My Manifesto

I believe that everyone has a unique and powerful contribution that only they can make to our society.

I will do everything I can to protect our natural resources and the diversity of humanity.

I commit to becoming the best version of myself, and to elevating others to greatness.

Change begins within:

I stay awake to the daily experience that is life.

I cultivate acceptance in myself and for others.

I honor my need for community and move beyond my own insecurities to build deep and meaningful friendships and fruitful collaborations.

I embody courage in my art, my Pilates practice, and my life, taking risks as they become apparent, sharing stories, teaching tools for self-empowerment, and fighting for the rights of others.

I cherish my own creativity, by dancing with my muse daily as a proud actor/dancer/singer/writer/producer/teacher.

I embrace my calling as an artist to engender empathy in others.

I value my freedom to choose the direction of my life.

I express my gratitude each and every day for the gifts I have received artistic, interpersonal, monetary, physical, and spiritual.

I always seek to be generous with these gifts.

I inspire others to invest in self-healing so all can reach their full potential.

As challenges emerge, I remind myself to foster my own inner peace. From these still waters, I can change the world.

Emerging from Hibernation

EmergingfromHibernationHave you ever felt so emotional and raw that you just couldn’t put yourself out there any more? That you should be sharing your work as an actor/artist/writer, but that you honestly didn’t feel ready to share it? And that that inability to share had nothing to do with fear and everything to do with vulnerability?

In a nutshell, that describes exactly where I’ve been since mid-May. In the beginning, I tried to push through those feelings — the desire to hide or to hibernate. Being an actor is always vulnerable, but if we don’t put ourselves out there,  it isn’t possible for work to come our way. So I kept writing my blog, auditioning, and seeking work, but I found that I was feeling more and more drained. So I decided it would just have to be okay to step back for awhile and give myself the opportunity to explore and grow without any pressure of putting it out there.

It’s pretty interesting that in this time period Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book “Big Magic” came out. I started by listening to her free podcast “Magic Lessons” and was so addicted that the book was close behind. I ended up getting it as an audiobook because I often find it easier to listen to a book than read it, since I am constantly on the go. While the audiobook isn’t tremendously long, contained within are some beautiful nuggets. And one of my biggest takeaways is that my practice of acting need not always begin with the thought that it needs to be shared. And that the practicing of my art on a regular basis is far more important than the external shape of what comes out of that practice.

Writers say that the first draft could be terrible, but the most important thing is to get it onto the page. I think that for actors that translates as: it is more important to speak the words, own the truth, and get better at my craft, than to worry about if it is any good during that process.

Getting good comes with practice. There is no guarantee of good. I may practice and practice and never be good. But if I’m only focusing on results (being perfect, being good), the potential of what could be from a gentle rehearsal process might never emerge.

A lot of what I’ve been doing with my process of actor is going back to pencil sketches and filling it in with color. My process as an actor began in a very organic improvisational way (with not a lot of training). As I began to crave more (bigger roles, more high profile projects, etc.), I became aware that my process as an actor needed some filling in. At times this can be a painful process — I’m pretty impatient and it takes time and patience to go back and work in a slower and more detailed way and trust that in the end my work will be better for it.

Liz Gilbert’s words definitely gave me permission to step back and not only honor the process, but revere it. I’m a lot more ready to share my work than I was a few months ago, but most importantly, I’m feeling a lot freer in what I’m doing and a lot more willing to take risks. And that is something to celebrate!

I’m not sure if I’m completely done hibernating. And even if I am (for now), I know I can go back to it at any time. Regardless, I feel like I’m a better and stronger person for the time that I spent there.

Do you have a time in your life when you felt like you were hibernating as an artist? What was that period like for you and how did you emerge from it? I would love to hear about it! (Please leave a comment below.)

xo,

Natalie

 

 

 

Feeling overwhelmed? Simple advice from Thich Nhat Hanh

I’ve been extremely busy lately and over the past couple days I have been feeling a combination of overwhelm and complete exhaustion. You see I have a long list of goals that I want to achieve this week, this month, this year, but I also have some projects (for which I am extremely grateful for) in my present.

I am currently understudying all five female roles in Boys’ Life with The Seeing Place Theater. Aside from the time I’m spending in company meetings and dramaturgy rehearsals, additional time is required to study the text on my own to uncover each characters’ obstacles and objectives for each scene and the play as a whole, discover my own point of view on each, and to learn lines too.

Being present for this work requires a great deal of energy (more than I expected or remembered from past projects) and I have found myself being incredibly critical of myself for all the other things outside of this work that I have not been accomplishing.

For example, two weeks ago, I finally decided to purchase a Portabooth, a portable booth for voiceover recording, which would enable me to cut down on some of the sounds in my apartment, and submit higher quality auditions to ACX audiobooks projects and also Voice123 projects. However, until 2 days ago, I had not been able to carve out the time to actually use it. It was still sitting in the box!

Friday afternoon, as I finally unpacked it, I pulled a book from my shelf that I hadn’t looked at in quite some time “The Miracle of Mindfulness” by Thich Nhat Hanh to read from as I tested out the new setup.

I’m a huge believer in signs and me picking this book off the shelf was no different.

Reading books out loud has a way of making me so much more present to what I am reading. When I record books there is an audience who I must reach and in order to reach them, I must really slow down. If I’m reading on my own, I have the bad habit of skimming the text, rushing through it in a way, because I want to get the benefit of reading it, but I feel like time is fleeting, like it is not my own.

Ironically, as I started reading Chapter One, aloud, this feeling of ‘not enough time’ was precisely what the book was addressing. Thich told a story about his friend Allen. Thich was asking his friend about whether he felt is was easier to have a family than to be a bachelor. Allen’s answer was profound. He explained how he used to divide his time into the time for each of his children, the time for housework, and finally time for himself. But he illuminated how dramatically different his life became when he realized that all of that time could in fact be his own, if he simply stayed present.  “The remarkable thing is that now I have unlimited time for myself!”

-The remarkable thing is now I have

This story and several other stories that Thich shares in the first chapter further illuminated for me how my overwhelm and exhaustion was coming less from all the stuff I had to do and more from not being present with what I was doing in each moment of my day.

If you are going to wash the dishes, wash the dishes. If you are drinking tea, how can you be aware of the cup that is in your hand while you are drinking it? And if you are eating a tangerine, are you eating the wedge that is in your mouth or are you busy prepping that next wedge or is your mind somewhere else entirely?

Multitasking is a common trap for me and I was so grateful for the reminder to be present in each moment of my day.

Do you struggle with staying present in your life and art? I’d love to hear what helps or hinders you in staying present in your life. Post a comment below and let me know!

xo,

Natalie

 

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