By Olivia Petzy-Binning (Restore Your Roar Co-facilitator and unbelievable human being)
Dear Roar family,
Hi! I’m Olivia and I am so pumped to chat with you today. I can still barely believe that Amanda and I re-connected (you can read about our history here) and that Restore Your Roar is happening in 136 days. Four months and 14 days. 525,600 minutes.
Ok so not really the last one because that’s a full year away but you get it.
There are a few things you should know about me: I love swimming in the cold Atlantic Ocean, I have been a vegetarian for 3+ years but I still eat Haribo gummy bears, and I believe we should all just do it now, whatever “it” is.
“Do it now” is truly what’s behind Restore Your Roar. Amanda and I want you to love your body now. We want you to enjoy moving your body now. We want to talk about fears and worries around eating and appearance now. We want to sit on our private patio in the jungle and look at the Pacific Ocean and connect with other women now.
Now is the only time we’ve got. Sometimes the days can feel endless, especially if we’re stuck at a shitty job, or in a crappy relationship, or just plain feeling worn out by the daily grind, but life itself is short. It’s fleeting.
Today is a perfect day to feel amazing. Today is an ideal day to do something big. Today is a great day to walk away. Today is a wonderful day to say “I love you.” Today is the day.
I want to throw a lei around your neck in Hawaii on January 15th because if not now, when? If not you, who?
I want to share a toolkit I put together for you. In the spirit of doing things and feeling good NOW, it’s 21 prompts to get you feeling fab FAST. Each one has a suggested time limit because I know you’re busy and have things to do, but please, I beg of you, don’t let your things get in the way of your life. Dive in and pick one (my personal faves are 1, 10 and 21).
Say yes. Feel good today. Don’t wait. Don’t die hesitating.
See you in Hawaii!
21 Prompts to Feel Fabulous Fast
1 MINUTE – IN & OUT
Close your eyes. (Do it! we’ve only got one minute!) Take 5 really deep breaths. Silently say “All is well” on every inhalation, and “it is done” on every exhalation. THAT’S IT. The power of the breath, y’all.
2 MINUTES – WIDE EYED
How many beautiful things can you notice in your immediate surroundings in two minutes? On your mark, get set, GO!
3 MINUTES – DANCE BREAK
Get up. Yes, now! Put a great tune on (may I suggest THIS or THIS) and dance it out. If you’re feeling down, this is gonna lift you up and if you’re already feeling groovy, this is only gonna take you higher. Endorphins, here you come!
4 MINUTES – TAKE A VACATION
Did you know you can search “virtual vacation” on Youtube and watch videos of beach scenes with relaxing music? Check out of reality for a few minutes and take a beach break while you take deep breaths (and dream of a poolside smoothie!). May I suggest this tour of Kalani, home to Restore Your Roar?!
5 MINUTES – WHO LOVES YA?
I know you know that you are always being supported by a benevolent and loving Universe. but who else could we add to your list of cheerleaders? Write out a list of every single person who is rooting for you. You’re never alone. Life itself is on your side.
6 MINUTES – EXPERT WITNESS
Write a list of all the things at which you are a straight up expert. NOTHING IS TOO SMALL! If you are the only person who can get your nephew to stop crying when he’s tired, then you are an expert! If you know an absurd amount about cheese from a stint as a server in a Swiss restaurant (ahem), you are an expert! If you can throw a football in a sweet spiral, then you are an expert spiral thrower! Don’t be shy!
7 MINUTES – LUCKY DUCK
Buy a few scratch off lottery tickets (say, five of the $1 ones). Hand them out with a penny to the people behind you in line. You can spread so much excitement and happiness for 5 bucks and 5 cents!
8 MINUTES – MAGIC 8 BALL
What do you want your life to look like in one year? Write it out and here’s the kicker: write it out with CERTAINTY. Write it as if you are POSITIVE IT WILL HAPPEN. You can do this for any amount of time in the future. Visualize, intend, and get ready to magnetize.
9 MINUTES – BLISS LIST
Write down 10 things you are grateful for, ten things you are excited for, and five BRAGS. Yes, that’s right: brag about your bad self.
10 MINUTES – FILE A COMPLIMENT
Wanna feel like a Queen? Lavish praise on someone! Receive fabulous service in a store? Grab a manager on the way out and compliment the employee. Are your garbage collectors unfailingly polite and smiling, even while they do their dirty job? Call your town and praise them. Fill out that survey listed on your receipt and leave positive feedback. Write a glowing Yelp review. Please trust me when I say this feels amazing and you will be hooked!
11 MINUTES – IDEAL DAY
What does your PERFECT DAY look like? How does it start? Where do you wake up? Who’s there? What do you do? Where do you go? How does the day wind down? Write out your perfect day and spare NO details — the more specific, the better. We’re visualizing here, people!
12 MINUTES – DREAM DOZEN
What is your dream way of spending your time? What do you never, ever, ever get tired of talking about? Listening to? Thinking about? Reading about? Learning about?
DO IT for twelve minutes.
13 MINUTES – MAIL CALL
I still get excited when I see something that isn’t junk in my mailbox, and that feeling keeps getting rarer thanks to email. Send someone a beautiful note card to let them know you’re thinking of them.
14 MINUTES – HISTORY LESSON
Where were you ten years ago? Five years ago? One year ago? How have you grown? How have you changed? Does your life look different than you thought it would? What miracles have you experienced? What lessons have you learned?
15 MINUTES – INSTRUCTION MANUAL
Often, the silver lining to mistakes we make is the lesson we learn. In the spirit of generosity (and to remind yourself what a smart genius you are), fill in the blanks:
So you screwed up and did _________. Here’s how to fix it: __________________.
16 MINUTES – TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY
You know how we all love hearing the backstories behind the successes of our favorite stars? Like how Jon Hamm was a teacher and Kristen Wiig sold peaches before hitting it big? Write out YOUR True Hollywood Story, and frame everything you’ve thought of a setback or challenge as a PLOT TWIST leading up to your overwhelming success.
17 MINUTES – SECRET ADMIRER
Write a note/email to someone you really respect and admire. Perhaps it’s your mom, maybe it’s Ryan Gosling, or your boss at your day job. Let him/her know that their skills and gifts are recognized and admired. Be specific and prepare for a contact high.
18 MINUTES – ADVICE COLUMN
If you need advice on something that’s holding you back or causing confusion, write it out like you’re writing to Dear Abby. Then, write the answer back to yourself! YOU are the expert on YOU.
19 MINUTES – PICK UP THE PHONE
Remember when we used to use our phones to TALK to people instead of scrolling through your various feeds? Call someone that you know doesn’t use social media etc to stay connected. Savor the thrill of filling him/her in your delicious life, and enjoy the feeling of hearing how your friend is doing/feeling straight from his/her mouth instead of a status update.
