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Baby, You’re Never Gonna to be Ready

Wherever you’re at right now, you’re not ready.

You’re not ready for the reality of your situation. You’re not ready for the sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach that’s inevitable if you decide to take a swing at this thing. You’re not ready for another pile of cat vomit directly underneath your right foot. You’re not ready to lose. And you’re sure as hell not ready to win.

You’re not ready to fall on your face or spend hours thinking about how it could have all gone differently. You’re also not ready to get what you want because you’re afraid of those snarky messages from the people you call friends who think you don’t deserve it. You’re not ready to tell your mom. Or him. Or her.

You’re. Not. Ready.

Congratulations. Welcome to the rest of humanity because no one else is fucking ready, either.

That’s because being ready is bullshit.

You can be prepared. Do your homework, learn your lines, study-up, know your shit and be completely fed up with the status quo.

But you’re never ready for the feeling that comes as you step up to take the swing.

So what if, instead of focusing on being ready, you focused on being alive?

Because the feelings you have right now — the stress and the fear and the worry and the <fill this blank in with dumb feeling shit that doesn’t make you feel good> — are making you dead inside.

You’re so worried about being ready that you’re forgetting to live.

I’ve spent the past two weeks of my life getting ready for a 5-minute audition I had yesterday. I had voice lessons, walked around my neighborhood singing like a crazy person while walking my dogs, sang in my car with a guitar track on repeat, and…well, let’s just say that I was more than stressed. Why? Because I’d never sung in front of people before. Ever. Except for this one line I had in this musical number in a show not a lot of people went to a few years ago and I basically just yelled it on-key so volume made up for the talent gap, y’know?

And I was going to be walking into a room with three people in it:

  • A guy who created a hit TV series you’ve all heard of who was writing this new musical
  • A guy who wrote the songs for the show who was sitting at the Grammys a week ago, as a nominee
  • The casting director, who got my name on referral from a friend (a friend who stands to look like an asshole if I’m a total shit show)

No pressure at all, right?

I had a great session with my voice coach on Sunday morning and I felt good about my music. Then, I had two and a half days to remind myself what a piece of shit I was and who the hell was I to walk into that room with those people in it and let anything powered by air come out of my mouth?

I was anything but ready. But then, I did something that sounds completely silly. I listened to a meditation from a smart lady named Amy Jo Berman (she ran casting at HBO for over a decade) while I was on the treadmill yesterday morning and she said something to the effect of:

“What if today, you decided to have an adventure? What if this was fun? And what if the people you met today are playmates, and you could play like you did when you were a kid?”

And a lightbulb went off in my head.

Holy shit. I’d completely forgotten, in this entire process, to have fun.

So for the rest of the day yesterday, I had an adventure. I came home and ditched what I had totally fussed over to wear to the audition. I put on my wavy Texas hair (which I love), my Corral cowboy boots, skipped the bra and said, “Yeah — this is me.” I got in the car, drove to the audition, sat in the waiting area, the casting director came out and said, “Hi Erika!” because she recognized me from Facebook, and when she called me into that room I wasn’t ready.

I wasn’t ready at all.

But I was going to have fun, do ME, and have a goddamned adventure. 

And I did.

I did a monologue I love, cranked out an a cappella version of Bobby McGee that made Grammy guy whip out his guitar and play along with me, and sang his song. They said thank you and I left.

Because you know what I got to do yesterday? I got to sing a song by a dude who was at the Grammys as a nominee — with him playing the guitar for me.

I got to sing in front of people and no one died. Most importantly, me.

I got to do something I’d never done before, for people I’d never met before.

And I wasn’t ready to do any of that.

And I’m sure as hell not ready to do it all again. But I would in an instant.

Because I don’t know what I sounded like in that room, but all of ’em bopped along, heads bobbing, as I sang Bobby and I could go over all of it and give you a list of 34 ways I could have been more ready.

But seriously. To hell with being ready. I want the adventure. The fun. I want to play and remember what it was like when I gave less of a fuck about what people thought about what I do and who I am. I want less focus on ready in my life and more on heart and soul, and the ability I have to put all of me into something.

And knowing ME isn’t pretty and it’s pretty much a mess. But it’s a damn fine mess when I get my hair all did and put the boots I love so much on my size 8 feet and can walk into a joint in my own skin.

You’re not ready. You never will be. And neither will I.

