New Year, New Mindset

Hello, friends! It’s been awhile, I know, and I’ve missed you. Welcome back to this very sporadic blog of mine. I’d also like to welcome you to 2020: the year of Barbara Walters and oh so many vision jokes.

It’s so exciting and invigorating to have a fresh, shiny new year to explore. It’s like that feeling you get after brushing your teeth – you feel so clean, fresh and capable of anything. (Everyone else feels this way after brushing their teeth too, right? Not just me?)

I’ll admit, I’m a glutton for that New Year energy. I like to set goals, especially BIG goals, and I LOVE writing out New Year’s resolutions. For example, my 2019 resolutions list was a two-page, itemized document complete with bold headings, bulleted lists, check boxes and inspirational quotes. Some strong Rory Gilmore vibes over here.

The end of 2019 was incredibly busy for me, and busy in many of the right ways, but also delayed a chance for me to write out my resolutions for 2020, which kind of works out because…

Thus far 2020 hasn’t worked out the way I envisioned it to AT ALL. 😅

It’s been a weird, frustrating and challenging first week leaving me already emotionally exhausted. Based on the conversations I’ve had with friends, colleagues and strangers my sentiments about a rough start to 2020 appear to be on par for many others. Must be something in the water?

Part of my burnt-out feeling is caused by my own hand due to self-imposed pressure. This pressure can be motivating, but can easily be taken to an extreme. I’m still striving to strike a balance of self-imposed pressure in my life. Factors outside my control also contributed to the week. Not much to be done about those except learn how to weather those moments as they happen and devise strategies to weather them in the future.

Coincidentally I have the next two days off to regroup and reorganize. Opportune timing, Universe, thank you. One of my to-dos is carve my plan for 2020. To prepare I’m reflecting on my 2019 resolutions, the experiences I’ve had this past week and the experiences of those around me. Thinking of all that brings this quote to mind:

“Just because someone carries it well doesn’t mean it isn’t heavy.”   – Anonymous

A list of resolutions just doesn’t feel appropriate for me this year. I want this year to be more intuitively based and more introspective. I’m thinking a lot about the years I spent living in Asheville, NC and the emphasis the city places on mental health and overall well-being. It remains the only place I’ve lived that values and encourages personal well-being above anything else. I still plan to accomplish a lot, but I want to do it with the best mindset above all.

I plan to be pickier with my gigs and the ways I spend my time. I want to spend more time on my own, outdoors, and away from social media (which is tough with a career that values a social media presence). I want to metaphorically put down what I no longer need to carry. When I can’t put it down, I want to invite a buddy to help me shoulder the weight. I want to structure my days with mental health moments to ensure that 2020 clarity we’ve all been making puns about. I’m going to make these moments non-negotiables in my daily agenda. My schedule constraints will be different every day, but I know there’s always room for yourself. Some days there will be enough time to take a lackadaisical stroll through the park near my apartment. Other days my “me” moment may be driving from one gig to the next in complete silence. My friend Amanda suggested that one to me and it’s honestly brilliant. Highly recommend!

Everyone’s schedule is filled to maximum capacity and often it’s hard to justify taking time for yourself amidst the chaos of daily life, trust me I get it. I pushed me-time to the wayside for most of 2019. But I also know for a FACT that when you prioritize self-care, you show up better for yourself and the people who depend on you.

My number one goal for this year is to live authentically and acknowledge when I need to set down that metaphoric load I’m carrying. I haven’t liked the way I’ve shown up in this year so far. I’ve felt anxious, tired and cranky. By easing the pressure on myself and structuring self-care time I hope to not feel as icky as I have this first week. To help accomplish that I’m going to experiment with having a very small list of goals for the year, but prioritizing mental wellbeing and happiness. I’ll still be working hard and making big moves, but I will be doing so mindfully.

Cheers to you, dear reader, and your best year yet.

