Do you ever have a week chock-full of life lessons?
When something comes my way, especially if the message is repeated more than once, I realize it's a sign to pay attention to the lesson. It's like the fortune in the cookie. :)
So what were the big lessons for me this week?
1) Practice. When you practice something - any kind of activity from sports to the arts - you improve your skills and your game.
This week I performed in a small staged reading of a new musical, and it was wonderful to be immersed in the material for a full 2 days. The music was very complicated with lots of different time signatures and harmonies, and it could have seemed daunting. But by practicing my part, I went into the performance feeling strong and had a great time! :)
I also started a writing class this week. I've written dramatic pieces over the years, so I wanted to try my hand at comedy, and so I enrolled in a class at The PIT. The teacher is great, and he also affirmed the lesson of practice. The more you write - again, the more you practice anything - the better you get at it.
2) Find the positive and cheer each other on.
This lesson was also gleaned from my new writing class, and I thought it was a great philosophy.
Too often, in art especially, people will rip each other apart. There's a great scene in Mel Brooks' "History of the World Part 1" where a caveman artist is born, promptly followed by the birth of the critic.
But if we can find at least one positive and expound on that, who knows what other treasures we might find?
Next week we're going to get into constructive criticism, but this also reminds me of a lesson from one of my first musical theatre classes at AMDA. We had this great teacher named Karen, who was quite old... "as old as the hills," you might say. She reminded me of a combo of Ethel Merman and Aunt Clara from "Bewitched."
She was wonderful and would encourage the class to give feedback after each in-class performance. But we were not allowed to say a performance was "good" or "bad." We were encouraged to say what was "effective" or "ineffective" about a performance, and this language created a healthy playground for us all.
This takes me to...
3) Love your self.
As a petite woman and actress, I've always been aware of caloric inntake. In high school and college, I used to skip meals and even went on the Atkins diet to rapidly lose weight for an audition for "Days of Our Lives." This worked for a brief while until my body rejected this way of living. My blood pressure plummated during an audition and I passed out, literally falling flat on my face and breaking a tooth. It scared the heck out of me, and so I've made sure to eat healthily ever since.
I'm really into juicing right now and simply love it. I'm still working on losing the pounds. I hit the gym and power-walk everywhere, but I'm not a stick-thin actress - never have been. I'm curvy and I like to dress in sexy attire, so I wore a dress for this week's performance, and one of the gals in the cast complimented me on my figure. That made me feel great, and I told her how great she looked.
"Well, I can't dress like you," she said. "You have such beautiful arms, but mine... I need to cover them up."
I was astounded because A) I didn't see myself that way, and B) she was GORGEOUS! I mean, seriously, I hope I have this woman's figure when I get older.
So this made me realize that we don't see each ourselves as others do. Yeah, there are many harsh critics out there, but often, we're our own worst critics.
We really need to love and appreciate ourselves as we are RIGHT NOW. Sure, there are pounds to lose. Yes, there are things we may not like about ourselves, but can you imagine how good we would feel if we really loved, supported, appreciated and took care of ourselves right now? To really love every part of ourselves.
Some good things to think about.