10 Life Hacks To Get What You Desire In Life

Life. We’re all in it together.

As we near the end of the year, here are 10 ways to set you squarely on your path for 2016, aid you on your journey, and ultimately lead you to getting what you desire in life (because you deserve it!):

1). It’s possible. We live in a world of possibility. Whether you think it’s possible or not, makes it so. Negative brain chatter and self-doubt can make our dreams appear impossible to achieve. But just keep reminding yourself that’s it’s possible. Dreams come true everyday. And here’s one of my favorite quotes to remind yourself every morning when you wake up that you’re waking up to a world of possibility:

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” – Audrey Hepburn

2). It’s available to you. If you can think it, if you can dream it; if you believe it’s possible, then it’s out there! You just have to find a way to match with what it is you’re wanting. Belaboring what isn’t working in your life doesn’t get you any closer to what could be working. Change your attitude about things and you’ll find new access to things you thought weren’t attainable.

3). You deserve it. Despite what we tell ourselves on a daily basis. (“I don’t deserve it. Who am I to get what I want? Who am I to find the perfect partner? Who am I to book that movie? I don’t deserve it. I’m not worthy.”) Newsflash: You do. End. Of. Story. Let go of guilt, self-judgment, and negativity that keeps you stuck in the cycle that you don’t deserve it.

4). When you are lit up – when you’re doing it, talking about it, creating it – then it’s It. That’s a sure sign that you’re doing something you love and that you’re on your path. Ever notice the glow around people, the energy they have, how they light up a room when they’re doing or talking about something they love and are passionate about? That’s being “lit up”! So, what lights you up? Go there.

5). You are here to shine. Some people will try to dim your light by giving you reasons why something won’t work. Shine regardless. And don’t let their non-reasons of why something isn’t possible dim your light.

6). You don’t need someone else’s permission. What are you waiting for? Jump in. Create. Write that script. Shoot that web series. The exciting thing about the time we’re living in is that you no longer need to wait for the supposed gatekeepers to give you permission to create. Give yourself the green light and realize that’s all you’ve needed all along.

7). Know you can do it. (Even when you doubt that you can.) Despite the evidence that runs counter to what it seems you want, life is about moving forward even with our doubts. Things will trigger your stuff. You’re going to have setbacks. There will be obstacles. Don’t let short-term stumbles keep you from the long-term victory.

8). You’re good enough. Just decide that you’re good enough. Just do it. Make it your mantra. If we constantly compare ourselves to someone else – someone smarter, hotter, more successful, more popular (on Instagram!), more talented – we can never break through with our own victories. They will always be compromised by comparing them against someone else’s. Michael Fassbender said it best:

“My goal was for acting to become my main income. I would say to myself, ‘I’m good enough.’ That became my mantra.” – Michael Fassbender

9). Don’t play small. You’re not serving anyone, least of all the universe, by playing small and preventing yourself from being, doing, and having all that you want to be, do and have. Dream big. Go for it. Give the fullness of your gifts to the world. The world deserves it, and so do you.

10). Fuck it. You have nothing – absolutely nothing to lose – and everything to gain. We have to change the optics. Lean into risk. Follow your instincts. Keep listening to that inner voice that pushes you out of your comfort zone. As weird, wild, icky, strange, anxiety-ridden and gross as it feels – discomfort is the only place that ultimately gets us to what we really want. There is simply No. Other. Way. So feel the feeling and do it anyway.


10 Ways to Stop Fearing and Start Feeling

After the Paris attacks, the Dalai Lama said, “We cannot solve this problem only through prayers. I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. God would say, ‘Solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.’ We need a systematic approach to foster humanistic values of oneness and harmony.”

A recent NY Times video interviews a woman (only referred to by her first name), Carmela, who lives above Belle Equipe Café, where 18 people lost their lives.

She, and her two daughters, heard the gunshots.

