90 Days to Disappointing Glory

Over the past 90 days, I embarked on a little self challenge. I did an acting self tape every day. Like, every day.

My goals were plentiful, but the main focus was improving my self tape skills and making it something that I just do easily and without questions. There was also a technique for self tapes that I learned not long ago that I wanted to keep sharp (especially because I wasn’t going to be in classes for a bit).

I had a ton of travel on my schedule. I had plenty of other things on my plate. But I did it. I did a self tape every day. For 90 damn days.

Yet, the title of this post as the word “disappointing” in it. Why?

Well, my friends, that’s because my quiet goal was actually 108 self tapes every day. It’s a weird number, but any of you yogis out there know that 108 is a magical number of transformation. I quietly told myself 90 would be amazing. But I figured by the time I got to 90, I’d be able to just keep plowing through to get to that strange and wonderful 108.

That wasn’t the case.

Instead, I found I was often phoning in the self tapes. Sometimes, it was by necessity. I would be traveling and simply didn’t have ten minutes to set aside to get on tape. There were other times my travel plans went awry and I thought I’d have time and I didn’t. I was in about 20 states on the east and west coast and plenty in between (some multiple times) over the course of these 90 days. So, for me, the fact that I could keep up the commitment to putting myself on tape every day no matter what was totally worth it.

But by the end, I was drained. I was physically exhausted and creatively pretty numb. I still kept up my self tapes but I was phoning it in. The last self tape was me doing one line from a movie (a famous line, to be fair). I tried to give it my own spin. I was simultaneously rewriting a feature script I’ve been toying with for years that I finally have the motivation to redo. So, again to be fair, I wasn’t doing nothing. I just wasn’t focused on the tapes.

And when that magical 90 hit, something in me said “We’re done.” Not that I won’t do more tapes, I actually have made some promises to writers that tapes are coming (and if those writers are reading this, they’re coming!). And I really enjoyed the exercise and, for the few real self tape auditions I did get sprinkled in there, it certainly made it easy since I was already in the groove.

But part of me feels like I failed. I set out for a certain number and I didn’t do it. This is a habit I have of setting myself up for something pretty intense and then often petering out just before the finish line. That’s why and where the “disappointed” comes from.

I let myself wallow in this for about a day. And then I looked at the body of work I had accomplished and listened to my own instinct which is begging me to spend more time focusing on some other projects, and I accepted it. Though these tapes didn’t take a ton of time, I wasn’t devoting the type of energy in the end I needed to devote for them to have any benefit. But I was going through the motions, which is something I’m not a fan of.

On Monday (day 91), I took a long look at myself in the mirror and asked if we were doing this. I knew the challenged of the week ahead and the focus that has been begging for me to put it in other places. I know this weekend I’d be heading off to celebrate my husband (who helped me do these self tapes no matter what his chaotic schedule and despite the fact that he is not – at all – an actor). He’s celebrating a major career goal and the last thing I want to do is ask him to pause time from his own celebrations to do my thing for a minute. We’ve done a lot of my thing over the past three months. We can take three days and do his.

There’s an ambitious part of me that’s angry I didn’t finish those last 18 days. And the funniest part is, a lot of my actor friends are beginning their own self tape challenge in May. So it’d be a great time to get motivated by other likeminded people do to something like this and follow through.

But I’m on my own journey. And I’m learning from every major accomplishment, minor victory, and overly ambitious disappointment. I appreciate things most when I actually focus and follow through. And sometimes that means pulling focus from one thing to have energy to focus on another, rather than trying to half-ass a bunch of things simply because I said I would.

90 days of self tapes, especially given my atypical travel schedule, is something to celebrate. Other people’s challenges and journeys are their own. I can let them inspire me and need not worry about missing out on them. In the interest of balance as a human and creative person, it’s okay to tap out now and still revel in the glory rather than berate myself for the misses.

 

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Fake it to Make it

fake tanI’ve learned something this past year. It’s been a difficult lesson, but I’ve learned it daggumit.

It’s simply this: Sometimes you need to pretend that you already are what you want to become in order to convince yourself and others that you are what you believe you can become.

In other words- fake it til you make it.

Yes, it’s simple. Yes, tons of people have already written about it and talked about it. No, I’m not a revolutionary for coming up with it. But if you have any shred of midwestern humility in you, you know how difficult this can actually be.

Because you don’t want to become full of yourself. You don’t want to be ego-centric. You don’t want to lose sight of your foundation and your friends and your groundings and the reality of the situation around you.

But you do want to allow yourself to own and be proud of what you are and what you believe you can accomplish. And that, sometimes, require becoming a person you are not comfortable admitting you are.

It’s scary to push yourself beyond what you believed to be your limits. It’s scary to admit that you’re putting yourself out on the line. It’s scary to throw yourself in front of people and say “This is me! I believe in me!” People will try and tear you down. All the people on the sidelines who are too scared to become themselves will shift their attention from their own fears and put them onto you and try and tell you you’re not good enough or you can’t do what you believe you can.

