New Offbeat Bride Publication: Top 5 joys of attending a wedding after yours is over

Woohoo!  The Offbeat community has been very welcoming and supportive.  I highly recommend wandering around their sites.  Here is a version of my recent post on Offbeat Bride:

Top 5 joys of attending a wedding after yours is over

Photo by Sara Smile Photography (via Offbeat Bride)

Photo by Sara Smile Photography (via Offbeat Bride)

Greetings from Wildwood

image cred: portwings.com

image cred: portwings.com

I have an unnatural attachment to the Great Egg toll booth plaza on the Southbound side of the Garden State Parkway.  Anyone who has spent their lives traveling to the southern tip of the Jersey Shore understands this feeling.  After the inevitable Union County traffic, the pushy crowds of the Atlantic City rest stop, and the feeling that New Jersey seems to be getting longer every time you come down here, suddenly, the land opens up.  The Great Egg toll booth is at the entrance to the a bridge – so close to the water that upon entering it you feel as though a rogue wave may come up say hello to your car (though I’ve comforted myself time and again that we are farther from it than I think).  Nevertheless, at this point, the air finally smells like the ocean.  It’s as if you’ve reached some South Jersey Shore threshold, vacationland is south of you and real life is north of you.  For the next few days, your hair is allowed to be salty and your purse is allowed to be a little bit full of sand.

I am now sitting on the porch of a rented beach house drinking coffee with a scoop of iced cream in it because it’s been a hard week.  As you might had noticed, I really didn’t touch my writing.  The week began with the elegant launching of my tea across my office, demolishing my work laptop.  It definitely wasn’t a good thing to happen, but still, my extreme reaction shocked me.  Instead of celebrating that I work in a  place that will replace the tea covered laptop with…a new laptop…I fell into a pit of panicked despair that I had been enough of an idiot to karate chop my tea mug across the room.  Clearly, it was on purpose.  Things started to irrationally spiral from there.

Jump ahead about 24 hours and after some bumpy family news.  I was talking to my mom on the phone about how rejuvenating their trip has been this year.  They have been in Wildwood Crest since the beginning of this week, a town we’ve officially been visiting for four generations.  My grandpa made it in the brochure of a 1960’s hawaiian-themed motel we use to stay in religiously, The Kona Kai, which was swapped out for silly condos around 2006.   Somehow, for the past ten or so years, I have found an excuse to not join my family on this vacation.  But since my anxiety came to a head around Tuesday night, my mom convinced me to hit the pause button on life, and drive down for a few nights to figure out where my head has been.

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It wasn’t until I sat down with this iced cream coffee situation and started writing this post that I realized how much my blogging has been a canary in the coal mines lately.  If I am struggling, my writing struggles.  An hour ago, while sitting on the beach with my niece and nephews, I checked my phone to find a rejection email from a website I had submitted a post to.  It’s fair for several reasons- A. my heart wasn’t in the post itself, and B. the style of the website is not completely in line with who I am as a writer. And yet as the train started to go off the track this month, I began to make compromises.  I worked toward simply getting published opposed to writing pieces I deeply cared about.  I also spent so much time researching the logistics of making money off a blog, that eventually I didn’t feel like blogging at all.  In a nutshell, I lost the artistic balance and burned out.

This afternoon, we will go to Bandanas, the only place I’ve even gone where you can satisfy your craving for both ice cream covered crepes AND burritos.  And after that, probably after naps, we may go back to the beach.  Who knows.  The important thing is that time moves differently in Wildwood.  It is marked by early morning beach time (usually accompanied by cinnamon buns), pre-lunch beach time, and after dinner strolling beach time.  I don’t know of any bars, though I’m sure they exist, and I can’t say that Wildwood is know for its snazzy fine dining, even though it has some great restaurants.  All I know is that occasionally a plane flies overheard while you’re half asleep, sunburning on the beach, with a banner behind it telling you about lobsters.  But you drift back to sleep because lobsters sound like way too much energy right now, and you could really just got for a taco and a crepe.