“At one point I said, ‘Don’t be frightened.’ And I remember thinking that’s the most ridiculous thing. You are frightened and I am frightened and we have to share it rather than pretend it’s not there.”

Sharing what we’re feeling.

One of the best ways we can honor the victims of the terrorist bombings – and also harmonize and foster a greater sense of peace and well-being in our own lives as the Dali Lama suggests, is to start recognizing how we feel. And share what we feel.

So, we pledge to do our best. We renew and start again with a new understanding of what it takes to live a life worth living.

1). I will not let fear be my first reaction to things. (And if it is, I will share that I am scared instead of pretending I am not.)

2). I will choose to start sharing more often what’s going on with me, rather than shutting down, running away, checking out, displacing, anesthetizing or otherwise avoiding what I feel.

3). I will talk to someone about my feelings. Especially feelings I have shame around and have strong judgments against. Sometimes that could be a lover or friend or relative. Sometimes that’s going to a therapist to work through deeply rooted issues that are holding us back.

4). I will stop holding myself back.

5). Holding myself back comes from having a level of feeling wanting to be expressed outwardly but instead finds its way underground to not be expressed. This creates resistance.

6). In spite of how I incorrectly see myself – and therefore hold myself back – I’m going to do something anyway as if I were the bad-ass that I am. Another way of doing it is channeling my inner acting hero. If I were Jennifer Lawrence, how would J. Law do this? If I were Tom Hardy, how would I do this?

7). I will stop being scared of feelings. They’re just feelings after all. The last time I looked, no one died of feelings. People die from guns. And explosions. And weapons. And knives. And bombs.

8). I will take one thing – just one thing – that is making me feel badly about myself – which is simply a feeling not being expressed and instead eats away from the inside – because I’m too scared to attempt that thing through which this feeling wants to be expressed. And I am going to follow this one thing through.

No matter what happens that will try to derail me – I will attempt to do this thing until it is complete. It could be calling and then finding an agent. It could be going to the gym. Or writing a screenplay, or taking an acting class, or asking someone out on a date, or getting new headshots, or moving to NY.

9). I will take one bad habit – which is just displaced energy (and feeling) not being manifested creatively, and then therefore channeled into a bad habit – and I will give that habit up in return for doing the above-mentioned thing I’ve been avoiding.

10). These things seem to be the least I can do. I can do these things. I can create and get out of my own way and live a life more openly expressed, which in turn, fosters a greater sense of harmony and peace. From within. And seems to commemorate people’s lives lost in some small way, who no longer can create.

Because all we can really do is start with, and change, ourselves.


In Memory of the Paris and Beirut Terrorist Attack Victims, November 2015

This vlog was recorded a week before the Paris and Beirut terrorist attacks but I wanted to use this written post to share my deepest sympathies with the families of the victims of those cowardly acts and use it also as an opportunity to continue to engage us in conversations about what it truly means to be an artist and citizen of this planet.

There were so many moving tributes to the victims – from Cecily Strong’s simple and heartfelt opening monologue on Saturday Night Live to Madonna’s dedicated concert performance in Stockholm, Sweden, singing a beautiful rendition of “Like A Prayer.”

I immediately thought how tragedy – and conversely the power of art in a society that desperately needs more loving artistic expression – can be reinterpreted in the moment. So “Like a Prayer”, for example, suddenly has huge emotional significance when sung in the aftermath of a tragedy.

It moves from being a catchy pop song first heard in 1989 (!) – when it created such an uproar because of it’s exploration of Catholicism, race and bigotry all draped in a retro Rebel Without A Cause feel with a dancing Baptist choir, a crying African-American saint, and Madonna as . . . well . . . the MadonnaVirgin Mary dancing in front of burning crucifixes – to something else entirely.

(It also seems so silly now that the Catholic Church and so many conservative leaders were up in arms over the music video and Pepsi went so far as to drop their contract with her. I guess it’s also sadly ironic that anything to do with religion still creates such destructive reprisals in people today.)

