January List of Awesome for Your New Year’s Resolution

Creative Commons Photo from Morgan Sessions

Creative Commons Photo from Morgan Sessions

At least in the world of blogging, I have remained rather silent the past several months, only emerging out from under my writing rock yesterday, just before the New Year.  While comfortably hibernating, I have been surprisingly busy otherwise, mainly focusing on trying to get my stubborn creativity rolling again.  It happens — you have a huge burst of motivation, make all these super tangible and well-thought out goals, and suddenly your brain is physically incapable of producing anything new.  Blank pages, deleted blog posts and cancelled yoga plans abound.  But it doesn’t need to all be for nothing. These periods of rest are vital to having anything to write/act/sing/create goals about in the first place.  Without material and space in your mind to organize it, you’re just shuffling through a busy frustrated brain of jumbled and misguided creativity.

So as you embark on your New Year’s Resolutions, here are some tools and recommendations I used throughout my silent days of creative solace.  Please feel free to add your own in the comments of this post, I would love recommendations throughout January!

For the Creative Soul:

The Compass Podcast by Leah Walsh

I’ve written about this lovely podcast in the past, but it has seriously helped me through the fall, while taking a rather challenging acting class.  Leah is a friend of Ben and I and a very talented NYC actress.  In the Compass, she interviews artists from across the theatre world, and explores how they avoid “going to the dark side” and what the “dark side” itself means to them.  The podcast uniquely reveals the vulnerabilities that artists face in an unpredictable and emotionally exhausting field, while reminding you that you are not alone when you have to take that lousy side job or feel as if you are somehow professionally behind your peers.  If you need a creative boost, check this out.

The Artist’s Way and Blog by Julia Cameron

I realize this book has been around forever, but in case you have never read it or haven’t picked it up in a while, I cannot recommend Julia Cameron enough.  She mixes discipline with creative kindness to spark you writing/creating again.  Even if you are not a writer, but feel stuck otherwise, her philosophy will provide you with a practice to slowly climb back into the the light of day.  If anything, check out her intro’s for Morning Pages and Artist Dates.

For the Spirit and Mind:

Notes from the Universe

When I roll out of bed, I reach for my phone, no matter how many times I have tried to train myself otherwise.  Old habit.  But adding Notes from the Universe was guaranteed was to add some positivity to my inbox at 6:15am.  It’s always there, ready to be perky and motivational.  It’s literally just a daily personalized message that sets you rolling.  One of my favorites, as an example:

“Never compromise a dream, Ginny.
Do what you must. The fears, beasts, and mountains before you are part of the plan; stepping-stones to a promised land; to a time and place that is so much closer than even you suspect.Don’t let your eyes deceive, Ginny, for even as you read these words, your ship swiftly approaches.

Tallyho,
The Universe”

Clearly, they are a delight for difficult mornings.

Pema Chodron

If you’ve met me, then you’ve probably been told to read one of Pema Chodron’s books.  I try to pawn them off on everyone because she is magical.  She is an American Tibetan Buddhist monk and speaker with the personality of your favorite friend that always knows how to break you out of your head.  I also preface giving out her books with, “I know the titles sound like cheesy self-help books, but don’t be deterred by that, they’ve changed the way I see the world.”  Even if you are not interested in Buddhist practice, the philosophical viewpoints of Buddhism are practical for everyone’s life and challenges.  She rocks.  In my opinion, start with When Things Fall Apart.

Marie Kondo

The very popular new book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up has officially roped me in.  Her tone of writing is not completely up my alley, but her practice and the discipline of maintaining it, changed the way I felt about my home in about a week.  I was incredibly skeptical.  And no, she is not paying me to write this.  I spend so much less time fussing over my house now.  So not only does my home not look like a tornado went through it every day, but it has given me the gift of more time.

For the Body

This is a tricky suggestion section for me to write, since I deeply believe in finding your own relationship with food and exercise that works best for you.  I am not into  most trends and plans, but simply into feeling out what your body needs to be safely and properly nourished.  This is a continued journey for me, and a huge part of my resolution- not for weight loss but more to feel more present and healthy.  I feel it’s my responsibility to find out how healthy I can feel, without ever sacrificing a positive body image or peace of mind.

So here are a few things that have helped me recently, or I am trying this month:

The Whole Life Challenge

Our fabulous friends, the Weisman’s, are not only our new neighbors but also motivating me to join them in The Whole Life Challenge this winter.  In a nutshell, you join a team, sign up for their app, and choose a plan for 8 weeks.  They range from giving up gluten to giving up practically everything processed.  We are taking the middle ground from mid-Janury through mid-March, giving up added sugars, glutens, most dairy, and a range of other things.  This works for me since I have been on the hunt for the ingredient that has been making me feel spacey for quite some time.  So this may narrow down the culprit.  The challenge also gives you points for daily exercise, water intake, and reflection.  It’s all light-spirited and has no pressures about buying their shakes or looking good for anyone else.  It seems to me to be focused on a lifestyle shift.  But I’ll let you know how it goes.

