ASK

When I was thinking about the changes that I want to make this year, the work ASK came to mind. In an effort to limit embarrassment, pain or being a burden, I have made a habit of trying to come up with the answer or solution myself. Whether that is anticipating someone’s answer or just trying to do it all on my own, I realize that NOT ASKING has, more often than not, led to a more limited life. This year I want my life to expand.

I want to be more curious, more assertive, more helpful, and more open.

The best way I know I put these things into practice is to take action and ASK. Ask for help. Ask if I can help. Ask for the answer. Ask for clarification. Ask for space. Ask for what I need.

I think I’ve been afraid of looking needy or stupid. Of course there is a balance to all this asking. Be willing to give if you are asking to receive. I think what I am opening up myself to is being vulnerable. I am opening myself up to the possibility of being wrong or being refused. But the possible rewards far outweigh the few moments of discomfort.

At worst, the answer can be no. At best, I will find a new path, a new piece of knowledge, and new friend or collaborator.

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Restart

Sometimes I get so caught up in the minutia of life, that I forget about the big picture, the long term goals, the reason for it all. I haven’t written in a long time. Every time I think about writing something, the gap since my last blog weighs heavily on me, as if I must have something REALLY important to say THIS time. But one of the things that I’ve been thinking about lately is that it is never too late to make a change. Just because things have been one way for a while, does not mean that making a shift or action has to be so hard. Most of it is all in my mind.

So, here I am writing a blog about restarting. It is a month and a half into the new year and it still isn’t too late to start or change some habits. Here I am taking a small action to that end. Already, I have been amazed at how sometimes a little effort goes a long way. Some of the goals I set out with at the begging of the year have already been accomplished(more on that soon). For now, I am taking a step into that place where all the “I haven’ts” or “I faileds” live and saying it doesn’t matter. The past is in the past. It does not dictate my future. It is never too late to start again.

Step taken. More coming soon!

Own it! (Part 3)

It’s been a long time since I wrote on the subject of “owning it,” but I am realizing it will be a reoccurring theme in my life. I first talked about taking ownership of my pursuits(Part 1 & Part 2) back when I came down to LA for my first short-term stint. It was a landmark in my pursuit of acting as a career. I was realizing all of the fears I had surrounding whether or not I would be successful and choosing to pursue my dream anyway.

Recently, I have noticed a lack of ownership on my part in other areas of my career. As I prepare for the next 100 days of self-taping, I am writing, producing and directing my own thing. However, I’ve noticed myself saying this a lot lately. “I’m not a director, but sometimes I direct.”  Or “I’m not a writer, but I’m working on this script right now.” Basically, I am not a “noun” but I “verb.” I am trying to figure out why I make this qualification every time I tell something what I am doing rather than simply owning it. Two things come to mind.

First, I don’t want to do a disservice to the people who are writers and directors full-time. I want to respect their time, effort, training and years of work they have put into their careers and I don’t want to insert myself into that category without having earned my place there. I also don’t want to give a false impression of my background or of my focus as an artist, which has been on acting. Although I think those reasons are valid, just because I have less experience, does not mean I am not one of those things.

Secondly, and this is the one that I think requires the biggest shift in my mind, I phrase it that way as a “way out” for myself. If I write, but I’m not a writer, then people’s expectations won’t be that high. If I occasionally direct, but I’m not a director, then I can let myself off the hook if it wasn’t as good as I wanted. THAT is dangerous. Dangerous if you think mediocrity is dangerous. And I believe it is. I act. I direct. I write. If I don’t own that I do those things, then I won’t ever take myself seriously in those categories and, therefore, won’t reach the point of calling myself those titles. It’s a vicious cycle of low expectations. That is NOT what I want.

What I DO want is to pursue these things fully, whenever I do them. I don’t want to hold back or give myself excuses or downplay my expertise. I want to be proud of what I put out there. Can I improve? Always. Can I work harder? Yes. Can I learn from the process I am currently in? Certainly. This is my declaration that I will own what I do and change my language to reflect that ownership. I am owning it!