So now that song from 26 years ago becomes a stirring, emotional, hands-outstretched humble offering of healing and love to the City of Light.

And in that moment, you capture the universal power of what art itself is and can be.

It’s life. It’s a response to and a reflection of that which is ephemeral and always changing.

Life. Existence. Our being here.

I was asked in the above-embedded video about the “existential meaning of the work” we are doing at AMAW. After the tragedy that occurred, it made me realize more than ever that that is the real exploration of being an actor. Of being alive.

A philosophy of existentialism is an exploration of what it means to be human. The search for meaning and the journey toward discovering self.

That. Is. Acting. Period.

And it also liberates us into being free thinkers – and empowers us to stand up against a society or individuals who try to impose religious or secular world-views on others (whether through dogma or violent acts), thereby dehumanizing people.

The irony is these violent acts of depravity are being created out of environments that have lost their connection to art. They are devoid of wonder. Of mystery. There is no poetry. No dance. No freedom of expression.

That then also illustrates the power of (arts) education.

If a terrorist cell is fertilizing and cultivating a young mind with nothing but images of war and jihad extremism and hate – there is no understanding, then, of the beauty of a flower. Or two ballet dancers in a pas de deux.

There is only brainwashing.

There is no listening to the melodies of Mozart or looking at a Picasso.

There is only fear and hate mongering.

There is no room in a young person’s mind to grasp the power of two actors sharing a moment spontaneously that leads to a kiss, or discussing what it’s like to survive genocide.

There is no reading of Shakespeare or Snow White. No singing of a cultural folk song or a Lady Gaga or Kanye hit.

This is the power of art. This is why it has to be sustained, cultivated, practiced, expressed, shared. Everywhere.

A child is not a barbarian. He is an artist. He is only taught and trained (by non-artists) to be that which goes against his nature.

Art matters. More than at the obvious level in which we often engage with it. You, who create art, matter. In a world that can be healed through art – you have power.

When artists send a message that acts of destruction, violence and terror cannot silence our expressions of love and freedom and inspiration – it is to me, one of the most powerful, galvanizing forces of good celebrating life.

So create your art powerfully, and stop listening to people who say you can’t or it’s not important or you’re not “fill-in-the-blank” enough.

Make art as if our lives depended on it.

Because it does.





Instagram model Essena O’Neill gained a lot of attention last week in her video message about the perils of letting the social media machine continue to run our lives unabated.

From the media’s obsession with presenting images of what life is supposed to look like and what we need to consume or buy or have or achieve in order to live perfectly peppy joyful lives to comparing ourselves against some standardized depiction of what success or fame or physical beauty is supposed to look like – social media can be a very slippery slope.

How does the very tool that we use to engage us with the world become the very thing that simultaneously dis-engages us?
We feel obsessive, disconnected and a weird sort of apathy and love-hate with our phones and our social apps. “Why don’t I get more likes on that pic I posted?”

Someone made up this rule that we have to be social media savvy and we’ve all bought into it.

But what does any of it mean? How is a “like” quantifiable? How does it add to the quality of our lives? How does it inherently bring anything of value to our immediate experience?

In most cases it doesn’t. The original purpose of social media has been lost. Remember the Arab Spring? How people galvanized movements and gave citizens in remote regions a voice to express inspiring messages? We felt connected to people in humane ways.

Like most things built on “connection” through technology and not real human interaction, social media has become a surrogate self-esteem builder (and basher).

When you use social media to validate yourself (and we each have to admit to varying degrees we all do this!), the relationship becomes very destructive.

Why? Because it’s not real!

The social media landscape is artificially constructed. Photo-shopped images of people doing glamorous things filtered to the hilt to make us look more attractive, special, important, successful, famous, or popular than we really are is very seductive. And not necessarily in a good way.

It’s a magnification of high school all over again. “If more people vote for me and I win homecoming court, I’m cool.”

Ummmm . . . no you’re not.

