Just Asking

Sometimes I’m able to pull off cool stuff (with the help of friends, of course). Over the years, I’ve been consistently surprised at the number of people who are shocked by whatever shenanigans I’m able to put together. mother may i

But I live by a very simple policy that often allows me cool opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise be privy to. That policy is this: Just Ask.

Years ago, even though I had already implemented this policy in many different projects, I was working on something important to me. And I was nervous about inviting important people to see my important project. I felt like maybe they were out of my league and maybe I’d be overstepping boundaries by inviting them. I’m not big on “frontting” as the kiddos say, which sometimes means I don’t invite people to things they’d be more than happy to come to.

But a very close friend at the time put a very clear insight on why it’s important to “just ask.” He said, “The worst that could happen is that you ask and they say ‘No.’ But if you don’t ask, they’re already saying ‘No.’ And there’s a chance, when you do ask, that they might actually say ‘Yes.’ So you really can’t lose.”

Articulating this so specifically helped me solidify how important that policy really is in my life. Though I had an intuitive feeling for that idea, I can remind myself of that simple idea whenever I feel myself hesitating. By not asking, the answer is already “No.” So I might as well take a chance that I’ll hear a “Yes” and ask.

That’s probably why I hear more Yes-es than the average bear. I do a whole lot more asking.

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Don’t Take It Personally

I’ve got some pretty thick skin. It’s pale, that’s for sure. But it’s also thick1300559_1383703671938_full.

I have to. I’m in the entertainment business.

I know from experience on all sorts of ends of the creative process that there are a thousand considerations that go into any decision. I know that, at the end of the day, this is a business and business decisions are made that have little to do with my personality.

So I’ve learned to take very few things personally. And I think it’s a valuable approach to most things in life.

Because here’s the thing- that guy who was an asshole to you on your drive over here? Odds are he’s just having a bad day for reasons that have nothing to do with you, you just happened to be around when he needed someone to yell at. That seems much more likely than the idea that he found out who you were, decided he didn’t like you, and has been studying you for months to know the exactly moment he could meet up with you in traffic and be an asshole to you because you personally deserve it.

Unless someone I know, love, and respect looks me in the eyes and says, “I’m going to say something to you about you personally that I hope you seriously consider…” I pretty much assume most decisions and interactions with people I have throughout the day aren’t worth taking personally.

As silly as this sounds, too, I apply this to both good and bad interactions. One of my favorite stories is about a boy and his horse (abridged version #6 here on this juicy list). I take that approach to getting too many emotions involved with people- positive or negative. People I’ve just met, even if I’ve had a great interaction with them, don’t really know me. So even if we’ve had a great interaction, I don’t really take it personally. I don’t go home thinking I’m so spectacular or amazing. I enjoy the positive energy shared, am grateful for it, and move along without investment in an outcome. For all I know, that person could only be being so kind to me because they want me to act in a certain way in the future that I may or may not comply with. and then they’ll get angry and turn on me. And, if I’ve taken their positivity towards me personally, I have to take their negativity as a personal attack, too. When the truth is, they have certain wants and needs that I don’t meet. And that’s a-ok. And it has nothing to do with me.

So let’s all just relax a little and take most things that happen less personally, eh? I know it’s fun to play the victim, but odds are whatever happened to you probably had nothing to do with you.

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.

Gymversations

Shut up.talking-cell-phone-bench-press-set

Sorry. Not you.

Unless you were  the asshole on his phone the entire time he was lifting last week. If that’s the case, SHUT UP.

Allow me to explain my rudeness (which is brought about by your rudeness).

I get it. I do. You’re super busy and important. You have many leather-bound books and your apartment smells of rich mahogany. And you quote movies to make people laugh because you probably don’t have a lot of original jokes of your own. I get it. And I get you.

But I don’t want to hear you. I’ve got my headphones in. Do you see? Of course you don’t. You’re not looking at me. You’re staring at yourself talking on the phone in the mirror and you’re enjoying what you see. Meanwhile, the rest of us are wondering if you’re going to be giving up that coveted flat bench anytime soon so we can actually use it.

