My Year Of Jesus

I celebrated a birthday yesterday. Not just any birthday. My birthday. So I’m writing this for really two reasons:

  1. It seems as good of a time as any to hop back on ye olde familiar blogging wagon. Hello again, dear friend.
  2. I’d like you to please wish me happy birthday. Love me? VALIDATE ME?

Without giving away my age, it was a pretty exciting birthday because it makes me as old as Jesus was when he emerged on the miracle scene. If you really need to know my age, pull out a handy dandy Bible and you’ll quickly find your answer. Life Hack: You can also Google.

The last year of my life was a profound one. I married a kick ass dude. We added to our ever-growing dog family. I filmed a stand up special. I booked a lead in a pilot. I finally broke down and committed to a career I’ve wanted to do forever. In between, I yoga-ed my face off.

The truth is, I was looking forward to my last year for a long time. I was told years ago by a psychic I trust that that particular year would be a big one for me. I had high hopes for it. It lived up to them. Mostly.

But what I hadn’t thought about years ago when I got whispers that that particular year in my life would be a big one was what would happen after it. I supposed in my head I thought, well after that year, my life will be perfect and everything I ever hoped for will fall into place and I’ll finally be satisfied.

Yesterday was my birthday. (You: Happy birthday! Me: OMG Thank you for FINALLY saying something!) Well, I’m now in no-man’s land of prophecies. No psychic told me what would happen in this year. And, though my last year was a major success on many fronts, I’m not yet where I figured I would be by now.

When I first realized this a few weeks ago, I got mopey. Maybe it was the July heat. Maybe it was the stars. Maybe it was what Steven Pressfield calls “The Dragon of Resistance” attacking slyly. Whatever it was, I was mopey and felt really sorry for myself. And, as a result, did very little to really sprint to the finish line of that year. Mostly, I ate ice cream, let my yoga practice fall by the wayside, and scrolled around social media wondering why certain people were getting breaks I wasn’t. All in all, an underwhelming finish to a spectacular marathon of a year.

Despite the fact that this past year was major and wonderful on so many fronts, I still got mopey and kicked myself for not being the most famous comedy superstar on the planet yet.

Then I got thinking about Jesus. And I thought, next year I’ll be as old as Jesus when he was being all Jesus’y. And I realized, “My god, I mean, Jesus Christ, Briana, Jesus was just a carpenter until he was your age. This is your chance to make miracles like him.”

Now let me pause…and denote that I’m pausing by inserting a paragraph…with multiple ellipses…

I’m not a religious person. I’m a big fan of Jesus. I’m also a fan of Krishna, Buddha, and Mother Nature, among other admirable icons. My point being, my choice to be inspired by Jesus doesn’t come from an intensely religious place. It comes from a genuine admiration for people who have positively changed the course of history by living their truth so fully they become almost larger than life.

To me, that’s what Jesus can represent if you want.

For me, Jesus’ age reminds me that in order to truly make miracles, you’ve got to take time to train yourself to get there. As much as my ego (and fear) may want me to believe that I’ve been at this for so long and I’ve been working so hard and yada yada yada, even the son of God needed a few decades to get his sh*t together.

So I’m dubbing this year my Jesus year. I’m going to share about it here, if you want to tune in. I want to make miracles. Ideally, most of them involving turning a lot of water into wine because, you know, it’s wine.

Also, yesterday was my birthday. Please tell me happy birthday and that I’m special.

Thanks.

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A Year Ago

back in timeA year ago, I got some news that surprised me. Someone tried to tell me I wasn’t good enough for something. Well, the truth was, they did tell me that they didn’t think I was good enough for something. He basically told me I didn’t make the cut.

After I got over the initial shock since I found the assessment completely unfounded, I thought about the deliverer and I thought about the actual outcome of this news and its impact on the rest of my life. I realized that the deliverer wasn’t someone I admired who’s opinion I needed to listen to and the outcome I thought I wanted was absolutely unnecessary to the goals I had in my own life. Another outcome would have allowed me to check off a box that didn’t need checking in order to prove I live up to arbitrary standards of a system that’s becoming more archaic daily.

But rejection is never fun no matter what perspective you can later spin it into. It can bother you. And, despite the fact that I am now more relieved and well-aware that world is not one I want to be a part of, this one still bothered me for a while.

I mean, you want to get in an invite to the party even if you have no intention of attending.

So I was going to write a whole article in response going into detail about all the things I’ve done in the year since this day. But when this day neared, I lost my edge to write a vengeance-filled post bragging about all my accomplishments. First of all, it’s not really my style. And secondly, I just didn’t care enough. The truth is, this mattered so little to me by the time the day came and went, that I just let it go and forgot about it. I was too busy actually doing the things that I love to take time out of my day to focus on telling people that I’m doing the things that I love.