But they’re wrong. You can do anything you believe you can do. And if you pretend you are something or someone and do everything in your power to convince yourself that you truly are that person, you will become it. It may take a while and will require some intense change and growing pains, but you’ll do it.

So visualize what you want to become and believe that you are that person. Live it. Breathe it. And then strap in because you’re in for a bumpy and wonderful ride.

Happy Birthday, Padre

Today is my dad’s birthday. I’ve talked about how much I adore this man and his incredible creativity and sense of humor before.

In honor of his birthday, I’ve published live one of my latest creations from one of my strangest characters. Check out “Meet Zee: Documentary of a Weirdo” live online now.

I don’t mind if you don’t get her. She’s not for everyone. And I know my dad will love it. And that’s all I care about.

Love you daddy. Now enjoy your weirdo daughter.

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.

I’m Going In

October was an odd month for me. Lots of ups and downs. Lots of being really in touch with my gut and lots of waking up in Cavecold anxiety-provoked sweats because something was off but I didn’t know what.

Maybe I sound dramatic. But that’s my style. So deal.

It really was an odd month. A bunch of strange things that kept making me feel more “off” than usual. For various reasons that I’m not going to get into here.

Needless to say, it was a bit of a wash of a month for me in terms of my positivity and productivity.

And I kinda just let myself wallow a little bit. And I don’t regret it. Because I didn’t want to push myself. As a woman who can easily push down her emotions and let good old denial take the reigns, I have to be careful to not just ignore how I’m feeling because it’s inconvenient and not productive.

I was tired and sad. So I let myself be tired and sad.

I was lucky that one of my bestest friends in the world and one of the most positive people I know happen to also be going through a weird month. I wasn’t lucky because I wished that on her by any means. But we both agreed it was kinda nice to have someone to wallow with. It made us both feel a little less alone.

But we decided November is the cut off. Once November starts, the name of the game is productivity, positivity, and proactivity. We’re going to distract ourselves into thinking we’re back on track. And maybe by doing so, we’ll actually get back on track.

I stayed in on Halloween and spent the whole time writing emails and making an ambitious schedule and setting clear goals for the rest of the year. And journaling. God I journaled the shit outta those emotions.

And I woke up November 1 excited and ready. I’m no longer going to wallow. I exorcised those demons on All Hallows Eve. It’s time to focus on me and focus on the things I love most- creativity and entertainment. I call this “going in” because I’m about to turn my focus into hyperdrive. I’m gonna be on a bleeping mission for the next several weeks. And I’m gonna accomplish a boat load.

I’m going into the cave of wonder and focus. If I’m not out by the holidays… just know I went down doing what I love.

Get Your Reps In

female2In many ways, I approach my career athletically. I grew up playing lots of different sports and learned the value in practicing daily for incremental improvements in order to become overall better during game time. I understand that every chance you get to practice even the smallest of moves, you improve your overall performance in the game. I also understand that it’s helpful to take notes of specific games and how you did in them to analyze and see what you do well and what needs improvement.

And I apply a lot of that to my career. Daily. I treat performances as game time. I do the best I can given whatever surroundings conditions I’m playing in and analyze how I did afterwards. I know it’s not the same because in the entrainment world- especially in comedy- so much is arbitrary. But you can find ways to evaluate yourself. And you can understand how different moves help overall performance.

For instance, I consider doing stand up open mics the same as doing cardio at the gym. It’s necessary and can make a big difference in your overall physique. But doing hours and hours of it doesn’t always give you the best outcome for your time investment. You’ll improve, of course, but it’ll be incremental. And I consider writing like lifting weights. The more time I spend writing- whether it’s these blog posts, screenplays, short films, sketches, stand up jokes- the better I become as a comedic brain. In the best case scenario, in a good workout, you can get in both your weight lifting and your cardio sessions. But if you only choose one, you can just choose based on the immediate goals ahead.

Lately, for me, I’ve been lifting more weights and doing more writing. As a result, I’ve sculpted my body more effectively and created a ton more opportunities for performances that feature my strengths and sensibilities I wouldn’t otherwise have. And I’ve been happy with the results on both ends.

But I’m of course itching to find time to get that cardio back in my routine. I like to get those reps in on the mics to stay fresh and connected to the community. Even just one mic a week (or a couple cardio per week) and I can keep from getting too rusty.

So gotta keep the performance and practice routines balanced. Otherwise you get fat and not funny. And that’s just an odd combination.

I don’t mean it. I just needed a way to quickly end this post because things were getting too real. 

Fit for Film

averageI’m shooting a short Western this weekend. I’m very very very very very very very very very very very very very very very (deep breath) very very very very very very very very veeeeeery excited about.

There are gonna be stunts and horses and gunfights and shenanigans. I’m stoked.

