Happy Birthday Dad

Today would have been my Dad’s 76th birthday.  He’s been gone for about 18 months now and while I don’t feel his loss as acutely as I used to, I still feel it.  The funny thing is I actually feel him around me more now than I used to.  I still miss being able to pick up the phone and call him whenever I get the urge.  I used to do that quite often, especially when it was a call about the latest idiocy from some government or large business.  He was so interested in the workings of these monoliths and how the right hand often didn’t know what the left hand was doing.

He would have loved this past weekend.  We were at a family wedding of one of my cousins, a niece he was particularly fond of.  She’d lost her Dad, my Dad’s old brother, in the mid 90’s so another uncle walked her down the aisle.  I can imagine that if Daddy had still be alive, he would have proudly stepped in for his brother.  The reception was wonderful with a really good band.  Dad would have been up the whole night dancing with my Mom.  They were great dancing partners having had so many years together to practice.  I love watching couples who have been together forever, there is no awkwardness in their dancing, they follow an easy pattern that is so indicative of their marriage.  I was sad for my Mom that she’d lost her partner but plenty of friends and family picked up the slack and she rarely rested.

I know it was Mother’s Day yesterday and I’m supposed to be lauding my Mom.  I am thankful for all she’s done and still does for me.  But my Dad was a pretty important guy to me and his birthday is a day that is very special.  Forgive me a bit of self indulgence.  Happy Birthday Dad.  Miss you more than I can say.

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Anniversaries

Today is an interesting anniversary for me.  It was one year ago today that I was laid off from my corporate job as a Sales Manager for a television commercial sales firm.  Even though I was planning to leave and had been saving for over a year for this leap of faith, I was still surprised.  I sat there with a grin on my face during the meeting because I couldn’t believe my plans were coming together.  I’m sure they thought I’d gone over the edge and had security on alert just in case.  It was a surreal experience.  Not because I wanted it to happen, but because it was happening at all.  Being a manager one of my responsibilities was to forecast the month and quarter ahead.  I’d been watching the numbers get smaller and smaller as the recession tightened it’s grip around the economy.  I thought the powers-that-be would merge us with another division and keep the strongest people.  Kind of like what happened when the NFL merged with the AFL.  Instead they chose to amputate us.  I don’t blame them.  Our amputation brought them back almost to breaking even.

The funny thing is, even though I wanted it to happen exactly the way it did, I still went through a depression afterwards.  It’s not easy being told you aren’t wanted anymore and that you as an employee aren’t valued.  It took me a while to break through that and move forward to my new life.  One of the best things I did was take a long driving trip through the south.  It was a physical and timing break, a perfect transition from one life to the next.

So here we are 1 year later and I can’t believe it’s been a year already.  I am living the life I envisioned for myself, a free lance creative life full of auditions and go-sees and bookings and voiceovers.  At this point I really can’t imagine going back to corporate.  Hitting this one year mark in important because if I were to go back to my former corporation within a year, I would go right back in as if I’d never left.  Back into the health plan, the 401K and the earned vacation.  I needed to hit this mark so there’s nothing for me to go back to.  Here’s to moving forward!

Excruciating Increments

One of my favorite shows is The West Wing.  I’m thrilled that Bravo shows 2 hours of it every morning from 7-9a and get annoyed when the programming is changed even slightly.  It’s how I start my day most mornings while I wait for local weather on the 8’s on the weather channel.  I told you I’m a weather dork!  Anywho, the writing of Aaron Sorkin on this show, on any show he’s done, is really good.  I’m constantly impressed at what comes out of his characters mouth.  On this particular day, the main story line focused on a big budget bill that had a last minute clause inserted before it was passed that went against the First Lady’s beliefs.  This story line was juxtaposed against another story about a big glacier that had melted on the polar ice cap and drowned several residents of an island with the rise in water levels.  Now when I think of a glacier, I think of a slow moving massive hunk of ice that floats around the ocean not really changing it’s shape or size.  Things are often described as moving glacially, meaning really slow.  But here this glacier had completely melted and rather unexpectedly as the residents were taken unaware.  At the end of the hour POTUS and the First Lady are discussing with that witty Aaron Sorkin repartee the budget issue and how he’s going to fix things.  POTUS answers her pleas for expediency by saying “Change happens in excruciating increments”.  Interesting that a glacier melted to show this juxtaposition.  But boy is he right.  Change does happen in excruciating increments.  It takes a lot of backward perspective to realize that any change has been achieved.  But with consistency, change can occur.  I just hope I’m not treading water before it happens to me!

