With Every End a New Beginning

1 Jan

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It’s the end of another year and with it the obligatory (at least for me) time for reflection. There have been other moments of reflecting throughout the year, but “end of year reflecting” tends to feel a bit more momentous. 

I’m not much for resolutions. Perhaps it’s a semantics issue for me, but resolutions seem daunting and, often, fleeting. In my opinion, if you have the choice, it doesn’t behoove anyone to start anything with that kind of pressure attached. All that being said, I do think it helps to share what we’ve learned-at whatever point in life we’re at- with others. So, here it goes…

I made a lot of discoveries this year. I’ve kept up some healthy, consistent habits as well as slid back a few steps on others. What’s most important about recognizing these achievements and failures is the realization that this back and forth Cha-cha is something that I should just get used to. As long as I’m attempting positive action I will continue to see positive change, as well as my share of failures-cause that’s just how life works. This may be one of the most important truths that 2013 has taught me. No matter how hard I try, I will not be perfect, I will not get everything I want and not everyone will like me. Depending on the day this can be a rather depressing thought. To work so hard for something and have no surefire proof that it’s working (let alone blatant proof that it’s not) can cause even the most optimistic person to take pause. But looked at another way it can also be the most magical part about living.  Anything can happen. And on the days when positive thought seems as possible as a leprechaun and a yeti recording an album of Celine Dion’s greatest hits, I break out the self-help books and call on my support system to be reminded that it aint the destination, it’s the journey that counts. So, if possible, create the journey that despite the possibility of a different outcome than you originally intended it’s still worth it.

Speaking of support systems, I’m truly proud and grateful for mine. Supporting and nurturing those relationships is another achievement I’m most proud of this year. Yet, as mentioned earlier, I’ve also had to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to be into me. This doesn’t give me free range to act like an asshole. I still intend to exercise caution before jumping to conclusions, try to treat each new encounter as an opportunity (which in NYC can be interesting) and learn as much as I can from the each new person that comes into my life.  It’s my job to have empathy for every character I play in order to bring out the truth of the work, and I believe that if we all did this in our lives the world would certainly be better off. Yet, even consistent empathy and compassion will not make everyone like me. And what is becoming increasingly clear is that the goal of making everyone like me is terribly stifling to creativity. If I’m busy constantly focusing on how I’m being perceived and asking for permission, a huge percentage of discovering something awesome is taken away. And, what I will continually try to remind myself of is the fact that nothing new be created while trying to fit into a mold of what people already know. 

So, for 2014 I plan to continue my journey. I hope to keep the up the practices that have helped my growth this year and find new ones in the process. I want to try everyday to be brave and honest when it comes to expressing myself creatively and I want to be grateful everyday for being allowed to do it. Although I have no idea where I’m going to end up, I’m prepared to be surprised. Luckily for me, I’ve always loved a good surprise. 

 

Happy New Year!

Networking Magic and Unicorns

30 Sep

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Merriam Webster defines networking as: A group of people who exchange information, contacts, and experience for professional or social purposes. Though I agree this is a reasonably accurate definition, I think it’s only fair that a warning be attached, stating something along the lines of: may cause sweating, rapid heart rate, and the distinct emotional response of feeling like a huge loser

 

Recently, I’ve made it my goal to expand my circle of industry professionals. Unfortunately, a large portion of my networking involves me leaning against a wall attempting to perform one of my favorite magic tricks. The trick requires holding a plastic cup of wine in one hand and a flimsy paper plate precariously stacked with cheese in the other, and then (with no hands left to spare) navigating a way to get the cheese from the plate and into my mouth. Tada! Though this is a pretty impressive feat, it rarely attracts adoring fans. Usually it’s just my way of looking like I’m actually doing something. In reality all I’m doing is unsuccessfully fooling other networkers into believing that I’m a confident individual who just happens to be really excited about the refreshments and nibbles.

All this is to say that, currently, networking creates a sensation in me comparable to being in public naked while also having a tooth pulled… sans Novocain. The question is why? Why is it so hard to walk up to people with common interests and form some kind of dialogue?

 

I’ve listened to many professionals, life coaches, and the occasional homeless person relay tips on networking. A few of these inspirational gems include: Be Confident-if you’re not into you, no one else will be; Be Genuine-it’s not about wanting something from them, it’s about what you can give; Be Positive-no one wants to hear about how much you hate your boss or the weird rash you’ve recently acquired. I agree with all of these, I really do. BUT, how the hell do you do it? How do you walk up to a complete stranger and be all of these things? In any other situation if a completely unknown person comes up to you and starts confidently and genuinely explaining how they can help you, you either look for the nearest exit route, pretend like you don’t speak English or suddenly remember that you’re actually deaf. 