Tastespotting

My love of cooking was sparked by three things: cooking shows, staring at pictures of delicious food, and eating something I created.  Tastespotting had a lot to do with it.  I have never been great at following directions to a t, mainly because I like to take creative liberties (which is why I’m a terribly baker).  But to get me started, I go here for inspiration.  Cooking at home not only saves you money, but also supports healthier and whole-food based meals.  You also get to show off on Instragram.

Jessica Smith TV

If you’re like me, and fitting a gym membership into your budget is just not doable half the time, go make friends with Jessica Smith TV.  I found her one day when I was looking for a barre workout online, since the in-person ones in my area are upwards of $30 a class.  Gaaaah.  She now has a very wide range of videos, a super positive attitude, and most importantly, an adorable dog named Peanut that sits at her feet.

For the Wallet

Learnvest

If anyone in the future ever asks me about how I finally roped in my student loans and credit card debt, I will tell them I have Learnvest to thank (and Christina Kosyla for telling me about them).  Geared toward women taking control of their personal finances, Learnvest pretty much taught me how to budget.  Their articles are also practical, easy to read, and make you feel like you don’t have to fall into the trap of reading those, “Millennials can’t handle their money” articles.  Because that’s BS.

The Financial Diet

If you need a good daily read, check out The Financial Diet.  They are even more down to earth than Learnvest and get straight to the point.  If you have ever felt alone or guilty about any lousy financial choice, this website covers it in a very honest way.  I greatly appreciate that people from our generation are being proactive about rising out of the stereotypes as entitled or irresponsibly spenders.

 

As I got rolling with this list, I realized I have way more I would love to share, but am out of time (and space!).  So I think I will try to keep this list thing going, especially if you find it helpful.  As I said above, please leave your recommendations below and I will happily look into them and spread them around.  I am particularly on the hunt for a website to replace my Facebook binging.

 

Happy New Year everyone and enjoy the day!

Advertisements

A Resolution for Better Resolutions

I am temping at reception for the first time in several months today, and I came across an old post from last year at this time in my Google Drive.  Often when I sit at these desks, I rattle off my train of thought into an old document I’ve had since the beginning of my temping adventures.

What I found was very exciting though.  It was something I wrote when I was in the happiest of mindsets about New Year’s Resolutions for 2013.  This year I have been having a hard time wrapping my head around how to move in a better direction.  I know what I hope to happen, and I know what I’m frustrated with.  But nothing on that list is a tangible task I can complete.  I can’t just decide to “get cast in more things,” as nice as that would be.  Luckily, my writing from last year talks about simply changing my mindset in 2013.  The goal was to focus more on the present instead of constantly worrying about what’s down the line or behind me.  Thanks, past brain!  That did help me last year, and it comes back around to help me tackle this year’s resolution as well.

So here is my breakdown, as a message from my past self, to help you if you are also stuck with this year’s resolution.

Start with your brain

Hooray brain!

Hooray brain!

It’s very easy to say your want to be thinner, more in shape, more confident, more determined, or more organized in the new year.  But if these things were that easy to change, wouldn’t we have made that “decision” ages ago?  If changing for the better is as simple as a one-time change of heart, why hasn’t every past resolution worked?

There are many passionate list makers circulating Facebook right now that say it’s as easy as “choosing to have a good day,” and I honestly feel like that’s crap.  I don’t think it’s completely false either, and I understand the intention behind it.  But it’s incomplete. In my mind, these phrases and lists of people standing on mountains doing yoga always made me feel like I am doing something wrong.  So for myself, I have simply chosen a mantra that will send my mind in a new direction on its own damn watch.  No more pressure or decisions to make epic changes or promises beyond your control.  After gently saying a mantra to yourself every morning, one day you may just wake up and feel that way.  And once you’re feeling more comfortable in your own skin, I believe the obvious goals you’ve been chasing after will fall into place naturally.

Cool it with the Facebookin’

"Can't believe I got another callback for CATS!  They told me they wish everyone was talented as I was.  Wowee!"

“Can’t believe I got another callback for CATS! They told me they wished everyone was talented as I am. Wowee!”

On a day when I feeling particular inadequate in the acting world, I came across the Annoying Actor Friend Twitter.  Thank the Heavens for good ol’ cynicism!  Here I was thinking I was a Grinch getting frustrated by theatrical success over shares, and behold!  There is an entire hysterical Twitter Feed dedicated to it.  Check it out for a good laugh: https://twitter.com/Actor_Friend

My point and the point of Twitters like this is not to say that people should keep great news to themselves and let all the grumps win the grumpy war.  It’s about the fact that social media can become a place to either brag or compare yourself to others from the privacy of your own home.  You may not have the balls to run up to a group of friends and yell, “I feel so blessed to have my fourth callback this week, and damn, is this theatre thing easy!”…but people seem to have the balls to do it online.  Many people I know succeed at NOT doing this, and I am very happy when I hear their announcements.   There are plenty of ways to write about your victories without being a douche, or by not trying to hide it by declaring how humble you are.  #sohumble #reallyhardtobethispretty

If you are like me, you’re not very good at letting these comments slide off your back.  So use the magical power of Unfollow!  There’s no shame.  You have the power to decide what messages are entering your brain and whether they’re healthy for you or not.  If you’re sick of me putting up wedding updates, but all means, unfollow me!  I wouldn’t blame you for a second.