Instagram and other social media outlets provide amazing platforms to connect with people in ways we truly, deeply desire. That is – real, authentic, inspiring connection to (and inspiration by) other like-minded people.

The ultimate challenge of being here is to create for self. Not for the likes or thumbs up, or Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 11.18.53 AM ’s or retweets. But to create and work with people on things that mean something to you and explore who you are beyond your restrictions and fears of what you think you can and can’t do. That’s why each of us is looking for a platform to be seen, heard and acknowledged.

I get it. That’s the artist’s dilemma. Wanting to create and be acknowledged for our creating.

What if we stopped using social media (and other external sources) as a validation tool to make us feel good about ourselves – because it will never be enough. It’s insatiable. Have value in self regardless of what people think of you. Because other people are going to think whatever they think of you anyway.

The answers are not in the phone. Biggest light bulb ever. If the answers were in the phone you would’ve found it already and you wouldn’t constantly need to be scrolling and swiping and looking and comparing and despairing and lamenting and searching and liking and crying – only to do it all again and again. The answers aren’t in manipulated imagery.

As Emma Stone’s character says to Michael Keaton in the Academy Award winning Birdman in his attempt to become relevant via social media: “You’re doing this because you’re scared to death – like the rest of us – that you don’t matter. And you know what? You’re right. You don’t. It’s not important, okay? You’re not important. Get used to it.”

Preach. In the big scheme of things . . . it’s so true. And that realization can be a huge breakthrough to freedom right there. To create and express for self. While we still can. In the ways you not only want to – but for the reasons you came here to create to begin with. The only “like” you need to do that – is the one from yourself.

The Real Definition of Theatre

What is theatre? What is art? Why do we go see movies or watch TV? Listen to opera or classical music? Take in an art installation or a ballet performance?

Surely, it’s to have our own experiences reflected back to us. To realize we’re not alone in how we feel, love and think. Fulfilling some primal need of the shared, collective, tribal connection that is a part of the collective consciousness of being alive. And being human.

But also it’s something more. It’s an attempt to find meaning in something that inherently is meaningless. (Not as in hopeless; simply the meaning of life as ascribed by each person according to their own subjective experience.) So through art we attempt to understand something that is at one level indefinable and mysterious.

The mystery of being here. The mystery of being alive. Some scientists talk about the God gene – that the concept of an Infinite Supreme Being is simply part of our DNA because our ancestors thousands of years ago created ritualistic acts and ceremonies to worship nature, the stars and the sun and moon.

So we have a biological need to create meaning. Out of events, happenings, experiences, tragedies, victories. Or perhaps it’s simply a control to make us feel better when something as infinite as the universe is reduced to finite terms and explanations. Labels and definitions make us feel safe.

We try to explain and understand everything. From the people we meet (or don’t meet), fall in love with, divorce, procreate with, save, hate, feel drawn to, are repelled by – to the people who inspire us or make us feel safe. The people who scare us or make us feel insecure.

So what’s it for?

Musician Brian Eno says, “Art is everything that you don’t have to do.” It’s not a survival necessity. We have to eat. We have to clothe ourselves. We have to move. But we embellish these necessities with stylistic expressions. So we create extravagant soufflé dishes (Top Chef) or cut holes in our jeans (Project Runway!) or leap in the air and pirouette (Dancing with the Stars!).

Human beings take the necessities of life and turn them into art. And therein, those acts simultaneously become acts of survival. For without these flashes of the Divine or love or heart or spirit or inspiration – or whatever we want to call it – we would remain at the level of animals.

Eno goes on to talk about how children learn through play and adults play through art. We can imagine worlds in ways animals can’t, so children – through their art and creating and playing – move from being primitive to evolved. It is our imagination in how we can create that elevates us as humans.

But I often wonder if that’s solely left in the devices of art – some heightened reflection or representation of life – or whether the actual art is in how we simply experience life.