But you don’t care. You’ve gotta talk to your buddy about that chick you got digits from last night. You haven’t called yet. You’re playing it cool. Playing the game. As a woman myself I’ll be surprised if those digits were actually real. But maybe you knew that. Maybe you called immediately when you got home to tell her goodnight and realized they weren’t real. And your feelings were hurt. And you cuddled up with your blankie and watched The New Girl to feel better. But you don’t want your bro to know that. So you’re gonna pretend like you didn’t call. And that you’re totally the man. And that you’re amazing.

I hear you.

No. I mean I physically hear you.

And you’re annoying. And you’re saying nothing of import. And this conversation can wait. So get off the phone and get back to that bench press. Or I, the only chick in this weight room, will throw you off of it. And that’ll be embarrassing for you. And your bro on the phone. And no amount of New Girl will be able to laugh it away.

So hang up, shut up, and please get back to lifting.

I thank you.

Constantly Recommit

commitCan I be honest with you, internet? Can I? What’s that? You’re not going to respond because you’re an abstract concept and not an actual human being? I’m making up this whole conversation in my head right now?

Ok, cool. I’ll be honest then since I know I can trust you.

I’ve been feeling a little lazy lately.

Granted, I know that my productivity levels can fluctuate greatly. I know that there are times I go through intense period of productivity. I know, too, that there are times in my life when I have the schedule and energy to really output a lot of material and other times when I just don’t have that luxury. I know that and I really do embrace it.

But I think- for various reasons- for the past month or so I’ve slowed down a bit. I’ve slowed down on getting to open mics. I’ve slowed down on my consistent writing. I’ve slowed down on spending every waking non-money-making-hour on producing creative content. Sometimes, I hang out with people I enjoy spending time with. Sometimes, I watch comedy I want to see on Netflix. Sometimes, when I’m really feeling self-indulgent, I go to the grocery store like a normal adult human being.

And while all this is fine and dandy (and what some people might call “healthy”), I realized laziness and resistance are insidious. Before you know it, you’ve slowed down or stopped completely. And while I’ve been fortunate enough to be riding a wave of momentum from my previous hardcore energy and productivity periods- so my “slowing down” hasn’t been as obvious, I need to be careful. I need to be careful I don’t become complacent. I need to make sure I’m constantly growing and challenging myself. It’s fine to continue to keep certain elements of balance that bring calmness and happiness in my life- but I need to be protective of my momentum.

I was reading a few books lately of success and productivity thanks to a close friend. What I realized in reading those is that you need to constantly recommit to whatever’s important to you. You can enjoy the fruits and labors of previous work, but you need to always be present and goal-oriented about the things that are important to you to keep them healthy. Whether that’s a relationship, a career goal, a fitness goal- whatever. You can’t just assume that you’re going to keep something going at the level and pace it was because it’s always gone at that level and pace. You need to constantly reevaluate and recommit to make sure you’re responding to the world around you and to your own gut feelings.

For me, at this period of my life, that means recommitting to some goals I have. Sure, it’s not yet New Years and this is an odd time of year to make yourself goals and really push it out since the usual momentum for all that shiz starts at the beginning of the year. But it makes no sense to wait just for waiting sake. That’s just letting laziness and resistance win. So I’ve recommitted. I’ve made specific goals for the rest of the year and am working on implementing them. I will keep pushing and not letting myself be satisfied or complacent.

I suggest you do the same.

Vacay

IIMG_6291 am good at going. I am good at doing. I am good at moving.

I am not very good at stopping.

But I recently was fortunate enough to get to stop for a while.

Through a series of fortunate circumstances, I snagged a four night vacation in Hawaii.

Lucky. I know. Believe me… I know.

I was of course looking forward to some time in paradise. But I wasn’t sure what I was really going to do with myself. I wasn’t going on my own so it’s not like I could do what I normally do when left alone and create a series of make-believe characters that converse with each other. I couldn’t even really take too much time to write or work on any of the pending projects I’ve got coming up because I wanted to actually enjoy the beauty around me.

So I had to stop. For a period of time.

I had to not make plans. Not contact people. Stay off my phone as much as possible. And just enjoy the scenery around me.

And I’ll be honest, it was extremely refreshing. I read two books. Two! I never take the time to even finish one because I only have a few minutes here and there in my day. But I had time to read two!