So long story longer, I’m down the shore trying to feel like me again.  I’m very grateful that this was an option exactly when I needed it, especially since both my writing and general sanity was heading downhill.  This, in the long run, though disruptive to our original plans, will be far more helpful in the scheme of things.  Sometimes, it’s important to realize that taking care of yourself and your family needs to trump all the detailed plans your originally spent so much time delicately arranging.  And with that comfort, I will sit here and finish my ice cream coffee with the satisfaction that I made the right choice.

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The Financial Diet Publication

Publication saves the day!  Today started out with me throwing my tea mug across the room and ruining my work laptop.  So to say the least, finding out that The Financial Diet published my article about Backwards Budgeting significantly turned the day around.  I really enjoy these ladies, so I highly recommend wandering around their site!  Very honored to be included!

6 Rules For Being A Freelancer Who Isn’t Terrible With Money

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Elite Daily Publication

Yahoo!!  Okay, I am new to this whole getting published thing so I am still celebrating every time it happens.

This is an article I wrote on a whim.  I recently became a contributing writer to Elite Daily, and their “trending topic” of the week was “Traveling without Technology.”  So I wrote this in about 30 minutes and sent it just in case it struck their fancy.

So here it is!  Thanks for reading, everyone!!

What it Was Like to Walk 500 Miles Without a Smartphone

us with pepe

Offbeat Bride Publication

It’s been a very strange day (see prior post for more details) but I got some wonderful news last week that Offbeat Bride picked up one of my articles on wedding planning.  I have always loved this site.  It takes away the stereotypes and pressures placed on brides and weddings.  I was so honored to be featured with this group and can only hope the article helps some nervous crafting couples.

Pinterest wedding fever: When DIY (dried lavender and glitter paint) overshadows the wedding

Unity ceremony, the only potted plant we really needed.

Unity ceremony, the only potted plant we really needed.

Blogging with Artistic Integrity

Fair warning, this is a bit of a rant…

For the past several weeks I have been throwing my energies into incorporating this blog into my career.  It’s always brought me joy, and as I’ve said many times, it’s helped me grow as an artist overall.  And yet, I completely accept that I know diddly squat about becoming a paid writer.  It’s as if someone was to approach me to randomly say, “Hey, I just found out I love acting!  How can I make any money doing it?” I would look at them with pity, tell them to pull up a chair and a beer (a tall beer) and then deliver the news.

One major issue is the stigma that an arts career is a luxury.  It is not always seen as a necessity to society, when ironically, I can assure that many temp jobs I’ve had that pay me way more than acting, are very unnecessary to society.  The other unfortunate stigma is that it requires little to no “real work.”  Also false, more on that below.

Luckily, this isn’t my first rodeo for building a creative career.  For absolute beginners, I could imagine getting sucked into the scams.  If you Google “How to Be An Actor” you get a long general lists talking about finding an agent and “getting into the actors unions.”  And yet, for an outsider, this does nothing.  The day-to-day work required to essentially build a product (yourself), a brand (your promotional materials), and financial stability (your “flexible” super understanding well paying job to maintain auditioning in NYC) is much trickier to find.  This is why people train and work in the business for years before knowing any of this.  I was very lucky to have parents that grew up in the field and told me everything I needed to know to get started, including that it was probably going to suck for a while, a long while.

Either way, I feel a little bit like one of those “I just wanna be a STAR!” girls this week, googling how to become a paid blogger.  Here is what I have learned so far, in my basic “I have no idea what I’m doing” journey through Google:

no idea

Most websites listed as “paid blogging” sites no longer pay with money, but instead with links to your blog.  

This I understand to a point.  If your website is set up with paid advertisements, arranging more traffic for your page is essentially like paying you.  Fair enough.  Exposure is also a wonderful thing.

No one can seem to clearly explain what SEO really is.

Is it just me?  I understand that key words in your post and headings increase your chances of being found on Google, but am I missing something?   If I literally just name my blog something that people search a lot, it will be rated higher?  And how do you write a personalized unique post and name it something that is trending?  Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of creating an original idea?  Maybe I’m thinking too much about this.  If I write, football, wanderlust, sangria!  Does that mean google will try to find me based on those things now?  Or is there a back-end situation I’m missing?