The goal is to bring back the art of living into our very existence itself. It’s great to go see plays. It’s wonderful to be awed by Cirque Du Soleil. But you don’t have to go see something or consume something to have art in your life. How you view the world and create in it is an expression of art.

I was in NY last week and witnessed a homeless person (who I thought was simultaneously strung out on bath salts!) pick up a feather he discovered spontaneously on the sidewalk. In that moment, symbolically that feather meant something to him. Is it because he’s connected to the mythological significance of what a feather represents? Did his mom once give him a feather? Does he have a connection to nature or birds or flying? Was he once someone who worked with birds in a zoo or made art with feathers before he became homeless?

It didn’t matter. In that moment, a depraved experience turned into the Divine. Regardless of his state of being, he was conscious enough in that moment to imbue a moment with truth and beauty.

That is art.

That’s who we are. All the time.

So stop waiting for someone to acknowledge your “art” by commodifying it.

Just be it more.

Art As A Subversive Act (AKA you’re growing if you’re taking fewer naps!)

Imagine being an artist in Nazi Germany in the 1940’s.

A Jewish singer.

A gay ballet dancer.

Imagine being an actor in North Korea today. Or a performance artist in Syria.

Now imagine not being able to do what you love.

Throughout history, the artist has been considered subversive. Especially to dictatorships and regimes hostile to free-thinking individuals.

Why is that?

Well the artist – through his work – represents truth and beauty. That can be very scary to a despot who rules his country with an iron fist. To allow people to voice opinions contrary to the establishment is a subversive act.

To get people to think about themselves in terms of love, possibility, hope. To encourage people to think differently, to expand their beliefs, to question things they have been taught. Those are powerful acts. This makes art purposeful. It empowers us.

Our lives here are blessed. We don’t really worry about censorship or not finding ways to create. If we don’t like where we live, we move to NY or LA to be surrounded by like-minded artists.

But we often allow the rejections of the business to suppress our own uniqueness. We personalize defeats. We listen to what the “experts” say not realizing that most people operate with agendas. We acquiesce our power to the “perceived” establishment, and give up because someone says, “You’ll never make it.”

We oppress ourselves. We criticize ourselves and tell ourselves we can’t do something. We compare ourselves to the “filtered” Instagrammed pictures of everyone’s happy lives. We’ll always defeat ourselves if that’s the measurement, because we’re comparing ourselves to illusions.

It can make you want to throw in the towel! Or take long naps.

In my 20’s I’d take long-ass naps (like for days!) not realizing I was depressed because I didn’t think I had any power. I’d give it all away to people who had opinions about me and my art, rather than making up my own mind. It always left me feeling undervalued and without any kind of creative power to do what I wanted. It was as if I was constantly asking permission from someone else to be acknowledged. But because they never acknowledged me (through a job offer or a booking or acceptance) I felt powerless and had to sleep.

Now look. Naps are wonderful. On a couch. A cushy chair. Your comfy bed. Cozying up with your cat. Hell, even in your car or on a carpeted floor can work in a pinch. They’re reinvigorating and replenishing and science proves that they are actually good for us. But a 20-minute power nap to re-energize is not the same as a 3-hour Xanax-fuelled shutting-out-life, refusing to acknowledge your creative life force is being stymied. That’s different.

Change the paradigm. The way you see the world is your art. You don’t need someone else to validate that or even see it your way. Just win back your power by accepting that you have some and that you won’t oppress yourself any longer. You’re not a loser or untalented or stupid. Let your inner subversive artist out. Your ego will want to continue to be a dictator and squash your creative voice. It will come up with all kinds of ways to do that. Cruelly. And also sweetly – like offering you to take a 10-day nap.

Wake up. Realize you have something to say. Now go say it. Be it. Do it. Allow your art to speak for the thousands of people in the world who truly can’t. That then, becomes an act of truth and beauty.


Retrain the brain.

The real reason we generally don’t move forward in life with our insights, “Ah-ha’s”, epiphanies, ideas and inspirations is simple.