 

I’ve met a handful of people who are amazing at networking. I wish I could go back in time with them and see how they started. Was there a time when they didn’t personally know another soul in the room? How did they conquer this? Currently, coming in contact with one of these great networkers is as magical to me as I imagine it must be to spot a unicorn on a subway platform. 

 

The conclusion that I’ve come to, at this point, is that networking is like anything else in life. You’ve got to take the good with the bad. Sometimes you’re going to be on your game and work the room like a pro. Other times, you’re going to be the person who is overly interested in the cheese selection. Unfortunately, we don’t get to choose how the stars align.  What we do get to choose is whether we show up. Very little connecting is going to happen sitting on your couch watching a show about a dome that covers half a town. Although it may feel more comfortable to watch highly paid actors devise ways to infiltrate said dome, it’s not going to lead to any kind of exchange for social or professional purposes. And, hey, even if you don’t connect with a single person, at least you got some free, hard-earned cheese out of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Cleaning Muse

26 Aug

cleaning

I’ve just concluded what can only be described as a cleaning marathon. Life has taken up my time the past few months and I wasn’t paying attention to the clutter that came with it.

This all began with a day “off”. I decided it would be wise to use the time to tackle my neglected apartment. Did anyone else notice the dust that had settled behind the bookcase or behind the bed? Nope. Did anyone else know that I had been picking around the clothes I never wear to get to the ones I liked? Doubt it. But I knew. Or rather, it kind of crept up on me.

As I was cleaning I started to muse about how this “cleaning house” retreat runs parallel to finding the time to take care of ourselves. I mean taking care of ourselves physically, psychologically, and maybe even spiritually. We all get busy and have to neglect certain duties in order to do what’s asked of us from family, friends or our professions. And when every hour of our day is filled with responsibility it’s hard to find the time ask ourselves the questions that ultimately lead to a fulfilling life. How are you feeling? Are you getting what you need out of life? Are you going after your dreams? What are your fears? How do you conquer them? The dust of the everyday puts a coating on our souls and the clutter gets in the way of even noticing it. But just like cleaning up the place where you sleep at night, it’s important (maybe ever more so) to make time to clean up you.

Much like cleaning your house, you’ll go through various emotional stages with your spiritual clean. 1. Ambition: “Today’s the day I win the war!”  2. Regret: “Um, this is totally not fun.” 3. Despair: “Crap in order to dust I need to take everything off the shelves?” and then “holy moly, look at all that dust behind the shelf” It all seems easy enough form the start. We’re maybe even a bit proud that we took on the challenge. Then next thing you know you’re a mess. But you have to trust the process. It’s often not going to be an enjoyable process, and there’s no definite check out time. But if you keep going you’ll hit number 4. Pride/success: “Whoa, it looks pretty frickin’ good in here.” You may even notice a few things you’ve been taking for granted. Once a week I say the words “ I have nothing to wear”. Not True. Frankly I had too much to wear and I needed let some things go. Dusting all the knick knacks and picture frames gave me time to remember the places I’ve been and the people I was there with. When I finally finished, I not only had a room I couldn’t wait to spend more time but a new appreciation in general for all I’ve experienced in my life. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to feel that way with ourselves as people; comfortable, grateful, proud and willing to share all that with others? So no, it wasn’t fun but I managed to get the job done and do some musing in the process. Life gets busy and dust is inevitable. Though the clean up may not be a picnic, you might be surprised at the surface below. It’s shiny and beautiful and you.

A Makeup Adventure

23 Jul

As if deciding on a career as an actor wasn’t enough of a feat, I’m now embarking on a parallel adventure. I’m in the very beginning stages of starting my own business as a freelance Makeup Artist.  I have to admit I’m a little terrified.  Trying to “make it” as a Makeup Artist is almost as cutthroat as the entertainment industryImage.  Luckily, as an actor, I’ve learned a good deal about marketing, networking and patience. Having these skills in my back pocket is what’s helping me take the leap.

I’ve been a closet makeup junkie since I was in my teens. I’ve never been one to actually wear a lot of makeup but I’m a major experimenter (let’s call it character work). I used to sit in front of a mirror in my bedroom and put on a full face of makeup only to wash it all off before leaving the house. I would spend an hour alone perfecting my eyeliner.  I can still spend at least a half-day in Sephora trying out one makeup line and I watch Makeup tutorials on YouTube just for fun. Until recently I never thought to turn this passion into a way to generate income. Actually, until recently I’ve been spending all my income on the passion. It wasn’t until a Makeup Artist position fell into my lap (thank you universe) that I realized how much I love making a client/model feel comfortable and beautiful.  That’s when the light bulb went on for me. Makeup and makeup application has always been a hobby that brings me a joy. And everyone likes to work with someone who loves what he or she does; so maybe I have a fighting chance. This work also provides numerous opportunities to work with new and interesting people- that’s like food for an actor. So many actors work zero-satisfaction jobs just because of the flexible schedules.  I was one of those actors for a long time-my civilian résumé looks like I’m schizophrenic. As with starting anything new, I’m certainly nervous about the prospect of failing. But I wont know unless I try. 

