Dream Big

“Dream Big” has been circling my mind. One of hashtags the Bentonville Film Festival is using is #DreamBigBFF.

As actors, writers, directors, artists, all who reach for the unknown looking for ways of expressing the depths of the imagination, the phrase “dream big” becomes an endeavor; in dreaming big, artists try and take that dream, and actively translate it to an audience with their medium of expression.

These dreams and expressions hopefully reveal truths. Once those truths reveal themselves, we can let go of that particular dream, which is sometimes more difficult than the actual creation of it in the first place.

On this springtime Friday filled with dreaming, I’m rereading Prospero’s speech in Shakespeare’s The Tempest:

Prospero:
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

Being “…such stuff As dreams are made on…” one of the trickiest things to learn is having the passion to dream, the perseverance to take that dream and turn it into reality, and then the discipline to let go of that creation that will, like our life, dissolve.

Tree Pose

Swaying in tree pose a few weeks back in yoga class, the teacher said “the standing leg’s your anchor and the bent leg’s just a distraction.” The standing leg provides your roots, your stability. That anchor’s always available, internally. Like in life, all the movement around that anchor’s just a distraction.

A tree is the perfect image for the concept of being grounded. When you think of a tree you imagine the trunk. It’s strong. It’s firmly grounded with roots that reach into the ground and take in the nutrients from it’s surrounding, and discards that which doesn’t serve it. As the tree grows upwards, it’s the leaves and branches that are swayed by the wind and the surrounding chaos of the environment. But the trunk stands firmly in place, unwavering in it’s conviction to be the most authentic version of itself.

Last night in acting class (I continuously study with John Dapolito), John went on an inspired tirade about the importance of staying grounded within your authenticity. Having vision, and leaning into that vision. Being so grounded within a point of view, that the many distractions and the shit-storm of opinions can’t knock you off balance. It requires the flexibility and openness to hear other points of view and learn from the ones that ring true, and discard the rest. It’s when we abandon our authenticity because of fear – fear of not pleasing people, fear of being criticized, fear of not being accepted – that stray from our truth out of fear, will always leave us feeling empty. Because it means we’ve allowed externalities to sway us off balance and away from our most authentic self. It’s impossible to please everyone. But we can always act from a grounded, internal place inspired by truth and authenticity.

It’s that truth and authenticity that gives each of us an interesting point of view, a lens through which we see the world. And it should be celebrated. In sharing those rich points of view we expand our consciousness, empathy, and capacity to enjoy this world in it’s vastness. Like a pride flag in all it’s colors, that spectrum of experience is what makes this world rich in color. On this rainy, snowy, NYC day, remember to stand firmly grounded in your roots, experiences, and authenticity, and remember the wind, sleet, snow, and rain’s just a distraction.

Book I’m reading.

Favorite song of the week.

Video I just finished and love.

COWBOY SPIRIT

I escaped NYC for the filming of COWBOY SPIRIT up in MA.  It was a blessing, a challenge, and a spiritual journey.

For starters, I stayed with my Aunt (the “witchy” one)- who offered to read my cards upon arrival.  That said, I was showered with angelic “messages” for about two weeks.

As for the filming, WHOA!  I worked with some of the most talented and interesting people.  The film is a Western, and I play…well, a bitch; a major antagonist.  I never thought I’d play the villain.  But hey, I’m from Jersey and I’ve been in NYC a few years working in restaurants so…there was a glimmer of “Bitch” looking to go up in flames, and just the role came about.

When I first read COWBOY SPIRIT it was hard not to detest and judge the character TORI.  But how do you embody a character you judge? Impossible.  So, I began asking all those questions involved in character study.  Where does she come from? What was her childhood like? Etc. etc.  We’re all creatures of habit and those habits come from our experiences and the memories around those experiences.  As filming neared, I focused on what experiences and memories would bring the character of TORI to life, from page to screen.  When filming began, I really had to separate myself…keep myself glued to my phone in between shots, and create that distance she seems to have with the rest of the world.

I thought about people I’ve met, in life, who ARE actual Tori’s.  Tightly wound, spoiled perfectionists out of touch with the hardships of life.  After exploring the character, I left set feeling sorry for Tori’s I’d judged in the past.  It’s A LOT of energy trying to maintain such an image;  a tightly wound spring ready to burst.

Cowboy Spirit reminded me why I wanted to be an actor and writer in the first place.  Both allow room to explore the spectrum of experience through characters, words, and story, and ultimately become a more compassionate human being, chipping away towards the core…the truth (whatever that means…I’m still searching…).

BITCH and all, it was fun as hell playing Tori.  Heck, It was fun as hell being on set, despite trying NOT to have too much fun (in character).  I had the pleasure of working with Rich Manley who plays the lead and ultimately, hero.  Um, he’s not only an actor.  He’s also a skilled martial artist and MAGICIAN.  Anyone who knows me is laughing.  They know he had me at “magician.”  I kept asking for card tricks.  Pretty sure he thought I was hitting on him until my significant other showed up on set.  “Show me some magic”

I also had the pleasure of working with Ayla Brown.  She plays the “good girl” my character dislikes.  She’s such a sweetheart in real life; I had to apologize after takes in which my character unleashes the bitch on her.  She’s 6 feet tall.  Her character’s supposed to be intimidated by my 5’5” self?  Couldn’t help but chuckle over this.  Listen to her music!  And “LIKE” her on facebook to stay posted on her upcoming shows.

COWBOY SPIRIT was an amazing experience.  I’d like to thank everyone involved.  It’d be too long a list to mention everyone.  There was a ton of hard work, passion, and soul on this project.  Written by Mike Allison, and directed by Bill Miller, COWBOY SPIRIT will come to life and remind the audience that we all have a life with experiences of our own choosing.  We’ll all take that final ride one day, and hopefully you’ll have created the experiences and memories that will lead you to the greenest of pastures.