We fail to take action.

Act now, think later.

The more we think about something, the less likely we are to do it. Science explains this is because the more time we have to think about something, the more we come up with more and more reasons why that something won’t work, or it’s not practical, or it’s never worked in the past, so why even bother.

That default way of thinking is the functioning of our inner saboteur.

But there’s another one. Oftentimes, before we can even move one tiny step in the direction of our dreams – call an agent, move to New York, take an acting class, ask someone out on a date – we catastrophe-ize the worst case scenario outcomes.

I mean, they’re pretty bleak. And they do a good job paralyzing us from doing anything. Is it any wonder we even get out of bed in the morning?

Look, there’s a lot of catastrophe in life. For sure. I mean, if you think about it, we’re spinning around on a piece of rock in the middle of space, somewhere in an infinite universe, shared with as many as 500 billion other galaxies. That means a lot of shit can happen.

Not to mention here on earth, there are epic challenges facing us: global climate change, a burgeoning global refugee crisis, a planet already being taxed of its natural resources with a population 2 to 3 times higher than is sustainable. Donald Trump running for President.

These are catastrophe-making problems, people!

Your dreams are not. Stop dooming-and-glooming it when it comes to what you want to do with your life. If you can imagine it, there must be a way to achieve it. Stop telling yourself just because you want to be an actor that you might also be penniless, eating cat food from a tin can the rest of your life, and forever be a rent-a-clown (!) as your side job to pay the bills.

Couldn’t you just as well meet Tom Cruise, marry Tom Cruise (?) and be in a Tom Cruise blockbuster?

This week, take something you’ve been sitting around waiting to do for a long time. And do it. Simple. “But . . .” you might hear yourself say. So what? Do it in spite of your protests, worries, anxieties, complaints, fears, stall tactics, rationalizations, excuses and (incorrect) beliefs that it will be the apocalypse if you just pick up a phone, or write a script, or get on Tinder (well . . .), or follow up with that manager, or get some headshots, or put yourself out there in some new way.

The earth will still be turning with all its 7 billion man-made problems. What if you just decided for once, at least one of them can be solved. By moving forward. Yourself.

Debunking the Myths of Love

Let’s do this.

Myth #1: “I must protect my heart.” Actually, you can’t. Well, you can, but what’s the point? Trying to move through life constantly shielding yourself from being vulnerable ends up making you move as if through quicksand, carrying a heavy burden on your shoulders that everyone hears you bitching about. And actually you’re just not fun to be around.

Engaging with the world in any kind of meaningful way is going to affect your heart. It’s going to make it swell, melt, crack, break, expand, swoon, tear open and fill up. That. Is. Life’s. Purpose. Stop trying to protect something that isn’t designed to be protected. Everyone I have ever met has shifted the atomic structure of my heart due to the sheer fact that they have touched me in some way. Sometimes lovingly,
sometimes . . . ummm . . . not so much. Ouch. But it’s all these experiences that have transformed my life. Good and bad. Not just the warm, fuzzy ones.

Myth #2: “I can’t find a good guy. Or girl.” Well, not with that attitude you can’t! Stop using finite words like “Can’t.” “Don’t.” “Won’t.” “Never.” Sound familiar? “I never meet nice girls.” “I don’t ever meet a guy who likes me the way I like him.” Not only are you declaring what’s not possible for you, you’re setting yourself up for some weird self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe you actually want it that way. To start changing your dialogue around relationships might mean you have to start getting accountable. You might have to face your fears of intimacy. Or look at why you don’t really believe you deserve to be with someone amazing. Or why you keep finding yourself clinging to people who are not available. Really incredibly amazing people exist out there. Maybe the first step in meeting them is realizing that you’re one of those people too.

