I left sadly. I didn’t want to leave. I was completely in New York’s thrall.

Curtis and I describe it as this: It’s like we’ve been walking around with a veil over our eyes for years and then we came here and within a couple days that veil was completely lifted and we saw what our lives could have been. If only. We came home knowing what we really wanted our life to be about and how we really aren’t doing enough to make that happen.

So, we’re back on track and trying to make some changes and choose a little more wisely now.

Thank you New York. New York is old and wise. It’s people are tough yet incredibly kind. There is less bullshit. New York has no time for bullshit. Get to the point. Show me what you can bring to the table. Let’s do this.

And that is one of the lessons we took home. No more putting up with lame bullshit. Show me what you can do. Let’s do this.

The Quest

Everyone has a quest in life. Some sort of desire that pulls them in one direction or other. What is a quest? I just heard someone say recently that a quest is a question that needs to be answered in your life. I like it. And I think that you can have more than one quest in life and it can change as you go.

One quest that both Curtis and I have had all our lives is the quest to travel and live other places. I was once engaged to an Australian in my early 20s and as much as I was excited to be with him, I was probably just as excited at the prospect of starting a whole new life in Australia. There was something so thrilling about that. Who would I be in Australia? That didn’t pan out but it kick started a love of international travel and a strong desire to live somewhere else for a while.

I’ve not been abroad for 7 years now. And I am really itching to get back out in the world again. But even more than that I want very much to go somewhere I’ve never lived and see what it’s like to live there. Also, to see who I am somewhere else. I’ve lived in Southern California my whole life. I’ve never lived anywhere else. I’ve always been within an hour of all my friends and family which has been amazing but I think that it also always gave me a whole lot of safety nets that I got tangled and trapped in. I think I haven’t dared as much in life because well, it was just so easy to be complacent. It is also really strange that I never ventured too far away because my whole life growing up I always imagined living other places. New York, London, Australia, an island somewhere… I never felt like I would stay in Southern California, yet here I am, in my 30s still here. It’s really odd that I never just packed up and left and I blame it all on fear and insecurity coupled with a desire to be an actress and therefore having a necessity to stay close to “the industry”.

When you live so close to family and friends who have known you since you were young, it can sometimes be hard to know who you are versus who they all see you as. You carry the weight of who you used to be with you and even if parts of you have evolved or changed they all still see you the same. Well, at least I have found that to be true in many respects.

I’m curious as to who I am without that baggage surrounding me. I’m curious to meet the me that I always felt was part of me, but who I have stifled by living in one place and not making more daring moves.

Not to mention, I have never felt fully at home in Southern California. My family is all from New Orleans, LA and I am the only one born here in California. Yet I am also the one that has always planned on leaving. Also, weirdly, when I met people they never thought I was a Southern California native. They always thought I was from somewhere else. Most said I seemed like I was from the Pacific Northwest or Northern California when they met me. I’ve never really felt like I quite fit in here.

But the passion to move was really re-ignited when I fell for that little gem of the midwest, Chicago, on a business trip with Curtis a couple years back. I just loved it. It had such a great energy! Curtis felt the same but we are both scared of Chicago winters and he can’t stay an employee of his day job in Illinois so, we didn’t pack up immediately.

But the longer we stayed in Southern California the more we realized how over it we were. Neither of us is a desert person. We both prefer a bit of moisture in the air. The dryness here just kills us. And yeah, the weather is beautiful most of the time, but it’s kind of on the hot side and getting hotter. If you don’t like dry heat (and we don’t) it’s not necessarily the best place. If you like rain it is not the best place. Southern California also has terrible public transit and is very, very sprawling and spread out. And very, VERY crowded. So, if you do not like driving or extremely bad traffic this is not the best place for you. And if you don’t like paying through the nose for housing and rent, this is not the place for you.  Lastly, because of the aforementioned climate, we are also in a huge multi-year, very severe drought and water rationing is on the horizon. So yeah, if you like water and green things, this is REALLY not going to be the best place soon. Well, Curtis and I do like rain, moisture, water, green things and we do not like dry heat, traffic, expensive overpriced housing and crowds everywhere. So, clearly this was not the most ideal place for us. For some people, it was, is still and always will be their heaven. And that is fine. It just hasn’t been for us.