But you can damn well be prepared, let all the bullshit go, and have some fun. Figure out what it was like when you felt happy all those decades ago. The moments you believed you were a lady astronaut on the moon and the kid next door was driving (yeah, driving) the lunar module. When you were a ballerina scientist who developed a new kind of ballet shoes, even though they were just scotch tape and some cardboard and it took a week to get the adhesive off your feet. When you were a country music star and you could see the audience of 20,000 through the floodlights on the stage just enough to remember that they were there for you.

Baby, you’ll never be ready. But there are things in life worth a whole lot more than being ready.

And what would your life look like if you put your energy there instead of where you’ve been putting it?

OR

So, while some of you already saw this over on Facebook, here’s a little Janis Joplin for you. I thought she was my spirit animal until I remember she dies of a heroin overdose. Which prompted me to get a new spirit animal. But she helps me be a more OUT LOUD version of me. Thanks for that, Janis. I wasn’t ready to record this. But I did. And it was fun.

(Oh, and stalk me on Instagram at @erikadnapo if you’re not already.)

(If you’re reading this via email and the Instagram video didn’t come through, click right here.)

 

A little Janis for an unseasonably sunny fuckin’ day in Chicago.

A post shared by Erika Napoletano (@erikadnapo) on

Day 1: Something About Pills and Booze

Today is December 1, 2016 and I have been sober for 30 days.

I didn’t plan to quit drinking. Don’t get me wrong – I needed to. And hell, if I hadn’t quit November 1, I’d likely have been drunk for the next four years.

And baby, I ain’t young enough to spend the next four years drunk.

So, where the hell have I been?

Well, I think it’s pretty safe to say I’ve been awesome. Awesome or drinking. Basically, I’ve spent the better part of this year either in a show (which is awesome), in rehearsal for a show (also awesome), at auditions (awesome X3), or drinking.

So, here’s a picture of where I’ve been.

awesome or drinking

And when I looked at that picture (in my mind), I realized that if I took away drinking…

I had a lot more space for awesome.

awesome-1

And to be honest, it feels weird to feel like this. Like I do. Like, right now — up at 5:44am and productive AF.

I don’t know if you know what this is like, but I’m going to put it out there and see if it sounds familiar.

Here we go…

So, when you’re 17, you go on the pill from a clinic and let’s just say you didn’t get to the clinic because you woke up one day and said, “Hey! Is that a clinic? Maybe they have lollipops and hugs inside!”

As you get older, you want to hide more. See people less. Your sofa is your most meaningful relationship and you’re eyeing Snuggie and Slanket ads like WTF THAT IS BRILLIANT BECAUSE IT’S A TRAVELING BLANKET FORT. And 28 years down the line, you read a report that links those little pills you’ve been on for FUCKING DECADES to depression and you’re like, hey – my ovaries have pretty much already gone to Tahiti anyways and we’re just on these things for our “complexion” (because acne is real in your 40s, y’all, because the universe is pretty much an asshole). So you stare at the bottles of pills you’ve been taking and the times you start breathing fast and those couple of times you considered (and tried) kicking off this mortal coil for the Land Elsewhere Because It Has To Be Better Than Here and the days you haven’t wanted to get out of bed for the past 20 years and you think, fuck it. 

What have I got to lose?

So you stop taking the little pills you’re supposed to take to prevent babies and regulate your (relatively nonexistent) menstrual cycle and help your “complexion.” You email your doc and you FULL STOP.

I mean, you just stop.

Like when I quit smoking. I quit.

And yeah, birth control pills aren’t really addictive unless you’re talking about being addicted to not wanting a small human planting itself in your abdomen for 9 months rent-free when you’re a sexually active woman because being sexually active isn’t a crime and it’s my fucking uterus and not up for vote, yo.

***Side note: Women have been taking the pill for years but men won’t take it because they don’t like the side effects. INTERESTING.

So, I quit the pill. And I ended up quitting other pills, too.

And about a month later, I realized…

I hadn’t had a single panic attack.

I was sleeping without sleeping pills for the first time since October of 2010.

I was HAPPY when I woke up in the morning.

I was losing weight (Fuck yeah ladies – right?! All these goddamned pills.)

And the best part of it all – I wanted to make things.

With words. With pictures. With people.

Stories. TV pilots. Short videos. Relationships. New friends.

The Sex with Clark Kent.

I finally felt creative again. And not anxious. And excited and happy and curious and…

Well, I felt.

And there was a day a few days ago where I sat alone when Clark Kent wasn’t home – on the sofa with a Small Dog on my right side – and wept.

Because I couldn’t remember the last time I wasn’t anxious. That I slept without pills. And that I’d felt creative.