Myth #3: “There’s someone else coming along.” Well . . . yeah, it’s like public transportation . . . there’s always another bus coming every 3 minutes or so. But the truth is (although Tinder would make us believe otherwise), there is no one sexier, better, younger, hotter, funnier, more together, fitter, cuter coming along. Relatively speaking, yes, like those buses, there are. But the truth is, once you settle down into domestic bliss – be it two days (that was fast!), two weeks, two months, two years – you start to see patterns emerging. What are these crazy things you thought you kicked to the curb with your last boyfriend when you threw his cheating ass out at 3 AM? Here they are again. The truth is it has nothing to do with anyone else. The stuff that comes up for each of us is our stuff. Reflected, projected, and deflected by another. Our impatience, fears, withholds, judgments, insecurities, habits, triggers, blames, upsets, controls are working themselves out through everyone we meet really – but oftentimes the people we are most intimate with. So the outer packaging might change (Oh, that one has such a pretty bow!), but what’s inside the box is always the same.

Myth #4: “I can’t do that to her (break up with, share your feelings with), she’s not ready.” It is not your job to decide (i.e. control) what you think someone can or can’t deal with. That actually has more to do with your own fears of expressing your truth and its repercussions than it does the other person. This is mostly because we value the opinions of others (Please Like Me!) more than we value ourselves. Self-worth is the highest form of self-love because it requires you to put yourself first and stop making excuses for the reasons why you can’t move forward in life. “I don’t want to hurt him.” “She’s not strong enough.” “What will happen if I tell him that?” These are just excuses to keep you from doing the work you have to do to get honest and risk telling someone how you feel no matter how uncomfortable, weird, icky, wild, raw, unnerved, gross, pukey, shut down, vulnerable, exposed it may make you feel. You value someone else’s comfort more than you value your discomfort. It doesn’t matter how much prettier, powerful, stronger, together, successful, richer, more famous, fucked-up, damaged, weaker, fragile, incapable, unprepared, spazzy, destructive, ill-equipped, or innocent you perceive someone. If you can’t speak your truth, you value yourself less than you do their opinion, love, support, money, help, advice, friendship, sex, drama, wrath, upset, disappointment, resentment, guidance, co-dependency, respect or presence.

When we begin to open our hearts, share our truth, expose our insecurities, allow ourselves to be human and acknowledge the parts of ourselves we want to keep hidden, we begin to be the force we always knew we contained within – but oftentimes are looking for everywhere else, through everyone else, in everything else – rather than ourselves.

That is, love.

Actors in video: Jack Turner and Robin Schultz

Why You Must Learn to Let Go and Be Physical

Olivia Newton John had a big hit on her hands in the ’80s with the song “Physical.”

Let’s get physical, physical
I wanna get physical, let’s get into physical
Let me hear your body talk, your body talk
Let me hear your body talk

Hmm…she makes it sound so easy, doesn’t she? And for some people it is. For others—and often for actors—it’s the hardest thing to be in the world. 

Our bodies are an extension of (and contain) our emotional being. When we feel feeling, we often have a physical expression of that feeling. When we cry, our shoulders slump. When we get angry, we throw something. When we feel joy, we jump up and down. It’s natural. Our bodies express that which we feel.

But actors stop that forward-moving momentum of full expression by overthinking. I’ve been punished for doing that! I can’t touch my partner. I’ve been rejected before, so I can’t display how much I care. We go into our heads and stop instincts from being fully expressed. 

What if you just stopped doing that? Stop censoring yourself. We all have connection to our bodies and our impulses. Sometimes we act on them, but often we don’t. Or sometimes in our work, we follow an instinct only to abort the mission halfway through. So you have an impulse to touch your partner, let’s say, but get so scared as to what might happen, you just stop. You move into some sort of arrested development—a limbo land where you freeze. 

Our physical expression might get us into trouble. It’s supposed to. The danger of putting your hand on someone else’s hand might lead to sexual chemistry. That’s the risk we take in life. Your collapsing on the floor with anguish might lead to more openings of feelings of being overwhelmed. 

