Quarantine Diaries- Social Media

quarantine-text-disease-virus-social-message

I, like so many of us, had big plans for 2020!

Big plans for my blog! BIG plans for my career! Big plans for my health and wellness, mental and physical! I knew exactly how it was going to go, I was ready.

This blog was going to be filled with Los Angeles and industry-related posts! With exciting tales of audition madness and fun events and tips and tricks for acting and all of it through a filter of mental health management and body positivity! Woohoo!!

Well…. we all know how that’s going! Best laid plans, right?

I’ve had nothing but time to write, but the truth is, I haven’t wanted to. I’ve been vacillating between two modes, neither of which have me wanting to sit down and write a public blog.

The first, and more common mode, has actually been pleasant. I’ve talked about being an introvert on this blog, and I’m also an incredibly introspective person (most, not all, introverts are!)  In the spirit of finding the blessings in a hard situation, I’ve been really leaning into the calm and quiet that I’m finding in these times.

Continue reading

“Be a Lady They Said”

I saw this video today and was moved even more than I expected.

I just finished filming a project in which I played a pregnant woman- so pregnant she goes into labor, actually. It got me thinking about all the times my eating disorder/ the voice of society told me the only way to be a working actress is to be as skinny, pretty, and young-looking as possible.

Well, that’s not true, obviously. I’m actually busier with my career than I’ve been in a long time, and I haven’t had to starve for one second of it.

Let’s be radical. Let’s stop letting society tell us what we need to look like, act like, sound like. Let’s love ourselves no matter what.

I say “society” because yes, men tend to perpetuate these ideas and paint them on us, but if we choose to stop buying into this crazy pressure, we can take back our power. Women also judge women for not being thin or pretty or whatever enough- usually because these women are insecure that they aren’t thin or pretty or whatever enough, either.

We are ALL enough. Continue reading

Heading Into 2020!

Journey

2019- WOW!

That year flew by. I say this every year, I know. Don’t we all? But this year was so jam-packed, I literally feel like I remember it being February, then I blinked, and BOOM!- it’s December!

One of my big goals this year was to spend time and energy on this blog turning into what I really want it to be, which is an open and honest account of my experience living in (and celebrating) my city of LA while navigating the entertainment industry (sharing fun behind the scenes, “what’s it really like?” details) while also managing depression, anxiety, bipolar II, an eating disorder, etc.

I also wanted to start speaking with other artists and creatives who deal with various mental illnesses about their experiences.

However, as is life, 2019 took me over. I’m not complaining, I’m actually extremely grateful. Some of it was personal- we bought a beautiful new house in Michigan last summer, and anyone who has ever moved knows what that process is like! The searching, buying, moving, filling with furniture, decorating, setting up every new account, changing addresses- whew! It’s a LOT. We are so grateful to have that end of our two-state operation semi-permanently settled, however, after 8 years of moving around a LOT with three kids! Continue reading

March in the City of Stars

teo-duldulao-241467-unsplash

Photo by Teo Duldulao on Unsplash

I love LA this time of year. I really do. It’s still cold (and GOD has it been raining this year) but the warm, sunny days are coming more frequently and isn’t so hot yet that you don’t appreciate them. There is something blooming about now that might be my favorite smell in the world. I’m not a flower person, I have no idea what it is. From the smell, I would guess it’s called something like “honeysuckle”.

Is there a flower person in LA reading this blog? What flower is that? It blooms like crazy every spring and makes everything smell delicious and amazing and edible.

It reminds me of when I first moved here. My first official spot in LA (after some couch crashing- sorry I filled your living room with balloons while I trained for my weird party clown job, David) was in the Hollywood Hills. The flowers that blossomed up there smelled like what heaven must smell like. Not the Christian heaven, which I always imagine smells like Pine-sol. Like…maybe a Buddhist heaven. Or whatever atheist liberal heaven is.

That can’t be the best way to explain that….but there it is.