Supply and demand does not line up

I know this is beating a dead horse, but I am a firm believer that artists are not recognized for amount of training and hours they put into honing their craft and career.  I, for example, would be a terrible stock broker.  I’m an introvert that’s bad with numbers, and I have no training in the field.  I would not asked to be paid for that.  And yet, I find that the amount of money offered to trained artists is not in balance with the scarcity of their particular skill.  Yes, there are a lot of people out there trying to be actors and writers.  But there are a lot of people in every industry, each with its own respective skill set.  Why are the arts considered a luxury that shouldn’t be appropriately compensated?  Rawwwr!!

People LOOOVE lists

I have learned to accept, as I did in my acting, that not every job or opportunity is going to be for me.  The same way I did not want to be a lifelong background actor, even though the job paid the bills and was easier to break into, I do not want to apply to any site that is looking for content of any time.  If I can adapt my style and philosophy into a list of some sort (like this one) then that’s great.  If it’s “10 ways chocolate cake is better than getting married” or “18 ways to take selfies with your cats” I’m not as interested.  Just as background acting started to make me hate acting, these will not make me want to keep blogging.  I’ve seen job posting that pay $8 a post, and ask you to write two posts an hour.  Sweet Jesus!  How on earth would the writing be of any quality?  Again, perhaps I sound like an amateur because I am new to this, but is this standard?  Do people make that work?

 On a happy note, there is a fantastic blogging community, and many talented writers

It’s really pretty incredible to wander around WordPress and see the amazing diversity in writing styles.  I feel like I started this adventure in a bubble, and all I was really hoping for were a few readers.  Yet it took me years to be a blog reader myself.  In the long run, I am only going to learn from my fellow bloggers, just as you would in any artistic field.

So I have been flocking towards the sites I connect with personally, whether they pay or not, because supporting messages are important enough.  And yet, at first glance, I am seeing that “creating content meaningful to you” is far from the only factor, and I guess I could have seen that coming.

And advice is welcome and thank you as always for reading!

 

I was published again! Yahoo!

Good morning!  It’s been a great week for elephants!

This month I have been breaking out of my comfort zone and submitting to websites that I find inspiring.  I recently wrote to the Elephant Journal, and what do you know, they are a very encouraging group of people!  Of course they are, they’re whole site exudes positivity.

I am happy to report that my pork tenderloin recipe (if you told me 5 years ago that I would be writing recipes I would call BS), and it was featured last night!

You can find it here!

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Why has is also been a great week for elephants?  Why, I bought Elephant Pants of course.  The Elephant Pants Company donates to the African Wildlife Foundation with each purchase.  And also, the pants look like the most comfortable things in the world.  I’ll let you know how they turn out.  Just a note that I am never paid to write about any products or books, I am just a little deliriously tired and excited at the same time.  So, go elephants!

 

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Send me a message!

Contact Me

 

Photo credit: Claire Higgins

With the recent influx of followers, I thought it was finally a good idea to add a “Contact Me” page!  If you have feedback on my writing, the layout of the blog, questions for me, or any advice on writing opportunities, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I would love to hear from you.  If you have questions regarding my acting life, please feel free to visit my professional acting website.

As always, thank you for reading!

The Benefits of Being a Multi-Artist

Feeling artistically stagnant and starved is something I didn’t understand when I was little.  If I was in a grouchy mood for days at a time, I was often told, “You just need a show!”  But I didn’t truly understand the validity of this until my twenties.  I did legitimately need to do something artistic, to create, ANYTHING.  And since theatre was my thing, I would riffle through the local newspapers and Backstage every Thursday, hoping to solve the theatrical dry spell.  Usually it worked.  As I got older, it worked less.

Kindertransport in 2001.  Photo credit: Barntheatre.org.

Kindertransport in 2001. Photo credit: Barntheatre.org.

