What’s In Your Toolbox?

Recently I reread The War of Art by Steve Pressfield and picked up things that I didn’t catch the first time around.  If you aren’t familiar with the book, it’s about the resistance every creative feels as they pursue whatever discipline they’ve chosen to work in.  For writers, it’s the infamous blank page syndrome, for actor’s it’s the always prepping-never doing syndrome, for all of us it’s the getting ready to get ready to think about doing something problem.  In fact I was so impressed by my second reading that I immediately went to Amazon to purchase the follow up book Do The Work.  So I logged on to Amazon and put the book in my cart.  When I went to check out, Amazon gently says “Ummmm, you’ve already purchased this book”.  I did?  I don’t remember getting it as I didn’t recognize the cover art in any of the books I owned.  So off to my past history of purchases I went and doggone it, there it was in my Kindle books.  Seems I’ve owned this tome for almost 2 years.  Boy did I feel foolish.  It made me wonder what other great tools I’ve purchased or obtained one way or another and haven’t made use of.

After pursuing a career for many years, we accumulate resources, contacts and guides that may get lost in the shuffle of the everyday of our business.  Pulling out long forgotten notes from a conference or weekend workshop is a great way to mine new tidbits of knowledge that may not have resonated when we first heard it.  It’s like cleaning out your closet of clothes you don’t wear anymore and finding that awesome pair of shoes or jeans you totally forgot you had.  Bang!  New outfit and it didn’t cost you a dime.

So I’m pulling out my notes from various conferences and workshops and seeing what I can glean from them before I sink another dime into buying that awesome thing guaranteed to push me to the next level.  I wonder what else is in this toolbox?

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Studio Shoes

One of the great things about working from home is the ability to wear whatever you want to get the work done.  No one knows what you are clothed in and no one really cares, as long as you get the job done.  So for the most part, I jump out of bed, shower and put on something comfortable, right down to my shoes.  I really didn’t give what I was wearing much thought, after all, I figured it was an achievement to get out of my pj’s.  Recently I started working with a voiceover coach, Marice Tobias, who believes everything in your life affects what your voice delivers.  The clothes you wear, what you had for lunch, the argument you got in with your cable company, the shoes you wear.  It’s an interesting thought.  One I hadn’t really considered before.

I put this to the test recently when I was attending one of Marice’s workshops in Chicago.  She’d mentioned the shoe thing when I went on a retreat in February with an amazing group of women.  I was thrilled-finally I could deduct my shoes as a business expense!  Lots of laughter when I proclaimed as such.  On Sunday of this most recent workshop, I brought a pair of what I call my “limousine shoes”.  They’re shoes with really high heels that should never be walked in but can safely be worn while riding in a limousine to the next event where I’ll simply stand in one spot, thus avoiding any potential foot pain or ankle injury.  We were reading promotional scripts for television shows and I did my first read in the flats I’d worn to the studio but for the second read, I put on the black 4 1/2 inch snakeskin pumps with brass studs along the vamp.  Believe it or not, it really did make a difference, the engineer even heard it and commented on it.  Here’s a link to what I mean.  The second one has a heck of a lot more sass and attitude about it.

All this of course is one big rationalization for a recent purchase of way-too-expensive beautiful pale green tinged with gold snakeskin 4-inch pumps that now reside on my studio desk just waiting to be called in to action.  And I’ve really used them a few times.  Maybe someday they’ll see action at an event but for now, I’m trying to decide if this is a studio expense or an acting expense.

Fearlessness

Safely ensconced back in my abode after all the glitz and glam of my trip to LA gives me a great opportunity to reflect on all the fun I had and the wonderful people I met.  This trip was packed with some pretty cool events, an Emmy post party, a Santa Monica restaurant opening and a visit to a studio.  Plus lots of chances to get together with friends.  But through the entire weekend, I realized I’d packed some even more precious than the 8 pairs of shoes I’d brought.  What?  I was there for 3 1/2 days.  What do you expect?  Even more important that these fabulous accessories, I’d brought along my fearlessness.  My audacity.  And I pulled it out and put it on more frequently than my lipstick.  Because of this I didn’t hesitate to walk up to an unknown Emmy winner, ask to hold his statue (they really are heavy-probably 8-10 pounds), hear about his sound work on the show House and then have him offer to take a picture of me holding his award.  Which will most likely be my Christmas card this year!  I talked to and congratulated several other winners, among those were Cherry Jones, an actress who I’d admired for quite a while, to the point of writing her a fan masher letter when I saw her in Doubt.  And here I was congratulating her on her win.  I met the President of a major network and kidded him about some things he said.  I busted someone on her Chicago accent, something I am so aware of as I try to neutralize my own, and it was the lovely actress and animation voice Megan Cavanaugh and we proceed to have a great conversation on trying to get the “chicago” out of our speech.  Then there was the guy on the set of Chuck who so patiently answered all of my numerous questions about sets and shooting and props.  If you’ve ever been with me, you know I ask a lot of questions!  All of these things would never have happened had I let myself get all self conscious and fear being judged.  For some reason, whenever I go somewhere else, I pack my fearlessness and audacity along with me.

The tricky part is to not put them away with the luggage when I get home.  Keep these two traits with me at ALL times, not just when I have nothing to lose in a strange place and amongst strangers.  Charge forward fearlessly even when I know I may see these people again and they may laugh at me behind their smiles.  Forget being judged.  As Virgil said Fortune favors the bold and since I plan on having a lot of success in my future, I’d be better served with fearlessness as my guide.

I can’t believe I brought another Latin saying into this writing, my Dad is just hooting right now.  It’s still a dead language.