I’m just beginning work on my website now and I hope to have the site go live by next month. So, unless I book a fabulous acting gig (which is always a goal) all systems are go!

*Bonus* – I’m still in the process of expanding my portfolio. If you’re looking to hire a Makeup Artist for professional photographs (headshots, weddings, studio shots), I’m absolutely willing to give a generous discount in exchange for permission to use your picture on my website. Just mention this blog.

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Official Summer Musings

24 Jun

Ah, June. It’s a bittersweet month for me. The days are longer, it’s easier to wake up in the morning, and I don’t have to wear eight layers of clothing. Every weekend seems to be filled with weddings, baby showers, and summer barbeques. It also happens to be my birthday month, which at this point in my life brings with it a mixed bag of joy and terror. The fear is not so much from the knowledge that I’m getting older. It’s more about my anxiety that I’ve not yet accomplished enough to feel proud. Since I started this blog in October of last year, I’ve been working on two issues, in the hopes that I can curb the constant comparing of where I am now to the image of where I thought I would be. Issue one, accepting where I am emotionally. This means not trying to change it, but rather, embrace it completely until it changes on its own. I’ve found that telling myself that I shouldn’t feel a certain way is about as useful as trying to grow another two inches. Issue two, being appreciative of everything positive that I have going for me while continuing to seek out engaging opportunities and growth. While I can’t say that I’ve completely come to terms with the feeling that time is moving faster than my goals, I’m better off now than I was a year ago. I’ve made quite a bit of progress in actively going after what I want and redefining what success, as I know it, is. Of course there is still the dreamer in me that continues to want more and the neurotic in me that cares a bit too much about how other people view me. I suppose some of these traits are necessary in order to keep motivated. While I’ve still got a lot further to go, I’m going to take the fact that I recognize some positive change as an excuse to really enjoy the summer season that always seems to fly by.  So weddings, baby showers, and gorging on an insane amount of grilled meats, here I come.

 

Here are a few other things I’m planning on checking out this month:

Paul McCarthy’s installation at The Armory (it’s rated NC 17, so it should be interesting in one way or another)

http://www.armoryonpark.org/programs_events/detail/paul_mccarthy_WS

Shakespeare in the Park. I hear great things about this version of Comedy of Errors and since it was the first main stage show I did at Temple University, I’m excited to check it out (the set is eerily similar to the production I did and they’re doing it in Brooklyn accents…It’s a little creepy)

http://www.shakespeareinthepark.org/

I plan on listening to this song repeatedly…it’s so summery and the video is super cute.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TLCkIGV2mw

Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm….

31 May

I’ve always been a big fan of coincidences. And while I often have to double-check my spelling of the actual word, I don’t doubt that they are an exciting part of our existence here on earth. I’ve been fortunate enough to have quite a few happen to me and I relish them. The bonus of being aware of these usual occurrences is getting to turn around and tell people about them. Coincidences make great stories. What’s even more interesting is how your audience perceives them. There are the folks that will scientifically break down the event and “reason” it into just another ho-hum event, and then there are the people who’s eyes get wide and exclaim “wow that’s crazy”.  I have to say I’m partial to the latter. With this type of reaction you get to live the mystery of it all over again. For me, life is more interesting when there’s the possibility that magic can happen at any time.  Though I have no concrete evidence that a coincidence is anything more than just a word, I like to believe that is a little sign from the universe. A reminder that I’m in the right place at the right time and my gift for being open to the unpredictable is experiencing something unexplainably special. I was fortunate enough to hear an episode on This American Life that deals with just this topic. If you get the chance I highly recommend checking out the link, it’s a fascinating listen. If you can only listen to one story, listen to the second story in ActTwo…it’s CRAZY. If this coincidence doesn’t make you say “Holy Moly!” I don’t know what will. If you have any cool coincidences to share, I’d love to hear them. I promise to be the one that exclaims “wow”.

Toot your own horn!

30 Apr

In my continued quest towards personal betterment, I realized the need to actually recognize progress in action. Check out my Vlog below to see one of the ways I’m doing that!

I truly believe it’s vital to take time to identify the good we do for the world and ourselves each day. I hope you’ll consider doing this for  yourself, if you’re not already. Definitely feel fee to drop me a line and don’t be afraid to show your awesomeness!