Anyway, whenever I get a big breeze carrying that gorgeous LA spring smell, I’m totally transported back to the excitement of first moving here. I remember when getting hired as a party clown was a positive thing, back before numerous side jobs beat all the spirit out of me and I learned to hate all people. When LA was a city of dreams and famous people and possibilities. When I only had to find $500 a month for rent….in the Hollywood Hills….three houses away from Lindsay Lohan.

Ahhhh the good old days.

A few things have stayed the same. I still love the smell. I still feel LA is a city of dreams and famous people and possibilities. I will never again clown, and I literally can’t stretch my imagination to the realm of $500 rent. (Guys….can we imagine this? Did I move to LA in 1956?)

But, god, I’m still excited.

I’m not in the habit of dishing out unsolicited advice (hahaha yes I am, I’m the oldest of 6, I give out advice like it’s my job, y’all- it’s very annoying), but I’m going to give you some (more than I already do) right now, dear reader.

Live a life that gets you excited as hell. Whatever you have to do, do it. ESPECIALLY those of us that deal with depression and anxiety and every other type of mental crap. Because when SO many days are hard for no reason, shouldn’t the rest of those days be outstanding? Joyful? Shouldn’t they happen in a place or with a job or in a relationship where you can’t WAIT to get out of bed and be a part of it??

Find the thing. Find your thing. You deserve it! We all fucking deserve to have as much happiness as we can find in this brief time on the planet.

Whatever your place is, whatever your situation is, find somewhere where the flowers are always blooming for you, where the very smell in the air makes you skip down the street. God, you owe it to yourself. I don’t care if it’s a corner of your basement or a whole city. A nine to five or a dance class. A whole life upheaval or organizing that awful closet once and for all. Find it. Claim it. Proudly.

My head and my nose and my heart are so full of happy. There’s so much work to be done in the world, I know, but we may as well do it from our happy places! I, for one, will be stopping to smell the (What is it? Gerber something? Hydrangea? Is that a gardenia? Guys, help!) a lot this season.

“Fighting” Holiday Anxiety This Year

christmas-tree-with-decorations-picjumbo-com.jpg

Photo credit: Viktor Hanacek

The holidays are a stressful time for most of us, I would wager. At least most people I know.

If you have financial trouble, nothing puts pressure on it like needing to buy a million gifts, travel, or make a time extra magical somehow for your kids. If you are far from your family or have little family, holidays will shine a spotlight right on that sore spot. Let’s say you have money- are your gifts thoughtful enough? If you spend too much, will you make them uncomfortable? Are your kids learning the right lessons about giving?

On and on, the anxious mind can spin.

Did your mother-in-law hate your turkey? Is your racist drunk uncle coming to the Christmas party where he will certainly pick a fight with you? Will your flight be canceled due to a blizzard and you’ll miss Christmas altogether?

And, for those of us who identify as introverts, my big question every year- how do I build in badly needed “me time” to the nonstop holiday celebrations?

I’ve read list after list of ideas for fighting the extra anxiety that the holidays bring. They usually include things like this:

  • “Make sure you make time for workouts! Those endorphins will help bust through the gloom and keep you feeling great!”
  • “Don’t go into debt to give gifts. Give something handmade, or just trust that being together with your family is the most important thing.”
  • “Don’t go overboard hosting! Keep dinner simple and click THIS LINK for tons of inexpensive DIY decor!”
  • “Teach your kids that giving is better than receiving. Volunteer, adopt a family in need, and encourage them to make gifts from the heart for teachers or friends.”

The brilliant “tips” go on like this, full of ways to put your mind at ease that you’re doing your very best.

None of these are bad ideas. Nothing wrong with them. But let’s get real for a second.

I’m busy. I’m even busier during the holidays. While a trip to Michaels, hours on Pinterest, and even more hours creating an “inexpensive handmade” gift might sound like a good way to save money on expensive items, swapping my credit card for a perfectly lovely present from a department store is way less stressful.

