31 August, 2011

On doing what you love for a living...


1. Ask Yourself What You Want
Be specific. Figuring out exactly what you want will help you focus on where you need to go. Write it down. What are your deepest dreams? Take them seriously and they will lead to what you really want.

Create intent in your life to manifest your dreams in the physical world. Defining an Unlimited Life Plan (one that expresses all your wildest dreams) is one of the most valuable things you can do. Start with a personal philosophy and mission statement. Make a list with two columns. Label the first "OBJECTIVES" and the second "ACTIONS." Example:

OBJECTIVES: create an identity in my industry

ACTIONS: write an article for a magazine

When you truly commit to your goal, the money will appear.

2. Believe that you CAN
If you follow one piece of advice on your path let it be this: replace "What if I'm not cut out for this?" with "YES. I. CAN." Most successful people have this quality ingrained in them, but anyone can learn. Get "can't" out of your vocabulary. (It may sound cheesy but get it out-- fo' reals.) Stay away from people who say "You can't make a living doing that...." (there will be MANY. And they may be people you really really love but do not understand. It's okay.) Respond with "ah ah ah! I do not have 'can't' in my vocabulary therefore I am going to repeat this mantra instead. "There are people out there who need my services!" Now say it again. Possibly again. This time with feeling.

3. Research
Find people who are already making a living doing what you want to do. read about them, make them into a model for your career and your life. Connect with them-- most successful people are very happy to talk to those starting out on their same path (what do you think I am doing here on this blog, eh?). Also read any book you can about triumph over adversity; it will help you through those days when you question your choices. Create a support network of people in your field. Try to meet with them regularly; it will help you feel "normal."

4. Pretend You Already ARE Who You Want to Be
And you will become it! No one starts off in any field feeling über confident and powerful. It takes time to build and grow. Sometimes it feels like you're not moving at all. That's okay. There will be other times when you feel like you're faking it. ("What if someone figures me out? Sees through me?") That's okay. There will be days when you are giving more than you think you have to give and feel that no one "sees" you or appreciates it. That's okay too. In fact, it is all okay.

5. Ignore...
Those who tell you it can't be done.
Those who have tried and bitterly given up.
Those who think you are nuts to throw away security and convention.
Those who bully you (including yourself).
The crazy vampire voice in your head that says you aren't enough.

Most people yearn to do what they love for a living, but many believe they can't handle the risks or responsibilities. For some of those people, that might all be true. Frightened people will impose their own fears on you. (They will do it for a variety of reasons). You might need to let go of friends who don't understand what you're trying to do.  Surround yourself with people who support your new choices. Let everyone know how happy your work makes you.

6. Prioritize
Make your work a priority. Your work and your life are not separate entities. You need to have energy to build a career. We have been taught that we must work full-time to maintain a certain lifestyle. Let go of this belief and consider alternatives. Subsidize your income with part time or contract work. Scale down your living expenses. Ask for help when you need it! There is someone out there right now who can help you. Take a look at the books in the business section.

7. Feel the Fear!
I've talked to many people who have worked for years doing what they love and they still have fear! (I literally had lunch with an octogenarian Broadway legend today who is convinced he will never work again and that the whole world is about to figure out he was a joke the whole time...) I was amazed to find that success sometimes brings more fear-- the fear of living up to the expectations and reputation of previous successes. If the fear is always there, well hell: you might as well learn to manage it instead of trying to get rid of it. Use it. Allow it. Allow it to fuel, not cripple, you.

8. Reinvent Yourself
You are not defined by your current situation. You can start fresh at any given time. After failures (I prefer to call them lessons), get back on your feet and start again. Remember the Japanese proverb "fall down seven times, stand up eight." Writers will be rejected. Illustrators will send out work they hate. Freelancers will have dry periods. Designers will have quotes rejected. Actors will lose a job to someone for trivial reasons. There is always an ebb and flow to success, money, fame, and creative energy. Dust yourself off: Fall down seven times, stand up eight.

9. BEGIN NOW!
Look. The circumstances will never be perfect. You will never have "enough" money saved. Your portfolio will never be "ready." You may never have the perfect space, credits, equipment, head-shots, training. These are self-limiting beliefs created by our inner critic. Convince yourself that you will not have the time if you don't make it now.

Don't make a big production of it. Use what you've got. Ernest Hemingway wrote on napkins. Keith Haring painted subway stations. You have everything in your possession rightthissecond to start moving toward your goals. When you take a small step in the direction of your dream, the universe often takes several more for you.