And when I realized I missed my chance for my year-later response, I couldn’t find a shred of me that really cared. It all felt so long ago and my life has been progressively getting better, more fulfilling, and happier since that day.

When the issue comes up, of course I’m candid and honest about how I felt about the whole situation. But the underlying truth of the matter is that I care about it a lot less now that I thought I would. Which, for the most part, is liberating. But a little part of me still wishes I were angry so that I could let their rejection continue to fuel me.

But I’m not angry. While initial frustrations and rejections can make for good tinder for a fire, they ultimately cannot sustain the flames. They can provide a little help making it burn brighter, but they flare up and burn out quickly. It’s the thick logs and constant care that keep a fire burning. For me, those thick logs are my own passion for creativity and storytelling, and the constant care is the diligence and consistency with which I approach turning my passion into a daily, viable reality.

To put it bluntly, I realized that the best way to show ’em up is to show ’em you don’t even need ’em. Cuz you don’t.

The “Just Kidding” Weapon

When I was growing up, we had one particular rule I remember my parents implemented right about when I was a tween that irked me at first. I later realized this tiny tweak made a huge difference on not only on the type of humor I like and create, but also the type of person I’ve become.

What, say you, was this small but significant rule?

My brother and I were not allowed to say something mean then follow it up with “I’m just kidding.”

mean faceWe had to implement this rule because we were doing just that. We were yelling at each other (usually I did the yelling… my brother was more precise and cutting with his words and I just yelled loudly and incoherently most of the time), and we’d say something like “You’re stupid!” then follow it up with “I’m just kidding!”. We’d then act like somehow by saying we were kidding it made it ok and the other person was overreacting or had a bad sense of humor.

When really we were not kidding. We meant to insult the other one.

I found my parent’s rule to be worthless at first. I found it to be limiting and started convincing myself they, too, had bad senses of humor. But they were relentless in their enforcement of it and it didn’t take too long before I just stopped the insults because I knew they were meant to be insulting. I had to get more creative if I wanted something to actually be funny. I realized that by pretending something was “funny” when it was really just mean, I was being lazy and I was being vicious. I never want to be either of those things, so I just stopped.

Years later, as I attempt to make a professional career out of “just kidding,” I make a solid point to make sure my humor (hopefully) reflects positivity and happiness. I want it to only be used as a “weapon” for situations where tensions are high and people need to be disarmed and remember we have more in common with each other than we tend to remember. I made a concerted effort and a specific choice to back off more polarizing careers and interests of mine in order to focus on humor partially because I love using it as a means to bring people together.

Plus I’m a lot better at selling a joke than I am at selling an argument.

I still hear people do it. I hear people say cruel things then, often passive aggressively, blame the very person they were insulting for “not getting it” because they were “just joking.” I call bullshit. You weren’t joking. You were being mean. So if you don’t want to be mean, don’t say mean things. Don’t try and protect yourself with the lazy shroud of pretending you have a sense of humor and the other person doesn’t.

I have a great sense of humor. I enjoy a good roast and will be the first to make joke’s at my own expense. But if I feel like the intentions behind your “insult” aren’t actually for the purposes of being funny but because you’re being mean, I’ll be the first one to turn on you.

So don’t be lazy. And don’t be mean. Just… be cool. Dawwwwwg.

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.

Femoir: The Podcast – Repetition (Show Notes)

Another episode of Femoir: The Podcast is up and available for your happiness consumption, friends!outliers

And we are talking all about REPETITION! REPETITION! REPETITION!

I discuss Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers,” basketball but not soccer, a half marathon when I refused to slow down, The Inner Game of Tennis, the book “Body Mind Mastery,” working on training for long races little runs at a time, musical repetition vs intricate music, playing the saxophone, and Vine.

If you’re not an iTunes-er, feel free to download any number of other ways! Catch ya next episode!

 

 

Exercise for Sleep

Tpuppy snuggleshere are multiple excellent reasons for exercise. I write about them constantly.

One I rarely talk about is the fact that it helps me (and most people) sleep soundly.

I have a lot of energy. I’m a pretty energetic person. I’m actually really aware of my energy level because it’s a good indicator of my inner mood. If I’m exhausted midday, it’s likely because I’m doing something I don’t want to be doing. If I’m sleepy at night just before bed, it’s been a good day of accomplishments. If I’m still anxious when I’m going to sleep, odds are I didn’t exercise and/or be productive enough that day.

Exercise, for me, is the opportunity to not only clear my mind and gain some perspective on what does and does not actually need to be done in the day. It also gives me a place to let out some of the pent up steam from various projects or interactions throughout the day. It energizes me if I’m feeling drained (and know it’s not from lack of sleep) and it calms me for the rest of the day.

