Picking Up Where We Left Off

Recently I got to visit a dear friend of mine.  She used to live very close to me and when she wasn’t travelling we did a lot of fun things together.  She’s a fabulous connector and one of her greatest strengths is when she meets you, she remembers you and important details about you.  And she really does this in a very sincere way.  I’ve learned a lot from just being around her and how she interacts with others.

Sadly several years ago she moved back east and we don’t get to see each other as much as we used to.  We talk about once a week or so but it’s not the same.  So when we get the chance to get together, it’s really a treat for me.  This is the third time this year we’ve been able to be in the same room, which I think is the most since she’s lived here.  My flight got in pretty early on a Saturday and since her boyfriend was playing golf that day, we had several hours of uninterrupted time together.  And it was just like I’d seen her yesterday.  Only we didn’t pause to take a breath for about 3 hours!  Once we got caught up on the personal stuff we had lots of current events and political topics to microscopically examine.  We have pretty similar beliefs and philosophies so it’s like hearing yourself talk sometimes.  And when we disagree, it’s always done in an informed respectful way.  Which is so wonderful and sadly not always easy to find these days.  My Mom really gets a kick out of listening to us talk to each other, I don’t see it but she thinks it’s funny.

The bestest thing about this relationship is how non-judgmental, how supportive and how loving it is.  We truly pick up right where we left off with no recriminations if it’s been several weeks or someone forgot to call back or couldn’t talk earlier.  Friendships like that are absolutely golden.  Not all of my relationships have been this way and when I started to find friends who were, it really cast a harsh light on relationships that might have been more toxic than not.  I let those people move on without me and I’m ok with having done that.  Having fewer but really awesome people in your life is more important to me than having lots of not-so-great acquaintances cluttering up the space.

Raise Your Game

My Mom and Dad have been avid golfers for as long as I can remember.  My Dad started playing when he was young but my Mom didn’t pick it up until she married him.  She also started skiing when they got married.  But I digress.  We were fortunate enough to live in a small town with several pretty good golf courses close by so they were usually able to play somewhere.  Even if for a hole or two or to shag balls.  My Dad really enjoyed the game and the release it provided him from his stressful career.  For my Mom, I think it was a wonderful opportunity for her to find a moment of peace and quiet amongst the chaos of raising 5 children.  It’s blissfully hard to answer a million questions and referee the multitude of battles when you are on the back nine!

I always thought it was great that they shared this common interest.  They took golf trips together, went to golf school together and played together several times a week.  My Mom, being the great competitor she is, really worked at her game.  She has a great eye for analyzing a swing and for putting what she learned into practice. It got to the point she could play better than my Dad, who was no slouch himself.  In fact she plays better than almost the entire male membership at their club.  There’s quite a bit of grudging admiration in the men’s locker room for my Mom’s skills.  All of us kids grew up playing, with varying degrees of success.  I like being outdoors but the time it took to play a full round was time I wanted to use elsewhere.  So while I am proficient, I haven’t excelled to the level my parents have.  But I always loved playing with them.  It was really fun and the laughs we had were priceless.  Best of all, I always played better than when I was playing in an outing or a league.  Both my parents would give me tips, and my Mom especially was great at fixing my errant swing.  I played up to their game and was the better for it.

I thought about that last night when I attended a table read for the latest project I’ve been cast in, a short film.  One of the actors there had really prepared for the read, our first meeting as a cast.  He’d really thought about all the characters and had read the script multiple times.  He’d mapped out past histories and relationship nuances I hadn’t begun to think about.  His work got me thinking about decisions I’d made about my character but hadn’t formalized.  Made me commit to certain aspects of my role and who I was in the story.  Made me work out where I was going in this story.  In short, improved my game during our brief meeting.

It had been a while since I’ve been in a collaborative effort like this.  Voiceover can be a solitary business with no one to bounce ideas off of.  I was excited leaving the meeting and reminded that I should always try to work with those better than me.  Push myself.  Raise my game.  How else am I going to get that hole in one?

