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I am an actress.

My January 1 didn’t go any bit the way I planned and it kind of set the tone for the whole month, no matter how annoyingly positive I tried to spin things. But one thing January allowed me to do was to search for meanings in things. And to remember why I do the things I do.

And I think when it comes to acting we (or at least I) ask ourselves why we do it on a regular basis. We open ourselves up to rejection. We manipulate our own emotions and put our fate into the hands of others who many times ultimately aren’t as important or regal as the pedestals we place them on. For what?

Well…that’s a question I may have finally answered for myself. This post is going to be long and rambly and personal and it may well make some of my friends uncomfortable, but…it’s my story. And it’s one I’ve never told before…it’s one I’ve tried to forget, honestly.

It’s about the day, a long time ago, that I gave up on acting. I don’t remember the particular date…but I remember the year, where it was, & the time of year. I won’t reveal the exact location or year bc…well it doesn’t really matter anymore. But it was spring. I’d been poking around at acting & modeling for the past 5 years.

At this point I’d also nearly completed my 2nd BS degree and had been teaching talent & etiquette to kids on weekends (up to 3 weekends a month in my heyday!) for almost two years. I’d been a major cast member in plays at a drama festival two years in a row. My then-boyfriend had even introduced me to his friends as an actress (I realize now it was to stroke his own ego but…it was exciting in the moment). And the previous summer I’d recorded a demo cd but I’d gotten busy with MT school & hadn’t given it the attention and promotion I should’ve. But…overall I was still in the game.

It was a different game back then. Technology was different. Photos were more expensive bc you were paying for film & prints. Background work was largely obtained by standing in line with your headshot at the library and mooing thru a cattle call. And models were still basically heroin chic skinny, which I was not. But I’ve always had spirit and faith so…I was nothing if not persistent.

Until one morning. I was getting ready to go teach my Sunday morning modeling/acting/etiquette class and something upset my not-so-mr.-wonderful. Maybe it was me. I honestly remember thinking, “I have no idea why he’s doing this,” but…I set him off on a tirade. And I can remember leaving the house without my shoes on in order to avoid his bitching and hollering…I got into my car, ready to leave for work and he followed me. And even now I don’t really back down from anybody, so…things got heated.

He was basically, for whatever reason, saying that my job was stupid (it was a college weekend job, but to this day was one of the most rewarding, worthwhile experiences of my life & it covered the bills my scholarships & little student loan didn’t…but I digress). If I remember correctly he thought I needed to be home on weekends and blahdy blah, whatever. And for some reason we got on the subject of why I was wasting my time doing this job and the only thing I could muster was, “…because…I am an actress!”

And his response is something I think I legitimately repressed until a few days ago. Bc for whatever reason, those words set him off. The same person who’d previously introduced me as an actress was now enraged and belligerently amused by my use of the verbiage. And he laughed this dark, awful effing laugh and looked at me, as I was sitting in my driver’s seat with my car door open and proceeded to kick my door hinge in while screaming, “oh yeah?! Well where’s your fucking SAG card??” And…I can remember feeling pure panic and not being able to really even speak but still trying to explain my path while being stunned and confused and thinking, “this crazy bastard is gonna ruin my car!” (he was literally trying to kick my door off…which I later found out he’d done to a previous girlfriend’s Ford Escort. Seriously. Wtf. ) until I finally somehow grabbed the door handle and slammed it shut and sped off.

And I drove to work in a daze & I just did the only thing I could do to calm myself down. I blocked it out. It may well have never happened. The problem was I blocked out the wrong parts. I overlooked the abusive rage and I forgot the words, “I am an actress,” but I remembered the panic and I continued to live with that feeling for far too long.

After that day I lost contact with my then agent & my manager & my producer. I stopped mooing at the library. But I did everything that I was “supposed” to do. I built a career in healthcare and a family and all of the things normal people do. But…I think I kind of forgot about who I was. I lost who I wanted to be. I stopped entertaining people. I did what i was supposed to do. And you know what it got me? A decade & a half older (boo.) and two beautiful kids (yay!).

You see, some of us are born with this thing…it’s super difficult to describe. It’s this need to perform, the desire to entertain, this weird presence that makes our skin kinda crawl when we suppress it for too long….& it never really goes away. I was able to channel mine into entertaining my coworkers on off shifts and still teaching on weekends here & there, but it never went away. I just stopped daring to really pursue it outloud…until a year & a half ago, when despite having a tiny panic attack that morning before leaving for set, I did background on Hopeless. (No mooing necessary, so that was cool.)

And little by little, I’ve started thinking, this is what I was supposed to do all along, until just recently I started telling people on my livesteam broadcasts, “I am an actress.” And one day recently, I remembered when and why I’d stopped before. And I mean, I still don’t have a SAG card, but we all know that is not what defines an actress.

