Poking Through Clouds to See the Light, Part Five

SEE THE LIGHT FIVE ACT Poking Through Clouds to See the Light, Part Five

Healing all your Bodies

I was about 20 when, to please an older up-and-coming playwright boyfriend, I went with him to see a Hawaiian Kahuna, a medicine man.  I was surprised that the large venue was packed.  I was also surprised that I just couldn’t tear my eyes away from the Kahuna.  And that his voice seemed to boom from multiple megaphones all at once throughout the auditorium.

But the most mind-blowing thing was yet to come.  As we mingled after the talk, I glimpsed a little boy about 8 making his way through the crowd.  I could tell that he was regarded as special the way participants pointed and talked of him in hushed tones.  “He sees auras,” they whispered.  The little boy, who couldn’t have been much taller than my waist, came right up to me, tugged on the hem of my jacket, and said, “Your aura is blue-purple.  You’re a healer.”

This was the first time anyone had said anything remotely like that to me.  I had no idea what an aura was at that time.  So this chance meeting with this gifted little boy was my abrupt first introduction to the concept of energy bodies. Continue reading

Poking Through Clouds to See the Light, Part Four

SEE THE LIGHT FOUR Act Poking Through Clouds to See the Light, Part Four

 

Rescripting your Life’s Story with Guided Imagery

Guided imagery saved my life.  I could say I had an awful childhood but others had it much worse.  I did grow up, however, with little acknowledgement for who I was or what I did.  A mottled duck that never made it as a swan haltingly gliding on an endless black-as-pitch lake.  QWAAK!

So by the time I started studying Method acting and pursuing an actual career in my late twenties, I was in trouble.

That duck qwaaked her way through emotion-crushing preparations for roles, panic attacks, constant rejection, and many other public and private things dramatic.  Experiences that worked great for the often offbeat roles in which I was often cast.  But not so great for my life.  So by the time I ended up bawling while hugging a toilet in the ladies’ room of the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, I was ready to get some help.  My friend, Corinne, agreed.  Leaning over me in the stall, she said, “Why don’t you go to my therapist.”

I was with her therapist for twenty years.  She introduced me to many things, including a psychic who was very influential in my spiritual growth, past lives and even extraterrestrials.  But most of all she introduced me to guided imagery. Continue reading

Poking Through Clouds to See the Light, Part Three

SEE THE LIGHT THREE ACTING Poking Through Clouds to See the Light, Part Three

Getting to the HEAD of your Life’s Story

Okay . . . here’s where we get down and dirty.  By “dirty” I mean that, instead of just thinking or reading about it, we’re going to challenge some of your cuckoo beliefs by taking action on them.  And we’re going to do that with some oft-used, well-researched cognitive behaviorial processes.  As well as some that I use that are considered a little bit lunatic fringe, such as guided imagery, Emotional Freedom Technique, and even Color Breathing.  So we may be spending a few more weeks with each other.

That’s why I called this part the “head”.  Because the process we’re going to talk about is actually “head” or mind-centered.  “Cognitive” is about how your brain works.  And some people actually solve problems better when they can puzzle things out mentally.  Me, I’m a more “heart-centered” person.  I respond better to the processes that I’ll cover in the next couple of blogs.  Take what you respond to and leave the rest.  But for now let’s use our heads.

So remember in the last article I identified some irrational beliefs about my big ol’ honkin’ life’s story . . .

I PUNISH MYSELF WHEN I’M NOT LIVING MY PURPOSE AND PASSION

And I chose the punishing beliefs “I’m always going to be fat” and “I’ll never exercise on a regular basis” to start working on.   Don’t know what your irrational beliefs are?  Let’s back up a sec and discover them. Continue reading

Poking Through Clouds to See the Light, Part Two

SEE THE LIGHT TWO acting Poking Through Clouds to See the Light, Part Two

Rewriting your Life’s Story

I was enjoying a rare day off watching all my favorite TV until 2am last night and was now sipping cinnamon-infused coffee while sunbeams streamed lazy-hazily through gauze curtains in my office.  Or part of a day as Saturday usually I usually see two or three clients.  And two of them appear to now be in crisis, so I also need to check in with them today.

But I never mind.  Because that’s my purpose and passion.  Then it hit me!  What I feel when I’m healing clients nurtures and energizes me.  But lately I’ve had some very challenging times with a colleague who wants to get me fired.  And another consulting venue that’s so totally disorganized I can’t do my work well.  I’m also waiting for the contracts to be signed for a better opportunity, but haven’t heard back as yet.  Probably bound in yellow corporate “caution” tape.  All heavily-stressed energy-draining scenarios at best.