So many extremes!

"New Study Shows Pie Leads to Longevity"

“New Study Shows Pie Leads to Longevity”

One of the most annoying trends I find with the articles  posted on Facebook are the extremes they convey.  “NEVER EAT BREAD”  “MARRIAGE IS FOR YOUR PARTNER, NOT FOR YOU” “HAPPINESS CAN ONLY BE FOUND WHEN WE DO 5 HOURS OF YOGA AND SQUATS!”  Yes, we’re all proud of you for being passionate about a topic…or a fad.  But haven’t we realized yet that the answer to all of these debates (unless they have to do with hate and prejudice, then the answer is just stop being an asshole), is a balance between the two?  Finding the balance, or “hitting the mark”, is a wonderful Buddhist concept I often keep in mind.  I feel like people are drawn to these extremes because we’re all looking for some secret or shocking discovery that will change us.  Extreme opinions may get more attention, but I don’t see what they’re doing for people other than starting never-ending debates which never reach an answer.  Cool it.  It is possible that both parties are right.

Reflect on how awesome you are

1383080_710015102079_1023510893_n

Yes, I just ranted about people who brag on Facebook, but I am by no means saying not to be proud and grateful for your accomplishments.  I am the first person to look back on a year an immediately focus on all the things I didn’t do.  Stop that, brain!  Unfair and rude.  If you’re not on Broadway (or at the top of whatever industry you’re in), okay fine!  Maybe you found a new great job in the meantime.  Or maybe you got engaged.  Or met new friends.  Or moved to a new great apartment or a new city!  Maybe you ran a race for the first time in your life!  Or just simply felt better than you did in 2012.  Or hell, maybe you felt worse but here you are standing on two feet in the new year.  Your career, love life, financial situation, and search for the magical mysteries of the universe are not all going to hit their pinnacle all at once.  If they did, how would we process enjoying all of them?  And where would we go from there?  Look at what you did, and move on, because after all….

You don’t have a time machine

Bridget and I rollin' through Plainfield around 1987

Bridget and I rollin’ through Plainfield circa 1987

My friend Claire often tells me that regretting a way I felt or acted in the past is silly, because in the moment, that’s just what I needed to do.  It would be like messing up in an audition and having your future-self barge through the door and yell, “Stop screwing up!”  Not helpful.  OR if you hopped in your time machine and went to July to tell yourself to really get going on those sit-ups.  You don’t know what will be going on then, so setting unrealistic goals for yourself or feeling guilty about your past is unrealistic and frustrating.  Right now, if you can get yourself out the door and run, then rock it out.  But if you feel like writing, or cooking, or watching 5 episodes of Downtown Abbey, then give yourself a break and do what’s right for you.  With this space and relief of pressure, I have found I am much more likely to choose completing something helpful and creative over eating a bag of corn chips and watching Toddlers and Tiaras.  Long story short: too much constant obsession with a goal = burning out.  Stress = eating a tub of vanilla icing.

So what was my resolution???

As I said before, I picked a mantra and I’m gonna give it a go.  Normally I wouldn’t share something this personal, but the whole nature of the mantra tells me to get over that!  I also feel I may not be completely alone in relating to this one.  My mantra of 2014 is that I deserve to have an opinion and that what I have to say is important.  No, I’m not setting up shop in Union Square and yelling motivational statements, I’ll keep those here.  But I shied away from this blog for almost a year and I couldn’t figure out why until recently.  Between planning a wedding and suddenly having the opportunity to shape my acting career, I am constantly in the process of making a decision or put my dignity on the line at an audition.  And I found it a lot easier to stay quiet and blend in at my auditions and then go on my merry way and eat an after-audition cupcake.  I was content and comfortable, and honestly, overwhelmed with the amount of changes that came in 2013- to the point that I started to feel undeserving of them.   It wasn’t until I got up one morning and made breakfast did I get the urge to share a recipe, or anything for that matter, with you here on my blog that I started to come out of my shell again.

I am not expecting that this mantra will get me cast in every show this side of the Mississippi or that I will suddenly become the next David Tutera of wedding planning.  But at least things won’t be as quiet here on the writing front because eventually I will stop caring if what I have to say is for everyone who reads it.

2014 is a really nice number

Marriage! 4 months to go!

Marriage! 4 months to go!

I have a good feeling about this year, and my superstitious side is happy to not write 13 anymore.  Let’s take things as they come and remember that though your thoughts and energies are not always going to be for everyone, you have a right to pursue what you love and feel how you feel.  On that note, I would love to hear you’re resolutions or mantras for 2014 below.  Hooray for 2013, we did it!  Now let’s keep doing it!  And be even better at it! Go team go!