20 MINUTES – FLIP IT (this is Amanda’s absolute favorite)
One of my specialties is doing a story flip: when I feel like things are falling apart/crappy, I flip that shit around and write a new story. Here’s an example of one of mine from a particularly disastrous morning:
My old story is that I booked a perfect plane ticket to visit Rich today…except for the fact that I had to leave at 6:30 am for Newark, and I got home from work at midnight. Well, I got up so early that I was ready to go and decided to set my alarm for an extra ten minute snooze. Obviously, that was a terrible idea. The next flight to Savannah is majorly inconvenient for so many reasons, but that’s the flight I’m on, so here is my new story:
I am an amazing independent woman who figured out the best way to deal with a mess at 7:30 am on a Saturday. I made the best decision I could. I am going to fly into Savannah like the hot New York woman I am, wearing a hot outfit for the show and cast party I am attending tonight. My hair and makeup is perfect, I am a brilliant packer so I have one tiny suitcase, and my dress is hot. I will arrive in Savannah, pick up the car I rented at 7:30 this morning, and drive myself to Hilton Head Island because I am smart, savvy and independent, and I am fearless. I will arrive at the theater with ample time, and take my seat in the front row. The first time I see my husband will be when he opens the show wearing a tux and we will share a look of love and apology and humor. The show will be amazing, i will have a cocktail at intermission, and we will reunite in the lobby when it’s over. Then we have two and a half days to enjoy each other’s company. This is actually a romantic and sexy story and I am lucky to be alive and in it.
What current story of yours do you need to FLIP? Any old beliefs you need to turn on their heads? This is a fun one, and it’s addictive! Write out the junk and then get your flip on!
21 MINUTES – LEAP OF FAITH
Write a letter to the Universe. You can state your intention(s), write what you want to release, questions you have, anything goes. Put it in an envelope. Decorate the envelope so it is super gorgeous. Address the envelope to “The Universe.” Put it in the mail.
See what happens.
Want to meet Olivia in person? We can’t wait to lei you when you step off your plane in Hilo, Hawai’i this January. To reserve your spot, contact Catherine May at Kalani before September 15th to use our extended Roar Rate of $985 (after that, the rate goes up $100). Just email email@example.com and put down a $200 deposit to hold your spot – we don’t need anything else til the day you check in girlfriend! Feel free to check out our itinerary and FAQ’s, but act fast – there are only six spots left! Roar!
If you don’t know the story of how I ended up in Hawai’i, let me just fill you in quickly. I needed a retreat. I needed rejuvenation. I needed a second chance at life. But I didn’t have $2500 to dish out to Geneen Roth for five days of therapy. The only opportunity I had for healing was to volunteer at a retreat center. In exchange for my service, my housing, meals, and yoga classes were provided for me. This amazing opportunity allowed me to quite literally, re-boot.
Volunteering at Kalani Oceanside Retreat on the Big Island of Hawai’i changed my life forever. The beautiful people, the aloha spirit, and the freaking apple-bananas have opened my eyes to a life that I will forever claim as my own. Food, depression, and New York winters do not have a hold on me as much as they used to. I have restored my sanity, self-love, and confidence, and I am inviting you to do the same.
It’s time for you to restore your roar. It’s time to dance your joy, face your fears, and fall in love with the skin you’re in right now.
It’s time. This is re-boot camp. And we are calling all souldiers.
When you arrive on the Big Island of Hawai’i on January 15th, 2015, you’ll be greeted by premiere Shrink Session sweat therapist, Olivia Petzy, and of course, yours truly. You’ll find yourself surrounded by magic. Known for some of the cleanest air in the world and lush, colorful jungle that you have to see to believe, the Big Island is known for it’s healing powers. After all, that’s why I ended up here in the first place, and look how far I’ve come.
What will we be doing for six days in Hawai’i? (Besides picking fresh mangoes and getting a tan?) You can expect daily movement sessions, featuring Shrink Session and other creative, accessible, and empowering forms of movement designed to express your unique sense of self and sensuality. We will spend time in guided writing exercises and journaling as we dig deeper into cultivating self-love, for both what we see in the mirror, and how we feel when we move our perfect-as-they-are bodies. You’ll have plenty of time to release and rejuvenate by relaxing and taking advantage of Kalani’s pools, yoga classes, spa experiences, Hawaiian culture classes, and more.
There’s something I want you to know. Do not let the words “shrink sesson” scare you. By all means, we aren’t trying to shrink anything about you – except maybe fears or insecurities that have held you back. Shrink Session is an alchemical mix of cardio-dance, yoga grooves, kick-boxing and positive phraseology/mantras. You’ve literally never experienced a high like this in your life. This magical combination increases the effectiveness of your workout while you step into a more empowered and confident version of yourself. You’ll tone and tighten every part of your body, while you lift your mind, body and spirit. This experience is not about losing weight or a number on a scale. It’s not about looking like Beyoncé when you dance. It’s about looking in the mirror and loving what you see – today. It’s about feeling the freedom to move with joy – in your unique way.
Who is Olivia?
Olivia Petzy is a premiere Shrink Session sweat therapist, having trained directly with Shrink Session creator Erin Stutland. Olivia specializes in leading group fitness classes that allow and empower every person present to fully express themselves through movement regardless of their level of dance skill or athleticism. She loves to move her body, in any style or type of class. However, this wasn’t always the case– she used to be hugely insecure in her body and the way it moved. Four years at a conservatory program renowned for its dance program did nothing for her self-confidence, and she felt deep despair over her dance ability. She would literally be in tears before every dance class– and with up to four dance classes a day, that’s a lot of tears. There was no joy, no freedom, only insecurity and shame. After to moving to New York City, she stumbled into a cardio dance class that, no surprise, left her in tears. For the first time, though, they weren’t tears of frustration. They were tears of freedom and excitement. Addicted to the feeling of joy in movement, Olivia knew she had to share this bliss with others. Five years later, the girl who hid in the bathroom to avoid dance class spends her days not only teaching dance through Shrink Session, but loving every perfectly imperfect shimmy and shake. With a degree in musical theater, Olivia is an actor, improviser, writer and group fitness leader certified by AFAA.
Okay, great, now how much is this all gonna cost?
Because of my experience with the starving artist life, and my inability to ever attend Geneen Roth’s workshops due to the high cost, it is of utmost importance to me that this Restore Your Roar workshop is accessible to people like me. Twentysomethings who aren’t the best at saving money. Thirtysomethings who are saving for their kids’ college educations. Fortysomethings who need a break but don’t want to dish out $4000 right now. I want you to experience Hawai’i. I want you to be able to join Olivia’s inspirational classes, and eat fresh pineapple, and try Kona coffee, and hike the side of a real, live, active volcano. And like I said last week, I ain’t tryna get rich off it.
So you, my blog readers and Roar movers and dancers and New Yorkers and Australians and mothers and sisters and women of all sizes and ages (sorry boys, this time around is just the ladies), are receiving the Roar Rate. The Roar Rate of $985 covers your six day/five night stay, your three meals a day, your Kona coffee, your fresh fruit grown on Kalani property, your volcano hike, your classes with Olivia, your discussions with me, and a life-changing week of healing with other women who you will forever remember as your re-boot camp ohana. We are even throwing in a bonus so you can take your experience home with you and continue to cultivate your roar. Every participant will receive membership to the Shrink Session Digital Program, valued at $99.
I encourage you to watch this video, so you can get a taste for the Kalani experience before you even board your plane.
One last thing before you register. This workshop is about you. It’s about what you need. You’ll be surprised at what the spectacular views, the smell of the ocean, and the power of nature can do for your soul. So you can cater your week here to your needs. Attend our classes, ask questions, book a massage, take a nature walk, swim naked, and immerse yourself in aloha. I can guarantee you that you will return home a changed woman. And the reason I can guarantee that, is because I’ve been there. Trust me.
Restore your roar in 2015. I can’t wait to get the party started.
To register, and for more descriptive details, including Olivia’s bio, sample menus at Kalani, spa services, and more, click here. To view the itinerary we have specially planned for YOU, yes YOU my love, click here. And of course, for a very detailed list of Frequently Asked Questions, including travel advice and what to pack, click here!
*Space is limited to 14 participants. As of September 5th, there are only six spots left.