I use my energy level as an indicator. And it typically directly corresponds to my exercise consistency.

Yet another reason to add to the long list of why getting up and getting moving is good for you.

 

Femoir: The Podcast – Charisma (Show Notes)

khartIn this latest episode of Femoir: The Podcast (available for free on iTunes! Rating and comments help!), I mention my middle school, my high school, and the book The Charisma Myth.

I also talk about Kevin Hart. A lot. A lot a lot. And I have no regrets about that.

I discuss listening to more stuff on audible.com, reading other interesting books like Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s biography, Mother Teresa, and the value of good listening. I actually recently did a podcast with an excellent listener, Jamarr Johnson, if you wanna check it out.

To round it out, I talk about The Reckoning, tease an upcoming podcast (November 10) all about Listening, and talk more about how charismatic Kevin Hart is.

Femoir: The Podcast – Fear (Show Notes)

ITaylor_Swift_-_Fearlessn this latest episode of Femoir: The Podcast we be discussin’ the FEAR, friends.

As you can see in this picture, I discuss Taylor Swift (not pictured: Hating myself for it), my confidence podcast, doing stand up comedy, and my bestest friend in the world who happens to also be a Top Gun style jet pilot.

And for those of you who listen and may be worried, I am no longer sick and am feelin a-ok these days. Not like the sick (but awesome) voice you hear on the podcast.

Be sure and give it a listen then give it a ranking and comment if you can!

Stay In Class

happy-studentI love learning. I’m an advocate for life-long learning. I download audiobooks for fun on all sorts of subjects. I get excited by the prospect of learning something new. I love being in learning settings with like-minded people. I often don’t even care if I’m going to ever apply or need the knowledge. I’m ok with just learning what someone thinks about something.

Like I said, I love learning.

I also love criticism. I love being evaluated. Of course it takes pretty tough skin because it’s hard to always divorce your ego from whatever evaluation you’re getting. But once you learn that what someone says is just their opinion and how they view a situation, you can learn more about both yourself and whoever you’re getting criticism from in the process. Once you see criticism as a valuable tool for gaining perspective on how the world sees you or your product- rather than something that should be avoided or something that always needs a response- you get to enjoy being critiqued and you get more opportunities for constant growth.

And growth means more chances to learn. And like I already said, I love learning.

But not long ago, I took a short “class” wherein we were evaluated afterwards. I put “class” in parenthesis because it’s not really a course. It’s what’s called a “learning opportunity” where you can get in front of individuals who may or may not be able to help your career and they give you feedback. It’s a little tongue and cheek because of some laws involved, but I’ve found a lot of success in these “learning opportunities” and have no real problem with them. One night, I had the chance to do a short scene in front of five different people. You only get a couple minutes or so in front of each one, so it’s not like there’s a ton of time to get to know someone. So I like using the chance to learn how I come across in an audition setting with other people. My feedback usually involves what type they see me as and some relevant or irrelevant descriptions of how I did.

The only reason it’s significant that I had several people this particular night is because the first four were pretty standard. I did well, they gave me feedback- some positive, some neutral- and we all went about our merry way.

The last guy I did my scene for was pretty proud of himself. Just in general. I didn’t like his vibe from thecocky-guy moment he walked in, but I let it go and did the work anyway. We don’t always get to choose who we audition for, so I used it as a LEARNING opportunity (see above) and went for it anyway.

His feedback was short and sweet. It was simply “Stay in class.”

That’s it.

Let me pause and tell you three ways to make my blood boil: Be passive aggressive, be consistently lazy, or tell me cocky bullshit like “stay in class.”

So, as you guessed, my blood boiled. I completely forgot about the other four evaluations I had that night (let alone the countless feedback I’ve gotten over the course of my near-decade long career) and wanted to walk back up and get in that man’s face.

It was a lazy thing to say. And a pointless one.

Sure, if you didn’t like what I did- I’m ok with that. But you need to give me a specific feedback if you want my respect. You need to tell me, “Your facial features were too big and unbelievable” or “It felt rehearsed” or even the generic, “I didn’t believe you.” Cool. Fine. I’m totally with you and those are things I get to think about and decide.

But this guy was essentially doing what another teacher did to me several months before that made me almost go on a rampage. The other teacher said, “General note… not enough specifics.” That means nothing. That’s a worthless sentence and serves no purpose. When I’m paying for an evaluation, I expect to be given one. It doesn’t mean I need to listen to you or believe you. It just means I need to be given to opportunity to know how you see me so I can decide within myself if I agree that whatever your pointing out is something I need to work on. I get to be the one to do that. You don’t get to keep that information from me as if I can’t handle it. It’s your job to tell me something you think is of value. And it’s my right to decide whether or not it’s of actual value to me.