Every Moment is a Resolution

I’m not a winter person. By any means. Never have been and never will be. But, boy do I love this time of year solely because December always holds such magic and power. Sure, it can be somewhat chaotic as we prepare for holiday gatherings and wrap up loose ends before the new year, but you have to admit, the air is charged with this intoxicating energy. Everyone’s looking toward the future and making resolutions; deciding how they want to show up in 2018. The coming new year is so shiny and pristine, completely untarnished and packaged with endless possibilities. Regardless of what happened during the past year, you’re now given a brand new, fresh year. It’s a great time to reflect, focus and center yourself before the coming year. While I love this time of year and am giddy with anticipation for what 2018 might bring, I just want to reiterate that you can have this restart sensation at any time.

We’ve all been there – we begin January feeling extra empowered and ready to make this THE year! This is the year that everything we’ve ever envisioned will happen and it will be stupendous! We all charge into the year determined to uphold every resolution! And maybe we’ll even find the cure for the common cold while we’re at it! Who knows! We’re unstoppable and ready to take on the year!

But inevitably, our superpower energy starts to wane. We might fall off the proverbial wagon. Maybe other unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances come into effect. Or the life we envision for ourselves may require more patience and perseverance than initially anticipated. Whatever the case may be, the superpower energy that launched the new year dissipates and it becomes a struggle to find more.

Allow me to let you in on a little secret: Despite the societal emphasis that this power to restart occurs only once per year, remember that within every single moment YOU have the opportunity to redirect and reset as you need or desire. Yep. YOU. You have to ability to change course or get back on course whenever you like. It’s all you, my friend.

Allow yourself to feel this invigorating charge of the coming year and let it propel you into the new year, but remember to carry this unstoppable energy through to every single minute of 2018. The seasons will change and before we know it 2018 will be well underway. Understand that not only are you able to carry this energy with you constantly, but you are able to create this “new year sensation” for yourself any time. You have everything you need within you to have the most fantastic year and can recreate the energy you have at the cusp of 2018 for yourself every moment. You simply have to recognize this ability within yourself and pledge to recommit to your new year intentions multiple times throughout the year. Heck, sometimes you’ll have to recommit multiple times throughout the day. And trust me, that is A-OK.

I like to write (obviously) and I write down everything and anything I want to bring into my life. I tend to write the most at the end and beginning of the year as I evaluate my past year and define how I want to show up in the coming year. As I wrote out my vision and resolutions for 2018 I wrote this reminder for myself:

Resolution Quote

This mantra allows me to forgive myself when I don’t feel like things are working out. This mantra gives me an energy boost when I feel my drive begin to slow. This mantra reminds me to listen to myself and determine my next best move to keep moving forward and continue creating the best life for myself.

If this helps you, feel free to borrow it. Print it out and place it somewhere you’ll see it whenever you may need the reminder. Or use this as a starting point – modify it, make it your own. Write whatever suits you to remind yourself it doesn’t need to be January 1 for you to kick start your life.

Be good to yourself & cheers to the most magical 2018!

Thank you for being kind

It was early morning and I was leaving my apartment for the day, exiting down the back, outdoor stairwell of my building. When I reached the gate at the bottom, a woman, a fellow tenant, was on her way inside after taking her dog out for a morning walk. We met facing each other on opposite sides of the gate. We both moved away from the door simultaneously as if to allow the other to pass first and then both stepped forward to walk through when we realized the other would wait for us…I’m sure you’ve done this dance before with another stranger –  “After you.” “No, please, after you.” You get the picture.

We chuckled at our mirrored movements. I went through the gate first and exchanged simple pleasantries with the lady – said good morning, remarked on the beautiful, sunny day ahead, petted her dog, wished her a good day and went along my way.

As I’m walking through the back parking lot toward the blue line station, I hear the woman shout after me, somewhat timidly yet sincerely:

“Thank you for being kind to me!”