On Green Jackets and such

Last weekend was the Masters Golf tournament.  I’m a big fan of the event.  Not only did I watch it on CBS and ESPN, but I watched it on Masters.com before the on air coverage started.  Yes I’m one of those people.  I actually like watching golf.  It’s a side effect of growing up in a household of golfers, we all play in some form or another.  It’s something that links us together inextricably.  My Dad taught my Mom, he’d learned it from his Dad, and she got so good she regularly whipped his butt.  They in turn taught us.  Now my brother is teaching his kids and his wife is taking golf lessons.  It’s cool to see that chain continue.

Anywho, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend the event several times.  My Mom has passes that are hers through her lifetime.  That’s how they work, you get to keep them as long as you are alive.  You can pass them to a spouse but not to a child.  They have to be returned to the pool then.  I joke to my Mom that she’s bought herself a few more years of life support with those passes-“yes Mrs. Tierney will be attending the Masters this year”.  For me, going there is a really special treat.  Not seeing the golfers, you can see them at tournaments all over the place, including here.   The specialness lies in the course itself.  Augusta is this really small town and this is their Super Bowl.  The course is right off a main road and you enter a world of green when you go through the gates.  Of course, after checking your cell phone at security.  Every service building is painted green so as not to stand out amongst the trees.  The main clubhouse and it’s outbuildings for the members are all beautiful white with black shutters on every window.  The flowers are explosive.  TV really doesn’t do it justice.  For me, the course was the star, not the players.  Not to get overly dramatic, but I am an actress/drama queen, I was on hallowed ground.  What struck me was how do the players put all this aside and just play their game?  How do they not get all wrapped up into all that it is and just curl up into a ball at the first tee?  I guess that’s what happens when you are a pro at what you do, you recognize your surroundings but don’t let it affect your performance.

Recently I had breakthrough in my own growth.  I realized I was holding the microphone too dear, too precious in my mind and this was affecting my performance.  For various reasons, I was letting this get in the way of just being me in front of the mic.  I’d created my own Augusta National in my noggin.  Not the best of circumstances.  So now I’m working on fixing that.  Maybe I’ll pull out that cute green jacket I own while I practice.

Cinderella Story

It’s March Madness time again.  The selection show was just the other day and the hopes and dreams of many a small school were either rewarded or dashed.  Even though I grew up in roundball crazy Indiana before they totally wrecked the high school tournament by going to a class system (sorry-editorial comment), I really don’t watch much college basketball during the year.  My sport is the NFL.  But this time of year, I become a devotee of NCAA hoops.  There are 64 teams that on any given day can emerge as a giant killer.  Yes there are top seeds that are expected to do really well but as any bracket picker can tell you, there’s always a #12 seed that just slays a #5 seed and then goes on to win the next round.  The key is that #12 believes that they have every right to be there and why wouldn’t they win?  After their victory, they look around in confusion wondering at everyone else’s surprise.

Watching these teams win, and there is at least one every year, I’m constantly reminded of the overnight success phenomena.  The actor struggling just on the edge of success, the inventor tinkering in his basement every night.  Suddenly just the right conditions come together at just the right time and people start to notice what was in front of their eyes all along.  They just weren’t seeing it.  The anonymous actor/inventor/whatever is a bit flummoxed at all the attention because he/she hadn’t really changed what they were doing, the only difference was  their efforts were now getting noticed and applauded.  It’s the Cinderella story of Caddyshack fame.  Maybe I won’t make it to Augusta to play (although I’ve been there several times as a spectator), or to a final four in basketball, or even on stage at the Oscar’s, but I believe I have every right to be there and that’s going to carry me closer to achieving my dreams.

It’s in the hole.

