Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Growing up in sunny CA, you wouldn't think I'd be a fan of New York's snowy winters, but I love them!

It presents 2 calls to action: either to hibernate or to take on the season!

So far this year, I've done both. But lately, I've been feeling the need to be more active, and I'd like to get to the gym on a daily basis, so today I threw on my snow-gear and hiked through the winter wonderland with purpose.

I can't help but be charmed by the beauty of the snowflakes as they land on everything. I especially love when the snow covers the trees. It looks so magical!

Then there's the pleasure of going inside where it's warm and cozy, and watching the snowflakes drift past the window.

I grabbed an elliptical machine near a large window today and worked on some plays as I worked out, and it was neat to look out the window and see other people moving through the winter wilderness that is currently Manhattan.

"In the lane.... snow is glistening."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Benefits of Manhattan

One of the things that's so cool about living in NY is how accessible everything is. I've been working on my nutrition with Monica McCarthy whose website Morning Do is such an uplifting tool, and this morning I'm starting with a delicious juice of beets, spinach, apple, carrots and parsley.

Never thought I'd go there, but I've noticed a need to get more veggies into my life, and juicing is such an easy way to do it. In Manhattan, many corner markets offer juicing options, and today's juice is brought to you by Equinox Gym, which has lots of delicious options.

Another thing I love is how art is everywhere here! When I walk to auditions at any of the studios in town, I get to walk by rows of gorgeous Broadway Theatres. Even going to the gym, I pass these charming Off Broadway theatres or I'm right by Lincoln Center. Talk about inspirational!

Lincoln Center has always been one of my favorite places. When I first moved here to go to AMDA, I'd sit near the fountain on my breaks, just drinking the whole city in.

I still visit about once a week, usually to go to the Library of the Performing Arts. Oftentimes, I'm just walking briskly by, but I still love it, and I get a kick out of any time a film uses the place - like some of the exterior shots used for Black Swan where Natalie Portman is walking to the door of the ballet. It's neat because this is my stomping ground. :)

Another favorite place to go is the Time Warner Center. I walk by it every day, and it always thrills me.

Right now they have this really neat art dsiplay of Salvador Dali's work called The Visions of a Genius. There's a giant (and I mean GIANT) statue of his famous melting clock:

(Katie Sokoler/Gothamist)

But my favorite is this little sculpture of a woman on a horse, surrounded by butterflies:

Triumphant and beautiful.

The pieces are on loan from Dali's private secretary and confidante, Enrique Sabatar y Bonany, and represent "examples of Dali's creative development at the height of his Surrealistic powers."

The display is available until April 30, 2011. Don't miss it!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Going with The Flow

When I was a kid, my family would go camping with my aunt, uncle and 3 cousins. They had a truck with a camper-shell, and we had a bubble-top van. I was probably around 11 or 12, and it was such an adventurous time of life.

I'm thinking of it today because I have this wonderful "go with the flow" kind of feeling, and it makes me think of the time we went inner tubing down the Colorado River.

We all had our own black rubber inner tubes, and we'd carry them on our shoulders, hiking up the shore of the river to find a good spot to jump in.

The water was kind of green and it moved with a speed you couldn't see right away. But once you got into it... zoom! You're off!

We'd all keep close to each other even though the tubes weren't tied together. There was something so lovely about sitting in the tube, cruising down the river with speed and grace, and that's how I feel today. Like I'm moving along with (and towards) something incredible.

I have an audition later today and I'd like to keep enjoying the ride, you know? Just let go and say, "Whee!!!" :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

An Evaluation

Almost every actor, while trying to "make it," aka succeed as a working actor, has to have some kind of support job. It can also be referred to as a "survival" job, but I prefer to call it a support job, because it is part of the support I need while nurturing my acting career. To survive is another thing.

I have been very fortunate to have long-term acting jobs that span from months to years, and I am also fortunate to have a support job that works around my true career.

Something I've noticed with the corporate world is that most companies have 6 month evaluations where employees are asked to look back at what they've accomplished and then look ahead to what they'd like to achieve. This can easily be applied to the acting profession as well.

In the past 6 months I've been fortunate to do acting work in almost every field: film, comedy, drama, musicals. I am also blessed to have an abundance of artists around me, people who understand the desire to create.

 My brother is a drummer and a great "explorer" of the arts. Besides music, he is passionate about films, paintings, poetry... almost any kind of art there is. He and I often talk about "the business of show" as well as the artistry of it. We share stories and life lessons, and I am always so thankful to hear his point of view.

He recently asked me what I want to focus on moving forward. I have a tendency to want to do it all. But he offered me this life lesson of something he gleaned from an old jazz musician: "Specialize." And Collaborate.

I still want to do it all, but I am trying to narrow my focus, to follow my gut impulses, and this leads me to the desire to nurture some very personal projects which includes writing and producing a short film and working on a possible web series with some friends. When I think about these projects, I get very excited about them, and I believe that is something very special unto itself. It's the fire that keeps the furnace burning, ya know?

So.... my next step is to create a schedule of sorts, so I can be focused on these projects and nurture them into being. To take time to write every day and also keep my acting tools sharp, because it is indeed audition season. There's a lot to do, but I'm excited to do it! Just got to keep things in perspective and keep disciplined and focused while enjoying the ride.

 Off to the next adventure! :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Seeking Peace

Honoring those who were killed in the Arizona shooting on Saturday, and sending good wishes to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who is fighting for her life.

"...It’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.” - President Barack Obama

(with thanks to my friend, Tina, for the Peace sign)

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Black Swan

I saw Black Swan today, and it was a fascinating film. Director Darren Aronofsky doesn't shy away from the brutal discipline required for ballet, and I love his use of Swan Lake for this "play within a play." Natalie Portman's character, Nina, has to go from being a precise perfectionist, people-pleasing dancer to an artist who can abandon precision for that true perfect state of transcendent freedom. She has a total meltdown, trying to bring out the Black Swan within herself, and it's thrilling to watch.

It's also an interesting notion: What do we have to destroy or bring out in ourselves to achieve a higher art?

Obviously, you don't have to go mad to achieve great art. The director and actors in Black Swan aren't mad. In fact, they're brilliant. And I think that's the thing we're all trying to achieve as artists: To take our technical lessons, the work we've done, and then let it go, let it flow.

As actors, we're often told to "let go," and "get out of your own way," to transcend technique to allow the real art to flow.

I know when I've been onstage and have been so utterly in the moment, flowing with the playwright's words, or the music of a song, something magical happens, and there's this connection of artists, artistry and audience. Everything is flowing and alive, and it's magical!

So I came out of this movie, thinking, How can we build ourselves up instead of tearing ourselves down? What is beautiful? And what makes you feel beautiful?

I'd be interested to know.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Make a Happy List

Before the old year retired and the New Year began, I was already hearing this message from several good friends:

Make a list.

Make a list of short-term goals, make a list of long-term goals. And this was my favorite suggestion: Make a Happy List.

What we focus on each day impacts our life experience. There are always options. So what choices do you want to make to make your world a better place?

I especially like this piece from Wayne Dyer: "...set up day-to-day goals for yourself, and then resolve to begin living with present moment awareness for the rest of your life."