10. Let Go
Don't worry about your talent or capability. It is not yours to judge, and it will grow and change over time. Do not ask, "Why am I doing this?" or  "Is this right?" Freaking out about what you "should" be doing does not move you forward. ENJOY THE PROCESS. Starting can be the most overwhelming part, but it is also exciting and full of possibilities. Change can be intimidating, unfamiliar, terrifying, and downright uncomfortable. Your life is too rich, and you are too powerful to have anything less than what you truly deserve. You have a responsibility to do what you love every day, to become your most authentic, powerful Self, to share your passion with the rest of the world, and to live up to the spirit that is in you.

The universe it waiting...

28 August, 2011

Come on Irene

LET'S DO THIIIIIS...
Status updates:

8/26

10:30am
Panic level 5 (of 10) and run out with Alley to buy tarps and tuna and everything for the oncoming Apocalypse at Costco and Home Depot.

11:04am
Calm Alley down from level 8 panic and bring her back to level 5.

12:30
Alley and I have beaten the crowds to everything but flashlights and feel really smart.

15:00
I adhere tarps to wall with duct tape.
15:06
Said tarps crumple off of windows at the slightest breeze.
15:07
I crumple in a similar manner.
15:09
I secure tarps with HAMMER AND NAILS!! I win.

16:00
I cook the entire contents of my freezer.
...whilst watching the "then he can borrow my slicker!" scene from the perfect "What About Bob?"

17:11
All weekend Broadway shows are cancelled. I feel like it is a snow day and dance in my kitchen alone (even though I feel terribly sad for understudy Brian Cali who was scheduled to perform all weekend).

20:00
Final show of the week commences, and due to overwhelming energy from all the events, the show is explosive with energy.

22:45
I commence drinking. Which I absolutely never do-- 2 glasses of Pinot Noir will do, across the street at The Glass House Tavern with Tyne and all; discussing poems and deciding that tomorrow we shall see the storm through together by playing Scrabble and what she referred to as "Classic Monopoly"

it is now

8/27

and at
3:00am
I get home on the world's slowest N train, having had a nice deep and meaningful with Clinton Brandhagen

3:04am
My head already hurts because I am such a lightweight, and I decide to eat some oatmeal, drink 2 liters of water and take Ibruprofen.
3:06am
STAR TREK IS ON. (YESSSSS...TV win!) Oh 3am Star Trek: The Next Generation, how like the TV version of a booty call you are...
3:09am
I discover that it is indeed a stupid Riker episode. Bleeeecccch. Bed.

9:00am
I awake oddly early with a mild-ish hangover
9:01am
I resolve to never drink wine and discuss poetry ever again.

10:00
it becomes clear that there will be no Scrabble with Tyne.

12:00
...because the entire MTA closes down.

12:01
I decide my activity for the day shall be coming up with a possibly viral tweet (""I'm not on Facebook" is the new "I don't own a TV.")

13:00
It begins.
13:03

...Oh wait, no. It stops. 


13:15
I consider going for a run.
13:30
I go for said run.
13:41
I hide in a doorway while it downpours
13:43
I continue said run
13:58 
Repeat


14:15-16:00
I drown myself in myopically focuses news coverage. Because that is how local news rolls.


15:00 
In despair and boredom, Morgan James and I decide to meet-- she drives to 31st Avenue to meet at Brick Café for a completely amazing hour of conversation in which she bares her heart and soul, I recite Carl Sandburg's "Little Word Little White Bird" and tell her the entire story of how my parents met


16;00
Morgan departs in search of rope at the 11th hour.

17:15
Sierra Boggess calls me and we kvell about our relaxation.

17:20
I commence in the reading of Russian literature.

18:00
I nap for 25 minutes.

18:45
I write for 90 minutes.

20:15
I stop because my back, neck, wrists and brain all hurt from the efforts.

20:30
I decide it is time to make stir fry.
which at
20:38
I declare, disgusting
but at
20:40
I eat it anyway...

21:00
I come to the conclusion that it is drizzling, I am bored, and have 5 gallons of water 75 batteries and 8 cans of tuna.

23:30
...Now we're talking. Wind. Rain. Irene arrives. ...LET'S DO THIS!!!

23:50
So far so good.

