The How is Not My (Nose) Job

I am so tired of feeling like I don't look right.

I've been told by two people who have represented me that I should maybe get my nose fixed. Yeah I have a slight bump on the bridge of my nose, and it is SABOTAGING ME! This cartilage and bone that just grew by an unknown force of nature is what is keeping me from getting cast.

I don't want to worry about what my nose looks like. Aren't there bigger problems to solve? I know there is a better way that I can be used as a human being than getting a nose job so that I can maybe look a little less... what? Like a person with a nose that looks like the one I was born with? Which is actually a frickin' miracle? If my nose could hear this conversation it would say, "But like I smell things WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?"

The odds of you being alive are about 1 in 400 trillion. That's basically not a chance at all, except it happened, but my nose is just slightly not the shape meant for TV according to a few sources. I think the chances of your nose being right for TV are 1 in 500 trillion according to nose scientists.

I've decided to use this unfortunate bone and cartilage situation as fuel to write my own sketches. Get ready for Not TV Pretty Comedy--it's coming in the next few months. 

I've wanted to write more of my own material since I performed my one woman show a year ago at The Duplex in NYC. It's interesting though--after performing the show and experiencing one of the most fulfilling events of my life, I sort of retreated into, "Now what? What else do I have to offer?" As if I've said everything I'm ever going to say.

A few weeks ago I had a callback for a network show, and the description for the role was, "more cute than smart." I was so excited, know I did all I could've done, and later that night got so upset. It was like an adrenaline/emotional hangover where I felt so frustrated that I had let something whittled down to "more cute than smart" get so much of my energy. I'm still working with finding the balance of not putting so much stock in auditions and also wanting to be an actor. 

Maybe from now on I'll go for "more smart than cute," and maybe I'll write what I'm going to say, from the perspective of my cartilage. If cartilage could talk...

When you're on your own path, there is no competition, because we actually all want different things based on our unique experiences, gifts, and desires, and facial features. But, it's scary walking your own path, because there is no blueprint. There is no logical progression of steps like we are taught in school, or like what we imagine when we look at other people's lives. Oh, I have to meet this person, get this audition, to get this job, to reach this point, then I'll be happy, blah blah blah. When you're doing the thing that only you can do, there's really no example. 

I don't know what all of my next steps are. I don't know where I'm supposed to go, but I've been trying to embrace the idea that HOW is not my job. My job is to keep doing what feels good and scary at the same time. This feels scary because I wonder what people will think about it, but that's probably why I'll press save and publish when I'm finished.

Less thinking, more doing. GO!

 

Happy Mediversary To Me

Tomorrow, July 20th, I celebrate two years of sitting down, closing my eyes, and meditating for twenty minutes twice a day.

That's 40 minutes (math) a day sitting and doing nothing, and it has been the most transformative experience of my life.

I would NEVER go back to my life before I started this practice. For one thing, I got migraines in high school (sending me to the hospital twice) and cold sores twice a year on my face since first grade. Every single school picture from first to sixth grade, I'm being upstaged by herpes simplex one, and I got the sores until two years ago. Both of those things were absolutely due to stress, and I don't get either of them anymore.

While these are amazing side effects, they're mere child's play! to the mental transformation I've felt inside my brain. It's as if the volume of my intuition has been dialed WAY up, and my fear voice has been... well it's still screaming but it's not the voice driving the car like it used to be.

Before meditation, I was an actor who felt that my happiness would come from booking a show, doing great work, and being recognized/validated by other people seeing me as important (or something). Once I started meditating, I left an audition and heard so clearly in my head, "I am not being used fully." Now I'm a yoga teacher, too. I was at home this past weekend and read a journal from college that was sprinkled with thoughts like, "Yoga is really helping me. I applied the breathing I learned in yoga class to x, y, z and it made it easier," and "I really love all of this psychology stuff, maybe I should become a yoga teacher." Fast forward four years and here I am teaching yoga.

It's interesting that I had that inclination all along, but it wasn't until meditating that I heard the guidance clearly enough to actually act on it. For so long I was afraid to commit to anything other than acting. I didn't sign up for a yoga teacher training because, "What if I book a show?" WHAT IF I DON'T? Then I just waited around for someone to give me a job instead of empowering myself and doing something that I wanted to do with MY LIFE? It's YOUR life! What do you want to do that you aren't doing? What is pulling your interest in a new direction, and what are you afraid of leaving behind? Move toward the curiosity, and stop being afraid of what you're "leaving behind." You're not leaving anything behind. There is nothing to leave behind. Everything is always there for you to go back to, or to explore in a new way, if you want.