P.S. Another reminder that if you want to join me for 100 Days of Self-Taping or another version of The 100 Day Project, I will be starting November 1st. Follow me on Instagram for more details!

The NEXT 100 Days of Self-Taping!

Almost three months have passed since I completed The 100 Days of Self-Taping. It’s incredible how quickly one can fall out of a habit once the expectations and accountability fall away. I had high hopes of continuing self-taping, if not every day, at least multiple times a week. But I have to admit that, acting class and auditions aside, I have self-taped very little on my own. Life and excuses can so easily get in the way. This simply reinforces my observation that routine and accountability are absolutely key for me in practicing my art. Without those, it becomes a habit of saying, “Tomorrow!” And tomorrow never comes.

Rather than continuing to put things off, I am giving myself a deadline, another routine, a new system of accountability. The last time I was a part of a large group of people, led by The Great Discontent, doing The 100 Day Project. This time I will be leading a group of people in 100 Days of Self-Taping beginning November 1st, 2015. The main platform will be Instagram, using the hashtag #100daysofselftaping. If you would like to join me, follow and message me on Instagram. If you would like to tweak your 100 days into another artistic practice, go right ahead and make your own hashtag to track your progress. The main point is to be in this together, cheering each other on. Come on and join me!

The 100 Day Project: Obstacles

I am over 75% of the way done with the 100 day project. Wow. I knew when I started out that this was going to be a challenge; that I would grow and discover things, but I hadn’t quite anticipated what this whole journey would become. One of the things that I am learning about is discovering what keeps me from doing what I want and need to do.

My Obstacles (in no particular order of importance)

  • Varying schedule. It would have probably been easier and better for me to schedule a certain time of day for me to do my self-taping and actually dedicate a block of time to the activity. I am not sure this is something I could have done, because my schedule looks different each day, but I have realized that I do better work in the morning or afternoon. If I push it back to the evening, in addition to being tired I am less likely to dedicate all the time and focus that the scene/monologue needs.
  • Lack of focus. I realized at some point that I became very weary, maybe somewhere around the halfway mark. I couldn’t put my finger on it for a while(besides the fact that I had committed to doing something every day for a hundred days and that is bound to make anyone tired at one point or another). I also realized that I really hadn’t set any parameters for myself, other than taping myself every day. I thought that the option to do any type of scene or monologue would be freeing, so I wouldn’t get tired of it. But I think at this point I am actually burdened by making a choice every day of what I am going to do AND having to find it. That is half the battle. Instead, I could have decided to do the first 100 of Shakespeare’s sonnets. That way, I would at least know what was next and see some improvement in that particular area of acting. I see the boundaries other people have set for themselves with a lot of the other 100 day projects. Many of the visually based projects were very specific with what they were creating (i.e. #100daysofsprocket or #100daysofthingswithfaces). I know parameters can be frustrating, but in the limitations I think there is freedom to be found. Something to consider the next time around(Yes, I will be doing #the100dayproject again!).
  • People. Well, the lack of people. Now more than ever, I am remembering that one of the reasons I love acting is the community aspect of acting with/for other people. Whether that is on a set, in rehearsal, or before a live audience, I feed off that energy. Although I’ve gotten great practice for auditions, I don’t enjoy acting by myself nearly as much. I do appreciate the accountability and community that Instagram and The Great Discontent have provided, but I’m really craving the in person human interaction right now.
  • Speaking up for what I need. I mentioned this to my husband the other day. I have made a life long habit of always putting other people’s needs first. While that might make me a nice friend, it does not make me the best entrepreneur or artist. If I need space or need someone to read with me, I will always try to find someway around it before even asking for help. This is something that I am consciously making an effort to change. If I want to improve, advance, and grow, I need to speak up for myself and ask for what I need!
  • Myself. Even if none of the things above were factors, I am my own worst enemy. I can come up with all sorts of reasons why I can’t do the work. Or even “do” it but not really commit to it. Every day I have to face my fears, my insecurities, and my excuses, and overcome them. Some days that is really hard to do.