**Note: The Roar Rate is not listed on Kalani’s website. When you register, you must mention the Roar Rate in your email. The Roar Rate has been extended until September 15th, 2014. After September 15th, the Roar Rate goes up to $1085.
***There is also a Roar 2 Rate, because we believe in celebrating friendship. (Get it? Roar 2: The Celebration?) When you register with a friend, each of your Roar Rates drop to $925. After September 15th, each of your Roar Rates will be $1025 (down from $1085.)
****As always, you can email me questions at any time: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next week’s posting:
How I Cured My Excema Without Cancer-Causing Creams
You guys, we have to talk.
I am so in love with you, and really truly, I do not mind your Facebook messages asking me the difference between Pennsylvania and Hawai’i. I don’t mind you posting on my timeline that you’re visiting Hawai’i and can we see each other. And I absolutely appreciate your interest in the culture here.
I just think, that maybe, it’s time that we take a moment to clarify a few things.
1.) I am so happy that you have the opportunity to visit Hawai’i. And it would be absolutely lovely to see you and catch up, even if we haven’t spoken since I had a crush on you in sixth grade. However there are eight islands that make up the state of Hawai’i. Out of those eight, you will probably find yourself on one of the four main tourist islands – Oahu (home of the city Honolulu), Maui (a popular honeymoon destination), Kauai (the most beautiful and lush of the islands), or the island of Hawai’i, commonly known as “The Big Island” (where I currently live and teach). The rest of the islands are less traveled to, and two of them, you’re not even welcome on unless you’re invited by a full-blooded Hawaiian or part of the military.
When you message me to let me know you’ll be visiting, I will always ask you first and foremost, what island you will be visiting. Please know that if I let you know that I can’t see you, it’s not because I don’t want to. It’s normally because there isn’t a ferry between the islands, and I don’t currently have the funds to fly to Honolulu to meet you for pupus and Mai Tai’s. I totally want to hang out – just make sure you include the Big Island in your visit so we can make that happen.
2.) Every Hawaiian island is extremely different. I live on the Big Island, where local farmers thrive, aloha is prevalent most anywhere you go, and the population is small compared to the size of the island (about the size of Connecticut.) Oahu contains the hectic city of Honolulu, home to the second worst traffic in the country as well as some of the best surfing on the planet. Maui is populated with beautiful resorts and beaches and offers breathtaking sunsets from the top of it’s dormant volcano, Haleakala. Kauai is the second oldest Hawaiian island, and it’s lush jungle is some of the most beautiful you’ll ever see if you take the time to visit. Molokai and Lanai are both within ferry distance from Maui, and with the highest sea cliffs in the world and pineapple farms galore, they are less visited but equally as beautiful. If you are moving here, or visiting here, your needs and your wants can help you pick which island to see. I am happy to answer any questions you may have about the Big Island, and I’ll do my best to help you navigate the other islands if I can.
3) Hawaii is not a third world country. Although not every Hawaiian is pleased about it, we are an actual state in the fifty United States of America. We speak English here. We have a Target and a Wal-Mart and even though I hate shopping corporate, Costco is our best friend. We drive on the right side of the road, and we eat hot dogs, and we have a regular education system, although the amount of homework these kids go home with is absolutely ridiculous. Do we sometimes eat different things than on the mainland? Absolutely. Do we have strange animals and bigger, scarier bugs? Unfortunately yes. We also respect the land here way more than people on the mainland do. There is rarely litter, we’ve banned GMO’s, and we support local farmers more than I’ve ever experienced in any continental U.S. state. There is an entire “aloha grown” movement supporting the backyard revolution and local crops. It is amazing and inspiring and gives me hope that this world is slowly moving back towards what has kept us alive for thousands of years – farming and growing our food, instead of processing and genetically modifying it. If anything, when it comes to agriculture, we’re more advanced than the rest of the U.S., and by no means less “civilized”.
4) Aloha. Aloha is everything. It’s why I stay. It’s healed my heart. It’s given me hope. It’s not just a “hello” and a “good-bye”. It’s a spirit. It’s a vibration. Read this postcard I found last weekend in a Hilo coffee shop selling Hawaiian-grown coffee and cocoa.
5) It’s expensive here. Food is shipped in, so cereals and meats are normally the same price as the grocery stores in NYC. The cost of living is high – electricity is obscene, gas is sometimes $4.88 a gallon, and restaurants have to keep their costs high or they’ll never survive. However, most of us are still happy, grateful, optimistic people despite the financial sacrifices. Paying these prices in the middle of winter in a major city while trudging through the snow can be depressing. Paying these prices all year round while driving past the ocean and shopping at local farmer’s markets for apple-bananas – not so depressing. In fact, I’ve just completely gotten over it. Either I’m gonna pay an arm and a leg to live in a fifth floor two-window walk-up in Washington Heights, or I’m gonna pay an arm and a leg to live in town by the water where I can ride my bike to the coffee shop every day. I’ve happily accepted my fate without too much of a fight.
6) There are three terms used for people who live in Hawai’i. What I’ve come to learn, is that to be “Hawaiian”, a person has to have been born here and be of Hawaiian descent. To be a “local”, a person has to have been born here but doesn’t have to be of Hawaiian descent. Then there are people like me and Johnny, who moved here and now work here, and we are referred to as “kama’aina”. Which brings me to my important point: people who live in Hawai’i have to work to live here. We do not just pick coconuts and float in the turquoise bay all day long. I do not get to the beach every day. In fact, I haven’t been there for three weeks, even though I can see it from my kitchen. I do watch TV, and I do work five days a week, and I do have bad days, just like you. Hawai’i is a great place for a lot of reasons, but we are all still human. We have to deal with PMS, taxes, and traffic just like the rest of the world. Please do not tell us that our life is what everyone dreams of and we have no right to complain. It makes me want to send you moldy pineapple in the mail if the post office would let me send produce. Life is full of ups and downs no matter where you live on this planet. It’s just a little easier to get over when you live in a tropical place.
7) Speaking of moldy produce, let’s talk about that for a second. I seriously want to send everyone I know a care package. I want to send you mac nut butter and avocados and starfruit and jams and coffees and chocolates and banana breads. However, anyone who lives in Hawai’i eventually discovers that care packages will empty a wallet just as fast as a weekend shopping spree. We have to space out sending packages or we’ll be paying off credit card debt for the rest of our time on this earth. A small care package from Hawaii, even without produce (since we aren’t allowed to send any fruits or vegetables in the mail) costs me about $30-$40 before the $15 shipping costs. (Macadamia nuts run about $8.99 for 10 ounces, and a pound of Kona coffee can cost as much as $35.) Local products are well worth the money, but costly. I love you so much, so please know that just because you don’t get a wonderful Hawaiian care package from me, or anyone you know who lives in Hawai’i, does not mean that we do not love and appreciate you. Just wait your turn and eventually, you’ll be so grateful for your patience.
8) Hawai’i is really far away from everything, and everyone. If you are planning on visiting, it’s a fantastic, gorgeous, worth-every-penny getaway and vacation from everything you’re used to. However, if you are planning on moving here, I need you to seriously contemplate everything about moving here. We do not have an IKEA. We do not have a Trader Joe’s. And, we do not have an underground train to the mainland.
Flights home to visit loved ones are expensive, and the jet lag is comparable to the hangover I used to get after a three day bender. Friends’ weddings become huge expenses. Holidays become a bit bittersweet and heavy with Skype dates and phone calls instead of family gatherings and home-baked cookies. Being away from your nearest and dearest while they are having babies, making their Broadway debuts, and celebrating their 40th birthday in New Orleans is REALLY REALLY HARD. I questioned my permanent move here for quite a few months until I really started settling in to my wonderful job and making new friends. It can be a wonderful new chapter in life, if you are completely ready for everything to change.
