Overthinking

I have a tendency to overthink. It’s likely the byproduct of an overactive imagination. I like to think. I like to let my mind wander and get lost in the worlds of could be’s and possibilities. It’s helpful when I really want to get the root of an issue or a problem that’s bothering me. And sometimes it can be helpful in thoroughly planning for the proper preparation of a major goal.

But it has a dark side. My overactive imagination can easily wander down dangerous dark alleys. I can often find myself certain that there’s some underlying issue to a minor problem either in myself or in a loved one. I can convince myself through overthinking that whatever excuse I’ve come up with that will keep me from doing the work I promised myself I would do is reasonable and valuable – and that I’ll certainly find time to do that work later in my schedule. I can overthink reactions and interactions and getting to action.

I overthink. A lot.

But because I’ve become aware of this trait, I’ve been able to harness it better. I can let my overthinking out to play when it comes in handy. When I’m thinking up the rules of an imaginary work I’m creating, I’ll let myself overthink. When I’m crafting a business plan for a new endeavor and want to brainstorm all the possible ways I can get myself to a new goal, I’ll let myself overthink. When I’m staring out a window on an airplane considering what I want to do with my life, I’ll let myself overthink (assuming the airplane isn’t turbulent…that’s a bad time to overthink). When I’m planning to pursue a major goal and I need to craft the foundation of a schedule that will allow for it, I’ll let myself overthink.

Part of the reason I let myself overthink is because later, when it comes time to executing all the things I’ve been thinking about, I can put my overthinking mind down and simply act. I’ll know that I already thought through all the possibilities and decided this was the best course of action. So I don’t have any more thinking to do and can devote all my time to action. Once the action is done, I can go back to the thinking and see how I feel about the action. More often than not, I’m happy I did the action and didn’t let my overthinking keep me from it.

Overthinking isn’t the same as listening to your instinct. In fact, I’ve spent much of my life trying to shut up my overthinking mind so I can get in better touch with my instinct and my intuition. I’ve spent years overthinking the “right” move rather than listening to what I wanted to do most. I’ve convinced myself multiple times that I didn’t need to do something because it didn’t make perfect sense at the time, even if I really wanted to (and visa versa). And almost every time I overthink something and don’t let my instinct have any say in the matter, I regret it.

I would say I “learn my lesson” but because I continue to do these things repeatedly, I’m not really sure I have.

The lesson I’ve really learned is that my personality and my mind enjoy tend to overthink. And once I know that, I can embrace it and watch out for it. I can start to hear the difference between simply thinking something through and overthinking myself out of something that would be good for me. Once I notice it, I can simply thank my imagination for its active work and let it take a little rest while I go ahead and do what my instinct is telling me I need to do.

This is part of the reason I meditate regularly. I appreciate guided meditations, but honestly some of my most clear moments have come with just simple music or (and often even better) silence. I’m able to let my mind just relax and know that the thoughts will pass as easily as they come. And that they’re just thoughts. The more I see them as noise, the more I can cut through to get to the more powerful instincts that will serve me better than any of the noise.

Some people don’t have an overthinking problem. I admire you. I like to be around people who just do it because they said they were going to do it, with very little judgment about the situation. I’m getting more like that, but it takes a lot of work on my end. It’s not a major shift, it’s an ongoing, small, subtle change that I’m committed to and see results of incrementally over time.

This morning while I was at the yoga sculpt class I wanted to talk myself out of going to (but didn’t), my teacher had us do a particularly difficult move at the end of a particularly difficult sequence. I hesitated and she yelled “Don’t think, just do it!” I know she wasn’t talking directly at me, but she hit the nail on the head with that direction.

To be fair, I already thought about it so I did throw my knee down for a one minute and took an extra breath. But I didn’t let myself stay down and think about it for too long before I forced myself back up to finish out the exercise.

Sometimes, it’s not about completely eradicating yourself of a certain trait or habit. That’s too much effort and asking too much of yourself. You’re setting yourself up to get frustrated, inevitably fail, and lose faith in your ability to transform in the future. Instead, as it was in this case, it’s about understanding you have a tendency to do something, recognizing it, and choosing to overcome it when it doesn’t serve the you that you want to become.

And of course when it does, let ‘er rip.

 

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Femoir the Podcast – Season 3, Episode 106: Trust Fall

I think one of the hardest parts about making changes is making space for them. I know that I am (very) guilty of not ever wanting to give anything up.

