Myopia

A long time ago, I was diagnosed with myopia, also known as nearsightedness.  It started about 5th grade when I couldn’t read the signs on the road when I was in the car with my parents.  I started squinting to compensate and bring into focus what I couldn’t see. Glasses were prescribed to be followed by contacts when I also needed braces and my Mom had my back by saying “she can’t have braces and glasses at the same time.  It’s too much to endure both at once.”  Whew!  Dodged that bullet.

Fast forward after many years of sticking round concave pieces of polymers, plastic, in my eyes.  Technology has advanced to the point where a 10 minute procedure fixes this condition and I no longer have to deal with not being able to see the alarm clock in the morning.  Of course, now I’m dealing with dry eye syndrome that seems to happen post lasik.  But that’s another story.

While my physical myopia has been dealt with, myopia can exist in many other ways.  It’s second definition is lack of imagination, foresight or intellectual insight.  So many suffer from this kind of myopia, doing the mundane, not seeing the big picture or failing to see beyond what they know.  Not believing that anything is possible ‘out there’, that the only truth is what is in front of you and this doesn’t change.  Having a vision that is small and close or having no vision at all.  That’s a scary outlook but I realized that there are times when I adopted this myopic viewpoint.  It’s easy to do, especially when you aren’t getting positive feedback on your efforts, you aren’t booking auditions or even getting called to audition in the first place.  Believing your efforts are for naught and it’s all a waste of time.  Not seeing that the seeds I’m planting today will bear fruit in the months and years to come.

Our instant gratification society adds to this myopia.  With instant results to be gained by the touch of a button it’s so easy to think ‘well that didn’t work.  I’m obviously not going to be a success.’ Because if it doesn’t work immediately, it must be a failure right? Being able to see beyond the myopia and embrace the fact that maybe you don’t know how prolific your efforts will be isn’t easy. Especially for this girl who has been known (allegedly) to skip to the end of a book to see what happens instead of letting the story unfurl as it should.  Find the faith to know with certainty that you will be rewarded for your efforts, even if there’s no evidence to back that up, at least that you can see at this moment.

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.

The Clunk Heard Round the World

Last night was the final game of the NCAA tournament for 2010.  Unless you really don’t give a hoot about basketball, you probably were aware that mighty Duke played an unexpected and underrated opponent by the name of Butler University from my home state of Indiana.  In any other year I would be cheering for Duke which I know invokes strong responses from most people.  Duke is a team folks either love or hate, there’s usually no in between.  I happen to like Duke, I respect their coach Mike Krzyzewski, I respect the fact I could spell his name correctly-ok so I looked it up-shoot me, I like the fact they are a perennial threat every year, I like how passionate their fans are.

But this year was a different story.  This year their opponent was none other than Butler, a small liberal arts university that I’d previously known for having a good dance school.  Oh and their gym, Hinkle Fieldhouse, was one of the gyms used in Hoosiers.  Butler was an improbable finalist in the tournament, rising from I think it was the 5th seed to almost win the game.  It was one of the best basketball games I’ve watched in recent history.  Both teams were neck and neck with each other, their defenses were tight so the score was relatively low and the excitement in the stadium was palpable what with Duke’s passionate fans trying to outshout the home field advantage Butler had.  Duke ended up winning by one point but not before one of the Butler players launched a mid-court buzzer beater shot.  You could hear the collective intake of breath as time slowed down and everyone waited to see where the ball landed.  It not only made it to the basket, it hit the rim with a loud clunk that CBS replayed over and over.  Alas it didn’t go in.  What a story that would have been.

So Duke won the game.  But I couldn’t help thinking throughout the celebration and press conference afterwards, that the real story was what Butler had accomplished.  That they were the real winners of the night and we were the better having watched them.  They never doubted they had the right to be in the finals, never apologized for their presence, never made excuses for their ascension, never wavered in their belief they would win.  That team should be so proud of what they achieved.  And what they taught me, not that I matter anything to them, is something I will draw on in years to come.

I do loves me some Hoosier basketball!

Let’s Hear It for the Girls

The Oscars aired last night.  I’m probably in the minority but I liked the telecast this particular evening.  I even liked to 2 co-hosts.  I think they did a good job of keeping it moving forward.  The idea of celebrating excellence in my chosen field is pretty amazing and something I aspire to.  This was a groundbreaking awards, not just because it ended pretty much on time, but because for the first time a woman Best Director was awarded and her film was awarded Best Picture.  For me, I was brought to tears by the acceptance speech of one of my idols, Sandra Bullock.  I am a huge admirer of her talent and her business acumen and to see her work rewarded finally was wonderful.  Her acceptance speech was one of the best I’ve heard in years-funny tidbits, gracious thanks and almost tears.  It brought me to tears.  I don’t think I would have been as composed as she was while accepting the highest creative honor awarded.  I would have been a blubbery mess.  But as she was thanking her mother, a very poignant moment, one of the things she said was how her mom made her practice every day when she came home from school, be it music, dancing, voice or whatever they were focused on that day.  What wonderful discipline was instilled in her very early in her life.  It obviously has paid off as her work has gotten so much better over the years.  And it was a reminder that I could use the same kind of discipline in my life as I strive to achieve the heights awarded last night.