For me, the aloha and the nature and the spirit here has made my move mean a lot to me. I absolutely feel that at this point in my life, the Big Island of Hawai’i is where I am supposed to be. I am lucky enough to have incredibly supportive friends who mail me things from home and make time for me over FaceTime quite frequently, so I feel connected to them enough to make me feel like I can really handle living so far away. But all of these things are important for you to consider.
9) If you do visit, just for a week, or even for a month, please, for the love of all things beautiful in this world, take what you learned here home with you. Buy local. Be nice. Love people. Hug everyone. Take the aloha that you experienced here and carry it with you into your daily life.
In conclusion, let me just say mahalo for loving me from wherever you are in the world. Mahalo, put simply, is gratitude. Mahalo for reaching out and asking me questions, and sometimes, making me giggle (out of love, I promise). I’m not teasing you, I’m just educating you. I swear. (Okay, yes, maybe the title of this post came from me wanting to tease some of you.) But hey, how could you possibly know these things if you’ve never visited?
Which brings me to number 10………
10) Visit Hawai’i. It is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Sure, the Florida Keys are great. The Caribbean is stunning. Europe is unbelievable. But there is something special here on these eight Hawaiian islands. And I personally think, experiences like the ones you will have here, are the reason we work for a living. The reason we save money. The reason we explore and travel. There is nothing like Hawai’i, for a variety of reasons, which I actually plan to write about even more in coming weeks.
From ancient lava to snow-capped mountains to sea turtles to papayas, we have things here that you just need to see to believe. Just know, that you will have the experience of a lifetime here if you try new things, meet new people, and really immerse yourself in the culture.
Come experience the aloha that has changed my life. You will never be the same. This video, of the humpback whales who invade our waters each winter, proves it. So dear friends, until we meet at the Kona coffee shop in what I hope is the near future, aloha, and have a great week.
Next week’s posting:
Finally, The Big Announcement I Keep Blabbing About!
So the SuperBowl is over. Christmas has passed. Chinese New Year has come and gone.
Now all we have to look forward to is the 50% off candy on February 15th and…
Audition. Seeing that word stirs up all sorts of emotions inside my bones.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the “season” lately. Living in Hawaii is extraordinary. It’s healthy. It’s beautiful. But I admit, missing the summerstock audition season keeps me up some nights. Five seasons in NYC have, well, seasoned me. But like all of us do after a tumultous relationship ends, I look back at my previous audition seasons with a fondness. I find myself only remembering the good things and conveniently forgetting the pain and the heartache.
This season, I can’t be there with my friends at Ripley-Grier digging for a photo I.D. on the one day a new guard starts working the ground floor and actually requires it. I won’t be there to tie my friends’ jewel tone halter dresses, or to take turns bringing Starbucks to an EPA at Nola, or to lend out my baby blue stapler at an open Gateway call.
But just because I can’t be there to take part, doesn’t mean I can’t be there in spirit.
So this month, I dedicate each post to you – my auditioning friends who are bustin’ their tail every day in the cold, tryna getta job for the summa.
Now if you aren’t an actress, or a dancer, or a singer, and you are lost as to what “audition season” pertains to, I welcome you to continue reading. Because you can probably relate to us more than you realize.
You know how you head to a job interview excitedly, making yourself presentable, and wearing a nice outfit, and updating your resume, and hoping – praying really – that they like you, and then leave wondering if you’re qualified or not, knowing that you did all you can and the decision is now all theirs and it’s completely out of your hands, and maybe having a lot of anxiety about it, not being able to completely let it go?
Actors do that process every single day, sometimes more than once.
Auditions are like interviews – only we have to sing, dance, and act on top of having a fabulous resume. And also play nice with others. And also look amazing. All the time.
So actors – this month is for you. This blog was born for you really. For us. For all of us who struggle with the ups and downs of this labor of love we have pursued for so many years.
And non-actors, this is for you too. In reading the next few posts, I hope you find yourself gaining new appreciation for performers at your local regional theatre, or for your granddaughter who has big dreams of moving to NYC after attending college for musical theatre, and even, for yourself. Whether your significant other is pursuing their dream this spring, or your brother or sister is traveling up and down the east coast to fill up their 2014 with gigs for their health insurance, these posts are for you as much as they are for the artists.. Empathy is a powerful thing. I hope this helps everyone find empathy and understanding for the lives of performers and artists.
1. The respect for “auntie”.
There is so much respect for elders in Hawaii. When we come across a woman older than us, we call her “auntie” as a sign of respect. The same applies to men – we call them “uncle”. It’s still not ingrained in me, and I forget sometimes, but I didn’t grow up here. It’s a different story for children who are born here. As soon as they learn to speak, little kids call everyone older than them, including me, “auntie”. It’s part of their culture. It’s how they’ve been raised.
When the four and five year olds that I teach forget my name, they call me “auntie”. Those children walk into my classroom without questioning how nice, or mean, or boring I might be. They give me the benefit of the doubt. I am immediately respected, and I am immediately “auntie”.
What if we walked into each audition room in the same manner?
Often times, I find myself walking into the audition room assuming I won’t get kept even if I do well. I assume the person sitting behind the table is “over it”. This is partly a protective measure for my ego, but it’s also the result of many audition experiences that have, what’s the word, oh, right, “jaded” me. Rarely do I find myself heading into that room full of respect for the people casting the show I’m auditioning for. But truth be told, we’ve all auditioned for some visionaries. We walk into that room expecting a casting intern, and much to our surprise, Kathleen Marshall is standing there waiting for us to line up. Shit. Hello, Kathleen Marshall. I wasn’t expecting you at all. I left my A-game in the changing room. I’ll…be right back. #jaded #shit #whydidn’tIwearmyflourescentleotard
This season, I just thought it might behoove all of us to walk into that room full of respect for the pianist, the director, the choreographer, the music director, the casting director, and even the intern who is taking lunch orders. I know that the people behind the table can sense the energy that comes through that door. Although they might not be able to put a name to the powerful aura we let off, they will feel it if we walk into that room full of respect for them – those “aunties” and “uncles” behind the table. Leaving our cynical attitude in the holding room and giving each person in that room the benefit of the doubt might change our entire thirty seconds in that room. And then, we can walk out of there feeling like we #nailedit.
2. Only use your fins when you need to.
If you ever have the opportunity to sit on hardened lava and observe sea turtles in the wild, I highly recommend you put your iPhone away and do so. You’ll find that sea turtles often float in the roughest of seas, near cliffs and rocks that would prove fatal for any human who finds himself so close to a dangerous shoreline. As a turtle comes up for air, you can spot his fins flapping above the surface, enabling you to follow him through your sunglasses as he floats in the treacherous water.
The turtles have been around for centuries, and when you watch them float, you can almost see why. They allow themselves to be carried into shore by each wave, but they never, ever crash into anything. As the waves ebb and flow, the turtles only use their fins when they have to to keep themselves away from danger. They float in, and swim away from the rocks just in time to get back into the flow of the sea. Over and over, they float with the waves looking helpless, and just when you gasp in fear that they’ll be crushed by the powerful water, they use their ancient fins to steer themselves clear of peril. It’s truly amazing to watch, and we can all learn a lesson from these protected creatures. By only using our fins when we have to, we can go with the flow a little more.