I’ve been pushing myself to get in great shape for it so I have the endurance to keep my energy all the way up all weekend long and have the body strength to make my character even more badass and awesome.

Because I don’t want anything about this project to be average. Myself included.

So push it.

I apologize for the use of this cheesy Fitspiration here. It’s too perfect for my current mindset not to use it.

Make-a-the-sexy

russianI was at the gym the other day focusing on my legs. Some people call it “leg day.” Most people who use talk like that, though I can only stand for short periods of time so I refuse to call it leg day.

So I was at the gym for leg day, and these two older women came up to use the leg machines near me. They were tentative about using the machines, but I didn’t pay much attention to them. I was half-way through leg day. And dude, brah, listen, leg day is like real tough, ya know?

At one point, I was isolating my hams… hold on, let me take a giant chug of this Muscle Milk before I continue my story. Anyway, I was on a machine to work my hamstrings and the two women seemed to both be quietly looking at me. I was rockin’ out so hard to some serious heavy metal- you know, gettin’ in my zone, tryna get that PUMP- I didn’t notice at first. Finally, I took out my headphones to see if they had a question or whatever.

The one next to me asked me how to use the machine. I adjusted it for her, told her how to use it and we experimented on how much weight to use. If it were me, like, you know, obvs I go HARD, but I that’s cuz I’m like a beast, brah.

I showed her how to use a few machines around us including the one I was on. She looked at me as I was showing her and said, “Oh, you make-a-the-sexy” and pointed to my rear-end.

I was like chyeaaaahhhh, took a swig of whey protein isolate, and got right back to leg day.

Chyeaaaah brah. Makin’ the sexy.

And now I hate myself.

 

Land of Pure Imagination

willywonkathechocolatefactoryLast weekend I went to the San Diego Comic Convention. It’s the largest comic convention in the world. It’s overwhelming and ridiculously crowded and so much fun.
I had a delightful time. Not only because it was delightful to see so many of my imaginary friends from comics and books and TV and movies come to life in front of me, but mostly because it was one huge celebration of human imagination.

And I’m an big fan of the imagination.

I have a highly active imagination. I love to play make believe and dress up and create bizarro characters who exist in their own worlds (which I also create). I’m obsessed with the imagination. I became obsessed with improv during and after college because I couldn’t believe people would come watch you play in a world you’re creating on the spot where anything is possible. I nearly had a melt down the first time I did the Universal Studios tram tour because they take you into different worlds of movies and show you how people use their imagination to bring to life imaginary stories that then stimulate other people’s imagination. I’m creating a career based on living my life in the make-believe. I love people who play along and who embrace their imagination. And Comic Con was full of those people. And I loved them for it.

Also there was a lot of free beer. So that was pretty cool too.

Data Diet

dataI’m going to brag for a moment. Please forgive me.

This past weekend I went to San Diego Comic Convention. And it was wonderful. And overwhelming. And I ate terrible foods and drank too much beer and had a fabulous time with friends old and new.

But one of the highlights of my trip was meeting a childhood hero of mine, Brent Spiner aka Data from Star Trek Next Generation. He was at a robotics party I went to. There was a cover charge for the party. I didn’t want to pay it. But I saw he would be there, so of course I forked it up.

And it was worth every penny.

He was kind and charming and took the time to really talk to every person who waited to see him. He didn’t just make it a photo opportunity, he made it a chance to get to know you and find out who you were. It was friggin’ delightful.

He gave me some advice. A few things, really. Most of them I’ll keep to myself because I think that’s ok to do sometimes. But he did offer me one bit of advice when it comes to being a comedic actress. He said get yourself in the best shape possible to give yourself every advantage in this career as possible. His point was essentially, if you already have a lot of things going for you (which he said I did… omg giggle giggle giggle!), it will do nothing but help you if you can be as in shape as possible. It’ll open up even more opportunities. (My friend joked with me later that “Data called you fat,” which I can understand how it may sound when I relay the story but I know that’s not at all what he meant. Or if it was, I was too many beers in to have taken it that way.)

The thing is- I completely agree with him. I talk about it sometimes in my posts. I’m in an industry that cares what you look like, so why not give yourself every advantage? Because I produce my own work, I can avoid some of the rigorous judgement. But the truth of the matter is, I want to create a career where I’m constantly producing work that people see. Which means people will see me in that work. So people will be looking at me. And I want to give them the best product possible. And the bottom line is that product should mean getting in and maintaining the best shape I possibly can.

So I told Data… I mean Brent… that I would get in great shape (right after Comic Con… because I was drinking a heavy stout beer during our chat). And I tell him about it after I did so. And he said he couldn’t wait to hear about my progress. And I giggled uncontrollably. And then we took a picture.

And I walked away promising myself I’m going on a diet starting Monday (today). And I’m calling it the Data Diet. And it might just be the most motivated I’ve ever been to get in shape in my entire life.

Thank you, Brent. Thank you, Data. Thank you, San Diego Comic Con.

I’ll keep you updated.