Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Land of Gathering

It's been almost six months since I last blogged, and so often I've come to this page, staring at a blank screen, and wondered where the hell do I even start?

The easiest, simplest way to tell all of you who are still reading this blog and care about where I've been (and bless you if you are and you still do) is to say that I've been in the Land of Gathering.

You know how sometimes you put off getting your life together for months, even years? And sometimes it takes such a concentrated effort of energy, such laser-like focus, that you need to shut out everything else for a while. Sometimes it makes explaining what you're doing while you're in the middle of doing it difficult, and tedious, and distracting. Sometimes, especially when you're a perfectionist, like I am, you don't want to talk about it, you just want to do it, and you want to get it done correctly. There's flow, there's meraki, there's a vision and a plan and steps and to-do lists and buckets of things that you yearn to do with all your being that have been put off for so long they have slipped back into the cracks of the walls that hold you up, but you still feel them knocking into your bones when you try to sleep at night when the winds come around.

Life sometimes feels like a spool of tangled thread or cords, and I keep thinking that all I need to do is get back to the source where it's plugged into the wall or connected to that huge ball of yarn and then I can start to really put things back on track from where they continuously slid off while I wasn't looking. But a fresh start isn't merely difficult; it is impossible. So I did the next best thing, which was run away from home, both metaphorically and literally.

In June, I boarded a plane to Boston with my husband Benni and my two brothers for our cousin-only family reunion, where I met all of my second cousins for the very first time, had actual conversations with my first cousins for the very first time (I hadn't seen most of them since I was nine years old), and waded into the murky family history that needed a little bit of cleaning and clearing between the twenty or so of us. I'll be blunt - I have a very manipulative family, and anything and everything that I post on this blog can (and has in the past) been used against me. And it's tough to know what to say while treading on thin ice so I'll just say this: my brothers and I put in a lot of prep work to make sure this was a safe space for everyone, free from the influence and machinations of others, and it worked beautifully, and the vulnerability and honesty and kindness and genuineness of this family reunion is something I will never forget, and something that can never be taken away from any of us.

Below is the only picture I'll show from the reunion: my brother Jeff and Benni showing two little cousins of ours how to fly wooden airplanes for the first time. It's memories like this that move me to tears and have me fall on my knees in gratitude daily. For the first time in a very long time, I was able to gather my family back into my arms and back into my heart.



Then in August I quit my job, which was lovely, considering that by the time I left it was what could safely be deemed a "hostile environment," and I can say in good conscience that I did my best as an employee while I worked there, that I left on my own terms, with integrity, and that by the time I left my employer had changed his mind and decided to appreciate me after five years of nothing but passive aggression. I gathered my pride, and gathered my things, and walked out the door.

Two days later I boarded a plane with my husband and then touched down in London.

Benni and I spent three days in London; three days in Paris; and four days in Barcelona. I'd forgotten how much I loved traveling, how it seeps into my heart and winds its delicate fingers around my veins and takes my pulse. I'd forgotten how much I missed it, missed exploring new places and speaking in broken second (or third) languages and trying new foods and making new friends. And I gathered my sense of adventure, and my fearlessness, and my go-with-the-flow attitude that I thought I'd lost because I was too busy taking things too seriously. (For honeymoon pictures, refer to my Instagram account up and to the right, but I'll post some next week too.)

Back home in September, I gathered my focus, and I drop-kicked my fear of failure in the face, and started working my ass off at making my acting career my first priority. Postcards, business cards, mailing lists, resumes, reels, press releases, social media blitzes, networking lunches, work sessions with friends, modeling shoots, reading scripts, auditions... I went balls to the wall. And I have not stopped. Nor will I, until I get what I want, because I finally got my eye back on the prize. Now all I gotta do is get better about sharing where I'm coming from with my friends (you guys). This post is a good start, hopefully.

So...yes. I've been busy. Gathering myself into the many channels of life that I love, focusing, sharpening, and getting clearer and stronger. And I gotta say... the view is pretty nice.





Maybe since we're gone and all is through

I've got such a view,  I've got such a view 

- The Ceremonies, "Land of Gathering"


Thursday, May 30, 2013

winding up....