We had stayed here despite all of these things because as I mentioned, as actors this has always been one of the “places to be”. For a long time that was true especially since Curtis had such a thriving career. But in this past decade things have been rapidly changing and also, Southern California has not been kind to us career wise lately and in fact has actually been a real jerk to us over and over again. So that last thread keeping us here out of “necessity” was cut. We were finally free to seek out the adventure that we have postponed for so long. And we got excited. Really excited. The quest was unleashed!

When our friends in Oregon heard of our desire to move they instituted a campaign to get us up to the Pacific Northwest. We hemmed and hawed and were not too sure at first. But then I started to research Portland. And it seemed pretty cool. Since people had been telling me they thought I was from there for so long, it seemed like an appropriate place for me to check out. And so, over a year of delayed trips later we ended up finally checking out the PNW last November and, well, we really loved it. The energy there reminded me of the energy of Chicago. It felt alive and inspiring. It just really meshed with us. I guess the best way I can explain it is this: In L.A. and Orange County I feel like most of the people there are on a different wavelength than the one that Curtis and I are on. But Portland felt like it was tuned in to the same thing. We felt a sense of belonging and ease. I didn’t feel uncomfortable when we went out at night like I did in L.A. In L.A. I always feel out of place. I never know what to wear and I just feel uncomfortable in my skin a lot of the time. But in Portland I felt right at home. No wonder everyone thought I was from there my whole life. 😉

So, that was the beginnings of our current quest of moving to Portland.

We will miss our friends and family, obviously, but we will be down at least a few times a year for work stuff and visits. And in the meantime, new adventures await!

Some people are fine staying in one place forever, I’d venture to say that most people do actually. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But for some people, like me and Curtis, there is something compelling and thrilling about the endless possibilities of a new life and starting over somewhere. There is this quest to move within us. Maybe we’ll come back someday. It’s possible that we will realize that we miss it here and we will come back content in our decision to stay. But we won’t know if we will miss it if we don’t go away. Though I think that if anything we’ll most likely just keep trying new places if we decide the PNW isn’t for us. Our dream life is to be able to take our work all around the world wherever we feel like living for a time. So, I think it’s time for us to finally get this adventure started. Travel and living in different places is good for you. You get fresh perspectives. It keeps your mind open and stretches you to confront things that you think about yourself. I’m excited at all the unknown possibilities that await us.

We’re really excited about it. We are heading to New York in a few weeks first. Curtis and I will be there together for a week and then I will be staying on for another 10 days. I can not tell you how excited I am about that. We’ll be staying in a friend’s apartment and I am so excited to see what it is like to live as a New Yorker! That has always been a dream of mine. Maybe we’ll live in New York someday. But first, to the Pacific North West we will go!

As soon as we get back from NYC we will focus on our big move! Let the quest begin! Exciting things on the horizon! Adventure awaits!

When the Safety Net Breaks

Find a job that you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. That’s what they say. Is it true? Well, I can honestly say that one of the only things I truly regret in life is giving into the idea of what people and society as a whole thought that I “should” do even though it wasn’t what I really wanted to do. You know, just get a “normal” job in order to have “security” and other things similar to that. Taking jobs because of the pay scale instead of if it interested me and fit in with my personality and passions. Stuff like that. Whenever I did that I gave less to what I really wanted to be doing thereby wasting precious time and ending up getting stuck in these boring, unfulfilling jobs that just sucked my soul dry. I usually told myself it was just a hiatus from my real calling. A temporary pit stop. But months or years later I was still there and had all but given up on my dreams. 

The jobs themselves were not awful and as office jobs go they were generally pretty good if that’s what you wanted. But I just didn’t want it. And there is nothing wrong with that. Hell, I WISH I wanted that life. That is the life that most of society is set up for. You have nights and weekends free. You have paid vacation time. Health insurance. It’s definitely a nice life. It is some people’s dream. Just not mine. 

For me it was just never a good fit. However, I always liked most of my co workers and bosses too, which combined with the illusion of security and safety and approval from society made it hard to leave. I felt a need for approval. (Sidenote: That need for approval is the worst. Don’t make any life choices to make other people happy. It’s a guaranteed way to end up unhappy yourself. Then the people you were trying to make happy will wonder why you aren’t happy and then nobody is happy.) But it just wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. And when what you are doing doesn’t meld with your actual purpose in life, well, that’s just leads to a lot of unhappiness, frustration and bitterness.  It also didn’t lead to any actual security in the end. Which was the whole reason I took the jobs in the first place! I ended up being laid off two times from jobs that were well paying with benefits. I watched both of my parents get laid off from jobs they’d devoted years of their lives to in 2008 too. 