8/28

00:20
The only way forward is to get by the same way I got by leaving LA in 1993-- by watching Fractured Fairytales in my closet.
 
1:00am I am also enjoying clips of classic Sesame Street. I have now counted to 20 with Madeleine Khan, and to 10 with Elmo, Grover, Bert, a kid named "John John" & James Earl Jones (who loved 7...so much).

1:38
I fill the bathtub and 8 gazillion pots with water.


2:00
I get sad and lonely.

2:03
I collapse in bed covered in a tarp....just in case... (True story)

11:00
I awake and it is over. Like for real over. What was all that fuss about?

11:10
I asses the damage. I am actually quite glad I tarp-ed my windows because there is some water damage and the sills are soaking wet. Yay preparation!

12:30
I prepare brunch for myself using some of the water from the tub.

13:14
Tyne calls me to check in. "That was it? What a non-event. Let's do the matinee." We decide to check in in 4 hours for possible Scrabble.

[This message has been brought to you by the letter I. For Irene. Duh.]

25 August, 2011

22 August, 2011

Sometimes I think...

...In a perfect world you'd be able to mark people as spam in real life.

...If it wasn't for the last minute nothing would ever get done.

...I have 99 problems and they're all luftballons.

...some people on Facebook "Like" everything but grammar.

...Just once, I want to go to a wedding and see someone object.

...damn-- I mean, whatever happened to all that glow-in-the-dark stuff?

...I bet some of the dumber wolves howl at the sun.

...Oh. Oh, Reese's cup at the back of my freezer, how like the food version of a booty-call you are.

...If someone would just make a decent beer called Alone, it wouldn't sound nearly as depressing when I say I'm drinking alone.

...I bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween.

...I really long for the days when my biggest goal was to "collect them all."

...Sometimes I ask, "What would Chewbacca do?"
The answer is always, "Make that gargly roaring sound."
So that's what I do.

19 August, 2011

A Moment

©clinton brandhagen
Hours before our first preview on Broadway, Tyne recalls our terrifying first preview in DC. She asks me to come down to her dressing room to run our lines together in an "Italianne"-- a run of the lines at increased speed. Italiannes are like calisthenic warm-ups for your brain, and with so much talking and nerves high, they are a great tool in moments such as these.

We settle down, bags placed, cardigans zipped, and sit down in her room--not yet moved into, not yet her own.

And then, without ceremony, we begin.

There is no music. There is no one else. It is just us and the words.

One might  think that in this cozy dressing room--flourescently lit and unceremoniously dressed--that  this little exercise the run would be dry, hollow.  But the truth is, the words are so powerful, and our feelings for those words and above all, for each other, so untterably potent, we both go directly "there."

Tears fall.
Hands are grasped. It is our own little theatre, our own alchemical magic, right there in a sterile little room.

"... I want you to imagine you are Amina. This is opera Sophie. You're alone on a great stage. Make us feel what you feel. Show us that truth..."

That's it.
We finish.
There is a silence and in it, we both look away.
Then she leans in, holds my hand and utters,

     "I love this. And you."
 

16 August, 2011

Yellow Dessert: An Aversion

Yummy?! What LIES.
[WARNING: Please prepare yourself for unabashed opinions regarding all things to do with bananas, lemons, custard, quite often meringue, and I am sorry to say it, vanilla cake.]
...

[No. Seriously, take a moment for yourself.]

All good? Okay. Here it goes.

Reader?

I HATE YELLOW DESSERT.

[...She ducks her head. She looks up... Checks her surroundings. She pauses.]

....aaaaare you okay? ...Do you need another minute?

Banana?! YUCK!
Look. I am sorry. But in truth, if you are going to do dessert, don't you think you need to do dessert at 100%? You need to be in the 95-100% certainty category of enthusiasm, you need to be able to say "YES. I want that, I need that, and I am going to savor every mouthful-- every freakin' second of that delectable dessert otherwise what are you doing? WHAT. ARE. YOU. DO-ING?

It’s funny — as a child, no one ever notices desserts being trendy, (one just notices dessert, and perhaps that it is either good or not so good, and that you won't even tolerate lemon Starbursts and feel grateful your Dad likes them best...). But for the past year, this yellow dessert business has been everywhere--the new “it” dessert, the stylish old-but-new thing every hip person pretending not to eat carbs wants to be seen consuming.