Lately I feel spring-loaded, like there's all this energy buzzing in my hands that's cocked waaaaay back, about to explode when I let it go. I've been doing a lot of prep work for the things I've got lined up this summer, and it's required a lot of hard work and plans and serious A-Typing, but I think it's all gonna be worth it. I feel like I'm gonna throw a super fast curve ball straight through summer. And that it's gonna feel good.

First up: I changed up my look a bit and got new headshots. That's right! I dyed my hair strawberry brunette and got full bangs, then took some spiffy new headshots as the Quirky Girl. (What does "quirky" even mean, anyway? Does it mean "weird" but "not so weird that the person might stalk and kill you"? I haven't figured it out yet.) If you look up "quirky" in the dictionary, though, I bet there's a picture of Zooey Deschanel. She's the ultimate Quirky Girl.  And she's adorable.

So here are some shots you guys might like, all courtesy of the fabulous Dana Patrick in LA: 







Yay! Pictures! That might lead to acting jobs! I'm excited. I'm still in a fantastic acting class, too, but I'm taking a break in July to study dialects at a local college with this lovely lady

This summer I am also heading over to the East Coast (Lake Winnipesaukee, where my family used to own property when I was little) to meet up with all of my cousins for a week-long family reunion. It's going to be a blast to reconnect with everyone and make some great new memories. I'm pretty jazzed to meet all of my little second cousins too. 

And finally, last but maybe most hugely (is that a word? It is now), Benni and I booked our honeymoon for later this year. We're going to not one, not two, but to THREE different cities. Anyone want to guess? I'll give you a hint:



Yep! Great guesses! We're going to London, Paris, and Barcelona! And I couldn't be happier. :) Benni and I are staying in some gorgeous hotels and have lots of plans for sight-seeing (we're museum geeks) and eating at some great restaurants.  We are truly so incredibly happy.

It's shaping up to be a wonderful summer. I hope you all have a fantastic one and I'll catch you all later. Have a terrific weekend :)

Hugs,
Tracy



Monday, May 13, 2013

punch envy in the face

We've all heard the phrase the grass is greener on the other side, right?

Yeah. That's what this post is about.

For as long as I can remember, I've lacked that competitive edge. I was placed into sports at a pretty young age, because my energy and enthusiasm were through the roof and I'm sure my parents literally wept in joy to have an instructor or coach try to tackle that unbridled energy for a couple hours each day so that they could lie face down on the floor and sleep for eight minutes. But even as I "competed" in gymnastics, soccer, and martial arts, I was never competitive. I simply didn't care about beating anyone else. Trophies were boring, and I was always more concerned about the feelings of the kids on the losing team when we did win. I could not have been less interested in measuring my progress against how the other kids my age were doing, or looking at anyone else to figure out my place in the world.

When I did push myself (and I do, quite often), I measured myself up against me. Was I better today than I was yesterday? Did I hike further, punch harder, stretch longer, do even more push-ups than the day before? I measured me against me, and it worked out fairly well, because the most important thing I gained from that was happiness. I was happy to just be me. I didn't need to be anyone else, even if some kids were going further or faster. What other people accomplished simply didn't affect me, not because I didn't care about them, but because it never felt like the accomplishments of other people took something away from ME.

School and acting were the same way for me. I received high grades in school but didn't care what other people were earning (I remember getting cornered by the Smart Kid in my AP English class one year when he discovered that I had the highest grade in the class. But you don't even care, he kept saying, as if my lack of competitiveness meant that I shouldn't be able to write an essay well.) When I moved up to LA to pursue acting, I was genuinely glad when someone I knew booked a great part in a tv show or movie. It still never felt like something was being taken away from me. I was happy to just be traveling on my own journey, at my own speed.

Years passed. My Happiness Set Point remained solid and steady, and I was content to take things at my own speed. But little by little, other people worried about me, and they told me so. They were concerned that I was missing out on great opportunities, because I wasn't pushy or aggressive enough. They assumed that because I was content, it meant that I didn't care about taking my career further. They pointed out that other people had more auditions or jobs than I did, and what was I going to do about it?

