Your title is not what defines you, you define you

Dear Readers,

As I was preparing for the “First Monday Night Prayer” which is a night our church family shares in community, food, and prayer I got to thinking about labels.

Somewhere along the road, I decided that being a Christian meant that you had to quote the bible all the time and it “looked” a certain way. I am delighted to find that life is full of so much more gray than that.

Take me for instance, I have many hats. I am a speaker, a manager, a coach, and an actor and a singer. Those are just a few. I am also a sister, an aunt, and hopefully one day, Mom.  This singing that I did for the church is as a direct result of my performance history and my wanting show my love for God. This post is not so much about that as the realization that you don’t have to accept the label that people give you especially when its a negative one.

Statement- Oh, she is a Christian- so she is righteous and religious and judges me.

No, I am a Christian, who believes in God, and is here to serve others and more importantly to meet YOU where YOU are. No judging here.

Statement- Oh she is an actor- so she is flighty and undependable

No, I am an actor which means I show up on time ( to fight that stereotype ) and am dedicated to my craft and work harder than anyone you have ever seen to bring a character to life.

So what is the point in all this you ask? Simple, you are the only one who puts limits on who YOU really are. A wealth of things await you in this life, all you have to do is be brave enough to call yourself what you are and own it.

This quote from Zen Pencils (you should really check this stuff out its inspiring) really landed on me.. especially because this is one of my favourite quotes by Marianne Williamson-

http://zenpencils.com/comic/65-marianne-williamson-our-deepest-fear/

“our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate….. our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure”

It was scary for me to sing for God, mostly because I have never done it before, but shining my “light” in that way made me feel really good and I hope it helped someone else see, “Hey, I could do that, too!”

Think about It…. FirstMondayPrayer

Failure is not the end of your story, its just a chapter in your book

Dear Readers,
I come to you today to talk about the journey, not the destination. I think its super easy to say, hey, I did it.. or we did it.. and bask in the glow of success never giving a though to the sacrifices and setbacks you experience among the way. For my purposes, I am going to tell you about a setback we are having right now in our journey to debt freedom.
We had projected by the end of November which is exciting and then Tuesday we found out that the car we are paying off (Murphys Law has a sense of humor) needs some repairs so the money we have been using to pay off the debt at an accelerated rate now gets to go to car repairs so its disappointing. In fact, I was trying really hard to not get excited about the debt free date at the end of November because I kept waiting for something to screw us up. Guess what, I was right. I HATE that I was right. Its certainly not the end of the world, but its worth mentioning because it is part of the journey. . (looking forward to that post when we ARE DEBT FREE) because its still coming, just slightly delayed.
In my career as an actress, I have failed many more times than I have succeeded.
I have auditioned many more times than I have “gotten the part”. As the speaker and writer Jon Acuff says, “Its about making reps”- or repetitions
Showing up to do the work, over and over, makes you READY for when they (the people casting) say YES. At the end of the day, when you get that goal, you don’t focus so much on what rejection has come before, you are so excited that you have won.
I also hurt my back in May and have not been able to keep training for the half marathon I wanted to do in January 2016, but I am focusing on the fact that I am now working my way back up to a 10K. Recently I slow jogged a 5K so 10K can’t be far behind. I am looking forward to the chapter (many months away) that I get to write about that success. Stay tuned, for more on that.
So put another way, if you fail, its not the end, its just a chapter in your book.
I love this quote from Michael Jordan who is undeniably a success story. MichaelJordan
Think about it…..

One chapter begins as another ends…

I was casting about for some pithy way to start this post and hit upon this quote

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

Frank Herbert

I have several friends who are moving into the next phase of their life – going to graduate school, getting married, adopting kids, fostering kids and having kids and changing their career to name but a few.

These are all exciting things to happen but do not come without a level of stress- I learned in college all about “eustress” which is defined here-

  1. Eustress is a term coined by endocrinologist Hans Selye. The wordeustress consists of two parts. The prefix eu- derives from the Greek word meaning either “well” or “good.” When attached to the word stress, it literally means “good stress”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I don’t know about you but I don’t generally think of stress as associated with good things but isn’t that the ultimate in reframing a situation? I am a big fan of that phrase and practice because let’s face it there are lots of situations in life that are not as we wish them to be, so in reframing you can paint it with the brush you like instead of the brush you have. For instance, I can look at today like, man I am tired and don’t want to go work out today, or as my good friend Jessica says, I have the “opportunity” to be tired because I am busy living a life I love and I have the “opportunity” to work out because my body is a working, breathing instrument that I am blessed to have working for me.                                                                           

Is that a little “being pollyanna” or viewing the world in “rose-colored glasses” YOU BET.. and most of the time it’s how I choose to view my life. Mark me, this does not exclude hard circumstances and real-life difficulty, but there are real opportunities every day to look for the happy rather than the annoying aspect of a given situation.

For example, I could look at my friend going to graduate school and moving away from Austin to become a professor as very sad and focus on the fact that he is moving away.

Yes, there is a level of sadness that goes with it, but I choose to focus on all the students he is going to impact and help live more enriched lives and the things they have yet to experience in his as yet unfilled classroom. This also gives way to the opportunity to stay in touch whether that is by email or even (gasp) a paper and pen letter.

Perhaps we could all stand to have a change like that. What chapter do you need to bring to an end to get YOU to your NEXT chapter?

Think about it…

It’s all about perspective….

Dear Readers,

I talk a LOT about perspective on this blog, but you know its an important topic.