Will I make time for workouts? I hope! But, honestly, eating a vegetable or two and getting six hours of sleep might be about all the wellness I have time for some days.

Will showing up without a gift, encouraged that the “present of my presence” will be enough really make for a comfortable situation in most cases? Probably not, let’s face it.

There will likely be family drama. My jeans will likely get tighter. The kids will likely not have a perfect Hallmark Christmas full of lifelong lessons about the magic of giving and the evil that is constant consumerism. I hope to teach them gratitude, how little others have, and how fun it is to give someone a gift. Here’s hoping.

Here is my point: this year, I’m leaning in. I’m just accepting that this is going to be stressful. I’m sitting in it. I’m going to organize as best I can, and spend too much, and miss some things, and probably not work out enough. I might get high strung. I might have a meltdown. I might forget a gift until the last minute, or not get holiday cards out this year, or spend too much, or too little, or gain weight, or not get out of bed some days.

So what?

Will the world end because I didn’t wake up an hour early every day to do yoga? Will my family fall apart because we had to say “no” to some events and invites? Will my husband leave me because I didn’t create a Pinterest-worthy spread for a Christmas get-together?

Nope.

Will I regret the credit card debt come January that will save me loads of time in December?

I don’t know. Maybe.

All I know is that I can’t do it all perfectly, and I can’t do it “imperfectly” perfectly, so, it’s not going to be perfect. It’s going to be real.

Try to stay present. Spend money if needed, don’t if it’s not necessary. Give myself a break. Constantly find reasons to be grateful and notice them as often as possible. Be prepared to fail some days, totally fail. Don’t miss the magic in the very small things, if you can help it.

This is my holiday plan, and probably just a decent plan for life, too. I constantly find that the best anxiety buster is accepting anxiety. It seems to dissipate once given into.

And, failing that, there is always, always wine.

 

When Someone You Love Can’t Accept Your New “Imperfect” Body

Loveyourbody

I’ve been on this journey of recovery from my eating disorder for about three years now. I purposely have taken it slow, going step by step. Once I realized I could stop feeling the way I felt my entire life, I wanted to be sure I did everything in my power to put an end to it for good.

That’s not to say I really ever think I’ll be totally “cured,” for lack of a better word. Everyone’s journey is different, and most people I’ve connected with or read about feel that an eating disorder is something that never quite goes away. My therapist compared my disorder most closely to my anxiety and depression, as an imbalance that manifests itself in a specific way. Indeed, as I’ve let go of my regimented eating and workout habits, I’ve felt OCD coming back in certain ways pretty strongly, so she’s onto something.

However, I’ve always mentally compared it to alcoholism, which is a tactic that’s helped me a lot. Since my dad is an alcoholic and I’ve spent years in Al-Anon, I know a whole lot about it. I’ve watched him go in and out (mostly out) of recovery over and over, and am practically an expert in this category, as one becomes out of necessity. I know for a fact that an alcoholic has to admit they are powerless over alcohol completely, and to succeed in recovery they have to accept they can never have another drink.

For me, this was a natural transfer. At some point early in my recovery, I learned that people with disordered eating are really at risk if they venture into any regimented diet or exercise plan, even the “healthy” ones. (Whether there is any truly “healthy” way to restrict and control what we put into our bodies is a topic for another blog.) Right away I admitted to myself that I was powerless over the need to control my body and that I had to give it up altogether.

This may not work for everyone. It helped me a lot. I backslid a few times- more than a few times- but my goal was to get to a place where I ate and exercised only to feel good. I had to let go of all calorie counting, all instances of forcing myself to work out if I felt it was for the wrong reasons, all restrictions of this food or that, basically let my body eat and do what it wanted for a while to learn about its needs, what made me feel good or bad, etc.