Meditation gives you the ability to actually hear what your next step is supposed to be for your greatest fulfillment.

I personally was unable to commit to a meditation practice before taking the course at Ziva Meditation, where I learned the technique I currently practice. I tried Oprah and Deepak's guided meditations, but it just didn't seem to fit anywhere in my life, and there was no way I was doing it consistently. I struggle with personal integrity as much as anyone. Why do you think I teach yoga? Because I have to! I have to make it a priority, or I'll let the practice slide. Anyway, I went to the intro talk at Ziva on a whim, and it wasn't until I saw sunbeams shooting out of my now teacher Emily Fletcher's face that I literally stared at her and thought, "WHAT THE HECK IS SHE ON. I need this."

I don't want to be on a hamster wheel anymore. I want to feel guided in my specific life, with my specific experiences/tools/point of view/story/gifts, and go forward from there. I got burnt out from working so hard to be an actor without ever even asking myself why I was doing it. I still love acting, and actually had the experience of being on my first TV set last week, but I see that it's part of my expression and not the one source of my fulfillment. 

Meditation also reminds me that you are never done. There is never a defining event that is going to make all of your pain and problems go away. It's just never going to happen. There is no destination. Every time you evolve into a new version of yourself, you will always be blooming. If you're trying to stay the same, even when something isn't working, that's when suffering takes place. Make a new choice.

One more thing: when people tell me they have a hard time meditating because they can't stop their mind from thinking, that isn't the point. As Emily says, your mind thinks involuntarily just like your heart beats involuntarily, and we don't meditate to be good meditators, we meditate to be good at life. And yes, I paid to learn how to meditate, but you pay to exercise your body, why are you neglecting your mind? The thing that actually determines your entire life experience? Paying for a course kept me accountable, and gave me a community with which to engage in the practice.

I highly recommend Ziva, Ziva did not ask me to write this, and any technique where you can sit with yourself and just BE is beneficial to your life. If you want help with this, let's chat.

Here's a link to a free intro talk at Ziva: https://www.zivameditation.com/events

 

I'M ALWAYS AFRAID!

I do this thing where I don't take action unless someone else tells me I should.

My friend Emily Thomas said to me in high school, “Hey, are you doing theater in college? You should audition for Pace.”

Really? I wasn't planning on it.  All twelve schools I applied to were for journalism and communications, I only performed in my first musical in eleventh grade, I was way behind everyone else. But a year later I auditioned for Pace when I managed to pull together some sheet music, and two years after that I was on Broadway.

The booking manager at The Duplex in NYC, Thomas Honeck, saw me in a show in a festival in NYC and then at New World Stages. He came up to me and said, “You should do your own one woman show at the Duplex.” I thought, really? That sounds hard. How would I even do that. Who would come? Then I wrote and performed my own show three times, sold tons of tickets, and was fulfilled by using my own voice in an entirely new way.

Even last week, I show up to Broadway softball to watch my boyfriend play for Miss Saigon. Every team needs at least two girls or they have to forfeit. One of the girls on the team had to sit out, and they asked me to fill in. REALLY? No I just came here to watch and eat my salad. I don't even have socks on right now.

I don't put my name in the hat because I'm afraid I'll disappoint people. I don't raise my hand and step up to the literal plate because I'm afraid I won't follow through and meet people's expectations.

But then I played. One of the guys on the team said, don't swing on the first pitch. So I swung the bat immediately, and got an RBI. I actually helped. Not even just by being a girl so they could continue playing, but also because I helped someone get back to home base to score.

I'm AFRAID that this FEAR of disappointing people is preventing me from taking action on what I'm really supposed to be doing in my life to reach my full potential. That's like double fear. I'm afraid of my freaking fear. It's so frustrating.

I feel like the people who have told me I should step outside of my comfort zone and who have believed in me are angels guiding me to expand and see that I am worthy of participating. People do value what I have to say and offer, if I just let myself be seen and actually offer it without having to be prompted first. But also, maybe that's why we need each other, community, so we can say to each other, "Hey I recognize you're really good at this. You should go for it."

How do I become one of those people who just goes for it without asking for permission first? Without waiting for someone else's expectation? What about my own expectations for myself? Is that what personal integrity is? Telling yourself you're going to do something and then ACTUALLY doing it?