My footsteps slowed and I glanced back over my shoulder to ensure she was speaking to me. Sure enough, she was looking directly at me and waving. Caught off guard, I paused for a moment before waving back and shouting “Of course!”

I was baffled. She thanked me for being kind? It was simply small talk…

Our whole interaction lasted probably less than three minutes. To me, it wasn’t a big deal, to me it was second nature. But this brief, simple, friendly conversation obviously made an impact. Her response reminded me that for some, perhaps many, common courtesies and kindness are a rare occurrence.

As I recall this particular morning, I realize this isn’t the first time someone thanked me for being kind. It’s actually happened quite a few times before. Often the circumstances are generally the same in the sense that there’s nothing exceptional about the scenario or the act of kindness. The giver of the kindness mentally chalks it up to “Well, it’s what anyone else would have done.” But in today’s world I feel that statement is tested constantly. Especially when you consider how recipients of kindness react, like the lady in my building. There’s something about the way these individuals express their gratitude for the kindness they’re shown that stops you in your tracks. Something in the expression on their face and the tone of their voice that conveys that kindness is not extended to them often.

I wish I were writing with the knowledge that kindness is extended to everyone, without question and without hesitation, and although I’m an optimist I’m certainly not oblivious. I understand that kindness is currently not as prevalent of a force in our world as it ought. It doesn’t take a genius to deduct that we’ve lost something along the way. While I acknowledge that truth and accept it for what it currently is, I also believe that what’s lost can be found. I believe that kindness can make a comeback. Perhaps more importantly, it needs to make a comeback.

I know, I’m sounding a bit like a hippie, and no, I’m not asking for everyone to join hands and sing “Kumbaya.” That’s way too cheesy, even for me.

But what I am asking, better yet challenging you readers to do is to offer just a bit more kindness to those around you. It doesn’t need to be grand gestures, sometimes less can definitely mean more.

So.

I challenge you to glance up from your ever-so-captivating phone as you walk down the street and say “Hello” when you pass another person. I challenge you to say “Pardon me” when navigating your way through a crowd. I challenge you to truly listen when someone speaks to you. I challenge you to say “Hi, how are you?” and mean it; be invested in hearing the response. I challenge you to say “thank you” to your bus driver. I challenge you to help a mother lift her baby stroller over a curb or stair. I challenge you to hold the door. I challenge you to leave the closer parking space for another driver. I challenge you to send a thank you note. I challenge you to introduce yourself to your new neighbor…

I challenge you to allow your kindness to make an impact on someone else.

You never know, you may be the only glimmer of kindness someone sees all day.

 

Thank you for being kind.

 

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Ghandi

 

 

 

 

You are Worthy of the Stage Time

Earlier this year I had the privilege of auditioning for a show produced by a professional ensemble I’ve admired for years. This ensemble performs at the community college I attended and I watched many of their performances while I was a drama student there. Part of our drama curriculum was to study this ensemble and its performances. As a result, I became familiar with the troupe members and the other incredible credits they had attached to their names. I marveled at the caliber of each production, from both a technical perspective and a performer’s.

Holding them in as high a regard as I do, you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to audition for one of their upcoming productions. And you can probably imagine how that excitement grew when I was offered a role (full disclosure: I squealed like a little kid when they find out they’re going to Disneyland and then proceeded to dance around my living room for a solid 15 minutes).

Despite all my enthusiasm, I began to doubt myself and started to question everything about my casting and my performance ability. Before this production, it had been three years since I performed onstage and worked with other actors, aside from the little work you do with other performers in an audition room. Granted I was still working within the arts over the past three years, but to say I was feeling a bit rusty as a performer is a bit of an understatement.

I was pretty quiet and tense during those first few rehearsals, still getting my bearings and trying desperately not to mess up. In spite of my greatest efforts to conceal any nervousness and self-consciousness I felt, my skittish behavior began to translate into my acting…until the director gave me a note about it during rehearsal. Stopping me mid-scene he said,

“Becca, slow down your exits. You keep rushing your exits like you’re not worthy of the stage time. Take the stage time, it’s yours.”

