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.

Putting It All Together

We’ve all done it.  Attended a conference, workshop or diet farm where we learned oodles of great tips and skills to help us get to the next level in whatever we are trying to achieve.  Our bags are stuffed with great ideas we have every intention of implementing the moment we arrive home.  This is a new beginning by golly and we’re going to just soar with all we’ve learned.  Then our feet cross the threshold of our homes and all that great knowledge, drive and determination go poof! right out of our noggin.  And before we know it, 4 months have passed, you’re cleaning out your office and what’s this?  Oh, it’s that stuff from that thing I went to back when.  What was it I was going to do with all that stuff?  I’ll just push it aside for a while longer.

This time, I’m really going to try to have a different outcome.  I’m going to put together a schedule for myself and make every attempt to stick to it.  It will take self discipline and determination and I know I may fall off the wagon but I’ll really try to get back on track.  Wish me luck!

Stepping into Liquid

The other morning I happened the catch a documentary about surfing called Step Into Liquid.  The title alone was so intriguing that I spent the next 90 minutes watching a film about a sport that I, as a landlocked midwesterner, will most likely never try.  It followed the sport all over the world.  One of the most surprising thing I discovered were all the places people surf.  Not just the expected Australian coast, or Maui, or the stereotypical California, but the unexpected places like 50 miles north of Milwaukee on Lake Michigan (we get fetch winds that travel straight down the entire length of the lake.  When they finally hit the southern end, the waves are pretty amazing).  Or off the coast of Ireland.  Or most intriguing, in the wake of the supertankers that travel from Galveston to Houston with their bellies loaded with oil.  Those guys are called Tank Surfers and since they’re Texans, with a Yee Haw as their battle cry, they are a breed unto their own.

Along with seeing some pretty spectacular scenery from all these exotic and, er, industrial places, there was scene after scene of men and women having fun.  The overriding sense I got from every surfer interviewed was how much fun they had doing it.  You could see it in their faces.  It was pure joy.  That joy brought them back time after time to the beach, knowing the minute they hopped on their boards and started paddling out, it would be ecstasy with a spray on their face.

One of the guys commented that surfing was a very selfish sport, in spite of the camaraderie.  Even though you most likely surfed in a group and hung out with the guys, when one of them caught a perfect wave, you wanted it for yourself.  You weren’t surfing against them, you were surfing for yourself and bettering what you did before.  Much the same in my business.

I thought about how fortunate these folks were to have found something in their lives that brought them so much happiness.  They made it look so easy, so effortless.  But these people were at the top of their game.  They’d been practicing for years, chasing waves all around the world, getting knocked about by one of the strongest forces of nature.  It made me think about my efforts to get some traction for my business.  Our journeys weren’t too dissimilar.  I’ve been practicing for years, I’m chasing leads all over the world, I’m getting knocked about by one of the strongest forces of human nature – the word no.  I realized I need to find some of their joy in what I was doing.  Even though I described the process as a slog, I need to reframe that as riding another wave that will lead to the next one.  And there will always be another wave, somewhere.  I need to step into my own kind of liquid and just have fun with it.  Find the Stoke as the dudes say.

A Sparkle or a Smolder

For a long time now I’ve been struggling with my voice.  I know, it sounds silly.  After all, it’s something that is so intrinsically a part of us that how can it be a problem?  It’s kind of like my struggle with clothes.  I want to be a size 4 but in reality I’m not.  Probably never will be.  GRRRR.  And that’s not easy to accept.  But that’s a topic for another day.  With my voice, I’ve always longed to have that sultry, husky voice that I so admire in many female voice talents.  The kind that envelopes you in texture and feels all cashmere and warm.  And I do have that voice, in the morning before I warm up the vocal cords.  The problem is, I’ve been trying to make that my default voice and it’s not.  Trying to change my voice at this stage of the game isn’t a wise thing to do.  Not only is it like trying to change the hand you sign your name with, awkward at best, it can be dangerous to your vocal cords if try to make them do something you naturally aren’t supposed to do.  But I’ve been dinking around with placement for over a year and all I’ve managed to do it screw it up magnificently!  Any of you who’ve tried changing your golf swing know from whence I speak.  It’s brutal.  I finally came to the realization that I’m not and never will be that voice I so admire.  Sigh.

Just as I was getting used to this idea I was talking with a fellow voice talent, Philip Banks, and recounting this oh-so-tragic realization.  I am not and never will be a sultry voice, my voice is bright.  In his inimitable British way, Philip said “some people are a sparkle and some people are a smolder.  You are a sparkle.”  In those 15 words, Philip managed to take news I’d considered shattering and make it instead a wonderful thing.  I’m a sparkle.  Yes indeed I am.  Just like diamonds and emeralds and rubies.  Who doesn’t like a little glitter in their life?  Pretty dang cool.  All of the sudden I’m kinda happy about my voice, at least the one I used to have.  I just need to find it again.  Maybe it’s in that drawer I’m afraid of opening.  All I know is, I’m a lot more content with the voice I was blessed with that I was 30 minutes ago.  And excited to see where it can take me.  It just took some mental adjustments accompanied by a long distance kick in the pants.  Thanks Philip.

