The Gift of Aspiration

Everywhere in this world there are people who are further up the spectrum than I am.  People who have more money than me, have achieved more fame than I, are skinnier, more proficient, more talented, you name it.  But there they are, ahead of me in some way.  As I write this, I am sitting on a plane in coach 2 rows back from first class so I have a bird’s eye view of the way they get to fly. I usually sit further back on the plane so while I know first class is there, I’m not as acutely aware of it. Lunch has just been served, on china and the flight attendant is bringing around petit fours for dessert, along with a refill of wine.  I haven’t even been asked if I want to buy an overpriced snack yet.

I say this not to complain about how awful air travel has become but to highlight where they are versus where I sit.  Watching the lovely way they are being treated made me want to be up there.  To figure out a way to get in the club.  Research the challenge.  Problem solve to achieve the goal.

Having those backs to look at as I travel my path is a wonderful gift. It lets me know what I want is achievable and if they can do it so can I.  I don’t look at those who have achieved with anger or envy (ok maybe a little envy, lunch sure smelled good and I would kill for more leg room) but with assurance that one day I’ll be up there, eating lunch on china at 35000 feet, accepting accolades on my performance and finally fitting into a wee size (or at least a wee-er size).  Just need to keep aspiring.  That’ll make it happen.

Fruits of Labor

A green thumb is something I think I have.  Not the most prolific green thumb but more things live under my care than die.  But I’ve always been challenged when it comes to growing tomatoes.  I have enough sun on top of my deck as it sits on the roof so that’s not an issue.  I’ve tried for years to grow tomatoes to no avail.   They grow in the pots but never really bear fruit.  Last year I started them too late in the season as I’d been traveling throughout the month of June so they didn’t get planted until July.  Not enough growing time as our summer is short enough to begin with.  Add to that the lateness of the planting and you get whole lotta nuttin’.  This year however, I planted in late May.  Instead of pots I used the Topsy-Turvy you see advertised on TV.  Well actually I’m doing an experiment, one plant is in a pot and a duplicate is in the Topsy-Turvy.  This way I can see if their television claims really do hold up.  So far, the Topsy is winning.  I also planted one with cucumbers and one with red peppers.  They seem to be flourishing as well.

The other evening I was grilling my  dinner and I thought I’d check to see if any of the red tomatoes were ready to be picked.  Lo and behold, 2 were.  They weren’t big by any stretch, about the size of large racquetballs, but boy were they good.  I was so excited to finally be tasting my tomatoes, the ones I’d grown and watered every day religiously and almost even burned out with too much fertilizer.  After all if some fertilizer was good, lots should be ever better right?  Maybe I should go back and read that children’s book by Helen Palmer called A Fish Out Of Water, just so I actually learn the lesson she’s teaching.  But they survived my efforts and I am starting to enjoy them.

I thought about this when 2 things happened the next day.  I got a call from something I’d submitted to over 2 months ago and had completely forgotten about.  Delightful lady.  She wanted to talk further and have me do some more specific auditioning for her.   Turns out we might actually do some business together.  Then later I received an email from another piece of business I’d submitted on over a month ago with some additional information and a request for a more refined bid.  I didn’t get the job but both of these contacts were from submissions I’d done weeks ago that I’d long forgotten.  Made me realize the work I’m doing today may not bear fruit for quite a while.  Gave me the energy to pick up the phone and continue cold calling.  Who knows what’s germinating out there?  I’ve got more tomatoes on the vine ripening every day.

The American Idol Effect

American Idol is a show I’ve never really followed.  Sure I’m aware of the show, the participants and the judges.  The qualifying shows have provided a few moments of laughter but once it gets into the actual competition, my channel changer goes into action.  My niece however is a huge fan.  She watches the show religiously and loves singing along with the contestants.  I have a picture she colored for me that shows last seasons winner with the 4 judges on stage.  She’s going to be crushed when the show goes off the air.

When I was visiting her house the other night, she wanted to sing me a song she learned from the show.  And she did a great job with all the words.  I was amazed.  But she threw in a twist I hadn’t expected.  It seems she’d been not just learning the songs but studying the mannerisms of the singers as well.  As she started singing, her facial expressions and vocalization became something other than her normal manner.  In her quest to be like the stars she emulated, she’d lost the essence that was her unique voice and her wonderful personality.

Talk about a 2 X 4 between the eyes.  Standing in front of me was someone doing the exact same thing I’d done  to my voice.  Watching my niece sing was like watching myself in a mirror trying to find my vocal placement.  I really wanted to sound like the sultry voices I was hearing and in pursuing this goal, completely messed up my unique voice.  I really wanted to get my niece to understand this but she couldn’t wrap her brain around the idea.  She just saw the people she admired and thought if she mimicked them, she would be successful like them.

Hopefully this is just a stage for my niece.  She’ll find something else that will pique her interest and she’ll goes back to her awesomeness.  Me, I’ve been trying to find my natural placement again.  I’m getting closer.  But I realize how many of us think that someone else’s way of doing something is so much better than our own natural way.  So there’s comfort in numbers but I’d rather be somewhere else.