Naturally, I’ve gained weight. I try to stay away from numbers and sizes in this blog because I think comparisons are very dangerous. Every body is different. For me, I’ve gone up several sizes over these three years, and that’s how I know how much I’ve changed. Of course, this is common, and since I’ve stopped starving and purging, it’s naturally going to happen. There is the added element that I denied my body enough food for so long, it’s holding onto fats for dear life. Continue reading

When You Feel You’re “Missing Out” on the Bigger Things

Being the age

I dropped out of college after about two and a half years. I say “about” because I sort of just stopped showing up somewhere during my fifth semester. I wasn’t being lazy or giving up- quite the contrary. I was working several jobs to make ends meet, so when I started booking paid acting and modeling work, I didn’t have time to fit in everything. I figured I didn’t need a theatre degree for my career as an actor if I was working as an actor, so I let the need to finish school go.

(Side note- I am not advocating the idea that one should take dropping out of school lightly. However, I also don’t think anyone should finish college and get up their eyeballs in debt if it doesn’t make sense for their lives. Another blog post for another day.)

Since I left school before most people I knew at the time who were pursuing the acting life, I suddenly had this feeling that I was a little bit “ahead.” Not as a person, or an actor, definitely not in experience or financially, but just as far as time was concerned. It was like I had two “free years”, where all acting credits and experience were “bonus”, where I could slack off or not, and it didn’t matter. Continue reading

A Good Cause & A Sad Fact

https://www.gofundme.com/bretts-treatment-fund

So, I don’t know the above people. I clicked on the link because a good Facebook friend shared it, and I usually find myself caring about causes dear to my friends’ hearts.

Normally I simply donate what I can, click to share on Twitter, and move on with my day.

Today, a line from this page hit me so hard, and I had to write about it for a minute.

This campaign is to help a woman struggling with depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, who recently had a situation requiring serious hospitalization and needs help. Of course, she has to fight and beg and plead with her insurance to help cover the cost of this treatment, because health insurance has a long way to go in the treatment of mental illnesses. Which is a whole separate blog post in itself. (Sigh.)

But this is the line that stabbed me in the heart:

“Brett’s very nervous for a lot of reasons–not the least of all because depression can make you believe you don’t deserve help.” Continue reading

“Get Out” – Why I Still Can’t Breathe

Film Title: Get Out

 

Holy SHIT guys.

I just (finally) watched Get Out– Jordan Peele’s incredible, insane, amazing, terrifying, thought-provoking directorial debut. That’s right…debut. Like, “oh, I’ve never done this before, but lemme just give it a shot, and DO IT PERFECTLY.”

Oh, he wrote it, too, because he is a film robot. He’s the Tom Brady of creating content. Comedy? Sure. Horror? Why not.

I had to blog because I have to talk about this! It’s consuming my brain! It’s like it moved into my mind, rented an apartment, and is just sitting there, like, “remember THIS scene?! THAT scene?! How about the BINGO SCENE!?!?”

This blog is probably a safer read if you’ve seen the film already. I don’t know if there will be spoilers yet, but probably. I’m just free writing what the film alien that has taken up residence in my mind tells me to write.

I have to get it out of my head.  Continue reading

On Being (and Not Being) Carol in Mamet’s “Oleanna”

From time to time as an actor you find yourself truly falling in love with a role. There are certain ones that just speak to your soul in a way you can’t undo. You become woven into the fabric of each other, and you come to care for them in a strange way- strange only because, by nature of being a “character”, they are fictional.

These characters don’t truly exist, and they are subject to the opinions of those artists playing and directing them. Of course. We know this….

Still, I can always tell when I’m head over heels for a character I want to play because the same thing happens to me every time: I become desperately protective of them. I’m suddenly worried that no other artist in the world could possibly understand them the way I do, and that, out of my control, they will become terribly misunderstood by the entire world.

More often than not, it is the nature of our business that we do lose those roles. There are vast numbers of actors feeling this way, and just the one role.

Such it has gone for me. In a few weeks time I met, studied, deeply understood, became wildly obsessed with and overly protective of, auditioned for, went to callbacks for, and subsequently lost the role of Carol in a production of David Mamet’s OleannaContinue reading