Fires and Resilience

Welcome, 2019. I’m happy to see you. I always love welcoming the new year. Just like I love celebrating birthdays. As my grandpa always said, it sure beats the alternative.

I’m not going to place any judgments on 2018. It was what it was. There were all sorts of beautiful and horrifying things happening simultaneously because that’s life and it’s full of dramatic dichotomies that we have to constantly navigate.

As a resident of Southern California, 2018 sure did get me thinking a lot about fires. Mostly because there were so many incredibly destructive fires that ravaged the region leaving ashes, confusion, and sadness in their wake.

Lives and homes were lost. There’s no getting those back. And there’s no part of me that wants to at all mitigate the genuine loss so many people affected by them felt. And we, as a global community, also felt through some of our precious natural resources being forever changed.

As the last fire of the year, the Woolsey Fire, overtook some favorite ares of my beloved Malibu – an area I have always adored visiting for its relaxed vibe and natural beauty. I found myself feeling what I can only imagine lots of humans felt…powerless and overwhelmed by sadness. Even though I understand fire is sometimes natural, I felt like we’ve done so much to hurt and destroy our gorgeous planet at this point that it always feels like we might be watching a natural disaster unfold that may be the turning point to keep us from having the balanced nature we need to survive as a species.

Maybe I’m being dramatic. But there’s some science to back up my notions.

But I’ve never been a dweller. I hate dwelling. You can stew for a minute if you need. You can let off steam occasionally. I don’t have issues with being in touch with your honest emotions. But I do have issues dwelling.

Rather than dwell, I started to think about what it could mean. What could I do to help and what does it mean to watch parts of the world I love burn down?

What I could do was start genuinely giving back to this planet in small and large ways. When I can, volunteer to help clean it up. Choose more green alternatives whenever possible with every purchase I make. Not only change elements of my lifestyle but change the companies that I support to make sure they have more environmentally conscious approaches to their output.

Say what you will about veganism and vegetarianism, but if the entire human population chose to do it for a single decade, we would give our earth a much needed reprieve from global warming. Then, maybe, when we reintroduce eating meat, we could do so in a more sustainable way. Nobody is asking for you to give up your lifestyle in any way – from what you eat to what you drive to what you choose to purchase or do.

It’s simply a matter of becoming aware that our planet has limited resources and maybe small decisions you make within the confines of those resources could help out your fellow humans so that we can continue to use those resources for longer without losing or ruining the ability to have them forever.

So there’s that. There’s small choices and lifestyle changes that could be made.

But even in embracing those and slowly weaving them into every day life, it doesn’t change the fact that, for at least a while longer, the earth will be mad at us and enacting a number of natural disasters as a result of our own manipulation of its resources. Maybe I shouldn’t say mad. That means that somehow we’ve angered it and it’s personifying something that, though I love referring to it as Mother Earth, it doesn’t need to have an human emotion attached. It’s simply reacting to years of human actions that have, at least so far, gone relatively unchecked. And, of course, none of this changes the fact that fires burned down people’s homes, livelihoods, and took lives.

That’s where it’s time to get a bit more philosophical about what it means. It’s easy – and easier to keep your heart stone and your emotions on an island away from everyone else – to say it means nothing. Nothing means anything and we’re all just feathers in the wind attempting to survive until our time floating around is done. But, at least for me, down that way lies madness. So I refuse to accept it.

Instead, I like to think of how to make it a positive thing. No, what happened isn’t inherently positive. And no, I don’t wish fire upon anyone so they can find the “meaning” behind it. But for fellow feathers still floating in the wind, I choose to see a beautiful symbolism behind the fires. There’s a chance to completely rebuild from the ground up. The old ways have been razed and it’s time we choose to rebuild them with a new perspective in mind.

I heard about these large trees who sprout seeds that often die because the roots of the trees they come from are too large and the forests they’d be sprouting in are too shaded from the massive trees. But if there’s a fire, those seeds not only survive, but need the fire to be planted into the ground. So the tree basically ensures its own survival from a fire.

Some brush needs fire in order for it to clear the old and grow new seedlings. Fire is natural and, at times, necessary. Knowing that, the question then become: What can we do to embrace it, learn from it, and grow into a culture that doesn’t become completely at its whim, but knows how to work with it for sustainable growth?