But to top it all off, what made me really ticked about the evaluation “Stay in class” was more ideological. Yes, classes are valuable. Yes, it’s interesting to learn more. Yes, I’m obsessed with learning and a firm believer you always need coaching and further challenges and goals for your own growth. But, when it comes to self- expression, classes don’t teach you shit.

We live in a world where our youth have been over-educated (myself included! No complaints and thank you mom and dad!). There’s a class for everything now. And that’s great because classes can provide opportunities to delve into worlds you wouldn’t otherwise know and sometimes give you courage to do something you wouldn’t otherwise ever do. But at the end of the day, you can’t teach self-expression or creativity. They’re inherent. Your voice is your voice and you don’t need something or someone outside yourself to validate that.

And because there’s so many classes and so much available education, people can spend a whole lifetime believing they’re “not ready” or they’re “not good enough” or they “need more education.” Or even as troubling, people can choose to stay in school rather than following their passion because school provides security and following your passion means taking big risks and risks are terrifying. So we stay in school. We don’t venture out. We squash the creative voices inside of us that are begging to be let out to play because they don’t seem to have as much value in the real world. And eventually they get quiet. And they get sad. And you get sad, but you can’t remember why. And it’s because a part of you inside has been systematically shut down.

Fight back. Bring it back alive. People are infallible, no matter how much they pretend to be perfect. Don’t listen to anyone but your gut. If you do choose to listen to a few people outside yourself, choose them wisely. And only take a few to heart. Otherwise, let people’s opinions be just that- opinions. You can learn from them or ignore them. It doesn’t matter. By the time you decide one way or another, they could have changed them anyway.

If you think I’m a “bad actress” as was the case of this particular dipshit, fine. Cool. No problem. But I need you to give me a specific. I need to know something I can work on to get better. I don’t yet have an Oscar or my own sitcom, so I’m willing to bet I’ve got plenty to learn still. But if you’re saying you don’t like my style, that’s a different story. But don’t be lazy and give me shitty worthless feedback like “Stay in class” because not only does that mean nothing, it doesn’t serve any purposes. Classes can’t teach you how to be you. You have to teach yourself that. Then classes become enjoyable because you know what you want out of it, so you’re not attached to any sort of outcome.success kid

So here’s what I have to say to you, you lazy man who wrote “Stay in class” to me:

Stay out of my way.

Because I’m coming. And I know what I want and I know I have a valuable voice that won’t be served by listening to people who are lazy and don’t know the first thing about creativity. I’ve faced much bigger obstacles than you, and I look forward to making sure people know that they don’t need to be told it’s ok to be yourself, even if not everybody approves of who you are.

Changing Times

dali clockThese times, friends, they are a’changin’.

You may have already noticed, I’m not always able to post as frequently to this blog and my beloved Ms. In the Biz.

Some of that is because I’m a lazy chick and I’ve realized that there are times I’d rather watch another killer episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia while I chill out after work and not think about anything but being entertained. It’s not the laziest, but as a super-productive person, I would prefer to think I could use every precious moment of my free time to create and continue to work on the projects that I’m the most passionate about, rather than sit and enjoy some Netflix while watching people do exactly what I want to do.

 

But some of it is because I’m a lucky chick and have had some awesome projects pick up steam.  These projects are cutting into my precious time and are forcing me to find places to make cutbacks. I’ve had to refocus some of my (still precious) free time to work on these projects. It’s a good thing that I’m very excited about, but that has forced me to refocus and reschedule some of the time I normally keep free for freeform writing.

So I decided I didn’t need to write a blog every day of the week, so I aim to put somewhere between 1-3 blogs up now every week, depending on what I’ve got available to give. I truly enjoy sharing some of my adventures and thoughts with everyone. And I’d love to pretend like I’m continuing to write these blogs based on completely altruistic motivations. But the truth is, these little blurbs are as much for me as they are for you. I think of things I want to share with the world, and this forum gives me the ability to express myself freely without any judgment or consequence. I mean, obviously there are consequences for what I’m saying here, but it’s not like someone is forcing me to do it. I get to just do it for the love of writing, creating, and sharing.

I’m taking time to pause and tell you this so that you know, if in the upcoming months my blog posts are less frequent, it’s not you. It’s me. And my schedule. And it’s only because I’m (hopefully) spending my time working on other creative projects that I’ll be able to share with the world shortly. But they just take a little more time to get going than these blogs. So you’ll have to be patient with me. And I’ll be patient with me, too as I slowly start to go crazy and kick myself for not being uber-productive.

Because productivity doesn’t always mean creating immediate content. Sometimes, you gotta pull back, take a breather, regroup, and slowly but surely create something bigger and better.