It has come crawling out of the woodwork like tropical pests on a mission to contaminate the dessert cart, leaving respectable berry crumbles, apple pies and chocolate tortes cowering in horror. I know that yellow dessert has been around as long as bananas have! I know that! It's just that yellow dessert appears to be all the flippin' rage right now and one cannot get away from it. [She narrows her eyes with suspicion, a look of having eaten something disgusting all over her as she recalls a recent lemon meringue pie peer pressure forced feeding situation...]

You can KEEP your Lemon atrocity!!
The thing is-- I like bananas just fine. They are great. I enjoy lemons. Delicious. I have an intimate relationship with vanilla. I have nothing against fruit! I respect fruit!

But if you are going to spend the calories and time and energy on that extra course, I just don't understand why you would waste that special moment on something the same color as a legal note pad! As the middle traffic light! As Sponge Bob Square Pants...

Give me a break.
And basically let that break be made of crumble or chocolate.

14 August, 2011

Horatio loves to make a PROMISE...


OH MY GOD.
One of my favourite things about CSI: Miami is how bad it is. That is why I watch it, that is why it is the most watched television show in the world (that is not dramatic exaggeration by the way, it is actually true). And at the centre of the shows suckness is David Caruso as Horatio Cane, taking those sunglasses on and off, delivering horrible one-liners as the opening credits roll, stating the obvious (my favourite was "looks like we got a murder to solve" ... um, yes that would be your job...), and making promises to little girls and little boys about making sure they are SAFE and VINDICATED.

This was on CSI Sunday... I laughed so hard, I was in PAIN. And I nearly squealed the house down:

Dying General: ... Horatio.... Horaaaatioooo....

[takes off sunglasses (excellent) and kneels down beside Dying General]

Horatio: Yes General?
Dying General: Horatio? How... how could I have raised such a man?
Horatio: General, it is NOT YOUR FAULT.
Dying General: Horatio... you must... PROMISE... to end this... once. and. for...all...
Horatio: GENERAL? I PROMISE.

[Dying General dies]

I... LOVE it...

04 August, 2011

Ask Al: Secrets of the Self-Employed Part 3

What you think becomes your reality.
I always had a belief that if I cleaned my bedroom/flat/apartment/dorm room etc., I would "receive" new work from the Inspiration Gods. If I asked my novel what it's name was, it would tell me. Or, if I projected confidence that I might feel confident. And guess what, it always happened. If you think the industry is screwed and there is no work to be had, guess what you will find out there? The power of intention might sound new age-y and silly, but the effects of positive thinking and being strong and effective enough to take real action is real! Take charge of your life. You know that's what I always say.


Ignore "cool."
Cool is dumb.
Cool is what you say it is.
Crime Drama is cool.
So are owls.
And red shoes.
And loving the earth.
So are curious people.
And talented hard workers.
So are "nerds."
Passionate, interested and interesting people.
Successful people do not try to be hip, they just do work that excites them.
Do that.


Focus on ideas instead of tools.
Truth: anyone can learn to use the tools, but it is the thinkers who really impact the culture in important ways. In the end the tools don’t offer anything interesting.


Worrying about the competition does very little to help your career.
I know it’s hard sometimes to ignore what other people are doing (we all--and I mean it we ALL-- think that others are doing better than us), but every one of us is on a different life path.

In yoga there is a term I love called "Staying on your own mat." (I use it when I teach the good children of Interlochen and of Pace University.) Hey! Don't look over at Skinny Minnie's mat and hate her for being more flexible than you! It's pointless. Because she might envy your strength. Not only does envy get you nowhere, but it also distracts you from your OWN PRACTICE. How are you supposed to improve if you are constantly comparing yourself to others?

As President Theodore Roosevelt said, "Comparison is the thief of joy." He was pretty smart. I'll also add that it is the thief of FOCUS. We are all here on this planet to accomplish different things and even though it would seem like one person’s path is similar to yours, it is not.



Only work for free if you are passionate about the cause or receive something of value in return. (Be wary of people who offer your name in lights in lieu of money. Many people will tell you something is good promotion for you, often it is not and there are no guarantees when it comes to promotional value). If you are not getting something of a measurable value (i.e. printed pieces, or money) ask for something else, creative freedom. If they refuse then they may not be a good client to work for anyway.



Always come back to work that excites you. Even if you get off track for a while.
 Do personal work on a regular basis, show it to others. You can reinvent yourself at any time.

03 August, 2011

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