Turns out, I am not the only female brunette 20-something aspiring to be an actor.  So back in 2010, my husband very wisely suggested I take up writing as an outlet for this all-too-familiar theatrical dry spell.   As he always says, “No one needs to hire you to write!”  It was a definitely a breakthrough for me.  With theatre,  I could perform my monologues to the cats all I wanted but at the end of the day, unless I took a class, was cast in a show, or produced the whole thing myself from the ground up, I wasn’t creating.  Writing was my savior during those days.

“So are you a writer now?”

One of the unfortunate negativities I have come across in my career is the “throwing in the towel check-in.”  Even if they don’t realize it, there are a group of artists out there that like to ask the questions, “Oh so are you like, not an actor anymore?”  Will you cool it please?  I realize that this is just a projection of your own instability as an actor, but working on another art form or career does not mean you are giving up your passion.  If life was as easy as waking up one day and following your dream, then would no one would write about it!

The truth is that writing has put me more in touch with my acting and acting as put my more in touch with my writing.  I currently work in the Curriculum Office of an Independent School and I am reminded every day of the importance of interdisciplinary education.  If you think back to middle school, you’ll remember it.  “Huck Finn rafted down the Mississippi.  How many miles did he float down the river if the speed of the current was….” and then there would be a lot of math and I would go to la-la land.  But you get the idea.  We make these connections with different parts of our minds to better understand them.

Put on your writer pants

Sweatpants are great!

Sweatpants are great!

Discovering my love for writing was like finding out that I could wear my pajamas to work.  I have always considered myself an introvert.  When you’re little, they just call this shy, and you assume it’s a phase when you hide behind your parent’s knees when a stranger tries to talk to you.  And yet the feeling to hide behind things on some days never quite went away.  And then suddenly, the creation of Buzzfeed and the internet’s obsession with lists taught me that there are other introverts out there that ALSO want to hide behind things!  And apparently that’s cool now!

Being an introverted actor is often difficult.  A good deal of the business is networking and building your community.  Performing is actually one of the most personal and introverted portions of the field.  Standing in line with 30 people that look just like you who are talking about going on their 5th world tour of Midsummer, while practicing scales in between each sentence, is not as bearable.  There are days when I just don’t want to put on my actor pants.  I don’t want to wear makeup or curl my hair, or bring a change of heels.  I don’t feel like maintaining my “I could take this or leave it” persona while being graceful and welcoming, all the while remembering the words to my monologue.  Sometimes, I just want to throw my hair into a pony tail, find some flip flips, throw on my college hoody, drag myself to the nearest back corner of a coffee shop, and write.  The only person who has to deal with me sounding/looking like a recluse is the barista, and I know from experience that she has seen worse.

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And by cafe, sometimes I mean my couch.

No one needs to give you permission

The most wonderful thing about writing?  When you sit down and create something, you are a writer.  Congratulations!  Some days, you just need this freedom.  No outside force is telling you yes or no.  And the best part?  When I do return to auditioning, I am not so artistically starved that getting the role is the only salvation from insanity.  Because as I’ve heard before, desperation is always louder than your audition.

An actor friend of mine relayed this idea from a teacher to me once, “Theatre is like a healthy romantic relationship.  You need other passions in your life other than just that person, otherwise you’re not growing, and all of you happiness is dependent on things working out.”

So, Theatre, to keep myself from being a needy girlfriend, I will be over here writing in my metaphorical sweatpants.  When I’m ready to put a dress on again, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps next month, I will be back.

I strongly encourage the opportunity to explore other art forms without permission.  The difference between someone who is judging what you created, and you, is that at least you created something.  So if you are worried about judgment due to lack of experience, training, or a relevant career, throw that aside.  Creating art is never for the critics, so you might as well give it a go.

A Personal Milestone! 100 Followers!

IMG_1665Happy Friday everyone!  I wasn’t planning on posting today but last night I hit 100 followers!  THAT’S SO NEAT!  I know in the scheme of blogging, 100 is not a huge number, but to me, that is wild.  I started off writing in 2010 and was amazed that even my closest friends wanted to read it.  So to everyone out there who has taken the time to read, like, or follow this crazy little blog of musings, THANK YOU!