We get the chance not only to rebuild and to rethink, but to show resilience. Not to get all Batman on you, but we fall so that we may learn how to get back up. We’re creatures that are meant to be in movement. And movement means risk of failure and risk of falling. We’re not just risking failure when we choose to be in movement, we’re almost guaranteed it. But every time we get back up, we teach ourselves that we can. We remind ourselves that we can be strong and we can make new choices and we can learn, grow, and improve.

So, as Smokey the Bear would say, only you can prevent forest fires. Love nature and respect it. Let’s learn from our cumulative mistakes and agree to see the world for what it is – a community that is inherently interconnected with each other. Within that recognition and understanding, we may choose to help each other out by making small but meaningful decisions that will give the earth a chance to rebuild and give future generations a fighting chance of experiencing the beauty and balance that the world naturally wants to give us.

Oh, and more on bears next week…

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How to Celebrity

Ijane lynch‘m lucky enough to work in Hollywood with people at all levels of the entertainment world. I’ve learned a lot from every experience and interaction I’ve had with tons of them and learn even more from other people’s personal stories. It’s no secret I hope someday to have a level of recognition for my work and influence like many of the “higher up” people I’m lucky to interact with.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned from all the stories and interactions is to be a freakin’ awesome human being. No matter how “big” you may get.

To be humble, to be friendly, to be generous with your time and your money, to take time to chat with people on whatever set or show you’re working on,keanureeves to take time to get to know them and remember things about them, and to accept that once you’re “known” doesn’t mean you have to overlook anyone, anything, or take any of it for granted.

In fact, it’s part of your responsibility to be awesome. That’s part of the fun.

Every interaction you have will be a chance for a person to have a story about you. And because you’re part of the cultural fabric of society and are a recognized figure, people will delight in hearing these stories. You get the opportunity to make (lots of) someone’s day every time you have an interaction.

keyWhen I hear a story about an actor or public figure who went out of their way to be friendly and kind, I take note not only of how the interaction went, but also of the excitement of the person telling the story. And I always think to myself  “I want to give someone that same feeling when they walk away from something they worked on with me.”

It certainly doesn’t mean an obligation. And it certainly doesn’t mean you have to be a pushover. You can bring a level of professionalism while still being kind. And we should be clear, big-name celebrities don’t owe anybody anything.

But it is certainly an exciting opportunity.

And after having been lucky enough to see some wonderful people do it right, I know exactly what I want do to when I get the chance. I want people to walk away feeling excited and enthusiastic and like they were a real contribution to the creative endeavor’s success. Because no matter what level they contributed- fan or extra or executive producer- they are integral and important to success.

But more importantly, we’re all just humans looking for connection and happiness. So if you can give that in a meaningful way, you’ve just gotta, man.

Bringer Culture

Not long ago I did a late night show on a late weekend night. I don’t want to get too specific because, although elements of this story are directly aimed at specific people, I’ve always found being more general in your frustrations is more effective for understanding  how they can affect your own life and happiness rather than simply blaming others for being dicks.

Anyway, not long ago, I did a show on a late weekend night for a some total dicks.

I booked the show through an outside source, talked to the main guy who was running it about expectations, and then actually ran into him the week before the show at a comedy rap battle (where I annihilated onstage and he did so poorly he and his opponent were both deemed losers and their spot was given to someone actually worthy of moving on).

The show was a hard sell. It was a holiday weekend. It was in the valley. It was at 10:30 pm and it was $15 cash at the door. For a comedy show.

scam-artistThe only person I was able to “sell” that to was the man I date and that’s only because he’s like in love with me so he likes to support me even during B.S. shows. Everyone else I invited was out of town or got (understandably) too drunk to want to come to the valley at that hour and spend $15. Even my guy was pretty shocked at the price. He doesn’t mind paying to support me but I wasn’t seeing a dime of that money and I don’t like him paying more than $5 or $10 for anything. It was, after all, a no guarantee’s comedy show. For $20 we could have gone to one of the major comedy venues in town and seen some of the best comics in the world drop in.

But nevertheless, he paid it and I apologized to the booker (because I’m midwestern) for not having more people out there. He was rude and ignored me and acted like I was really being unreasonable.

There were only 4 comics including the host who showed up to perform. One was the man who booked the show, one was another guy I guess was also running the show who I’ve seen around town, another woman, then the host. That’s it. So you’d think, if we’re going to do an hour or so show, it would be pretty evenly spaced out on how much time we get.