If you are someone who is starting a new diet, your perspective might be, “wow, I have a really long way to” but a better way to look at it is. “I am starting something new that is healthy and will take time for me to figure out how to do well”

If you are someone who is planning to run a 10 mile race in three months (insert scream here) you might say.. “gosh I haven’t worked out nearly enough to get to that goal.. but a better way to say it “I have thrown my hat over the wall and made a financial commitment to be more responsible about my health and that will take time and patience”

If you are someone who auditioned for the show “Chicago” with dreams of singing and dancing to “All That Jazz” and didn’t get a callback or the role, you might think, I should just give up, show business is so hard and its really unforgiving, a better way to look at it is. “I held my own with career dancers and brought it with a song” I may not be what they are looking for right now, but one day soon, I will be, I just need to keep working and playing and auditioning and studying and treating myself as the artist I am and it will lead to wonderful things.

So if you are not feeling particularly Pollyanna or Tony Robbins at the moment, I hear that, (that is kind of why I wrote the blog today to snap myself out of a funk) just don’t stay in the funk, take a beat and think about what you can reframe or change in your kaleidoscope and find the best possible way to look at it and think of this…. and be sure to yell, that is the best part of this advice! IMG_0258

Be BIG, be BOLD, be BRIGHT!

Dear Readers, its 2015! Hooray!

Every year we get a chance to do something new, start over or just plain start.

This year, I am starting off by auditioning for a show I love. It’s absolutely not something that I would have thought possible without the help of my very intense Meissner class over the last year and a half. The instructor said in one of our early classes, “I coach principals” and to clarify for my non-actor readers perusing these words.. that means he coaches Hamlet, not Horatio.

I have worked harder this year on my craft and opened myself up more than I have ever done before and its scary, soul-shattering stuff. In case you thought being an actor was easy, you were wrong. I am living proof.

I find it important to write these words BEFORE the audition when the hope wells up inside of you like a fountain ready to burst forth with all the energy and enthusiasm you can muster. I have auditioned a lot this year and felt good about each and every one but you don’t have control over casting. As a director, I know this but it doesn’t mean I like it. On the other side of the coin, part of being an actor is full-time auditioner, part-time role taker. It really is that simple. A no comes a lot more often than a yes but the no’s make you savor the yes that much more.

I do not know what will happen with this audition on Sunday, I only know that I am preparing myself and working as hard as a I can to be the best I can be and that’s where my control ends.

The thing I hold fast to is these words-

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson

So I hope that by bearing my soul to you, my dear wonderful reader, that it encourages you to shine your light, to be BIG, Be BOLD, and BE BRIGHT!

What do you have to lose? Nothing. What do you have to gain? Everything!

Think about it….

SwirlyGirlJenniferHaston

What

Baby Steps, young grasshopper, they will lead you to GOLD!

Dear Readers, I had a phenomenally successful acting class last night.

I have been in a 2 year program for acting with the Meissner method and this is the 2nd month of the 2nd year and last night things clicked .. but it was NOT magic. It was a series of habits done over and over and with precision that led to me acting “in spite of myself”. If you don’t know anything about Meissner, don’t feel bad, it’s not necessary for you to know it unless you take this class. I have had so much frustration, angst, and finally joy from this class and it has made me realize how passionate I am about being an artist from head to toe.

I am an actor. Period. Really. There used to be a “Yes, I am a an actor, but you know, not working right now or yes I am an actor with a sideways glance and a hint of not shame but a little bit of embarrassment because its hard to explain what you do when you are actor to people who aren’t actors. Not to generalize, but most people think acting is easy, I am here to tell you it is not  but the truth is, I am working harder than I have EVER worked and its wonderful. It’s hard, trying and soul-discovering work. I didn’t realize how many parallels there are to good acting and good living.. Let me explain. Since taking this class I have learned a few things about myself and I will bet they apply to you too.

1. Be patient with yourself and curious about others-

My acting teacher said this last year over and over and I didn’t really understand it but now I do. Being patient with yourself is the nicest thing you can do for yourself. Being curious about others allows you to learn about them and not judge them or if you judge them, figuring out why.

2. Baby steps yield you a harvest of gold.

Last night’s success was built on many baby steps of learning lines, doing character analysis, rehearsal, flubbing lines, being in the moment, really listening to my partner to hear what she was saying not just picking up cues making it real for myself.

3. You are not perfect, stop trying to be.

As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, this one still sucks. I want so much to be perfect or have the best scene but all I can do is show up and see what happens.

I think this is good life advice too, show up and see what happens.

Think about it…..

Who is fanning the flames of your greatness?

“Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames”- Rumi

My acting class is exposing me to all things artistic, including poetry and new authors. In fact, I did a color by number for the first time ever because of this class, its new and exciting especially since I have never done it before. Also with doing something new, comes frustration with not being perfect immediately. Surely, I am not alone here, but it feels like I am the only one who has ever experienced the agitation of waking of a new part of your brain to work on something and think in a new way, n’est-ce pas?

This week we had a quote from Rumi who I am starting to explore and really enjoying. I love this quote because it embodies so many things I am passionate about. First of all, it speaks to living a life that is not ordinary “set your life on fire”.  Second, and perhaps more important, seeking out people who increase your being, and make sure that you are not seeking those who serve only to extinguish your passion or excitement. As an extremely enthusiastic person, I have allowed my light to be clicked off more times than I care to remember. It hurts most when it comes from those who supposedly love you and have your best interests at heart. At times like this, it is important to remember that you can get support from lots of people but you are the only one capable of making the best decision for you since its your life, not theirs.

A very good friend of mine once said to me, I don’t say “take care” because I don’t want people to take care, I want them to take off and soar!

I invite you to do the same… Soar and soar high and do one thing today that utterly scares you. As of this writing, I have done that for the day.