It was like…

It was a lot like ending a long-term relationship. I mean, you’ve been in that shit for years and you know where your socks go and where he’s going to leave his shoes and what’s going to be eaten first (the fucking Cheez-Its that you bought for yourself) when you put the groceries away. You know what shows you watch together and when he’s going to laugh. You know how his kiss used to feel when he kissed you goodnight but hey, that shit the bed about three years ago and it’s merely ether in the grey cloud that is the remains of your relationship. You both talk about things you want to do (but never will). You muse about going places together and seeing things (but you won’t). And there’s not a day that goes by that you don’t wonder if things come in a brighter shade of grey than this monochromatic palette that your life has become and you somehow think is all you deserve.

And then one day, it happens.

Some random guy in a North Face puffy jacket smiles at you at just the right time. Your girlfriend gets engaged to the guy she met on Tinder, like 7 weeks and 3 days ago. You pay off a credit card and your job asks you if you want to move to London for a year and all of a sudden, always becomes never and you hit the Fuck It Button because, hey.

What do you have to lose? 

And you wake up a bit disoriented because there’s a hole in your life now. Where HE used to be (or she…or they). Or in my case, IT.

IT: Grey

IT: Anxiety

IT: What I felt like every goddamned day and had accepted as status quo

When my life became a swirl of monochrome – greys and more greys – I just wanted to feel something.

Anything.

And if I’m being honest, feeling buzzed or drunk was tangible as fuck. And it was something.

It’s for real real…

Buzzed and drunk are bonafide, legit feelings and they might not feel good, but they sure feel different.

And when your life is filled with greys, different is pretty fucking exciting.

Which is why I quit drinking.

Because suddenly, there was this hole I had from where the anxiety and depression and GREY used to be and I used drinking to brighten up the grey. Well, with the grey gone, I don’t need the drinking.

And I don’t miss it.

Okay. I haven’t completely lost my damn mind because THAT statement above about missing it is a total lie. I miss the smell of olive brine in a perfect dirty martini and I miss the crunch of an olive and the taste as my tongue hits the blue cheese inside. Also, vodka was perhaps one of my longest adult relationships besides coffee. And I miss raising a glass to toast with friends or even sitting down to chill with a drink at the end of one of my days where I’m doubting I have anything good to give this world.

I miss the ritual. And celebration. But I don’t miss it enough to ever take another drink again.

Because what I’ve missed all these years is the brighter version of me.

The me that wants to write things I’ve never tried to write (like TV pilots – I’m writing two).

The me that laughs and laughs.

The me that has so little time for the pettiness of others and has actually come to the conclusion that opinions aren’t like assholes. They’re like a yeast infection because you can either let them stick with you for awhile and wait out the impact while the 3- or 7-day treatment does its thing or you can opt for the 1-day treatment and say, y’know – it’s twice as expensive but I AM DONE WITH YOU.

***Men, this analogy is lost on you. I’m open to ideas.

And the me that’s able to embrace all three of those things above without a drink in her hand because she’s trying to feel something enough to have something to say.

So, day 30 sober. Sexy.

But it’s more like day 60 for feeling like…THIS.

Instead of anxious – I feel free and excited.

Instead of depressed – I feel inspired and curious.

Instead of out of booze – I feel full-up on creative and ready to fuck something up with my fierce ambition and unapologetic self.

And I guess it’s all because I said fuck it to those little birth control pills. Maybe. Is it? I don’t know.

Sooooo, are we done talking about the pills?

This year, on December 10th, I turn 44. Which really sucks because for most of this year, I honestly thought I was 42 and thought I had a whole YEAR left to get shit done before I turned 43.

Which was totally wrong and I’m an idiot.

And I’m looking forward to 44 like I’ve looked forward to no other year.

And it’s all because I’m living in color now.

And hey – maybe it was kicking the birth control pills. Maybe it was ditching the anxiety meds. Maybe it’s quitting the booze.

Maybe it’s all of it. Maybe I just really needed to quit drinking.

And not every day is flowers and unicorns. Far from it. But the bad days are less dark and the good days are brighter. Arguments are fewer and I’m a lot less cunty. I’m much more social and working on being a better friend.

But there is color out there, even when you think your world is grey.

Today, make your own drawing like mine above (you know, the artful representation of AWESOME and DRINKING).

AWESOME goes on the left. What’s on the right?

Whatever it is, find a way to take a bit away from that grey space and give it to awesome.

Maybe it’s as simple as setting up a coffee date with a friend that’s long overdue.

A call. To that person.