This audition season, things might not always work out the way we want them to. We might not get the time slot we want, and we might not get called back for the character we really wanted to read for, and we might miss one ECC because we’re caught dancing a second time at another. But hey, e ho mai baby. Let it come, let it flow. Flow with the waves this season, so that when you really have to use your fins – aka cut a bitch who jipped you in line at the one EPA you got up at 6am for – you’re calm, collected, and ready with a piping hot cup of Starbucks to chug after the confrontation. Don’t exhaust yourself on anything that doesn’t really matter in the long run. Only use your fins if you have to.
3. Don’t forget to look up.
Before I left for Hawaii in August, I made a final trip home to say goodbye to my family in Pennsylvania. It was a beautiful day in July when I drove down the lane to my Poppop’s farm and hugged him, assuming I’d see him again in November after my time at the yoga retreat was done. We both looked up at the sky and he said, “Man, that’s a blue sky. You know, sometimes I call Rick just to say, ‘Rick, did you look up today?” Rick is my uncle, my Poppop’s oldest son, and he shoes horses, so he’s often looking down when he’s working. Grandfathers are always full of simple wisdom, aren’t they? I’m so lucky to have mine in my life, even if it’s only over the phone ever two weeks.
Here in Hawaii, we’re blessed with beautiful skies most every day. But we’re also blessed with the humpback whales who make their home here for the winter. They come here from up north to have their babies and mate before beginning their trek home in April. Johnny and I are kind of obsessed with them, and often find ourselves in danger of rear-ending the car in front of us because we’re watching the ocean for whales breaching instead of the road ahead of us.
There have been times where we’ve been chillin’ on the beach, and a whale will breach two, three, four times in a row and we fist pump and cheer. We look down the beach and everyone has their nose in their phone. They only look up because they hear us cheering and they have no idea why. They miss the humpback breaching, and then they board their plane back to the mainland complaining that they didn’t see a single whale on their trip.
This season, don’t forget to look up. If you take your nose out of your phone in that holding room, who knows what might happen. You’ll make a new friend who will sign you up tomorrow morning at Chelsea while you’re at Nola. You’ll catch the eye of the casting director who is familiar with you who ushers you into the room just before lunch so you don’t have to wait all day. You’ll spot a girl across the room wearing your same dress, giving you ample time to change into the second dress you bring to each audition for emergencies like a good little actress always does.
Observe your surroundings. Pay attention to who gets kept and who doesn’t. Make nice with the monitor. While everyone else is playing Candycrush, you could find opportunity for networking and inspiration without even trying. Don’t miss the whale breach. Don’t forget to look up.
4. Finally, show off when everyone else is resting.
We have spinner dolphins here who live up to their name whenever we have the privilege of swimming with them in their natural habitat. These wild dolphins feed at night, and rest during the day in quiet bays where snorkelers and paddleboarders don’t seem to bother them. The dolphins shut off half their brain when they rest, and travel in small groups for protection.
However some of them, don’t seem like the resting type. They’re actually little stars waiting to be discovered by their snorkeling audience. The dolphins jump, and play, and shoot so high out of the water that they spin multiple times before splashing back into the clear blue sea. They’ll often do this jump-spin several times in a row, and you’ll hear lots of people chuckling that the beauties are “showing off”. Because they rest the majority of the day, everyone squeals with delight when the dolphins “show off” because it’s a real treat.
This season, pull out your element of surprise, and show off when everyone around you is resting.
It’s a Thursday. You worked late last night. You’re in the third group of men to be seen at an afternoon dancer ECC and you’ve already been to a singer call this morning and you’ve only had time to pick up a banana and a coffee today. You look around you, and every other guy in the room bares the same, bored, exhausted look on their face as yours. No one even feels like going in that room to learn any sort of dance that might require physical exertion. It is now, that the spinner dolphins can inspire you. It is now, that you can think of the sea turtles, and use your fins.
This is a time to pull your energies together and show off when your exhausted group gets called to dance in front of the casting team. Make those poses pop. Use your face. Walk into that room respecting those “aunties” and “uncles” and find the passion in your heart to make them look up with your energetic dancing. The same applies to a singer appointment late in the day, or pulling a second monologue out of your ass even though your boyfriend kept you up all last night crying about his fear, of your fear, of commitment.
Show off in the room (and I mean seriously, in the room only, none of this holding room show off crap) when everyone else is resting. When everyone else is “over it”. When everyone else walks into that room hating the casting team with a passion without an ounce of respect for their artistry.
This is YOUR time to shine.
This is your season to shine.
I can’t be there to shine with you, but honey, I am cheering for you like you wouldn’t even believe. That cheer that Johnny and I do when a whale breaches – when we fist pump like idiots and yell “YEAH” like big burly men who just watched the Seahawks kick the Bronco’s sorry asses – that obnoxious cheer is for the whales, and the turtles, and the spinner dolphins, and for you.
Go get ’em, Broadway baby. This year is yours.
And I don’t know what it’s worth, but I’m sending you all the aloha. All the love. And all the support. Because you’re my ohana. And ohana means family.
Shit, I’m crying. I gotta go. But next week, more audition season February Hawaiian love for you. Also, I made a shitty poster of these tidbits of Hawaiian audition advice so you can hang it on your bathroom mirror if you so choose: Hawaiian-Audition-Wisdom. That’s all.
*If you haven’t yet considered contributing a positive body word picture for my next video project for the Roar movement, please read the guidelines here (short version) or here (more specific, long version.) I would LOVE love LOVE to have your participation!
…and this is just the beginning, my loves. Look out for a bit of aloha every month from here on out – it’s about time this blog includes some sunshine!
Here we go!
Number 10: The minute I stopped wearing a bra, my boobs stood at attention again. (Don’t skip this one boys, you might need this one day when you’re much, much, much older.)
Somewhere in October, I looked in the mirror and noticed my nipples were staring right back at me – challenging me to a duel in the mirror. I haven’t seen my nipples since about 2008, so this is clearly a fabulous side effect of living in the rainforest.
Living in the jungle, we literally don’t want to be touched between the hours of 8am-4pm. The humidity makes everything cling to us, meaning if we could do all of our work naked all day long, we would (which is actually perfectly acceptable). However, our bodies would then become a feeding ground for fire ants, so, let’s just say, we’re all better off wearing minimal clothing to at least protect our most precious bits.
But somewhere around September, I started wearing all my tank tops sans a bra. I mean, I even cut out the sensible half-demi lace cami thing from Urban that I wore every day of the summer. And my boobs aren’t saggy anymore. Apparently, I’m told that when we cease to wear a Vicky’s Secret, our chest muscles engage and our boobies pop up to the surface for air… and don’t really go back! I assure you that whatever the science is behind it, it works. I have never loved my boobs more than I do since nixing the encasements and the underwires.
If the weight of your boobs won’t pull you face-first onto the kitchen floor if you let them hang free, then I really encourage you to try nixing the tittie cages. Whenever you can. Let the girls fly free – especially in the winter under those bulky scarves, sweaters, and hoodies! You’ll be amazed at the difference.
Bottom line: boobs love freedom. They will reward you if you let them free.
Number 9: Coconut oil cures everything.
Have a zit? Baby bit of coconut oil overnight. Dry hair? Coconut oil dousing pre-shampoo. Cold sore? Skip the Abreva, sub coconut oil. Add it to smoothies for a healthy dose of fat. Cook your eggs in it to eliminate any acid reflux or heartburn. Sub it for butter in baking. More uses here: Coconut Oil Tips. Bye.