Although I know it was a simple note from director to actor, those words continued to tumble through my mind throughout the whole production process. I had deemed myself unworthy of the opportunity; I was depriving myself of what I had earned. I was placing way too much pressure on myself and psyching myself out in every way imaginable. As I reflected on this exchange I couldn’t help but wonder how often do we all do this to ourselves? How often do we take ourselves out of the game before giving ourselves a chance to play because of our self-doubts and insecurities? And furthermore, how much more would we accomplish if we didn’t think this way?

One of the many reasons I love acting is that despite impersonating another character and living in a whole other world and story, I make so many discoveries about myself. Kind of ironic, isn’t it? When I realized what I was doing in rehearsal, I began to attack any thoughts of self-doubt the instant they popped into my brain. I used my director’s words to create one of my favorite personal mantras: “You are worthy of the stage time,” which I still use today, on and off stage. With those words in my head, my performing became so much better (at least I feel like it did). I began to open up more onstage and offstage. I began to make stronger choices for my character, connected more with my castmates and simply allowed myself to play, explore and grow in this opportunity instead of mentally hindering myself.

While this show closed months ago, those words continue to float through my mind to this day. If you earned something, TAKE IT. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Embrace it, celebrate it, learn from it. Stop depriving yourself of the spotlight when you’ve earned it! I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Certain circumstances may challenge us more than others, but I have no doubt that every single opportunity happens for a reason. Often when we push past the times we don’t feel entirely confident or prepared or simply ENOUGH we end up surprising ourselves and discover we already have exactly what we need within us to make the task ahead of us a success.

So this is your friendly reminder to banish any thoughts of unworthiness that may be rolling through your mind. Stop feeding the self-doubt. You are ready and more than enough for the next great opportunity coming your way. It’s time to show the world what you’ve got! And take it from me when I say: You are worthy of the stage time.

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A Year in Review

Well, I have now officially exceeded my quarter-century mark. Ideally, I would have published this on my birthday, but life was moving just too fast at the time to make that possible. Hence the year in review post a month after the fact. Better late than never!

What a pivotal age 25 was for me. Filled with innumerable insights, opportunities and breakthroughs, it was truly a year I will never forget. It was a year that challenged me and changed me in the best ways. It was the year I decided to take charge and take total ownership of my life. A brief recap for those who are new to my blog (welcome! Thanks for stopping by!) and a refresh for those who’ve been with me from the beginning (thank you! I appreciate you so very much.): the day before my 25th birthday I left my full-time job at a performing arts center to focus my efforts on making my dream of becoming an actor & model a reality. I left steady employment in pursuit of an essentially unknown future. I had no idea where this change would take me and whether it would yield great success or total failure. But I had to give myself the chance, and that became the driving force behind my decision. I envisioned a different life for myself and I decided to march confidently in the direction of my dreams. (If you’re interested in reading the post that started it all, click here)

Now, one year later, I’m sitting in a completely different place (quite literally actually…more on that later) taking in the past year. All the ups and downs, the unknowns that became knowns and the new experiences which led me to where I am today. I believe reflection is important, so let’s review, shall we?

One year ago, I sent out my headshot and resume to countless agencies hoping and praying that one would represent me. The night before my last day of work, one agent decided to rep me (just in the nick of time!). Now I have three lovely agents vouching for me across a variety of areas within the entertainment industry. They work incredibly hard and I’m so grateful for all their efforts.

One year ago, I’d never been booked for a photoshoot and my modeling experience was extremely limited (read: I’d never modeled before. Ever. Never even took a class.). Now my photo has been spotted (#SpotTheRedhead) on products in Target and Buy Buy Baby and I have had the privilege of working with a number of outstanding clients. I’m grateful that I have the ability to say that photoshoots are a regular occurrence for me and my comfort posing in front of the camera has grown exponentially over the past year.