Finally cleaning out your fucking closet because you haven’t worn it in 2 years and it doesn’t love you back because it’s a SWEATER.

Just do one thing.

One.

Uno.

And whatever it is you decide to do, you’ve done it.

Which means tomorrow, you can do the same.

In fact, make a list. Set it by your bed and before you go to bed each night, write down ONE THING you’ll do the next day to chip away at the grey.

Because if we can do anything, it’s one thing. One. Because by the end of the year, that’s 365 things that move you towards awesome.

And that’s a pretty damn good year.

 

OR

Oh, and the next 29 posts are going to be a lot less personal and a lot more about shit we all deal with. This year had to start with THIS post.

See you tomorrow.

**Special and SUPER IMPORTANT note: If you are on meds for ANY mental condition, DO NOT read this blog post and say, “Hey! I should kick my meds! I wanna live in color, too!” If you’re curious about your meds, talk to your doctor (I did). Hell, get a second opinion (I did). Talk to SIX doctors (Me: three). But my love – YOU are important and needed on this place called earth and there are medical professionals who want the same and can help because chemical imbalances and hormones ARE DICKS. Mental health is legit and not magic even though it is elusive and inexact – don’t let anyone EVER tell you otherwise. But if you want to stop drinking, I think it’s safe to say you can do that. You might even find you like it. And you’ll have space in your fridge AND heart for more awesome.

The Consequences of Starting

I have all of these ideas in my head.

Things I want to do. Try. Actually, they’re more than just ideas. Ideas are worth fuckall. I have shit I actually want to get done. Shit that inspires me and I know I can totally DO if I would just get said shit out of my head and into the universe.

But I’m afraid to start. There. I said it. I’m afraid to start the thing. Maybe that’s surprising for you to read coming from me — the one who advocates hitting the Fuck It button and just doing the damn thing already. The one who’s ever-so-comfortable telling clients to get out of their comfort zones because nothing awesome ever happened there.

But I go through life with a metric ass ton of fear as of late — and a lot of it has to do with starting things.

I’m afraid to start ALL THE THINGS because starting has consequences.

Accountability, for one. If I pressed play on these impulses I have, I’ve given birth to obligation.

Obligation to nurture. If I push this thing out of my brain and into the world, I can’t just leave it crying on the sidewalk. It needs care. To suckle at the teat of my soul. It needs my heart and mind and my time — jesus. My time, as if I have any to give even though we all know we make time for what’s important. If I start this thing, I can’t tell it that I’m too busy to help it grow into everything it can be. I have to take care of it to the point of launch, the point where it’s self-sustaining enough to turn over to others and find out if it has legs strong enough to walk, much less run.

And then, there’s another consequence: outcome.

If I actually do these things in my head, there’s going to be an outcome. While all these impulses are in my head, they’re safe. There’s nothing except the scenarios my imagination has conjured up over two dirty martinis and the cigarette I wish I could smoke but can’t bring myself to actually light.

If I start, something and then take care of it to the point where it has legs and I let it run for itself…

It could explode from the starting gate and leap like a gazelle over hurdle number one…and catch the toe of the left shoe on the top edge of the hurdle, sending it face-down on the track in front of millions of viewers. Embarrassment. Total mortification. Ruin.

And yeah, I know it could clear the hurdle and win the gold.

But there are consequences to success, too. I could realize that I’m just an Idea Person and don’t want to be married to this thing I’ve launched. Then, I’d have to find a new impulse to keep me busy and happy and then the thing I’ve created could turn into total shit in someone else’s hands. Or, I could find myself wrapped up in keeping this success a success and then come the internet comments about my tits and how I can’t write and stupid fucking woman and this thing is a giant piece of shit and she’s fat and just because I launched something I’m fair game for insults and judgement and every shitty comment about my life and choices ever and maybe I’m just not that strong.

And then there’s the consequence of never having having started. Where I’m stuck, as ZeFrank says, in the place between zero and one feeling like I feel every day. Feeling as if I’m on the verge and waiting for permission. As if I’m waiting for the phone to ring with The Thing and finding out the damn thing has been on silent all day and I’ve missed 9 calls and no one’s left a voicemail.

Feeling like I do, right now, writing this after not having written in what seems like a very long time.

Feeling as if I did it. And I didn’t know I was doing it. Starting something, that is. Pressing play. The biggest consequence that comes with starting something is the regret of never having started it in the first place.

When you can’t start dating because you’re afraid of having your heart broken.

When you can’t start writing because you’re afraid it’s just going to be a piece of shit before you’ve written word one.