Number 8: Fancy shit doesn’t make anyone look cool.
If you saw the pieces of shit cars people drive around here, you’d think we live in some sort of Breaking Bad marathon. If you followed that same car home to the house where it resides, you’d think you walked into an episode of Hoarders. Then you’d meet the pitbull that lives there and wonder if you’re about to be lunch for him and his buddy. But if you stayed a minute, a Hawaiian dude covered in tattoos would probably come out and ask if you’re hungry for lunch. Not only are Hawaiians nice, they have different priorities than the rest of the country.
Hawaiians don’t spend a shit ton of money on shit that doesn’t matter. They spend their Sunday’s at the local beaches grilling burgers with their kids and their friends, they hit the surf right after work and live for the days that the swell is borderline tsunami warning, and they spread aloha all over town. They wear t-shirts to dinner, they wear one pair of slippas (flip-flops) until they wear them out, and their big shopping sprees only happen at Oshima Surf and Skate when they need a new bathing suit. And they’re like, the happiest fucking people I’ve ever met.
We can learn a lesson from them all. We don’t need fancy shit to be happy.
Number 7: Where your food comes from, actually matters.
The Big Island of Hawaii recently banned GMO’s – meaning that even though we can still find imported apples and lettuce in the stores, none of our farmers have to use any genetically modified organisms to grow their crops. The papayas here, on the Big island, are just Papayas. No mutations, no pesticides. There’s a passion fruit tree outside my front door and I guarantee you it’s been there since the beginning of time. Monsanto didn’t come in and put it there to please my nostrils with it’s sweet scent.
To learn more about GMO’s, read this: What are GMO’s?
At the end of the day, I understand if you could care less about GMO’s, because sometimes, ignorance is bliss. It gets overwhelming to think about how fucked up all the food is that we put in our bellies – especially if you’re anything like me and have spent years putting things into your body that could probably destroy a small vehicle with the chemicals and artificial colors inside. In my first blog post, I was nowhere near the point where caring about GMO’s was within my reach. I was just happy to keep a half-gallon of ice cream in the freezer for more than 24 hours.
But the point is, because I have the privilege of living in a place in a place that uses GMO-free products, I just wanted to share with you how I’ve noticed that I feel better. My two and a half week visit to NYC destroyed my stomach. I had heartburn every day – and I realized it’s because I’m not used to eating mutated food and non-organic produce.
Yes, I sound spoiled. Yes, organic costs more. But I’m just putting it simply, and telling you that I feel better. Everyone feels better here. Zantac doesn’t leave the shelves as fast as it does anywhere else. That’s gotta be saying something.
Number 6: Hitch-hiking can restore your faith in humanity. (Thanks for reminding me, Rachel.)
Not only can you leave your Macbook on the front seat of your (piece of shit) car with the doors unlocked and come back and find it untouched after a long stint of (GMO-free) grocery shopping here, but you can also pick up hitchhikers and ask them to hold the computer on their lap during the ride.
I’ve met amazing people by putting out my thumb and hopping in backseats, including my dear friend Matthew, and no one’s ever made me feel uncomfortable or unsafe. They’ve offered me fresh avocados from their house that they were taking to the market, a hit of their pipe (tobacco…of course), and advice on how to find the best beaches that aren’t in the guidebooks.
My point? Maybe you can’t hitchhike in Philly or Detroit, but I share this in hopes that you find a tiny bit of hope in the fact that there still are places in the world where people are good, honest, and generous. Each time we get overwhelmed by the news and the shitstorm we call the media, we can all try to remember that the spirit of aloha is being transported all over the islands, and beyond. Please be assured that the entire population of the planet isn’t going to hell.
Number 5: E ho mai, bitches. (Ay-hoe-my, bitch-izz.)
The simplest meaning of “e ho mai” is “let it come, let it flow.” Hawaiian wisdom that is ancient, valuable, and downright necessary in this day and age.
It teaches us to let the wave crash, and watch it roll away. Let the rain come, and watch the rainbow after the storm. Observe the hardship, and celebrate the lesson afterwards.
Sounds like hippie shit, I know, but like, c’mon, you know me. I’m a skeptic with a cynical tongue designed by the likes of Chelsea Handler herself. When I say some Hawaiian hippie shit saves me daily, I beg you to consider listening.
When I get overwhelmed, or pissed, or just inappropriately whiny, I have to take responsibility for myself. It’s better for everyone if I can get back to a place where I can reason with the universe, or my ego, or the driver going ten miles under the speed limit in front of me. I could flip Mr. Tourist Car off, or I could breathe the Hawaiian version of “woo-sah”: E ho mai.
Let it come, let it flow.
Just try throwing it into your vocab this week a few times, or Googling it’s origins on your lunch break. See how you feel. It’s tattoo-worthy, vision-board gold, and greeting card advice that could save the next five generations.
We chanted this every single Monday morning at Kalani (the yoga retreat I lived at for 3.5 months):E ho mai i ka ‘ike mai luna mai e O na mea huna no’eau o na mele e E ho mai, e ho mai, e ho mai Give forth knowledge from above Every little bit of wisdom contained in song
Give forth, give forth, oh give forth
Number 4: Sleep is not just for pussies.
Sleep is the fourth thing on every Hawaiian’s list of “Awesome Things”. It goes:
2. Loco Moco
3. Aloha Friday
They call 10pm here “Puna midnight.” Puna is a section of the island where a lot of kambucha lovers, feather jewelry designers, and ecstatic dance (aka hippie church) adorers reside. That’s where I lived for the first three and a half months on the island. People go to bed at ten and get up with the sun. That means we are getting anywhere from 8-10 hours of sleep every night.
Sometimes, Johnny and I would pass out at 8:30pm and sleep til 7am the next morning. It’s just, a thing here. People sleep. And they are fucking chipper as fuck the next morning and don’t need coffee to say “aloha”. Oh, and everyone is healthy. Like, the most healthy. Women don’t need concealer under their eyes. Men do still like naps here. but I think that’s just a thing that men will never get over.
I have never felt more rested and more “with it” than I do while I am here. I am also obsessed with my mornings. Not only do I need less coffee to come to life, but I am awake early enough to FaceTime or Skype with my peeps on the East coast since I’m five hours behind. I realize that it’s mean to keep going on and on about the sunshine at 7am when the winters on the east coast are…the tiniest bit different, so I just want to say, that more sleep equals better quality of life.
Look, I know audition season is coming. Sleep is a distant dream during the upcoming months. But I just wanted to give a gentle reminder that it does help with health, metabolism, and keeping depression at bay – more so than martinis, even though we don’t want to face the facts. Every once and a while, it’s okay to fake a cough and stay home for an early bedtime. The worst thing you’ll get called is an old fart, and like, it could be worse. (This advice could have saved me a lot of grief the past five years.)
Number 3: Enough with the fucking chemicals.
Lysol and Windex are things of the past, people. Get on board with the natural disinfectant – white vinegar. That’s right. That shit we use to make Easter egg dye actually disinfects the toilet, too. Everyone here uses a 50/50 blend of white vinegar and water and rags, honey. Enough with the wasteful paper towels. Reuse all your holy jeans and ugly tees and wash ’em in hot, reserve ’em for cleaning. Bada bing. Bada boom.
Number 2: All bodies are awesome (the best one).