Your job is not to limit the channel that you’ve become in those moments. Life expressions can’t be analyzed and intellectualized and then recreated as “behavior.” We feel and do, do and feel. We touch, we fall, we throw, we slap, we cry, we laugh, we slink, we stumble. We don’t think about slapping our thigh in response to a funny joke. We do it. We don’t think about covering our mouth with our hands because we’re in shock, we just do it. It’s automatic. 

An actor’s self-consciousness often is what keeps him from doing that which is natural in life. And then often, in acting training, because we don’t learn to trust our own bodies doing what they want to do, we’re taught to add “behavior” to a moment. I don’t add “behavior” to my ordering a coffee at the Starbucks. I don’t add “behavior” to my running down the stairs to see my lover. I don’t add “behavior” to a moment in my life that naturally evokes a physical response out of me. 

So just do it like you would in life. Let acting be an extension of your life. Don’t add concepts to that which you do naturally. If you find that it doesn’t come naturally, the work is to figure out why it’s so scary to express. 

And that, then, is the breakthrough. You begin to realize that as physical human beings, we often limit our physicalness in ways that most often feels comfortable for us. Or in ways that are most safe. But to expand beyond that requires vulnerability and risk. And that’s what being an actor is all about. 

Take leaps into expressing your physical self in ways you’ve never dreamt. And what you’ll discover is that your own physicalness has been there to catch you all along.

Actors in video: Robin Schultz and Hayley Shaw

You Must Stay Open to Life or You’re Fucked

There is a Taoist parable in which a farmer had only one horse. One day the horse ran away. The neighbors came to console him over his terrible loss, “You must be so upset. This is horrible.” The farmer simply said, “We’ll see.”

A month later, the horse came home, this time bringing with her two beautiful wild horses. The neighbors became excited at the farmer’s good fortune. “You must be so happy. Such lovely strong horses!” The farmer said, “We’ll see.”

The farmer’s son one day was riding one of the wild horses and got thrown and broke his leg. All the neighbors were very distressed. “This is such bad luck!” The farmer said, “We’ll see.”

Soon after, a war broke out and every able-bodied man was conscripted and sent into battle. Only the farmer’s son, because of his broken leg, remained. The neighbors congratulated the farmer. The farmer still steadfastly replied, “We’ll see.”

That’s life. How do we stay open to all things? It seems almost impossible because we lean into only the things that make us feel good and deliver a wonderful outcome. But the challenge of being alive and living a life that doesn’t constantly throw us from one extreme to another, is to try to stay open to things we don’t fully understand from our limited ego perspectives. So that means staying open to the stuff that in the moment we judge to be “bad” or “incomprehensible” or “negative.” It’s neutral after all. They’re just events happening. Period. Not to us. Not against us. Just happening. We ascribe moral judgments to things and then get ourselves into all kinds of trouble (i.e. drama!) when life doesn’t comply with our demands as to how it should be.

Staying open is a practice of mindfulness. It means allowing ourselves to feel things that want to shut us down because they feel icky. Living an open life doesn’t mean just being open to free swag, backrubs from your girlfriend, a trip to Honolulu and winning the Mega Million Lotto number.

Staying open means learning how to accept what the moment is trying to teach us. Sometimes through extraordinarily difficult situations. Through pain. Through discomfort. Through defeat. Other times just by remaining open to unexpected turns of events or weird coincidences or hiccups that reveal beautiful miracles.

Sometimes that might later on lead to some sort of experiential correlation. “Thank Gawd I caught my two-timing ex-husband cheating on me (!) or I’d never have moved from Kentucky, started my own business and built a refugee center for displaced women from Syria.”

Things falling apart sometimes lead to things coming together.

And sometimes there is no direct link. (Or maybe it’s all interconnected by some thinly drawn string like the unseen silk of a spider’s web that’s only illuminated when it’s backlit by the Sun. It’s there but not there.)

So if we just breathed into all moments a little more, we’d see that it all just might be interconnected and work out anyway.

We’ll see.

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