When you can’t start leaving because you’re more afraid of the uncertainty of leaving than you are of the unhappiness in your status quo.

When you can’t start loving because you’re afraid of letting someone see the parts of yourself you think are unlovable.

When you can’t start creating because the voices who hate what you haven’t even made are louder than the ones telling you to take a swing and see what happens.

Because life is messy and if I start something, I have to say that I’m okay with the messy consequences of my messy ideas-turned-impulses and not always having the answers or knowing how it’s all going to turn out and THAT is one huge fucking mess and there’s no housekeeper for who can get that creative stain out of my soul’s carpet.

But if I’m brave enough to start, I just might realize that I fell face first into an unexpected consequence — one far more rewarding than the track against my face in front of a million people.

I just might find that a consequence of having started is connecting with one heart in this world who was also afraid to start something. And together, for no matter how long, we can find the courage to start the next thing — long after this thing has decided whether it’ll walk, run, or fall on its face.

or,

Choosing Between Who You Love and What You Love

That’s one hell of a subject line, isn’t it?

While I was in NYC top of January, I sat down with Jonathan Fields to record an episode of his podcast, The Good Life Project. I’d been on before — back when he was doing video interviews (remember this hair and those 10lbs I needed to lose?).

We talked about making big choices.

Why I do what I do. How I got here. How I used to build theatrical scenery in Virginia and pull cable through AT&T central offices and install fiber optic bays for a living.

And all of it got me here.

So today, I’m happy to share with you the episode we recorded.

If you’re reading this via email, you can click here to listen.

Otherwise, have a listen while you’re on the train, cleaning the house, or just sitting around STUCK about what to do next.

Choices — we all have them. They vary in size, shape, depth, and severity. But never forget that we have them.

And as humans, we’re wired to make the safe ones.

I’ve been working on making better ones instead.
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A Heart Broken in Two Places

 

I‘ve promised you Paris updates and those will come tomorrow. But today, this is the story that needs telling.

This is a post about an artist’s heart, as yesterday, my heart broke in two places.

Maybe it was two days ago. I don’t know. I’m 7 hours ahead of “home” time here in Paris yet regardless of time span, I can tell you that this morning my heart continues to break along the same two lines.

The first fault line split open when I read the news in the wee hours – while America was sleeping and Europe was sitting down to happy hour (which runs until 8pm here – American bars, take note). Alan Rickman had died.

Most people know him as Professor Snape from the Harry Potter film legacy. Others, the affable yet wayward husband opposite Emma Thompson in Love, Actually. Me? I’d always know him as Jamie from Truly, Madly, Deeply. Back sometime around 2003/2004, my then-boyfriend and admitted cinemaphile said there was a movie I “had to see.” Knowing this was an argument I wouldn’t win, I gave in and settled in on a Saturday afternoon to watch some British flick.

From that moment on, Alan Rickman had my heart. I’d never quite seen anyone on the screen do so little yet say so much, be inarguably human and manly and tender yet still be the sexiest being to grace the room. In everything I saw him in and every role he endeavored to portray, I never saw Rickman because he gave himself over so completely to the emotion of the story that needed telling and demanded that I buckle in my shit and go for the ride of my life.

(Bottle Shock – another favorite: “Because you think I’m an arsehole. And I’m not, really. I’m just British and, well… you’re not.”)

Cancer is the arsehole and heaven, in whatever iteration you’ve chosen to invest, is the lucky one. In a week, it’s gotten floor seats to the greatest arena event of all time with Rickman giving himself over to Bowie’s music and René Angelil producing the entire affair.

For the better part of the day in Paris yesterday, I wandered the streets – sometimes alone while my inarguably better half got some work done – and had “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” going in a madcap manner through my brain and occasionally, vocal cords. My artist’s heart had more questions than answers.

  • Am I taking what’s been given to me artistically or am I daring to ask what else is there?
  • Am I waiting for permission to create, to be, to shine?
  • What am I afraid of and where am I holding back in my creative work?

I suppose if you’re not an artist, you can edit the above questions and ask the same of your own life. All I know this morning is that as I write this about a man I’ve never met, I’m on the verge of tears because it’s rare to find a human that doesn’t just inspire you. Fuck, anything – from a filthy penny on a dirty sidewalk to a TED talk can be inspirational.

I’m not looking for inspiration. I’m looking for the unspoken challenge. Inspiration has to go somewhere; make you do something. Alan Rickman challenged me to ask better, harder questions about my own work and to not just leave those questions sitting there like a forgotten bread crust on an inspiration sandwich. He dared me to answer them – honestly. Sans bullshit. Because no one pays to see a liar or someone pretending.