One year ago, I never knew that tradeshow modeling existed, let alone had its own place in the entertainment industry (there are models who do this full time. Interesting, huh?). Now I’m well versed in tradeshows, am affiliated with an agency that represents me solely for tradeshows, and have been fortunate enough to work at five tradeshows over the past year.

One year ago, the farthest I’d traveled for a gig or audition was only to a neighboring town. Now I have the experience of modeling at a tradeshow in Los Angeles. The first time I’d traveled out of state for a gig, which was one of my goals for 2017!

One year ago, I was wondering if I’d ever get back on stage. At the time it had been nearly three years since my last, live theatrical performance. My job placed me behind the scenes as stage manager for their youth theatre productions and although I was still involved in theatre, my performance skills became rusty. I was missing performing more than I can possibly convey. Thankfully earlier this year a director took a chance on me and cast me in a hilarious and incredibly fun show with one of the best casts around. The experience is one I will treasure forever.

One year ago, I was living in my parents’ house. My parents’ graciousness made this career change possible. Of course I wanted my own space, and my parents wanted their own space, but allowing me to stay there rent free offered me a chance to save my precious pennies and provided me with the opportunity to leap when I was ready and when the perfect apartment became available. Now I’m writing this post in my very own, charming vintage studio apartment. Funny story about this, at the beginning of the year, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to move into an apartment of my own by June. I began searching in January and by April I was tired of constantly refreshing Zillow, Craigslist and two Facebook housing groups to no avail. It simply seemed that what I wanted wasn’t available and wouldn’t be available for quite some time. So I stopped searching and mentally adjusted my goal to say I would move in September. However, in a flurry of events, the perfect apartment found me just before June 1, following the resolution I wrote at the beginning of the year. Isn’t the power in writing things down fascinating?

Perhaps most important to note, over the past year I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with so many wonderful, kind and generous people who support me and inspire me in countless ways. I’ve built new bridges and strengthened existing bridges and continue to be filled with immense gratitude for those around me. Truthfully this past year would not have been possible without the encouragement from my family and friends. I’m surely the luckiest gal around to be surrounded by so many spectacular souls and I marvel at how the people I know and have met shaped my life this past year.

This is not intended to be a post where I flaunt my achievements of the past year. This self-reflection is intended to demonstrate the difference one year makes. It’s a small difference, and it’s nowhere near my end goal, but I am farther than I was before. A year ago I stared a daunting, seemingly impossible task in the face and somehow mustered up the energy to attempt to conquer it, one day at a time. Every single day built upon the last, propelling me forward. Even on the days where I felt stuck and hopeless I urged myself to look back at what I have achieved and reminded myself of one of my favorite quotes,

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I will continue to reach farther, to build upon what I started a year ago, what I’ve been building upon my whole life. I’m still giving myself this chance, still chasing the dream, but I’m celebrating the fact that I’m gaining ground. Slowly but surely, I’m gaining ground, which may be one of the most powerful motivators around.

Even though I’m technically beyond a quarter century now, I still want this blog to be a part of my journey. This outlet holds its own special role in my quest and I admit there were plenty of times where this blog helped me maintain my sanity. Therefore, allow me to introduce you to “Quarter Century & Beyond,” a revised title to this blog so I may continue to chronicle this marvelous adventure as I add to the foundation I spent the past year establishing.

As I set out on another year of reaching farther and aiming higher, allow me to remind you, dear reader, that if you’re not quite where you want to be, trust me, you’re farther than you think. You’re farther than you were a year ago, a month ago, a week ago, even one hour ago. You have no idea how close you may be to your next breakthrough, your next great milestone. The important part is just to keep going. You did not come this far to only come this far. Stay true the course and trust the process while holding your vision front and center. Keep reaching beyond and you’ll make it.