It's hard to stay happy when people tell you that you shouldn't be. And of my own accord, a few years ago, I opened the door to Dissatisfaction, and along with it came Insecurity, Unhappiness, and yes - Envy. Suddenly, as if I were trying to make up for all those years lost, I couldn't stop obsessing about other people and what they had. Why didn't I have what they did in their careers? Every job my friends booked, I was still happy for them - but it hurt. It was a subtraction from my own happiness. Their happiness took away part of mine (something I hate to admit here on a public blog, but don't worry - this story has a happy ending.) And every actual expert on happiness can tell you what I had completely forgotten, as I went over and over every night what mistakes I must have possibly made, as I looked back at the past and bathed in regret each evening wondering what I should have done differently so that I'd be a successful working actress by now. They'd say that TRUE happiness does not concern itself with what other people are doing, that real happiness only multiplies and adds, never subtracts, never divides. And I know all that. Intellectually. But it's hard to fight back against the demons once you opened the door and let them come in and trash your house.

So I had to start from scratch. Just like taking a break from working out, it was hard and discouraging and time-consuming and frustrating and there was a lot of  I already learned this lesson, why am I here again. I put one foot in front of the other and tried to remember what it felt like to not compare myself to others. To not take things personally. To feel genuine joy for the success of other people.

It was not easy, and it took a while. But I read a quote one day that helped move that journey along a little faster. It said, "The grass is greener on the other side because it's getting watered."

BAM. That was it. That was the perspective I needed. The grass is greener on the other side...because on the other side is someone who is working their ass off, focusing on their own journey, taking care of what needs to get taken care of, and not spending so much time looking over at their neighbor's lawn. And I had NO CLUE. I had no clue what other people were going through, that some people were looking at ME and being envious of me and thinking I was the one who had it easy. We are all looking over at each's other lawns and having zero clue about the hard work that goes in to maintaining it, all of us needlessly comparing and competing and making ourselves miserable.

And then I started to remember. Like muscle memory, I started to remember my natural happiness set point, where I never felt lack in my own life just because someone else had abundance in theirs. I remembered what it meant to be grateful, to be present and grounded and focused on my own life (in a non-selfish way), to take deep breaths and start focusing on my own grass rather than worrying about what someone else was doing on their grass.

I am still driven, I am still pushing, especially in a challenging career choice that encourages competitiveness and back-stabbing. But I'm back on track. And I've been trying to write this post for several months now, and I finally got it out of my system and into the world and if only one of you who reads it is changed by it, I will have done my job.

Go out into the world and know that nothing is against you. Go out and punch envy in the face.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

National Poetry Month, Part 3



Untitled

“I believe in the sun
though it is late
in rising

I believe in love
though it is absent

I believe in God
though he is silent..."



 -  translated from the French, the text is an unsigned inscription found on the wall of a cave in Cologne where Jewish people had been hiding during the Holcaust 


From Out the Cave

When you have been
at war with yourself
for so many years that
you have forgotten why,
when you have been driving
for hours and only
gradually begin to realize
that you have lost the way,
when you have cut
hastily into the fabric,
when you have signed
papers in distraction,
when it has been centuries
since you watched the sun set
or the rain fall, and the clouds,
drifting overhead, pass as flat
as anything on a postcard;
when, in the midst of these
everyday nightmares, you
understand that you could
wake up,
you could turn
and go back
to the last thing you
remember doing
with your whole heart:
that passionate kiss,
the brilliant drop of love
rolling along the tongue of a green leaf,
then you wake,
you stumble from your cave,
blinking in the sun,
naming every shadow
as it slips.

 by Joyce Sutphen


Untitled 


I don’t know about you,
but I practice a disorganized religion.
I belong to an unholy disorder.
We call ourselves,
“Our Lady of Perpetual Astonishment.”
You may have seen us praying
for love
on sidewalks outside the better
eating establishments
in all kinds of weather.
Blow us a kiss
upon arriving or departing,
and we will climax
simultaneously.
It can be quite a scene,
especially if it is raining
cats and dogs.

by Kurt Vonnegut 



all that is glorious around us 

is not, for me, these grand vistas, sublime peaks, mist-filled
overlooks, towering clouds, but doing errands on a day
of driving rain, staying dry inside the silver skin of the car,
160,000 miles, still running just fine. or later,
sitting in a café warmed by the steam
from white chicken chili, two cups of dark coffee,
watching the red and gold leaves race down the street,
confetti from autumn’s bright parade. and i think
of how my mother struggles to breathe, how few good days
she has now, how we never think about the glories
of breath, oxygen cascading down our throats to the lungs,
simple as the journey of water over a rock. it is the nature
of stone / to be satisfied / writes mary oliver, It is the nature
of water / to want to be somewhere else, rushing down
a rocky tor or high escarpment, the panoramic landscape
boundless behind it. but everything glorious is around
us already: black and blue graffiti shining in the rain’s
bright glaze, the small rainbows of oil on the pavement,
where the last car to park has left its mark on the glistening
street, this radiant world.