So I got a pack of cigarettes yesterday.  And smoked and smoked.  I very rarely do that.  Only when I feel hopeless.  I threw the rest of the pack out this morning.  And, while standing at the trash realized what my life’s story was.  Like a multi-lumen lantern suddenly switched on in my head.

You see, I had worked through my own process . . . the one I laid out in my last article which you can read here  . . . by writing voluminous answers to each question.  So true to the way we’re wired I started the process consciously and my unconscious mind took care of the rest.

I discovered over the trash can that I’d been doing this my whole life . . . punishing myself.  It began with feeling punished for my passions, especially my love of art, theatre and writing, by others.  And somewhere along the way that scripting metamorphosed into self-punishment for not doing what I was called on to do.  Now I realize why I’m ultra-sensitive about people laughing at me.  Even when I get the joke. Continue reading

Poking Through Clouds to See the Light

POKING ACT Poking Through Clouds to See the Light

A Change your Mind to Change your Life Process

Yesterday, I found myself yakking with my friend and colleague, Patrice, about life, business, essences and the like . . . trivial little things like that.  And little did I know that it would send me teetering on the verge of a radical life-change.

Patrice is an energy healer stuck in a corporate medical-model mindset.  But she had  just figured out that the medical model didn’t suit her way of healing,  All I could say was, “DUH!”.  Then a little venting on my part about how the medical model was unsuited to treat many diseases today, especially the core reasons behind many chronic inflammatory problems such as Irritable Bowel and Fibromyalgia, and still others that might lead to Heart Disease, Diabetes, and Cancer to name just a few.

Patrice then questioned what she actually did as a healer.  Her ultimate goal is to help those who feel stifled and stuck in their corporate jobs to find a path to their dreams.  And wasn’t quite sure how to integrate her counseling skills, corporate background, and intuitive powers to that end.

I then explained that I had the same type of problem.  I was comfortable sharing my intuitive gifts with the acting community, and had done so for many years.  But when it came to my nutrition practice, I was somewhat squeamish about revealing them.  Even though I had great success healing people who couldn’t find relief anywhere else. Continue reading

The View from the Abyss

the view from the abyss The View from the Abyss

All puns intended and my apologies to Arthur Miller for the title of this piece.  But I’ve been thinking for a very long time about the dilemma actors have of using themselves fully.  I’ve studied every major acting technique of the 20th Century.  And I know that many actors . . . and famous ones at that . . . have great successes using Meisner-like imagined preparations.  But that never worked for me.  Me . . . I had to use my own experiences and emotions . . . virtually all of myself . . . to create a role.

I also studied Meisner with Meisner, Uta with Uta, and improv with Spolin.  But Strasberg’s Method most resonated with me.  That’s not to say that I didn’t use those other acting gizmos such as adjustments and as-ifs.  But my favorite part of acting was using Lee’s Sense Memory exercises and any other raw tidbits of myself to create a character.  Throw in some animal characteristics, get that personal object cranking that makes me cry, and create the energy of that haunted place in Beverly Glen where I used to live that scares the hell out of me.  Toss about an adjustment like thinking I would float away if I didn’t touch something solid.  Yes, using myself became an absolute obsession.

I also did extensive research when needed.  We did Brecht on Brecht years ago at the Strasberg Institute.  Because that’s what Brecht’s epic theatre style demanded of us.  Just tell the story!  Then the audience will feel the emotion.  A tall task for emotional and emoting Method actors.  Especially since I was portraying a Jewish wife married to an Aryan doctor in 1939 who on the phone agonized over taking the children and getting out of Berlin.  Fast. Continue reading

Is Acting a Radical Act?

radical act Is Acting a Radical Act?

Acting Is and Ever Has Been a Form of Revolution

You’re gonna laugh!  Well, maybe not, because you’re probably watching every bit of TV you can get your hands on for episodic casting these days.  But I get some of my best inspirations from watching TV.

So, the other night, I was watching Criminal Minds.  At the beginning and the end, they always do a voiceover quote that sums up the episode’s theme.  I can’t remember what I had just seen.  But, after I heard the quote, I just had to write it down.  After repeating it aloud a couple of dozen times and knocking over a flower vase while rummaging for a pencil, I finally scribbled on a sticky note, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act—George Orwell”.