I went for hikes. I woke up energized with the sun and watched it rise over the ocean from my incredible balcony view. I saw rainbows and went swimming in the refreshing water. I took deep breaths and enjoyed myself in the moment.

And I came back totally ready to work again. But this time, with a new revitalized perspective. I’ve relaxed because the relaxation of the vacation and the island seeped into my core.

I love traveling. I haven’t traveled (for pleasure) much lately. And this was a good reminder that taking a few days off make a huge different in my happiness and productivity levels. So even though I’m not always good at stopping and it can take me a bit to build back up the momentum I had before stopping… I think once in a while it’s worth it.

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. 

Watch Your Words

I wrote this article called “6 Verbal Changes that can change your mood” for the awesome online magazine Ms. In the Biz.

Click on the link above to check it out and let me know what you think.

Learning by Doing

I don’t know what I’m doing. sexy face

This revelation is not shocking to anyone who I’ve hung out with for more than five minutes.

The picture in this post I hope confirms that.

I generally have no idea what I’m doing anywhere ever.

But here’s what I do know… I learn by doing. I do something. I do anything. I’m a do-er.

I don’t mind being wrong. I don’t mind asking questions. I don’t mind screwing up. I don’t mind falling flat on my face.  In fact, as strange as it sounds, I like to be out of my comfort zone. I like to be the least knowledgeable one in the room. I like starting something with blind faith that I’ll learn how to finish it as I go.  I do my absolute best to present a project that I’m proud of knowing that it will be imperfect. I do my best to make it as perfect as I can with what I have in the moment, then I let it loose.

It’s the same with these posts and this blog. I write it. I think about it. I reflect. Then I just do. I put it out there and see what happens.

One of my improv teachers used to emphasize just finding things in your environment and doing something with them immediately, then learning what it means to the scene later. You don’t need to know the answer in the beginning.  Just do something  and you’ll eventually figure out why you’re doing it.

I’m a firm believer that’s the only way to really learn something anyway. Any lesson I’ve ever truly learned has come through experience. You can tell me all you want not to do something, but I’m probably going to do what I want to do anyway. Because when I experience my own shortcomings or my own failures, I feel them fully. They become a part of my own life that I can grow upon. They’re new tools and stories I have that I can use to make different decisions in the future.

Like with the web series I’m in post-production for right now. I wrote it not knowing how it would get produced. Somehow, we found the perfect director who had access to an amazing and talented team of people willing to be a part of the project. My partner and I did a crowd-sourcing fundraising campaign not knowing how those work. We raised enough to make something a reality. We didn’t know how, but we’d make it work. We had hectic schedules and didn’t know how we would coordinate, but we just did it. I’d never been a “producer” before- making sure the locations were available and appropriate, coordinating people, making sure everyone was fed while still knowing my lines and watching all continuity.  I had no idea how much planning and coordination went into every single shot we did, but I learned.  I didn’t know how we would edit it. But we found someone perfect. I have no idea what it means to be in post-production, but I’m excited to learn. Anything I don’t understand how, I know I can learn bit by bit. I admit that I don’t know how to do something. And by admitting it, I’m totally open to learning.

It’s good to plan. And it’s good to prepare. But I think people can get so wrapped up in doing something “right” that they never actually do anything.  And if I’ve learned anything in my short time on this earth, it’s that the actual doing- even though that means often failing- is the most important (and most fun) part of our existence.

How do I know this? From a whole lot of doing.

So just do it.

This post has been sponsored by Nike.*

*This is completely untrue but I’m totally open to getting money from you, Nike, if you’ve got any to spare.**

**I know you do. So give me money. Just do it.

 

 

Episode 53: Friendship – Show Notes

old cowboy

In this episode of Femoir: The Podcast, I start with a story about my grandpa saying, “I’m particular about my company.” From all the pictures I’ve seen, he looked a lot like this guy.

I talked about how I didn’t experience a lot of cliques in the schools I went to while growing up. Those schools were Sycamore School and BJPS, for anyone interested.

I also talk about how grateful I am to some of the friends in my life. For anyone who missed it, here are some of the articles I’ve written recently:

My Bop, Love Letter, Making Dreams Come True, Lucky Lady

I also referenced my web series I’m filming that so many friends are involved with. It’s called The Other Client List. Check it out!

Don’t forget to subscribe for free on iTunes!