I guess it should be kind of embarrassing. That a fit of rage had that kind of impact…and maybe you could argue that I allowed it to, and you’d be correct. At that point in my life I just so desperately wanted somebody to love me that I stopped being the thing I wanted to be most. Humans are weird animals, dude. We don’t make sense & it’s a wonder we don’t all freakin’ self destruct.

But anyway…where am I going with this? I guess it’s that I screwed up a little. But I never completely lost hope or passion or something…so when I look at my life now and how busy it is and how absolutely insane I feel for still trying on the hardest days, I remember that terrified girl who gave up a little and I keep moving…because I don’t ever want to be afraid anymore and because…I am an actress. ❤️ #iamanactress #bebrave #moreglitter

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Merplings on the red carpet!!

It’s been a busy year. This past Saturday the kids got to see me on the “big screen” for a screening of the short film I was a part of for the 48 Hour Film Festival. It was pretty cool.

And scary. And a little stressful. We aren’t used to being downtown after dark. Ben has ADHD. Ava gets whiny after bedtime. But…we made it there on time, found parking, watched the screening, and even stayed for the awards (we tied for Best Use of Genre!!!).

flip flops, grace, Inspiration, Life is beautiful, mommy blog, Uncategorized

Broken flip flops

I wrote this the other day and shared it on my Fb but I think it’s worth sharing here.

My day has been a bit ridiculous so far. My phone is acting stupid so I’m limping along on my work cell. I thought I lost my debit card last night. Normally losing my debit card wouldn’t be a huge deal bc up until recently I had debit cards for two different accounts and would just juggle my funds electronically, whatever, but a scumbag compromised my other debit card a while back so I recently canceled it. So yeah…I was feeling pretty beaten up and angry and frustrated this morning.

Then one of my favorite flip flops just up & broke while I was trying to locate my debit card. Thankfully I DID find my debit card tho so yay!!

And it looks like my phone is under warranty so now I’m just mourning my flip flops. This is silly but significant because I don’t like shoes in general. But these were different and I wore them every time I could get away with not covering my toes. They had rhinestones and a little bit of platform. They were perfect.

All of this has bigger significance too tho. (Maybe?) The last time I had a pair of flip flops break on me was the day I passed my ASCP exam to officially become a med tech. My flip flop broke as I was approaching the front door of the exam place…but I limped along, unthwarted, asked the test administrator for a stapler, stapled them temporarily together (I couldn’t take the test barefoot…technicalities), and rocked that test.

So…I dunno if there’s really any deeper significance here, but it took a great deal of tenacity not to give up back then and this morning was similar, as I felt like everything was going wrong. I wanted to be like, “oh well. I’m screwed and cursed.” And just give up. But somehow I kept moving…and sometimes that’s all it takes to turn it all around.

I keep saying better days are coming and that things improve if you do…and it turns out maybe I’m right. the past few weeks have been difficult for me for many reasons. But at the same time, they’ve been kind of awesome…I’ve tap danced in between devastation and dignity, perfectly bipolar. And I’ve come to realize when faced with great difficulty, you just need to reach deeper and radiate deeper grace. As you improve, so will your conditions.

For every paralyzing defeat, there is at the very least a lesson, but often, something better lies in the wings. I find that many people do somewhat great things while somehow managing to stay in their comfort zone at the same time. I wish I could do that…I’ve come to realize that I only flourish when all hell breaks loose. In chaos I find my calm and in rejection I only try harder and I swear for every door that’s slammed on me in my life, a bigger blessing has come my way.

Anyway, I’m rambling, but just let me say that there are really good things coming down the pipe. When the crappiest part of a day like today boils down to a broken flip flop, I know I’m either pretty blessed or I’ve found a level of serenity to deal with whatever bs life throws at me. Fingers crossed. One foot in front of the other.

Inspiration, Kids, Life is beautiful, mommy blog, Uncategorized

Stroke your own ego

“Stroke your own ego,” I whisper to myself in the morning. Mornings are hard for me. A lot of people have a particular time of day that’s tougher than other times of the day. Mornings, to me, can be a reminder of all of things I didn’t do yesterday and everything I need to do NOW. Do this. Do that. Do this. And don’t be late.

Mornings are when every naggy voice from my past speaks up and tells me how and why I’m gonna fail. And every gloaty doty on social media is talking up their manufactured lives. Mornings are when two cranky, hungry bellies are whining about not wanting to go to school and I’m praying to myself that there are no traumas between the time we wake up and when I drop them at school.

So…mornings can be when I’m at my most broken. They’re when I feel the most alone. That’s one reason I started doing morning live videos. And they’re when I sit aside just a few seconds to stroke my own ego.

See…I used to spend time sending good mornings to people…and sometimes I still do but I found that it was disappointing when no one responded and there were days when literally no one did. It wasn’t their fault. We’re all busy. And it was a silly thing to do. I’ve learned you can’t spread sunshine in hopes of getting sunshine back. It’s gotta come from within. Like happiness and pancakes.