A year ago, I would have NEVER, EVER agreed to a photo shoot on the beach – even at thirty-five pounds lighter than I am right now. My body wasn’t “perfect” enough to blast all over the net. So imagine my old self’s surprise at this series of pictures:
The reason these snapshots are okay with my new self? I’m a recovering binge-eater and I live in Hawaii. Do you think Hawaiians give a shit about their bellies hanging over their swimming trunks? They live in Hawaii. They don’t care. They don’t buy Self and Glamour so they don’t know what they’re “supposed” to look like. They live, in Hawaii. Having a few extra things jiggle while they’re teaching their kids how to surf isn’t making or breaking their week.
I have never seen sexier men and women than I have since moving to Hawaii and I have seen all kinds of body shapes. These women don’t CARE that there’s more skin hanging out than Cosmo would allow. Their bikini bottoms cover the bare minimum and they walk around proud, loud, and sexy as fuck. They inspire me. I am learning to continuously love what I have, and in turn, I feel sexy as fuck, even though I have some jiggle-worthy parts in between bikini top and bottom. These Hawaiian women know what’s up. I wish I could take their confidence and spread it all over the world to women and men in need of a dose. Until I learn how to do that, all I can continue to share what I keep learning here in this always-inspiring culture.
Which brings me to number 1 on the list…
Number 1: Ohana. (This is actually the best one. I lied about number 2. Because I didn’t write this one. My ohana – my Hawaiian sister, Rachel did. From the heart, she tells it like it is. Remind you of someone?)
Ohana = Family
Ohana is the Hawaiian word for “family”. But the concept of family in Hawaii is much different than that on the mainland. You see, in Hawaii, family is not solely based on your bloodline or marriage certificate. Here, everyone is family.
There’s a lesson I learned during the opening remarks of ecstatic dance one week (again with the hippie church, don’t worry, we’ll explain it to you soon). The facilitator, Lino, spoke about dolphins. He pointed out that we love dolphins for no reason at all. Think about it. They aren’t really that cute with all that gray blubber… they don’t do anything for us… we can’t eat them… but everyone loves dolphins. Like, everyone. FOR NO REASON AT ALL. He then asked, why can’t we do that with people? Why can’t we look at a stranger, and, just, love them? Instead of judging them and focusing on their flaws, just love them. Like family. Like our ohana.
After that lesson from Lino, I started to look at everyone at the yoga retreat like they were family. Even the ones who irritated me and cut in front of me in the lunch line. Even the ones I didn’t think liked me. I walked around like I had 150 brothers, sisters, cousins & crazy uncles. And it totally changed my perspective.
Think about it like this. We all have have “that relative” right? Aunt Oh-Jesus-what’s-going-to-come-out-of-her-mouth-at-the-Thanksgiving-dinner-table and Uncle If-I-have-to-hear-the-story-about-your-gall-bladder-surgery-one-more-time and don’t forget Grandma-Guilt-Trip.
But we excuse them AND their flaws. We don’t write them off. We show them patience. We don’t stress as much about they’re imperfections. We give them the benefit of the doubt. Because they’re family. They’re our ohana.
I dare you to try to look at strangers in the same light. Focus on their good. Love them for no reason at all. Carry the ohana attitude with you. Like Lilo says in Lilo & Stitch (ugh, such a good movie don’t even try to argue):
“Ohana means family. And family means no one ever gets left behind. Or forgotten.”With love from the Big Island (and beyond), Amanda, and newest addition to the blog fam, Rachel Brannen Rachel Brannen has been called the funniest woman in the state of Ohio (by her mother). Her strengths include creating envy-worthy Pinterest boards and utilizing social media for stalking purposes. She can also juggle. Stay tuned for her monthly guest blog post on how to incorporate more aloha into YOUR life. If anyone knows how to do it, it’s Rachel – the girl who took Hawaii home with her to Ohio. This is gonna be good, y’all.
I believe that God created bikinis to give women good old-fashioned reality checks, even if we didn’t request one.
I mean really, is there anything more humbling than standing in front of a fitting room mirror that’s very close and covered in fingerprints from small children and trying to figure out if the bikini bottoms are giving you love handles, or if the underwear that you have scrunched up underneath the bikini bottoms are creating the love handles, or if there’s no help and the love handles would be there whether you were bottomless or not?
A good old-fashioned, humbling, reality check.
Reminding me of lesson number 3,678 I learned this year:
There is no escaping reality, even in paradise.
Moving to a tropical place and reading self-help books help, but they don’t fix everything. There’s always work to be doing. Always.
See, the thing about moving to Hawaii is that I fell into a trap where I thought everything would be perfection.
Pineapple-flavored, sea breezy, easy, beautiful, Cover-girl skin-looking, coconut-smelling perfection.
The thing that still catches me by surprise every time I expect this perfection though, is that Hawaii is actually a real place.
Like, it’s on a map. And it’s part of a country that requires it’s residents to pay taxes and use turn signals.
People still have to work to make the money to buy groceries and sometimes…it even rains.
And so, maybe, I ignored all of the real stuff, and instead imagined my highlighted hair blowing behind me on my motorcycle while on my way to the black sand beach where I would read a book that has nothing to do with compulsive eating and coat myself in coconut oil for a perfect tan.
But the reality is, is that back-ne and taxes are not just things for the mainland to deal with.
We have them here, too.
Along with really steep hills not condusive to walking, laws stating that you have to have a permit to drive any moped over 125 cc’s, and believe it or not, really expensive health food.
It’s like, in New York City, we accept these laws and these prices and blame it on NYC for being a shitty, expensive city.
But raw cacao and hemp seeds are expensive anywhere, not just NYC. And people have to pay taxes and get motorcycle permits everywhere, not just NYC.
And the lesson to be learned is, you can run from the hard stuff, and you can leave NYC, but you can’t hide.
The constant sunshine and the salty air definitely help matters.
But again, the reality is, whether you live in Montana or Honolulu, when your landlord lives above you and is completely renovating her deck for a week over the Christmas holiday, the noise is bound to drive anyone a little bonkers.
Even if you live in paradise.
It’s almost as if (gasp) I have to live real life, here, in Hawaii, just like the rest of my friends and family.
For some reason, this was a really hard concept for me to grasp.
Since leaving the yoga retreat and moving to the other side of the Big Island, I haven’t done a single yoga pose.
I no longer eat vegetables with every meal. When given a choice between cooking dinner or eating chips and salsa for dinner when my boyfriend, Johnny, is at work, I choose the chips and pineapple salsa about 80% of the time.
Going from living on a yoga retreat where everything – and I mean everything, from the coffee in the morning to the toilet paper all day long – was provided for me, to living in an apartment stocked with food to binge eat and a television to binge watch, has been a lot more complicated than it first sounded.
And after two weeks of moping over my lack of moped skills, crying over the weight I’ve gained, complaining about the landlord’s hammering and sanding, and snapping at Johnny for every single joke he’s made, I had to get myself together. I just had to. I was literally a weeping, snotty, hormonally-imbalanced wreck of a woman.
After taking the time to wash my hair and two week’s worth of laundry that I had simply strewn all over my closet, I started evaluating shit.
First and foremost, binging on shredded cheese and chocolate chips no longer holds the allure it once did. But trying to find solace in it once again while watching an NCIS marathon in my pajamas for the third day in a row was a great reminder of why I’m here. What I’ve done. What I’ve learned. What is next. All that stuff any therapist would tell me to journal about.
Secondly, after Pinterest-ing and Etsy-ing and Upworthy-ing and YouTube-ing Gregory Hines videos until my coffee buzz made me so shaky I had to get up and walk around, I ventured outside to attempt walking the 90 fucking degree hills steeper than a Six Flags roller coaster that make up our neighborhood. I nearly passed out, and my chest hurt so bad I felt as though I ran the Brooklyn Marathon sans training all over again, but it got my heart rate pumping. And thank God for that.