I should note- I almost thought about not going. I didn’t want to leave my place on the westside super late to go to this because I was afraid it was going to be yet another shitty experience. I had a gut feeling these guys were dicks and wouldn’t respect me or my time at all. But I thought better of it, put down the delicious wine I was drinking, and gave up an episode of Game of Thrones to go do this show in the hopes it would be a really positive experience.

I got 4 minutes.

Four. Minutes.

I was told I’d get the light at 3 minutes and I had to get off after that.

I accidentally ran the light and did a whopping 5 minutes. But I had them laughing the whole time, so whatever.

The guy who actually booked the show went up after me. He did 20 minutes. He did not have 20 minutes worth of good material, but he stood onstage and talked for over 20 minutes. Then the next comic, the other girl, went up. She got a whopping 5 minutes, too, even though she was also really funny.

And then the last guy got up. And he talked. And talked. And talked. And talked. And eventually, after talking for a really really long time, he asked how long he’d been onstage. The host told him 38 minutes. He laughed and kept talking for at least 5 more minutes. My guy and I were tired and wanted to leave. It was way past midnight, we’d been up since 6 am working and doing lots of different stuff. So we did the “faux pas” of not “supporting the show” and left while he was still talking and the show was still technically going on. I tried to keep my face calm as I looked at the guy who booked me. I smiled and said thank you. He made eye contact yet still managed to ignore me.

I was shaking with anger as I walked to my car.

Here’s the thing. I get it. So called “bringer” shows, where you book 30 comics most of whom have never done comedy shows so they’re able to bring everyone they know who will sit through 3 hours of shitty comics interspersed with decent ones who are friends with the host while they pay exorbitant prices for tickets that their friends don’t see a dime of… suck. They suck. Also too many free shows in LA suck. A comic I’ve seen in the scene wrote a great piece about it. The best show I did recently was a tiny theater down the street from the shit one for a friend of mine who’s young and wants to book good comics and puts up shows every couple months. He brings a great, really supportive crowd who are happy to pay a little money and they divvy up the money at the end and split it amongst the comics (who all have about the same amount of time… about 8-10 minutes). That’s a great motherf***ing show. I make like $10 and feel like a king. Or a queen, depending on how much you care about royalty political correctness.

My point is this- stand up show culture in LA is weird. I don’t know exactly what the answer is. But I do know that there is a gross underlying culture perpetuated by a bunch of dicks who act like your job as an up and comer is to pay your dues to them, the so-called gatekeepers. And I also know it’s only a matter of time before we all see that these dicks won’t make it. Not because they outright lack talent, but because they’re dicks and nobody wants to work with a dick.

I certainly don’t. And as angry as I was, I’m also grateful. It was a reminder that I don’t want to waste my time with people like that in any capacity. I would have much preferred to stay at home and watch an episode of Game of Thrones with my boo while drinking cheap wine and passing out. That would have relaxed and recharged me. And I could have been more creative and happier the next day, not pissed off and tired and writing two new additions to my “NEVER WORK WITH AGAIN” list.

My friend Natasha and I have been working a lot together recently on a number of different projects. Her work ethic is part of what draws me to her. One of the things we talk about is how we only really want to create cool stuff with people we like to be around. Because that’s what it’s all about.

I did the show with dicks party because I felt obligated. I felt like the more I get onstage the better I’ll become. The more people I meet the better network I’ll have to “make it.” The more dues I pay, the more people will respect me. But I learned that night that most of that isn’t true or isn’t necessary. Everyone trajectory is different. Of course, more stage time will make you better, but sometimes you reach a point of diminishing returns. If you’re not respected as a comic (or even as a person) it won’t matter who well you do in this scenario. You’re nothing more than a person who didn’t “bring” enough people for the bookers to talk at for 45 minutes and take money from.

You don’t have to do everything. You just have to do what you love and what brings you to life. For me, that often means staying at home to write and hang out with the imaginary friends in my head. Or spending a day blogging and catching up on the events in my life. Or reading. Or getting tipsy off red wine and watching Game of Thrones on the couch with my man. These are all things that fill my well of creativity.

Feeling guilty for not providing enough audience for a bunch of dicks… does not.