…Then I get overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted and go back to the same patterns I did before and, pretty soon, wonder why nothing every changes.

Hello again, friends.

I think one of the hardest parts about making changes is making space for them. I know that I am (very) guilty of not ever wanting to give anything up. Thanks to a lot of work, I’ve learned to be less of a hoarder of physical things. But when it comes to emotional patterns or routines that I’ve become comfortable in, I very much like to keep as much of everything as possible and just add on rather than taking way. I’m always convincing myself that I can make changes by just willing them into place and forcing myself to take on too much.

Then I get overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted and go back to the same patterns I did before and, pretty soon, wonder why nothing every changes.

We have to learn to let go. We have to learn to trust our gut when it’s asking us to let something go. We have to learn that, like in any trust fall, there’s a moment between being balanced and being caught that feels terrifying. But we have to trust that there’s something catching us after that free fall moment.

That’s what this episode is all about.

I discuss trust falls, leadership building, and how I gave up two things that were both very precious to me in order to make space for new adventures.

I also talk about relationship break ups, choosing happiness, and trusting yourself.

Plus, little Clydie makes audible cameos while chewing stuff and it’s pretty adorable, if I do say so myself.

Subscribing and rating helps the show grow. Listening keeps it going.

Thank you friends!

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.

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.

It’s the Journey

journeyForgive me in advance for the lack of details on this post. I want to convey the idea behind it without relaying every detail of my personal life. Believe it or not, I can actually be private about my personal life when I want to be (and I usually want to be).

But here’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. Just like that cheesy (but very true) saying “People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime,” I think some creative projects can be the same way. Every project you do may or may not have a lasting result (if it’s ever even completed). But you can always learn something and improve as a result of doing it.

I did a project not long ago. I came up with an idea, called together a crew of people to help me make it a reality, invested a lot of time and money into its creation, and was pretty proud of the result.

Then some things happened. And it made me not want to do the project anymore, despite the fact that I had a bunch of things ready to show the world. I just didn’t have the heart to continue investing anymore time and energy into something that had so fundamentally changed in me. The (excellent) quality of the product remains the same. And that’s the hardest part to deal with. I really want to continue with it, but I just no longer believe in it. I don’t have it in me. I have to step away. I’ll be a healthier, happier person if I just let it go and open myself up to the next great thing rather than try and fix something that I know is broken and no longer serves me.

And it took me a while to come to terms with that. But once I did, I realized that the creation of the project- even though it didn’t last very long in reality- was the important part. I will always have the memories and friendships I made while working on the project. I will always have the stuff to enjoy myself and be reminded of my own work and lessons learned about it. I will always have the memories made each step of the way.

So don’t worry about the outcome, friends. Never stop creating. And don’t you ever stop believin’.

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. 

Episode 66: Mentors – Show Notes

yodaIn this Femoir: The Podcast episode, we talk about those people who are the Wind Beneath Our Wings. Our mentors.
I’m lucky to have great ones. They’re not Yoda, but they probably smell better than Yoda. Nobody ever talks about how Yoda smells… but it was probably terrible.

Not much to give show notes on this time.

Find yourself a mentor. Be a better person.

Episode 61: Patience – Show Notes

patienceThe latest episode of Femoir: The Podcast is a longer one, friends, but since we’re talking about patience, I hope you take the time to listen to it and enjoy!

I talk about the three major improv and comedy theaters in Chicago:

1. The Second City

2. iO (Improv Olympic)

3. The Annoyance

I mention the stage version of my solo show, Femoir.

I also mention my wonderful pending web series, The Other Client List, again. I am very excited about it. It’s gonna be gooooooood.

And I also mention my crazy peg leg pirate upstairs neighbor (again) and the fact that SHE BANGS!

As always, you can subscribe to these for free on iTunes!

Make It About Something

I know it doesn’t seem like I’m giving it my full attention. And to be honest, it’s not getting all the attention it deserves. At least right now. I’m working on a couple other projects this month that are taking my focus away from it. But it’s temporary. I love the Femoir world very deeply. I want it to be an extension of my own voice and to continue going on in many different capacities.

So even though it doesn’t always seem like it, this little show is a personal passion of mine. And I think about it often. It’s always somewhere in the back of my brain simmering. Trying to think of how to make it better. Trying to think of how to make it funnier. Trying to think of the best mediums through which to tell the story. Trying to think of how best to get my voice out to the world through Femoir.