by Barbara Crooker



today, like every other day 

today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. take down a musical instrument.

let the beauty we love be what we do.
there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

by Jalaluddin Rumi
 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

National Poetry Month, Part 2



untitled

We are more than the worst thing that’s ever
happened to us. All of us need to stop apologizing
for having been to hell and come back breathing.
Your bad dreams are battle scars.
 
What doesn’t kill you cuts you fucking deep
but scars are just skin growing back
thicker when it heals.

Clementine von Radics


Stop Being So Religious


What
do sad people have in
common?
It seems
they have all built a shrine
to the past
And often go there
to do a strange wail and
worship.
What is the beginning of
happiness?
It is to stop being
so religious
like that.

by Hafez 


i thank you god for most this amazing
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today;
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

by e.e. cummings



Advertisement For the Mountain 
There are two versions of every life.

In the first one, you get a mother, a father,
your very own room.

You learn to walk, which is only done by walking.
You learn the past tense of have, which is hunger.

You learn to ask almost anything
is to ask it to be over,
as when the lover asks the other

“Are you sleeping? Are you beginning
to go away?”

(And whether or not you learn it, life does not penetrate
more than five miles above the earth
or reach more than three miles beneath the sea.

Life is eight miles long.

You could walk it, and be there before sundown.
Or swim it, or fall it, or crawl it.)

The second is told from the point
of view of the sky.

by Christina Davis

Untitled 

I'm never gonna wait
that extra twenty minutes
to text you back, 
and I'm never gonna play
hard to get
when I know your lfie
has been hard enough already
it's hard to watch
the game we make of love
like everyone's playing checkers
with their scars,
saying checkmate
whenever they get out
without a broken heart.
Just to be clear
I don't want to get out
without a broken heart.
I intend to leave this life
so shattered
there's gonna have to be
a thousand separate heavens
for all my flying parts.

by Andrea Gibson


Thursday, April 4, 2013

National Poetry Month, Part 1! And other things.

April is National Poetry Month, and is also now known as the only month where I get in a post a week. I don't know, it just seems so much easier to copy and paste someone else's beautiful words onto my blog than to find where my own words fit. And I can't tell if it's because I'm doing too little to blog about, or too much. Sometimes it feels like both at the same time. I wonder if anyone else feels like they work really hard while they're still just running in place. I feel like I'm never quite moving at the speed of the rest of the world - it's either going to fast for me, or too slow.

I think that's where gratitude comes in. Gratitude aligns us, grounds us, forces us to become more present with the tempo of the world again. And lately I've been royally bad at it. So back to the drawing board I go - I started journaling again, under the heading Five Smooth Stones, about five things I'm grateful for each day, so that I can start to slay the Goliath that is selfishness and regret and that last one, that last little thief of joy, Comparison. Comparison, you really suck sometimes. I want to punch you in the face sometimes.

I got new acting head shots (which I'll share in a few weeks), and I've been helping out with a family wedding (my family considers me a mini-expert, having just gotten married last October. Shhhh, don't tell them I made it up as I went along.)  I started attending acting class again, and attending yoga again, and attending church again, and all that attendance is quite tiring, I have to tell you. I've been good about taking care of others, and crappy about taking care of myself. Looks like I'm in it for the long haul with that last lesson. I updated my acting reel, shot a short film, updated my website, updated my IMDB acting page, and I'm looking at going to acting workshops within the next month or so. I am busy, busy, busy. And I am tired, tired, tired. But I'm learning that gratitude is a verb too.