So thanks, you dicks, for reminding me of what I love to do and what I no longer want to waste my time on.

Lesson here: Every dick can be a teacher.

#OCLAPremiere

ocl step n repeatI’m not great at self-congratulation.

I am great at doing the work and sharing more credit with other people, whether or not they actually helped out as much as I say they did.

Was that self-congratulatory? Many apologies if so. I was trying to be self-deprecating. That happens to be my forte.

But last week I went out of my comfort zone and celebrated the premiere of The Other Client List, the web series I created, wrote, co-produce and co-star in that took about a year and a half to make into a reality.

It’s not like I worked on it all day every day for 18 months. But I did work on it a lot. And last week, I actually took a break to celebrate that work.

To be honest, it felt a little strange. All the focus and energy that went into getting the premiere up and away could have been used towards other creative projects. I could have been at home writing the book I’ve been tinkering away at for a long time. I could have been working on my new demo reel, or my new pilot, or a new character study for another project, or outlining episodes for yet another project. I had plenty I could have been doing. But I took a night to celebrate and show people the work.

I think part of the reason I’m hesitant is lingering fear. I say lingering because, for the most part, I’m pretty good at facing my fears head on when I recognize them. But there’s still a strong part of me that gets nervous when I put myself out in the world. I was nervous that it wouldn’t be well received. I was nervous that if I took time to look nice, I’d likely fall on my face and embarrass myself. I was nervous that people would be like “She spent all that time… on this?” I’m accustomed to taking risks, putting myself out there and getting rejected. It’s harder for me to get celebrated and to allow myself to be good at something. As a perfectionist and workaholic at heart, I’m always convinced I didn’t work hard enough or overlooked so many things that could have made my product better.

But last week was good for me. I told myself, as I scoured over the finished product again and again, seeing tiny fixes I wanted to make and things about my performance that I’m unsatisfied with, that I did the best I could with what I had at the time. And that’s really all we can ever ask for.

I think too often people get held up thinking something has to be perfect. I have that same inclination. For years I kept my stand up comedy offline because no performance was every good enough or I never got footage of a completed joke. But I’m slowly learn to get over it. I’d rather have a product I’m proud of online than have a thousand projects I don’t think are good enough never see the light of day. I appreciate the perfectionism and workaholic nature because they fuel and inspire me to keep doing better than the last venture. But I also respect the fact that letting them have too much influence in my life will cause me more frustration and pain than listening to them a little then letting them go.

I’m also learning how to relax and celebrate these accomplishments. The event last week was a real joy. And I enjoyed the heck out of taking an evening to gather friends and partners from all sorts of areas in my life to watch my work. I really enjoyed letting myself just let the work stand for itself. And I enjoyed people’s laughter and support. I realized that the rest of the web series will be viewed by people online, so I won’t get to hear the laughter or listen to direct responses (for the most part). So I sat back and enjoyed it. And when people said “good job,” I didn’t self-deprecate or try to downplay things. I smiled and said “Thank you.” I made sure the people who deserved credit got it, and I took credit for what I did proudly and unapologetically.

Because I did work my ass off. I put a ton of time, energy, money, and effort into this project. And it was time to celebrate that. And I wore an awesome outfit and didn’t fall flat on my face. And it all felt pretty daggum good.

But of course I have a western to finish off now and festivals to submit to and project to develop and imaginary characters to bring to life. So now it’s back to my favorite part… the work.

If you want to binge watch The Other Client List, click here: Season 1 of The Other Client List.

It’s coming!

OCL_Chalk_Collegiate_Pictures_v2_16x9_DateThe official premiere of The Other Client List is coming so soon! There’s still so much to do for it and so much to get prepared! And for some reason, the rest of my work and creative responsibilities haven’t stopped! So there’s lots to do! And somehow still the same amount of time there normally is in a day to do it! Is this making me go crazy? I don’t know! You tell me! I can’t seem to write sentences that talk about anything of substance! I have lots of blogs waiting to be written but aren’t getting written because I keep adding to never-ending to do lists! I am also only writing in short sentences that end in exclamation points! Here is the link to the Facebook event for our premiere! https://www.facebook.com/events/649995511777370/ ! Goodbye now!