So if it weren’t enough that there’s a baller gig happening in heaven that I don’t have tickets for, the Oscar nominations came out yesterday.

White, white white white white. Did I say white? White.

It’s as if The Academy poured Clorox on the whole of 2015 and forgot that people who aren’t white actually performed on the screen.

As I perused Facebook in the wake of the news, I saw everything ranging from friends – true friends – hating on white actors who received nominations to thought-provoking discussions a zillion comments long on a few friends’ timelines to their friends saying it was time for performers of color to jump ship and have their own awards. Segregation.

And it all hurts my heart.

Because as an artist, I see art as experience. Perspective. Talent doesn’t have a color or age or gender. But I ask how can Sylvester Stallone get a nomination in Creed when the actors that support his story – actors of color – are passed over?

And frankly, can I ask how the actual fuck anything from 50 Shades of Gray got nominated for anything?

What world is it that we live in where in 2000-fucking-16 that we still have to ask these questions – the question of whether talent has a color or gender or age? The Atlantic reported about 2 years ago on the shocking (Shocking? Okay, perhaps not too surprising but sobering nonetheless) composition of Academy voters – you know, the ones who determine who gets nominated for what? Oscar Voters are roughly 94% white, 76% male, and an average of 63 years old.

Well, no fucking wonder, right?

I also saw the completely asinine, white-privilege-laced argument on someone’s thread that “perhaps affirmative action can help actors of color get a nomination when their talent isn’t enough.”

My reply directly to this person was: What the actual fuck? 

Yeah, the person commenting was white.

So today, I don’t know what it means to be white. I know as an artist, it feels pretty shitty because my friends are so goddamned talented it hurts. Their experiences and voices and actions and ways of getting from text to performance astonish and challenge me to rise to the occasion every fucking time an occasion stares me in the face.

It also feels shitty because what if someday, someone said that because I was white, I didn’t deserve to get an award nomination I’d received and someone else was left out or overlooked and attributed that to the color of someone’s skin or gender?

I don’t have an answer. I just don’t.

As an artist, my work gets better because of the people who surround me but how can we – in this world where we look to people like Rickman and the power of an Oscar nod to tell us what’s good – keep walking along as if nothing is wrong? There’s no way that a person’s gender or skin color can dictate their ability to play a leading role as each day, we all play the leading role in someone’s life and it’s the role of a lifetime. Yet, Hollywood sees things differently. The classical and modern stage canon also sees things differently.

There’s a lot wrong with the arts right now and it’s nothing that will be changed in a month’s or year’s time.

My heart broke a second time yesterday because I saw the hearts of my friends breaking. Empathy’s a bitch like that. I’m feeling helpless and not wanting to because I cannot tolerate being part of a problem when there’s an opportunity to be part of a solution. Because I think about ever season general audition notice that comes out here in Chicago and how I feel when I read the breakdowns. For those not in the arts, those are the notices theatres post about the plays to be included in their upcoming seasons and the roles available.

Can you say sausagefest? Can you say hey – thanks for choosing a season with 25 roles for men and 4 roles for women?

Can you say how the hell did you come to that decision and more importantly, who played a part in the making of that decision?

The desire to break off – for any demographic – and do your own thing comes from a continued beat down by the bigger culture, telling you that you don’t matter. It comes from not being seen by the culture you’ve committed to support and work tirelessly to lift up. It comes from thinking that your experiences and the story only you can tell don’t matter.

Which is why people leave.  More importantly, it’s why the people we need most leave.

And don’t get me wrong – amazing things have been started by people who “leave” something else.

But this is one area where we’d all do better if we stuck together and asked, “What now?” and dared to ask, “What’s five years from now?” instead of, “You know – fuck all of you. We’ll do our own thing.”

As an artist, I create for humans – other humans living a life so human that it hurts.

And maybe that’s why, today, my heart remains broken in two places.

The first place – because the world’s left with a body of work created by a man like Rickman who gave himself over to the work.

And the second place – because of the people who give themselves over to the work tirelessly and continuously, only to be passed over time and again.

Because I can do something, about both my own work and how I support the work of others. So can you, no matter what industry you call home. And as I hit publish, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

PS: If you want a powerful and plain-spoken call from a fellow actor/artist in Chicago, check out this post that’s breaking bandwidth from Harmony France. You’ll be glad you did.