Fabulous Hair

I am a devoted reader of Seth Godin’s Blog.  I have it delivered to my inbox every day.  Which reminds me I need to let all my 4 readers know I have the ability to do that for them as well.  Anywho, I love how he looks at things.  He takes a situation, turns it upside down, inside out and backwards and helps me to look at something in a completely different way.  And in doing so, I break a little further out of the mold of “I’ve always done it that way”.  He’s also great at introducing me to new thoughts, new ideas and often new words. And you know I’m a word junky.  I love collecting them.  One of his recent blogs was about the word Sprezzatura, which is an Italian word meaning the ability to do your craft or work without visible effort.  In his words, it’s a combination of elan (another great word) and grace and class.  It’s the golfer finessing a shot under a tree but over a bunker to land on the green 4 feet from the cup, the surgeon who calmly and precisely opens a chest, inserts a pacemaker into a heart and restores normal rhythm to a struggling patient, or the film actor who take after take hits his mark exactly while delivering his lines slightly different from the take before, thus giving the director options when he edits the film.  Or for me, it’s my hairdresser Elizabeth who blows dries my hair so fabulously it has that come hither look about it.  I sigh in resignation each time I watch her at her task, determined to figure out what she’s doing that I’m not because no matter how hard I try, I just can’t duplicate her results.  One time I blurted out “Now why can’t I do that?”  She chuckled and said “well first of all my arms aren’t connected to your body” -good point for her as I have a hard time reaching the back.  She continued “And it could be the fact that I’ve been doing this for 15 years” which made me think, yes but I’ve been blow drying this hair for 3 decades and it’s the same head and hair I’ve always had so why can’t I do as well as she does?  I came to realize that the difference is how we approach the task.  She is a professional who is trying to please a client so she has learned the proper techniques and motions to create “Hollywood” hair as I like to call it.  Me, I just want to get it done and dry as I have 35 other things that need my attention once I’m finished so it’s a chore to get completed, not my passion.  If it was really that important, I’d practice over and over to get it right which is what I do each time I audition or perform.  It’s still not at the Sprezzatura point, but I’m getting there.  And now I know what to call it when I reach that point of effortlessness.

Lean on me

My iPod contains over 3500 songs on it.  I purchased my iPod used inheriting the music already on there.  I’ve also added quite a bit of music on my own. I usually listen to podcasts when I am running, multitasking as always.  Lately I’ve started listening to music.  And not to pre-planned playlists.  I’m playing the list alphabetically, never really knowing what I will hear next.  The juxtaposition the songs afford makes me laugh sometimes.  This morning it was Beyonce/JayZ followed by My Fair Lady.  And yes, I’m usually singing along louder than I realize, as evidenced by the looks I get.

Then the classic Bill Withers song, Lean On Me, with it’s opening organ chords came on.  I was immediately transported back to my teenage years, Summertime at the swimming pool, golden couple Crash and Susie and all the really cool kids hanging about.  The radio blaring much to the disdain of the golfers teeing off on the first tee just yards away.   I’m always amazed when music takes me back.  It was like it was yesterday.

This time though I listened, really listened to the lyrics.  And they blew me away.  I’ve gone through some very challenging times recently both personally and professionally.  There were moments it seemed as if I wouldn’t endure them.  Most times I felt really alone and scared.  Still do every once in a while. Especially the scared part. Hearing those lyrics made me realize I had some amazing friends and support that I’d been leaning on pretty heavily.   I’m not good at asking for help, fairly sure my tombstone will read “I’m fine”, even worse at admitting I need help and accepting it when offered.  Swallowing my pride isn’t on my list of skills.  This time around though, I’ve been leaning on whomever will let me.  I realize the lyrics could be referencing a friend, family member, God.  Who knows?  But the fourth time I’d replayed it this morning, the first verse really stuck with me –And if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow. I’ll get to tomorrow, safe in the knowledge I’m not alone.

Oh and the song that followed?  It was also by Bill Withers and was called Use Me.  But that’s an entirely different type of post for another day!