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.

First time for everything

With every new venture we undertake in life, we learn new things.  And as our proficiency grows, we add new skills and new accomplishments.  As our competency grows, the confidence we gain allows us to push ourselves even further.  We hike a more challenging trail, tackle a plumbing problem, ski a black diamond trail.  Our first attempts at these loftier levels are pretty shaky at first but as we continue to push forward, our footing becomes firmer, more directed.  As the muscle starts to remember what we did before, the task becomes less conscious, more organic.

But you have to take the first step.  I did that recently.  I was given the opportunity to audition for a pilot for a comedy that is being put together out of Michigan.  It was my first pilot audition, heck my first television audition.  The script was pretty straightforward but because it was a comedy, the words were written very specifically so the comedy came out the way the writer wanted it to.  I have a not-so-good tendency to paraphrase and make things my own which doesn’t serve the script very well.  So it had to be memorized very specifically.  I had an idea of the character as I saw her but since I didn’t have the full script, I had to take some liberties.  I didn’t really know how to break down the script so I wisely hired a coach to help me accomplish that.  Which is what I would do if I were trying to tackle a mogul field, I hire a ski instructor.  We spent an hour going over things and practicing.  Interpreting the sentences, finding the funny behind the obvious.  It was recorded so I could go back and review my progress.

I have no idea how I did.  I don’t even know what they were looking for as the information provided was somewhat sketchy.  But I felt good afterwards.  Happy that I’d invested the time and money to work with someone so I felt confident when the camera started rolling. Plus it was a lot of fun.  On top of that, I learned some good habits that I will call upon for future television auditions.  You have to start somewhere.  Just make sure you don’t blindly step in, give yourself a chance to succeed.

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.

The Rookie

The other day a rarity happened to me.  I had a day, it was actually the first one in 37 days and only the third one since January 1st, that I didn’t have anything scheduled outside the house.  No rehearsals, no auditions, no travels, no filming, no workshops, no errands to run.  I couldn’t believe it when I saw the break in my schedule.  I am very grateful for all the activity but sometimes just having an entire day uninterrupted is so needed and welcomed.  I allowed myself to sleep in, relishing that I didn’t have to answer to an alarm in the morning.  Even when I awoke, I didn’t jump out of bed, instead I flipped on the TV to see what the weather was offering for the day.  I surfed for a while and ended up on a movie channel showing the film The Rookie.  It’s based on the true story of Jim Morris, a high school baseball coach who, due to injury, failed earlier in his life to make it in baseball.  At age 35, in an effort to inspire his players to win their divisional championships, he said he’d try out again and went to the open tryouts of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.  That day, he was able to throw a dozen 98 mph fastballs which earned him a spot in their double-A farm team.  He soon went up to triple-A and before the season was out, was called up to the bigs.  His first fame was in his home state of Texas with his family and friends watching him as he pitched for a win.  He was able to pitch for 2 years before he old injury returned and he retired to teach once again.

The story really hit home.  I’m always on the lookout for examples of people who made career switches late in life.  Those people that had the courage to take a huge risk when they knew how far they could fall.  Perhaps I’m looking for more like me.  Examples that were successful.  Leaders that came before me and conquered all odds to follow their dreams. I’m not as scared as I once was but that doesn’t a little encouragement goes a long way.

Sexy Siren

Success is a wicked thing.  Experience even the smallest bit of it and suddenly you are in the grasp of it’s siren song.  That happened to me.  I started this blog in absolute obscurity.  No one knew I was posting because quite frankly, I wasn’t sure I would keep up with it.  When I was sure I was going to be disciplined in this endeavor and I had a few posts under my belt, I e-mailed my friend Bob Souer requesting that he add me to his blog roll.  Bob is an incredible aggregator of all things Voiceover and otherwise.  He was kind enough to add me in a post on his blog yesterday and in no time flat I went from invisible to quite a few reads. People commented on what they read.  I even got a ping back, although I’m not quite sure what a ping back is, but I got one.  I was found to be wise, witty and relevant.  What a rush!

The vast majority of people read the post that Bob referenced.  Only 1 other post was read.  I can tell because WordPress is kind enough to provide me with all sorts of statistics.  My immediate thought was the other posts weren’t all that good.  That I needed to write more in the style of the post Bob referenced.  In short order, I was lured by the success of that one post to alter the course I was on and pursue one that would be more popular.  Without a second thought I abandoned that which got me to the point of success and became a slave to getting more success.  She’s a sly one, that siren Success.  Most sirens in Mythology are female.  Thankfully, I too am female and after the fog cleared I was able to let go of the wee bit of glory I’d experienced and refocus on my original path.  I went back to what got me there in the first place.  Fortunately, my siren didn’t come in the form of George Clooney.  Then I’d be telling a far different tale.