I like to analyze things; looking for cause and effect; searching for meaning in what does or does not happen and why. As much as I see an awareness of these obstacles can be helpful in optimizing my performance, I also recognize that there will never be a time when no obstacles exist. They will change, morph, grow, shrink; but they will always be there. It’s probably time I make friends with these obstacles, rather than let them get the best of me. And with that… let me get to work!

One of my most recent posts. Click here to see more!

The 100 Day Project – 25 Days

I am 25 days in to The 100 Day Project. YAY! I am so glad that I started doing this and am grateful to The Great Discontent for initiating this. They say that it takes 21 days to create a habit. Well, I’ve passed that landmark! Woohoo!!! I think even after the 100 days are over I will still self-tape on a regular basis, even if only once or twice a week. It is such good practice. Here are a few thoughts that have emerged since beginning this project.

  • Self-taping doesn’t scare me anymore. My agent asked me to tape an audition the other day and my first thought was, “Yeah! Let’s do this.” Rather than, “Ugh. Okay. Let me figure this out.” When I had to tape an audition before, most of my focus went to the logistics, rather than the story I was experiencing. That is no longer the case.
  • Resistance to doing the work will always be there. On the days when it was stronger, instead of being defeated by it, I let it inspire me. One day when I wasn’t particularly feelin’ it I read Dr. Suess’ “Oh, the places you’ll go!” Some of those words I needed to hear myself say outloud. There was also a lot of satisfaction in just overcoming the resistance and doing something!
  • I am so glad I’m also taking Annie Grindlay’s acting class in which I am taped once a week and getting feedback. That is pushing me and giving me some areas to work on, on my own.
  • I am more aware of my strengths and weaknesses, in a good way. Along with getting feedback, on my own I can see where I’ve had some great moments and where I need to grow.
  • I’ve made some delightful discoveries. One being my improvised Awkward Office Lady… which you just might be seeing a bit more of.

I’ll be writing more about this, maybe at 50 and 75, but definitely at 100 days. If you haven’t already taken a look at my journey so far, you can go to my Instagram account and search #100daysofselftaping. You should also check out the thousands of other 100 day projects but searching #The100DayProject. It’s been really cool for me to share in this experience with other people and not just be in it on my own. Alright, 25 down, 75 to go!

The Emergen-C Girl!

A little over a year ago I was trying to figure out an (cost-effective) gift I could give agents and casting directors when I met them. I wanted to accomplish three things with this gift:

  1. To be helpful.FullSizeRender(1)
  2. To be remembered.
  3. To tell them a little bit about who I am.

Now I can’t remember exactly how I arrived at Emergen-C, but I knew immediately that it perfectly fit all the my criteria.

  1. Everyone could use some vitamin C when they’re getting sick—a common occurrence in this crazy, often stressful industry.
  2. It is a unique gift connecting “C” to Charissa.
  3. I want to be known as helpful and someone who will come save the day!

I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to talk about it. Maybe I thought it was silly or I wasn’t sure it would work, but I am happy to report that it has worked very well! Here are a just few examples:

  • This one agency was on my target list so I dropped by with a postcard and a packet of Emergen-C. The assistant loved it so much she gave me a hug! When I called back to follow up I said, “Hi this is Charissa…the Emergen-C girl!” Immediately, she laughed and recognized who I was.
  • I gave my commercial agency a box of Emergen-C at Christmas two years in a row. The second year, one of the agents saw the box and said, “YAY! You brought another one. Whenever someone started to get sick in the office, we would say, ‘Where’s Charissa?!? I need Charissa!”
  • I did an agent showcase a few weeks ago. The week before I made sure to drop off little packets of Emergen-C with a postcard saying I was looking forward to meeting them. When I walked in the room for the showcase and handed them my headshot, Agent 1 said, “WAIT, are you the Emergen-C girl?!? I am so excited to FINALLY meet you!” Then Agent 2 said, “Okay, you got Emergen-C too? I just thought she somehow knew I was sick!” I assured Agent 2 that I wasn’t that creepy, but that I would certainly continue giving out Emergen-C, since it seemed to go over so well!

So, there you go. I am the Emergen-C girl! My plan has worked and I ain’t stoppin’ now!