So instead of worrying about others, I started spending a bit to point out good things going on with me. And…it’s helped me. It’s like meditation, only quicker. It’s a tiny bit of gratitude that I can give myself. It’s serenity and grace and all of that good stuff.

So yeah…that’s what I recommend…especially on days when it feels like everything is crap and you’re just a plunger. Stroke your own ego…bc sometimes nobody will do it for you.

Inspiration, Kids, Life is beautiful, mommy blog, Uncategorized

Parenting alone sucks.

There. I said it. It’s something I’ve been feeling for…well over 5 years because…you see, after Ava was born her dad started being home less and less frequently. And then it started only really being for special occasions and what felt like public appearances.

It got so bad that my dad came from Michigan to help me because I had two tiny kids and a demanding job and…little help. And then my dad up and died. And since then I’ve struggled. I’ve struggled with emotions and finances and careers and kid stuff. And…I’m tired. And I’m often scared. And frequently lonely in a way that I can’t describe. But I try not to let on bc…I’m a strong, independent woman. And I know things like when people ask how your day is they rarely really give a crap.

For the past three years in a row I’ve taken the kids to Mardi Gras parades by myself. Because I can. But this past Friday, as I was struggling with the wagon and chairs and the bags by myself, something just hit me. I can do this. I CAN. but i don’t know for how long.

I look at happy families and I wonder where my life went wrong. Why don’t I have that? Could I ever have that? What’s wrong with me? And it hurts. I always feel like there’s something wrong with me. And maybe there is. I don’t even know.

But there are some things I do know. I love my kids. And I’m trying to do my best. And I think they know that. I know the next 10 or 12 years are gonna fly by and when they do, they’re gonna look back and know it was me that made sure they went to parades and turned in their projects on time and got them to school and wrote them Santa letters and worked odd jobs to afford their hobbies and….someday they’ll thank me. I think.

And there will be days like this morning where I sing to them and get them to school on time and everything goes smoothly even tho we slept through our first alarm. And the principal gives me a nod and a smile as I walk them to class, and I feel like maybe I can pull this all off.

But last Friday I felt more alone than I have in a very, very long time…and it’s those moments that lurk in the background like a cold dampness and remind me that even tho I’ve been doing this awhile, I have no freaking clue what I’m doing. But then I have to remind myself that maybe all that matters is that I just do whatever I can. So I do…and so far we’ve survived. ❤️

Inspiration, Kids, Life is beautiful, mommy blog, Uncategorized

Reflecting on 2017…

2017 made me brave. I definitely made mistakes and by mid year I was ready to quit…but I didn’t and the last six months of the year turned out to be pretty amazing…tho not without trials.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, in July I met the man of my dreams. And things were going amazingly, I’d worked on 3 wonderful movie projects with 3 more in the wings, I was in the best shape of my life, everything was falling in place and then something happened that knocked the wind out of me.

It’s not something that’s really easy to talk about. But Just before Halloween I found out that I had severe cervical dysplasia…highly aggressive precancerous cells. It’s something that’s common for women in my age group. It’s ok. It’s treatable…but this was me. And things like that don’t happen to me.

I had surgery in early November. My margins look good. My doctor says cancer isn’t gonna get me but…it was the waiting that drove me insane…waiting for path results, waiting for surgery, waiting for more results…just imagining evil little wonky cells dividing and multiplying…knowing that I wasn’t in control of my own body…regretting anything that contributed to this, worrying, wondering, looking at my kids and just knowing that they need me…it was HARD.

And now I wait for my 4 month checkup to make sure everything still looks good…and I’m struggling with getting my diet & fitness back on track but I know that I will. And I’m lucky in all respects…I have my family, my health, my job, and through all of this, I still have my amazing boyfriend.

This was a heavy thing for an early relationship to handle but Michael loves me. He really freaking loves me…and with him by my side, I feel like there’s nothing I can’t face.

2017 also was the year my Ben finally really pulled it together academically. I’m SO incredibly proud of him. And my Ava started guitar lessons…they’re both showing interest in arts and science and…they’re really cool kids.

So…here’s to hoping we carry the love and enthusiasm and into 2018. There is SO much to be grateful for. ❤️

Filmmaking, Fundraising, Inspiration, Life is beautiful, mommy blog, movies, Uncategorized

You can make excuses or you can make movies…

So…there’s this thing I did this year…I somehow started kind of acting. And how I did it, & the way it evolved and what it’s developed into kind of sounds like a movie in itself.

See…for like, nearly 2 decades I managed to talk myself out of getting involved in “Hollywood South”. I was busy. I had a demanding day job, then I had kids…I was the breadwinner and…I’m benandavasmom, I wasn’t an actress or anything like that…there was always a “valid” excuse as to why I couldn’t commit to being on a set, even though it’s something I’d wanted to do since I could talk and I’d done theatre and taken classes & workshops, even taught classes myself…but nope. I was reliable and stable…and as boring as I was bored. Continue reading “You can make excuses or you can make movies…”