Femoir: The Podcast – Partners! Show Notes

GoT-6I’ve been watching a lot of Game of Thrones lately… so forgive the very specific partnership picture. I talk about being a lone wolf, but if you watch the show there’s a wolf in this picture so I’m counting it (nerdy laughter!).

Anyway! The latest episode of Femoir: The Podcast is live in iTunes. And it’s talking about PARTNERSHIPS!

I talk about how I’m going to vary my intro like the Simpsons, then I dive into being “particular about my company,” and talk about a famous song from Chicago about partnership. I discuss my solo show and my stand up comedy, make a reference to a delightful Chris Tucker moment, talk about how I write about partnership often, discuss Stage 32, The Other Client List (my web series), talk about Closure, and how not all partnerships can work out.

And I also discuss my upcoming Western.

So much discussed! Take a listen and subscribe for free if it please ya!

And now back to Game of Thrones for me…

Crop Top

crop topI never thought I could pull off a crop top. I mean, look at this guy. I don’t look like him!

Growing up, I was always most self-conscious about my stomach. It’s where I hold most of my weight. It’s the last thing to start toning out when I am getting in shape. I’m not shaped like a tiny slender stomached chick. I’m more athletic (when at my best) so only making major cuts and really going out of my way to work it make a difference.

I’ve gone on about this before.

But as I’ve gotten slowly more confident with my body and pushed the limits of my own shape… I’ve ventured out in my dress too. I’ve actually worn crop tops on occasion.

I feel so naughty for even admitting it! AH!

I’m from Indiana. We don’t wear crop tops there. I certainly never wore them or even considered such a dramatic clothing choice. But I’ve slowly let the land of the people who are more bold and confident with their body and clothing seep into my own thinking. I’m not saying my shirts are that short… but sometimes a little tummy can peek out. And I don’t get self-conscious. And I’m proud of that. Not because I look like a photoshopped fitness model. But because I look good. And I work on it.

But more importantly, I work constantly on being ok with me. So if that means wearing modest crop tops without embarrassment because they make me sort of feel like a rockstar, so be it. Bring on the scissors. I’ve got a tiny sliver of stomach to let peep out.

Inner Game of Ten-YES

Inner-Game-of-TennisThanks to my new subscription with Audible.com combined with the hours I spend in my car in LA traffic, I’ve become quite the avid “reader.” I get to listen to all sorts of audiobooks on subjects that interest me that I would normally never make time for.

Which is why I can happily report that I “read” “The Inner Game of Tennis” finally after it being on my to-read list for the better part of 5 years. And I had no idea what to expect. I don’t even remember what inspired me to put it on the list. But I do know that I enjoyed it. It breaks down your mind into two different selves and lets you learn how to better trust yourself… but shutting your other self up.

It’s more than that. And the focus is, obviously, through the game of tennis and through athletics. But I found it invaluable for the creative world, too. I find most lessons from athletics highly valuable in my creative career.

I’ll probably re-read it ASAP just to get it all better in my head. And because holiday traffic in LA gets almost unbearable, so it’s nice to be productive while driving.

Make It So

692fc9dd16755212_PicardMainI ran into someone famous recently. That happens in LA. Especially in Beverly Hills at swanky restaurants.

I’m usually cool about it. That’s how you gotta be out here. And I did keep my cool for the most part. But the thing is… I LOVE this man. Love. Love love love love love.

So as he got up to leave, I snuck towards the door and quietly waited to ask for a picture and say hi. Because I LOVE him and would have never forgiven myself if I didn’t at least ask. He stopped to chat with me but declined the picture which is absolutely 100% a-ok and totally understandable. He couldn’t have been sweeter about it. It was thrilling to even talk to him for a minute. He owes me nothing- especially not a picture while he’s trying to just go about his normal life.

But it did make me have  new goal. I already want to work my butt off and become a big player in the entertainment industry. BecauseI know I can. Part of me is embarrassed to admit it, let alone write about it publicly… but screw it. I want to work hard, do good work, and bring laughter and light to tons of people because I know I can.

And then one day, when I’ve done some of those things, I will get a moment to hang out with some of my idols and will get pictures with them. Maybe they’ll even want pictures with me. Who knows. But I’ll get there.

I will make it so.

 

4 Goods and Bads of Moving to LA

hollywood-sign-mulholland-highwayI wrote this article for Ms. in the Biz.

I’d say more about it, but I think it speaks for itself.

That is all.