Even this blog. I've talked about it for months and asked so many opinions. Why don't I just write the damn thing. I'm trying it out. After writing an article a few months ago that got about 3,000 shares (I've reposted it below), all I could think was, what else do I have to say? I hope something that resonates.

Broadway Success Didn’t Make Me Happy–Until I Stopped Living For Validation

I have always been a people pleaser. I remember the intense stress of taking timed multiplication tests in first grade. I hated the pressure of the 300-yard dash in gym class. When I got in trouble at school, I always cried.

I remember thinking, “I’m going to be really successful because I’m such a good student.” I got straight As on every single report card until physics during my senior year of high school. But I didn’t realize that my hard work was motivated by the fear of not being liked and the fear of disappointing others. I also didn’t realize that being a good student is a submissive way of operating, and it doesn’t cultivate personal desires and ideas.

I chose to pursue a degree in musical theater in college, but even then, it wasn’t about fun or enjoyment. I took my schooling very seriously, and I’ve always been very hard on myself. If I wasn’t performing to the best of my ability and receiving praise and validation, I was miserable.

This fear-based motivation landed me on Broadway a year and a half after coming to New York City. I came from a small, conservative town in Pennsylvania. I didn’t have artist parents or examples around me. I followed that path all on my own and accomplished an incredible feat.

When I graduated from college, I had the opportunity to travel outside of NYC with a touring show. It took me all over the United States and Canada. This was the first time I was out of school, without the constant requirement of completing assignments. I had tons of money and tons of open space. I didn’t know what to do with myself without someone over my shoulder, telling me what I need to be focusing and improving on.

My mind turned to comparing my journey to that of other performers, spending my money at the mall, and mindlessly browsing the Internet.

I thought, “I just need to get back to New York City, and I’ll book another show.” My misery on the road was to be solved by returning to New York.

When I came back to the city with no job, thousands in savings, and my ego’s hunger for auditions, I again did not know how to handle free time. What do you do when no one is telling you what to do? That’s what they don’t teach you in school.What do you do when you’re programmed to be a people pleaser, and you want someone to hire you from your performance in an audition?

Sounds like desperation. I fell into a victim mentality. Doubting my talent and career choice to be an actor. But, it had all seemed so easy at first. What do I do now?

I started working out, I started meditating, I went back to an acting studio, I completed a yoga teacher training, I wrote my own show, I started to realize I’m not “supposed” to just be one thing, like an accountant or a dentist. I spent all my money.

I began to realize how my people pleasing mentality had driven me for so long. How my anxiety of disappointing people had made me turn against myself, my intuition, and my entire life–and to only seek personal value in my accomplishments. Why did I want to be an actor? To be liked? To be validated?

During all of this, I had a sense that, “It would be a good thing to have yoga in my life. It would be a good thing to have a yoga teacher training along with my acting.” I got that sense during college when I began to read self-help books, learn more about habitual thought patterns, and explore why I felt the way I did. I also found yoga to be an escape from the competitive entertainment world.

The moment I was prepared to teach yoga (literally during my CPR certification class), I was asked to teach my first yoga class the following day. I was terrified but said yes. Then, another friend asked me to sub for her class, and then another, and another, and soon I was teaching tons of free yoga and not really focusing on acting.

 

I felt conflicted. Shouldn’t I care more about acting? Shouldn’t I be taking this acting class with such-and-such person? Shouldn’t I be going to X amount of auditions a week? This yoga stuff is great, but what about acting? Shouldn’t I be spending more time on that? I “shoulded” myself to death.  Until I decided to stop.

What if acting and yoga (and writing and producing and creating and teaching) don’t have to be mutually exclusive? What if they can all exist together?

Now I teach yoga and am compensated. My performance skills translate to my yoga classes. I am also still an actor, but I wrote my own show instead of waiting for someone to cast me.

I have to mourn the death of the part of me that is a people pleaser. It’s sad because a part of me is dying. The part that I have identified with for almost 26 years has to die if I am to grow. We have to shed our old skin to become who we are meant to be.

I know I want to be “used” fully, I want to wake up millions of people, I want to speak my truth and help others. I want to own my own business and create something new. I don’t know if acting fits into that vision the way I thought it would. Maybe performing in “big” and “important” shows was just a way for me to learn that the shiny, flashy accomplishments aren’t the answer.