Hard Truth 221: Normal is a Place in Illinois, Not a Goal

 

This post originated on my Facebook page (Are you hanging out with us there? It’s a mighty fine group of folks.) — and it deserved to be its own Hard Truth. So I elaborated where necessary and cut shit out that didn’t belong.

*****

On a New Years Eve, I thought I’d share a bit of me…with you.

Over the past eight years of building this brand, I’ve  become the “fuck” girl. If it says fuck, people send it to me. Little did I know that my appreciation for this highly versatile word would bring me…well…the desire to no longer be the “fuck” girl.

I’ve been sent a link to a “sweary coloring book” more times than I can count.

People apparently think I need to read everything that Mark Manson writes. He’s a savvy follow, eloquent as hell, and one of the few blogs I actually subscribe to. Rest assured, I do read what he writes. I just don’t need to be sent a link every time he publishes. I’ve read it, I promise (winky face).

The “enunciate and swear like a fucking lady” t-shirt and mug are at ad nauseam levels in my inbox and Facebook wall.

This poster? Well, I own it. It used to be on my wall. Used to be. It’s a bit too fucky for me these days.

I completely adore the word “fuck,” make no bones about it — but it’s not the only word I know.

And it’s not how I feel about everything.

I used to be someone who said fuck a lot of things. Fuck people who don’t like me, who don’t like what I do, who don’t like what I think, and especially fuck doing things you don’t necessarily like doing.

Y’know. Fuck all those things. Fuck all those people.

But much of that distribution of fucks came from anger. Mostly at myself. I wasn’t living the life that I wanted to be living.

I was doing shit I was GOOD at instead of shit I LOVED and WANTED to be doing. I was doing mostly shit I hated and little I loved.

And I saw people who were doing amazing shit and I thought that shit wasn’t for me.

It made me really angry. It’s the kind of anger you get when you look around your life and think that good only happens to people not named YOU. That no matter how you bust your ass, you’re still going to be standing behind the door when awesome is doled-out. That every day is a fight against an unknown enemy, leaving you the world heavyweight champion of shadowboxing, yet you still feel like you’re suffering a knockout in every round.

Angry. And the bitch about anger is that we usually don’t know it when we’re that kind of angry. So you stay angry and maybe you get to a place like the one I’m in today where you’re able to look back and go, “Jesus on toast — I was super fucking angry.”

So all that anger made me say fuck all those things and fuck all those people.

I understand why I’ve become the “fuck” girl.

Because I was threatened. I was threatened by the simple fact that these people doing all sorts of amazing had a confidence I did not and might never have.

Getting Un-Angry

I stayed angry from roughly 2010 until early 2012 — from when Jason died until I realized I wanted to keep living. When I actively made the choice to stick around on Planet Earth, I realized that I had to lighten my load. I couldn’t keep walking around with everything I’d been carrying.

So, that envy — that jealousy and fear and intimidation I felt towards all of those people doing amazing shit — dissipated. Envy will eat you from the inside out if you keep feeding it. I got a fucking therapist and started dealing with shit.

My crazy, my pain, every thought and feeling I felt I didn’t have permission to feel. Well, every thought and feeling from back then. God knows, I still have a shitload of thoughts and feelings but at least now, I have clearly labeled tupperware bins to put them in.

I was angry at my life. The life I was living was my fault. And it was also my choice.

So, if I had a choice, why not make another one? The next choice. A different choice from the one I’d been making over and over and fucking over and over again…

Instead of telling myself that there was a life I couldn’t have, I turned that statement inside out:

What if there’s a life I could be living instead of the one I wake up to every day?

And I dared to try.

And through my income being cut in a third, moving away from a place I thought I’d always call home, turning down work I don’t want to be doing anymore, and then taking some work I found I enjoyed — I’ve found a path to doing work I love.

Creating. Writing, performing, directing, producing — y’know, doing work that embraces my crazy instead of hating the fact that my life wasn’t normal. Y’know — normal like everyone else’s.

And it’s taught me a lot about all those things and people I used to think can go fuck themselves.

On Doing Shit I Don’t Like, but Need to be Doing (formerly “fuck that shit”)

We all take work we need to be doing when in the pursuit of what it is we want to be doing. It pays for shit like the mortgage and rent and Christmas presents for our families and a squeaky toy for your pup and a little stupid something that puts a smile on your love’s face at the moment they least expect it. Work we need to be doing buys the spontaneous soft serve from McDonald’s on a 90-something degree day when you swore you’d never give them a dime and it also puts money in the bank so you can leave a job you hate when you find one you love that pays a bit more but doesn’t start for 3 more weeks.