The idea of job security is kind of a myth these days. After that economic bubble burst in 2008, it doesn’t really exist anymore, if it ever did to begin with. Everyone is expendable now more than ever. Freelancers and contract workers are taking up more space.  That’s not to sound pessimistic, it’s just the truth and it shouldn’t depress you, if anything it is meant to free you. If there is no such thing as a “safe, secure” job forever then you are free to pursue things that are less secure! Because, really if nothing is secure, then that means that anything you do could end. You can fail at anything, so it might as well be something you like to do in the meantime.

For years I would start to follow my dreams and then I’d doubt myself and let fear and what other people expected of me or said I “should” do rule my decisions. And I regret that. It actually upsets me to think about some of these decisions because in hindsight they were just SO dumb of me. People often pushed me towards things thinking it was best for me because it was best for them. But they didn’t understand what I really needed or wanted out of life. Nobody really knows you except for you. So don’t let people talk you into something that they think is better if it’s not what you really want to be doing. So no more giving into fear. Failing at something you love to do is better than regret at wasted years not even trying. I’ve wasted 20 years letting fear scare me into jobs and decisions I regret. I will not anymore.

(Sorry for the two back to back Jim Carrey quotes, I just really like these two and they were so fitting!)

This past year not having a steady day job was rough financially but in terms of doing what I love instead? It was a HUGE gain in that respect and I am so glad that I was able to do the shows and short films that I did. After my first wonderful rehearsal for Evita singing songs I loved since I was a small child, I went home and cried. I had wasted so many years not doing what I loved. And for what? What did I have to show for it? Money in the bank? Nope. A house of my own? Nope. Any time I have taken a job for the wrong reasons like being secure, or just for the money it has not only NOT given me those things, it also just didn’t work out. 
It was like life was always just pushing me to do other things. The signs were always very clear that I was meant for something else. But my industry is really hard and rough to break into with no real clear “path” to navigate and so every time I had the choice to really pursue my passions things would get tight, unknown and frightening and I would get scared and instead of really going for the creative career I wanted, I would jump on to that well trodden, well lit path to a steady paycheck and take the very next job that came along. And I am telling you, I got burned EVERY time. It never turned out like I thought it would. The best jobs I have had were when I got paid to do something I loved. That is the key to finding out where your true passion lies. 

*I will add one caveat: The dreams I am talking about can’t rely on external factors. For example if you want to be an actor because you want to be rich and famous then your dream is not to act. Your dream is to be rich and famous, not to be an mazing actor and so no, you may never become a rich and famous movie star because that is an external thing that depends on a lot of other people. But if you really love acting and performing then there are a lot of ways to make a living that involve those things. And if you love acting and want to be an amazing actor or musician then there is a way to reach that skill level. You just have to keep working towards that. That is totally within your own control. More on that in the next blog. 

But there is a need for rent to be paid and food to eat so, it’s not to say that having to have a day job is failure or the death of your dreams. Obviously we all need to hustle and do what we need to do to get by in life, just don’t ever let the way you make a living kill the life you want. Try not to let fear and a false sense of security or practicality make you complacent so that you just give up on what you really feel you are supposed to do. 

So, don’t give up on your dreams! Whether it is making a corner office, being the next great chef, developing an awesome app, being on stage, being in a film, being the most amazing mom or dad there is, being a teacher that inspires a love of learning or writing the next great American Novel! Our dreams are what get us out of bed in the morning. Find what you love and do it. I promise that you won’t regret it. 

What is the worst thing that could happen? You fail? Is that worse than living a life that feels like a lie or makes you depressed and miserable? What do you want to regret on your deathbed- that you didn’t pursue your passion and your whole life felt like a disappointing sham or that you failed but you were always following your heart and had some pretty amazing experiences none the less? I know what I would rather regret. I’ve seen older people who are so hardened and bitter by their lives. They did everything they were “supposed to do” but they hated every minute of it. They became bitter and miserable and just kind of angry at the world. I for one refuse to go through my life being frustrated and miserable every day. 

If you hate your job or what you are doing with your life, make a change. Find something that you love. Find something else that you are good at. It’s not too late to make a change.