I began to think . . . acting has always been a revolutionary and radical act.   I was also surprised that Dictionary.com defines the word “radical” as not only “favoring drastic political, economic, or social reforms”, which I already knew, but also meant “fundamental; going to the root or origin”. So a radical state is not only about upheaval but about returning to our origins. Continue reading

You ARE an Actor-Business

Actor Business You ARE an Actor Business

Here’s some Kick-Ass Marketing for actors . . . little things you can do to advance your career. I wrote this blog a few years ago, but it still applies today.

Years ago, fresh off an audition which I aced in spades (and got!), I was driving down Laurel Canyon and waved at two others who had also auditioned (they didn’t).  They seemed like great girls.  And later they became my many-year friends.  But then, they rolled down the passenger-side window and yelled, “Going to Mirabelle on the Strip.  Wanna come?”

Mirabelle is still there on Sunset.  And so is the concept put in my head all those years ago by Vic Tayback, riding the wave of incredibly successful TV sitcom after many years as an equally successful character actor.  I was really cute then, fresh off yet another diet and exercise program to squeeze into a size 6 for a show.  And wearing a really revealing outfit to boot.  After a few minutes with my newly-found friends, I joined Tayback at the bar.  And, after he found out that I had a brain and was an observer at the Actor’s Studio, light flirtation gave way to serious talk about acting.

We closed the place, my friends long gone.  And, as he walked me to my car, he said something I’ve NEVER forgotten to this day.  “In order to succeed in Hollywood, you have to be great at both acting AND business.”  (I wasn’t, so I didn’t.)

I’m still learning about business to this day.  And I’ve seen business-savvy actors with little talent or training working all the time.  So I know that Tayback’s advice was true.  My advice to you, therefore, is to learn as much about the acting business as you can.  And begin to think of your acting as a commodity . . . one to excel at and sell equally. Continue reading

The Soul of Success: Humor

success humor The Soul of Success: Humor

I encounter actors every day who are clueless about how to be a success.  And clueless about the qualities inherent in highly successful actors. Like fearlessness, humor and focus.  Can you acquire these qualities?  Absolutely!  It just takes an awareness that they’re a necessary part of your acting life.  I feel like I’ve been guided to write this “Soul of Success” series.  Perhaps to help you cultivate these qualities in your own careers?       

When things get tough. . . and my face screws up with tension . . . and I’m about ready to cry from fear or frustration . . . I’m so glad that life finally transforms into an absurbist play. Y’know, like Waiting for Godot, where a profound message is cloaked in a plethora of pratfalls?

When my life clicks into the absurdist play stage, my face unscrews and I’m actually able to chuckle at stuff that may be harrowing.   In other words, I can see the humor in whatever’s happening.  Sometimes (sigh) at long last.

Don’t we just love those sitcoms that “hold a mirror up to nature”?   As a child in the ‘50’s, I grew up planted in front of a then tiny TV screen watching such classics as I Love Lucy and The Honeymooners.  I didn’t know then that comedy is an ancient theatrical form that reconnects us to our primal selves. In Sanskrit drama, humor is one of the eight basic emotional responses that actors portray and comedy is associated, predictably, with mirth.  Comedy allows us to laugh at our own flaws.  And those of others.  I love comedy so much that I wrote my master’s thesis on it. Continue reading

The Soul of Success: Fearlessness

fearlessness The Soul of Success:  Fearlessness

I encounter actors every day who are clueless about how to be a success.  And clueless about the qualities inherent in highly successful actors. Like fearlessness, humor and focus.  Can you acquire these qualities?  Absolutely!  It just takes an awareness that they’re a necessary part of your acting life.  I feel like I’ve been guided to write this “Soul of Success” series.  Perhaps to help you cultivate these qualities in your own careers?       

I was surprised when an old friend, Jim, called me today.  Aren’t those the most delicious kinds of calls!  Jim had also been one of my original students when I began my private classes eleven years ago.  We talked about how idyllic that first class had been.  And what an exciting exploration time it was for all of us.

Then our conversation strayed to how fearless he had been that first year   With very little knowledge of the industry, and with very little training and expertise, he managed to do small parts in about 40 films.  And still made it to class every week.  While holding down a full-time job.  We also talked of others in the class who had circumscribed their lives into smaller and smaller fearful circles.  The bottom line is . . . he works . . . and they don’t.

“Things are always changing,” he explained, “so it’s silly to be afraid!”  Eckhart Tolle said in his wonderful book, A New Earth, “when you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.  It means that fear is no longer a dominant factor in what you do and no longer prevents you from taking action to initiate change . . . If uncertainty is unacceptable to you, it turns into fear.  If it is perfectly acceptable, it turns into increased aliveness, alertness, and creativity.”  I couldn’t have said it better.  Neither could Jim. Continue reading