Not now, thank you

One of the most frustrating and undefinable parts of this business I’ve chosen to be in is the casting process.  So many times, getting cast in a project has nothing to do with your talent.  I know that doesn’t make sense because off all the training and workshops and coaching we actors continually invest in.  Those things are very important and shouldn’t be ignored.  But all that training and coaching isn’t for those who are casting but for us the actors.  It continues to inspire and inform us.  Those who are casting assume you have what it takes to do the job or they wouldn’t have invited you to the audition.  That’s something we as actors always forget.  You wouldn’t be there if you couldn’t do the job.  We need to remember that first and foremost.

What it comes down to so many times, more times than we can even imagine, is are you the voice they heard in their head or are you the face they saw when they wrote the script?  Most times the answer is no.  And that’s not easy to accept.  After all, we know we can do the part, voice the script.  We did a great job at the audition.  Why weren’t we picked?  ARRRGH!

Sorry…I digress.  What is actually happening isn’t a “no” but a “no thank you, not now”.  You just don’t fit what they need at the moment.  But that doesn’t meet that they won’t be calling on you soon for a different project.  A no in casting is rarely a forever no.  It’s just a no for now.  Eventually it will be a “Yes!  Thank you!”  Eventually.

My Imagined Life

Recently I received a wonderful gift from a friend in celebration of my birthday.  I’d become closer to her recently and she surprised me with a beautiful silver bracelet.  On it is inscribed “Live the Life You’ve Imagined”.  The funny thing is I am living what I thought the life might be but I never gave myself the chance to imagine that I would be the one living this life.  I know that sounds confusing but stay with me on this.  I realized that with all the planning and edumacating and work I’d been doing, I never allowed myself the opportunity to think about what this life would look like, feel like and live like.  And because I didn’t do that imagining, I didn’t recognize that I was actually in the midst of living this life.  My days are filled with on camera auditions, rehearsals, film shoots, voiceover auditions, casting sessions, commercial shoots, recording sessions, to name a few.  And my day doesn’t end at 5pm like it used to when I was in corporate.  My time is very fluid so the evening can be a jammed packed as the day is.  I realized this recently when one day I had an early morning on camera audition, then was back home to do some Voiceover work and was able to slip a quick nap in, then I changed and prepped for the next on camera audition, returned home to do some research work I’d been hired to do and I ended my day directing a voicetalent on an e-learning session he was doing.  It wasn’t until someone pointed out to me what I’d done that day that I realized it was a day that most people in my new business would be thrilled to have.  Thank goodness I was forced to step back and take a longer look at how I was living my life.  Otherwise I would have continued in my days not taking note of how I was spending those days.

Taking a bit of time out of my day to imagine how I want to live the next few days is time well spent.  Without it, I won’t know I’m living the life I want and then what I want my life to look like at the next step.

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.

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.

Whoa! Reality Check please

Sometimes you go through life thinking that things are one way and suddenly you are smacked between the eyes with a 2 x 4 also known as a Reality Check.  This happened to me the other night when I was given the opportunity to watch an audition of myself.  Now I get that the lens they used was a wide angle and the lighting was atrocious, but what came glaring through was how not good it all was.  Not just the performance, which really wasn’t that bad, but all the negatives that were magnified and enhanced up there on the 42 inch screen.  I’ve been wondering why I haven’t been booking and I think I just found a big part of the answer.  YUCK.  But this post isn’t to elicit complements or reassurances, I’ve accepted what I saw and am taking steps to correct it, but to point out that things aren’t always what they seem to be.  I had an idea of my appearance and facial expressions but was way off base in what they really were.  I’m grateful I got to see myself and do a realistic assessment of what I was presenting.  I could have gone on for quite a while in the mythical land of my perceptions.  When you are the product, it’s very hard to do an objective assessment of what is being presented.  Stepping back and looking at the product you are selling, whatever that may be, is imperative.  Otherwise you labor under misconceptions that have no basis in reality.  Another’s perception is your reality.  It sounds harsh but it’s something to keep in mind with everything you do.  So often we believe that if we are thinking one way, EVERYBODY must also be thinking the same way.  Hello my friend, that ain’t the case.  Being aware there are as many perceptions as there are people and that is your reality.  Be objective in the product you offer and make it the best  you possibly can.

Looking for the upside

So often, I get to the end of a day and all I can focus on is what I didn’t get done that day.  Blog posting wasn’t written, demo wasn’t finished, meeting wasn’t scheduled.  All reminders of the failure that the day was.  But I recently read a quote on a friend’s blog and it reminded me that there is an opposite and even more compelling story to be told about the day.  The quote was from Ilan Shamir and it said “A thousand things went right today“.  And reading it flip flopped my perspective right on it’s collective patootie.  It made me think about all the things I did get accomplished that day.  Maybe not all of the things that I had planned to get done, but instead were opportunities that presented themselves and couldn’t be ignored.  Like the great TV show looking for a host in my age range that had remodeling skills.  Or the software I finally got installed properly in spite of being disconnected 6 times trying to reach the tech support people.  Or the sound effects put together for an audio book for my nephew that made me laugh.  Not quite a thousand things yet, but you get the picture.  Changing the inner monologue from the negative to the positive isn’t easy but it’s so necessary.  It’s too easy look at the glass half empty instead of half full. What doesn’t get accounted for in all of that is the chipping away of self esteem and confidence with each little nick at the “what didn’t get done” board.  The other things will still be there tomorrow and I’m pretty sure there is going to be a tomorrow.  Paying attention to what did get done instead of what didn’t starts the momentum in a positive direction.  And with momentum, it’s just as easy to build up as it is to tear down.  It takes discipline to focus on what did go right today instead of what didn’t happen but the payoff is well worth it.