Now let's give some other people a turn.



the world is heavy
but your bones
(just a cubic inch)
can hold 19,000 lbs
ounce for ounce
they are stronger than steel
atom for atom
you are more precious than diamond
and stars have died
so that you may live
you need to remember these things
when you say that you are weak
and worthless



for my mother when she doesn’t feel beautiful 

don’t worry about your body.
it isn’t as small as it once was,
but honestly, the world needs more of you.
you look in the mirror
like you’ve done something wrong,
but you look perfect.
anyone who says otherwise is telling a lie
to make you feel weak.
and you know better.
you’ve survived every single day,
for as long as you’ve been alive.
you could spit fire if you wanted.



the loneliest job in the world 

as soon as you begin to ask the question, who loves me?
you are completely screwed, because
the next question is how much?
and then it is hundreds of hours later,
and you are still hunched over
your flowcharts and abacus,
trying to decide if you have gotten enough.
this is the loneliest job in the world:

to be an accountant of the heart.
it is late at night. you are by yourself,
and all around you, you can hear
the sounds of people moving
in and out of love,
pushing the turnstiles, putting
their coins in the slots,
paying the price which is asked,
which constantly changes.
no one knows why.



we have not come to take prisoners

We have not come here to take prisoners,
But to surrender ever more deeply
To freedom and joy.

We have not come into this exquisite world
To hold ourselves hostage from love.

Run my dear,
From anything 
That may not strengthen 
Your precious budding wings.
Run like hell my dear,
From anyone likely 
To put a sharp knife
Into the sacred, tender vision 
Of your beautiful heart.

We have a duty to befriend
Those aspects of obedience
That stand outside of our house
And shout to our reason
"O please, O please,
Come out and play."

For we have not come here to take prisoners,
Or to confine our wondrous spirits,

But to experience ever and ever more deeply
Our divine courage, freedom and
Light!

by Hafez


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

the joy of surfing

I don't know about you, but I've been surfing a lot lately.

Not, like, surfing-in-the-water-surfing, though. HAHAHAHHA No. Nope. We'll work on that, uh, later. When I have a sense of balance, hand/eye coordination, and can swim. Three things I've heard help one's ability to surf quite a bit.

No, I've been surfing my career.

Someone once explained that having an acting career is a lot like surfing. You train every day, you work hard to make sure you have the ability to ride a wave successfully, should a wave actually come in, and you spend a majority of your day waiting. Waiting for that wave. Gauging how far you can go on it, how far the momentum will carry you. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. 

It's tough to disagree with that metaphor. I know some of my more proactive Go Out and Grab Life by the Balls blogger friends are gonna reply, "You have to go out and create waves, not wait for them," but I think there's a time and place for both attitudes. And a lot of us feel like we're waiting. We do the daily work, we train ourselves to be as skilled as we can in whatever our artistic craft is, and then...we wait. We play the waiting game, waiting for the right opportunity to come along. It takes patience, and an utter love for our art that's so big, that we can get by on one wave a week or month. Did you see that, we crow, after catching the first wave in six weeks. It made all the waiting worth it.

But it's tough, to wait, day in and day out. Wondering when the next wave is gonna come, if the payoff is gonna be big enough, if the high we get off of catching that wave is gonna outweigh the six weeks of waiting with very little else to show for it. There's a reason why there's about thirty professional surfers who make huge money with endorsements from surfing, while the other few thousand professional surfers probably can't afford their rent another month if it's all they do.

As an actor, I understand this perfectly. I understand the waiting, and the patience, and not being able to skip a single day of knowing my craft inside and out, just in case that right opportunity comes along when I'm on my B Game instead of my A Game. And that's okay. Because right now, the love still outweighs all of it. Will it next year? In ten years? I don't know. But today, it does.

The hardest part is describing to others what you're doing with your life. If you spend six hours in the water, waiting for some good waves, and didn't really get many that day, how would you describe your day to someone? Would you tell them you did nothing? That you're lazy, because you're waiting, because we live in a culture that doesn't see waiting or patience as very important qualities? A culture that actually looks at waiting as a weakness. 

So when I logged in today to tell all of you beautiful people - that I miss quite a bit - what I've been up to for the past month, after struggling to define it on my own head  - I came up with: surfing.

I've been surfing. I've been training every day, actively waiting for those waves to come in, and I've been patiently loving every minute that I sit in the still water between each wave, and the love that's keeping me afloat is the same love that gives me enough courage to go out into the waves, which is the same love that gives me the courage to wait every day and know that it's worth it. 

So I've been surfing. What have you guys been up to? I'd love to hear about it :)

-Tracy
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