Stupid advisors will tell you to stop doing shit in your business cold turkey that pays your light bill. Smart advisors will help you realize what you want to be doing in your business and help you build the business of the future (not the business for tomorrow).

I do what I need to do if and only if it ultimately serves me doing what I love.

On the People Who Hate Me (formerly “fuck those people”)

Since the day I landed on this planet, people have hated me. Most for pretty stupid reasons — but I’ve hated people, too. For equally stupid reasons. It takes a lot of energy to hate and a mind is a rare thing to be changed if it’s not ready.

So it’s nice to know — and accept — I’m not going to change that. People are going to hate me. It’s cool. I just don’t have enough energy to deal with those people AND the people who love me and whom I love.

It’s really one or the other and I’ve made my choice.

On No Longer Being the “Fuck” Girl

I started this post by saying I wish I hadn’t become the “fuck” girl. Every message and product with this amazing four-lettered gift to the English language isn’t “my thing.”

Both are still true. But I do have fucks to give — I just spend them more wisely as fucks are a precious currency.

All my fucks these days are for Fuck Yeah.

Fuck Yeah is about LOVE.

If I’m spending my energy on fuck that or fuck yous (except fuck you, yoga and fuck you, sink), then I have less to give my Fuck Yeahs.

This life I’m living — including all of the bullshit and amazing and weird and ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! and cat vomit and love and loss and day-to-day just getting by — is amazing. And not too many years ago (four, to be exact), I almost hit the ultimate Fuck It button. The one you don’t come back from. Eject on life, goodbye cruel world, a note to friends and family and a sad shelter pet story for two dogs and two cats.

I’m so very glad I did not.

Because Fuck Yeah.

Because if I had, I wouldn’t be sitting here telling you I found Fuck Yeah and I’d have left you with nothing but fuck that and fuck you.

But I love this and you and life and all of the bullshit so fucking much it makes my heart burst.

So in 2016, be on the lookout. There’s a whole lot of Fuck Yeah coming your way from ME. And no, that doesn’t mean less swearing (seriously?), less funny (because life is fucking hilarious), or fewer opinions you might not agree with. I have a lot of opinions (just like you).

It means HONESTY — because it’s the ultimate Fuck Yeah in a world where too many people think that fuck this and fuck you gets you what you want.

They get you something, that’s for sure, and I got it. Oh boy, did I get it.

And it sure as hell wasn’t what I wanted.

Finding Your Fuck Yeah for the New Year

So maybe as you look to the year ahead, you’ll find YOUR Fuck Yeah. And yes, as Clark Kent would say, the “new year” is merely a demarcation point on an antiquated calendar…another day sandwiched between two other days truly no different than any other single day.

But if you’re going to pick a day to say farewell to fuck you and fuck that, I think the turning of the New Year is a fine day for such. Resolutions fail because our thoughts and behavior don’t align for the long haul.

Maybe this year you’ll find the resolve to transform a thought to transform your life. Or a life, even if it’s not yours.

Fuck Yeah, family.

Fuck Yeah, my business.

Fuck Yeah, my love.

Fuck Yeah, that book.

Fuck Yeah, standing up for myself.

Fuck Yeah, falling in love with your YOU.

Fuck Yeah, a puppy.

Fuck yeah, my first house.

Fuck Yeah, I love her/him.

Fuck Yeah, another day. Another BEAUTIFUL DAY I can go through as this gloriously fucked up human being I am, surrounded by other gloriously fucked up human beings like you.

And I can’t do any of that if I’m worried about being normal.

Leaving Normal Behind

At 43, I can look back and say that I’ve spent a great deal of my life in pursuit of a life that I thought was normal. Family, kids, the right job, a published book, an online course that people download that will fundamentally change lives for a scant $497 because everyone has one so I should, too.

Normal is a place in Illinois, not a goal. Not even the people who live in Normal are normal. They just pay taxes there.

I can stop trying to be perfect. I can stop wishing for normal. Because I’ll never be either.

So Fuck Yeah, Fucked Up Me. You’re a sexy beast. And you’re going to do amazing things with all that energy you used to spend on trying to be perfect and normal.

Oh, and fuck “normal.” If I’m going to say fuck that to anything, it’s being normal. My pursuit of it has done nothing but fuck me.

Happy day sandwiched between two other days on the calendar, my loves. Flip the calendar. Your life is waiting — and the only thing it’s waiting on…

is you.

See you in 2016. Happily.

or

f normal