The other day, I realized something major while in the middle of one of one of my recent breakdowns (which have been more frequent in many aspects of my life and I’m trying to see as positives because once you’re broken you can be built back up again as an even better version of yourself).

This is what I realized. I have been taking a bit of the Seinfeld approach to Femoir.

Which is similar to the Abbott & Costello approach.

Silliness for silliness sake. A series of sketches that makes sense because they’re an extension of the life I’m currently living, but not necessarily following any sort of theme. A series of characters put together to reside in the same space on stage for a short period of time. Or, in the case of the podcast, creating an arbitrary theme so that I can have a series of characters and ideas centered around it.

While I think there is some value to this process- mostly because I get to force myself to constantly write and come up with characters for no particular reason- I think it’s a selfish endeavor. I think it serves me more than the audience. I think the stage show and the podcast could be so much better if I told a story. And even better if that story came as the result of circumstances in my life that were real and important in that moment.

As of now, I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable onstage and on the podcast up to a point. These are my words and my ideas and I’m sharing them with you in the hopes that you’ll like them and be entertained by them. There’s definitely a vulnerability in that.

But in the midst of all these intense shifts and changes in my life, I think I can do more. There’s a power in letting people share a journey with you. There’s a power in telling a story that means something. There’s a power in focusing on some real aspect of your life and letting that inspire the humor, rather than choosing something arbitrary and figuring out some aspect of your life that you can fit into it. I can’t ask the people in my world to let me be a part of their lives and to be vulnerable to me, when I admittedly hide my own story and vulnerability behind characters.

Granted, I’m good at characters. And I like doing them. And I want to continue doing them. But I need to push beyond. To challenge myself to find that something more. And I don’t know what it is yet, but I do know that this whole Femoir world is missing something.

It’s hard for me to shake some of the shiz that’s been on my plate lately. Doing arbitrary podcasts and sketches just to get something out there is possible- but maybe not the best use of our time. As one of my favorite improv teachers would say, “There is no wrong, but it’s a lower percentage choice.”

I think the higher percentage choice might be to open up a little more. To be more present in these podcasts. To tell a story through Femoir. To allow myself to let it be a story, rather than just a series of ideas strung together. To take the time to ask myself why I want to have all these particular characters or ideas put together. To create a theme based on my life right now and to let that theme be clear. In doing so, then I can more clearly (hopefully) relate to other people who are going through different aspects of their life. They can laugh with and at me. We can be frustrated or overjoyed together.

I’m not sure what all this means yet or how it will translate to podcast or stage. But I just want you to know I’m thinking about it. And it will come out somehow.

Let’s find out how together.

Podcast REVAMP!

As promised… Femoir: The Podcast is getting completely revamped. If you’d like to know why exactly you can watch this or listen to this.

The point is, I’ve thought about it and here’s what we’re going to do!

(Warning, if all this is too much and you don’t care… just subscribe on iTunes for free today and periodically refresh. When the podcasts are ready, they’ll show up. And you don’t have to worry your pretty little head about a thing.)

The next three podcasts will continue to be bi-monthly. Wednesday’s podcast will be a ghost story in time for Halloween. Then the two podcasts in November will be excerpts from the book I’m working on for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month!)

Then! Starting in December (because that’s as good a time to start as any!), the podcasts will be weekly!

But, Briana- you’re revamping this entire thing because the podcast was taking up too much time. Won’t doing it weekly mean it takes up more time!?

Thank you for asking! It will actually be more effecient for my schedule because here’s how it will work:

Each month’s podcast will all be related to a certain theme (just like every episode was before). The first episode will be the rap song based on that theme. The second episode will be a story based on that theme. The third episode will be a commercial, beat poem and some jokes related to that theme. And the fourth episode will be a character monologue related to that theme. If there’s a bonus 5th Wednesday in a given month, it’ll be a wildcard episode! Who knows what will happen!

I’ll also probably tie my weekly jokes into the podcasts somehow because I like writing and delivering those… just have to figure out how they fit. Not sure yet. But we’ve got time to figure this out together!

So, basically, rather than have two complete 20 minute episodes bi-monthly based around a theme, now we’re doing a full theme every month and breaking up the episodes into segments. Maybe more people will listen! I don’t know! Maybe not! Maybe I’ll actually have time for it! Who knows!

You never know until you try, friends. Remember that.

Also… there will be more vlogs. So… be on the lookout on your interwebs.

BYEEEEEEE!!!!