Dirt Sifting

One of my favorite blogs to read is The Simple Dollar by Trent Hamm.  He does a daily blog generally about frugality but he also touches on many other subjects.  He is a prolific writer, churning out 2 postings a day and I don’t think he’s missed a day yet.  At least not since I’ve been following him.  The other day he posted something sort of off the beaten path for him.  The value of doing grunt work, or slog work as he called it.  It’s the necessary but mind numbing work that exists in every job, whatever it is you do.  It can be data entry, invoicing or in his case, dirt sifting.   Really.  He got paid to go through dirt.  One of the most challenging things I am finding about this transition to working for myself is consistently and purposefully attacking the grunt work that exists for me.  In my case, it’s doing things like auditioning on the pay-to-play sites, sending out an invoice, writing a blog post.  Finding the concentration to just get it done isn’t the easiest thing for me.  When I finish a post, it’s a natural ending point so I break off, go out of the office and it’s 45 minutes later before I return.  Goofing off instead of going back to the list of topics I’ve identified I’d like to write about.  I do the same thing when I finish an audition.  I feel like I need a reward for completing something so I head to the fridge, or check my email for the 98th time, or get lost on the interwebs.  All because of a lack of focus and discipline to just get the job done.  I used to have the same problem when it came to doing forecasting reports but I was able to knuckle down and plow through them.  I need to find the same focus I had then and apply it to my work today.  I know I can do it, it’s just a matter of figuring out how I did it before and doing it again.   It’s not fun, but it is necessary.  It’s on the back of diligence that a strong career is forged.  If you can do the dirt sifting well, you will excel at the bigger tasks.

Green Eyed Monster

It’s not something I’m very proud of.  But I’ll admit it.  I suffer from the green eyed monster, Jealousy.  I know I’m supposed to strive to be better and to be happy for those who win.  My time will come if I’m just patient and hard working.  There’s enough work for everyone and all boats are raised when 1 boat is raised.  Yeah, right, whatever.  Sorry to disappoint, but I’m not that evolved.  The thing is my failures or non bookings keep getting rubbed in my face time and again.  The commercials, the films, the narrations, the TV shows I audition for end up on the air and I usually see or hear them.  Sometimes over and over.  It’s salt in the proverbial wound.  Or a friend takes the leap of faith and heads out to LA to make it happen for themselves and I’m reminded of my progresslessness-if that’s a word!

I get that everyone is on an individual path and timeline and mine doesn’t match theirs.  At least I get it intellectually.  That doesn’t mean the petulant child in me still doesn’t throw a tantrum more often than I care to admit.  That I don’t wallow in self pity on my couch with the remote control in hand and a bag of whatever food drug I’m using to numb my pain.  It just stinks that this is taking so long and there aren’t any surefire ways to make it happen.  So forgive the melt-down.  I’m due.  My goal is to spread out the meltdowns a little further apart from the last one I had.  Now that’s progress!

Just waitin’ on the world

I had a bit of an epiphany today on my walk.  You probably already know this but the word epiphany harkens back to biblical times when the revealation of God in human form appeared in the person of Jesus.  Now I’m not saying Jesus appeared to me on the 4700 block of Lincoln Avenue but the clouds in my brain parted a wee bit to let in some clarity and light even on this beautiful, albeit windy day.  I’ve been frustrated more than I care to admit about the progress of my career.  It seems I can’t get any momentum going forward or solid ground beneath my feet on which to build.  The eureka moment I had was when I realized the problem was, the world didn’t know what to do with me yet.  I’m not a typical type, easily categorized and cast, not the ingenue, the Mom, the old lady.  So that requires more work to find my niche.  My voice isn’t the quirky teen, raspy seductress, assuring expert.  Again, more work.  The thing is I’ve been trying to fit into a category, any category and this hasn’t been serving me very well.  I’ve been trying to make myself fit in when in reality, I’m in my own category.  I don’t mean this in an egotistical way, more in a practical, reality way.

So the epiphany was, I just need to wait for the world to catch up with me.  Once they do, then things will start to go my way.  Once they figure out how to place me, the bookings will come.  In the meantime, I’ll just keep making myself a better and better version of me.  The world’s pretty smart, they’ll figure it out.  I’ll be here when they’re ready.  I just hope it’s soon.  I’m not the most patient of people and I’ve got things I want to accomplish.

TMI

This means too much information.  Not in the way it’s usually used where someone reveals WAY too much information about their gastrointestinal tract, or their hemorrhoids or their fetishes.  You get the picture.  No the too much information I’m referring to is all the information that’s out there for our consumption.  The blogs (guilty!), message boards, e-blasts, e-mails, newsletters.  I am constantly bombarded with information about my industry and those working in it.  It’s hard to get through it all each day but I make sure I sort through it or it starts to build up.  Very often there’s some good stuff buried in the muck, tips and job possibilities.  But the flip side of this is it can all become one big distraction in the guise of work.  I read, sort and comment so I must be working right?

Wrong.  This is busy work that takes me away from the “just doing it” part.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big believer in networking and marketing yourself.  I am my biggest cheerleader.  Biggest critic too but that’s a story for another day.  And I think that networking and marketing can be assisted by all this written communication.  But it all gets wrapped up and disguised as work when in reality it’s really not that connected to work.  Work, for me, is memorizing a new monologue, sending out an audition, learning a new scene for a class, practicing my movements, reading a play, improving my vocal strength.  While this is fun to do, it’s also not as much of a distraction as doing all that other stuff is.  And as I’ve mentioned before, I’m lazy.  I really don’t want to have to do the work.  I just want it easy.  I guess I’m a candidate for that ship on WALL-e.  You know, the people that move around all day in their floating barcaloungers sipping liquid stuff that makes you fat.  So paying attention to all this incoming data is like sipping that liquid stuff, it’ll make you fat with not-so-important info that slows you down and keeps you from doing what you should be doing.  Which is the work.  And my work is fun for heavens sake.  It really is.  I just need to unplug for a while to remember that fact.