I know it most likely sounds a bit far fetched, me getting an Oscar.  But one of my long term goals has been to walk the red carpet someday, and not on the other side of the velvet ropes, the skinny side, but on the big side that faces all the reporters.  And that means I’ve been nominated for something right?  Hey a girl can dream.  I gotta go practice now.

Closed fist/Open hand

As I mentioned the other day, I was talking with my career coach Kristine Oller about my transition from full time j-o-b to full time artist and she mentioned that so many times in counseling people  in this particular aspect of their career, they hold on so tightly to what they know that won’t let go until they have a for-certain guarantee that what they are going towards will be successful.  They won’t let go of the past until they are sure of the future.  Which of course can never happen.  We can never be sure of the future.  Life is full of twists and turns that can’t be predicted.  I was in that exact same spot.  I wanted to make sure I had every base covered, every potential pitfall considered, every monetary need accounted for.  And on top of that I wanted an absolute sign that I was doing the right thing.  I wasn’t asking for much right?

The image that kept coming to mind was the one in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana had to cross an uncross-able ravine.  There was no bridge that he could see.  He closed his eyes and stepped out, fully expecting to plummet to the bottom but instead his foot hit solid rock.  There was a bridge only it was disguised so his eyes didn’t see it.

I realized I had to let go.  I had to unclench my fist from the past so my hand could be open to receive what the future was offering.  Letting go is easier said than done but it is necessary to move forward.  Otherwise you’ll always have one foot in the past not moving you forward.  Let go a little and see what the universe brings to you.

29 months

As I’ve been known to say, Holy Macaroley.  I was talking the other day with my career coach, Kristine Oller , whom I’ve been working with for a while.  I started with her when I wasn’t happy with the way my acting career was progressing and some of the things I’d heard her say at a conference really resonated.  As they say, when the student is ready, the teacher appears.  So I contacted her and on my next visit to Los Angeles sat down with her.  Her forte is organizing but one of the things she said that struck a chord with me is her favorite space to organize is the mind.  That really hit me.  I felt so helter skelter in my career planning.  I was going at fits and starts and really not gaining any traction.  It was at that first meeting that we started to map out the transition I could make from full time day job/part time actor to full time actor.  That day was was pivotal to me as it was the first day I really considered acting as a full time career.  It was the first time I’d allowed myself to entertain even the possibility of giving up the career I had worked at for over 2 decades to take on a new challenge.  Over the months that ensued, she and I reviewed my progress and set new targets for the next steps to take.  That arrangement continues to this day.

But purpose of our conversation on this particular date was a coffee date she was recording for her new venture and she wanted me to tell my story for those that were contemplating the switch to a full time creative.  In her introduction she mentioned that we’d begun working together in October 2007.  That stopped me cold.  We had only been working together for 29 months.  29 MONTHS! I couldn’t believe how far I’ve come in so short a time.  I was amazed at my progress.  All too often I bemoan the fact that this or that hasn’t happened and certainly nothing was happening at a pace that was fast enough for me.  I am so grateful Kristine happened to mention that date.  If she hadn’t I wouldn’t have taken the time to look back and see how far I’ve come.  I know I have so very far to go but I am so encouraged by my progress. And proud of myself.  Who knew I had it in me?!!  And who knows what lies around the corner?

Reaching for the stars

In my past life, one of the advertising agencies I used to work with was Leo Burnett.  The very famous story about this man and his eponymous agency is that he started it at the height of the Depression of the 1930’s with one client.  His contemporaries thought he was crazy and a Chicago newspaper columnist predicted he’d be selling apples within a year.  Well history has shown how good that prediction was.  Instead he gave away apples and on every reception desk in his now global ad agency to this day, there is a bowl of apples there for you to help yourself to.  I used to say when I was going to make a sales call there that I was going apple shopping.  I like the fact that 74 years later, the presence of a lowly apple  is a gentle “oh yeah, I’ll show you!” to those that didn’t believe.  One of the other iconic symbols of the venerable agency is a hand reaching for the stars.  Leo used to say that “when you reach for the stars, you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either”.  Striving for goals that seem beyond our grasp is how we keep pushing ourselves a little closer to achieving them.  It’s how the sprinter shaves a second off her time, a 40 year old QB annihilates his old team, the 20 year veteran who’s been struggling in obscurity wins an Oscar.

Examples of people reaching for the stars usually focus around sports and entertainment endeavors but I think it’s more about anyone who dares to dream a different life for themselves than they’ve been living thus far.  It could be going back to school at age 60, starting your own business, inventing a new gadget or starting a family.  You are never too old, too poor, too uneducated or more importantly too scared to find that dream that is your star and reach for it.  The key is to figure out what that passion is and then fire up the booster rockets to make it happen.  Think of how amazing that journey to the stars will be.  And make it happen for yourself.