Next, I got back on the saddle – of my moped that is. In Hawaii, everyone rides mopeds, but they normally don’t go above 35mph and they are driven on the side of the road, instead of in traffic. Because my moped is closer to being a motorcycle in power, build, and speed, learning to ride it has proved more serious than I thought it would be. I have to actually be careful. And get a permit. And use turn signals. After a scary incident with a dog crossing my path very suddenly (no one tell my mother, seriously), I totally freaked and wouldn’t go out on it again, confining myself to the apartment without transportation for days. But enough was enough, and I picked up the motorcycle book to study for my permit, started practicing my U-turns again, and drove off through the neighborhood – much to Johnny’s surprise – who nearly had a heart attack when I went past the stop sign for once and disappeared for a full five minutes of almost 35mph driving.
After that, I made a smoothie.
And then, I finally started writing things down that I could be doing with my time outside of NCIS marathons that would actually benefit my well-being.
Dancing, even if in my living room.
Reading. Anything. Not just self-help. Sometimes fiction is the best thing ever.
Researching smoothie recipes.
Learning to play the guitar I bought myself.
Basically I made a vision board.
I cut pics from mags and I wrote down goals, practices, and dreams – even the ones that feel a little out of reach financially (i.e. nutrition school and a trip to Italy) – and I glue-sticked that shit to the brightest posterboard I could find.
This, is my vision for 2014.
And I’m a week early.
Ain’t nobody got time to wait for the first of a year to start living out dreams.
There’s not enough NCIS to cover the hours until January 1st arrives.
So I just, started now.
I am continuously reminded by those I love that I don’t have to finish it all right now.
My mother always says, it didn’t take me two months to binge, so how can I expect it to take me two months to stop binging. Now, she said that like, four months ago, but, the sentiment still applies.
My vision board is now a constant reminder of what I could be doing with my time instead of moping.
Like, I don’t have to walk twelve miles today. I could just walk twelve minutes. And it might not be the recommended dose of cardiovascular activity that my body needs today, but it certainly isn’t going to harm me to walk for twelve minutes.
I don’t have to learn about every superfood today, but learning about one today, is good enough to start me off towards a healthier diet this afternoon when I make my first smoothie with raw cacao.
Six months ago I laughed at my friend Freddie who tried to explain to me how to use raw cacao.
I said, “That overwhelms me, excuse me while I finish this Reese’s.”
Look at me now, comparing raw cacao prices in the health food store.
The final lesson that I am taking with me every time I look at my vision board is about my writing.
My goal is to write something every day.
And I have to accept that all of the “somethings” that I write are not going to be blog-worthy, elephant journal worthy, or viral-sensation worthy.
Writing, just like everything else, is a practice.
And when I find myself checking the stats on my blog or taking it personally when my most avid readers stop sharing each post on Facebook, I have to come back to the basis of why I started all this in the first place.
This is my safe place. This is my therapy, too. And each week, as long as one person reads the post and relates, then my job is done.
Because not only have I helped myself by expressing what’s up, but I’ve helped one other person know that they aren’t alone.
And that is exactly what it’s all about.
So I just wanted to say that whatever our resolutions are for the new year, whether they be writing, using raw cacao, or laughing more, may they be full of hope and purpose for our better well-being.
I won’t preach about how none of us should set diet goals. And I won’t preach about making massive to-do lists for 2014 because honestly, I’ve thought about it.
I’m not completely healed of the whole losing weight thing. I mean, people, I tried on bikinis yesterday. That’s enough to make anyone want to go gluten-sugar-dairy-meat-alcohol-calorie free come January 1st.
But I will just say this.
Whatever it is that you want to accomplish in 2014, just remember to also give yourself a pat on the back for surviving 2013.
My friend Brooke – 22-year old guitar playing Brooke from blog post 10, not sisterfriend Brooke from NYC – inspired all of us at the yoga retreat in her final week by telling us her personal story of finding Hawaii for healing. The thing that stuck with me the most was her final message.
She said that for as long as she can remember, the goal was always to survive.
But now, after learning and healing and living in Hawaii for two months, she no longer wants to survive.
She wants to live.
There’s a difference.
So if you lived your dreams in 2013, then cheers, and here’s to a beautiful 2014 for you and yours.
If you spent some of 2013 in my shoes, just trying to survive, and barely enjoying the moments where you could surface and breathe in the fresh, non-depressed, non-anxious air, then join me in making one more resolution for the new year.
Fuck this “just surviving” shit.
Surviving is for the birds in the winter.
Live, live, live, live,live!
Whatever it takes – whether it’s a vision board or it’s a move to a new state or it’s reading a new Geneen Roth book – give yourself ample time to figure out what you need to surpass survival mode, and live.
Happy New Year, my beautiful people.
See you on the flip side – living, learning, and roaring in 2014!
Last night, for the first time since moving to Hawaii, my friend Ethan visited me in my dreams.
Ethan was from the Hawaiian island of Kauai, and he passed away in his East Harlem apartment very suddenly when he was 23 years old.
Ethan and I went to the same musical theatre conservatory in NYC, but didn’t really get to know each other until my theatre company produced a production of Lucky Stiff in 2008. The musical is a hilarious story about a man whose dead uncle has left him six million dollars and he can only have the money if he takes his dead uncle’s corpse on a vacation to Monte Carlo. If he doesn’t, all of the money goes to a charity instead. Basically, just know that there is a man who is trying to acquire a fortune by pushing his dead uncle around in a wheelchair pretending that he is a alive and chaos ensues.
In our production of Lucky Stiff, all of the roles in the show were cast by August of 2008 except for one.
The dead uncle in the wheelchair.
That’s when Ethan contacted us and said he’d like to do it. Not to be morbid, but he was the best dead character I’ve ever seen in a show, ever.
He didn’t just sit in the wheelchair and play dead. He bounced up and down when the characters were on a train and he fell over when the train hit the breaks, like a dead body would if it was merely sitting in a wheelchair. He had his head and limbs move loosely when he was wheeled around and he literally stole the show. He had people doubled over in laughter – especially when he came to his nephew in a dream and tap danced as a ghost.
When I first found Kalani, the yoga retreat I volunteered at this past fall, and found out it was in Hawaii, I knew that it was right. I had always felt a pull to come here, especially once Ethan passed away. I wanted to see where he had come from, and to see where all of his closest friends had traveled to in order to celebrate his life in the summer of 2009.
The entire time I’ve been here, I’ve thought of Ethan often, when I’m alone looking at the ocean, or when I have one of those spiritual moments at the end of a yoga class.
But last night was the first time he visited me in my dreams since I arrived here on August 1st.
In the dream, we were doing Lucky Stiff and for some reason, Ethan was wearing a mask. Under the mask he had a ton of eyeliner under his eyes – in black and white – and he had ridiculous red lips.
He went missing halfway through the show. The actors were cueing Ethan and the actor who played his nephew onstage, but Ethan was no where to be found. In the dream, since I was offstage watching the show, I went to look for Ethan.
I found him in the backstage area trying to put his mask back on, but for some reason, the eye holes of the mask were glued shut. So every time Ethan put the mask on, he couldn’t see anything.
We both tugged and pulled at the eye holes to get them to open up and they wouldn’t budge.
So, I took the mask off and looked at Ethan. His face was full of fear.
“What if they see my face? They shouldn’t see my face if I’m supposed to be dead. What if my eyes flutter by accident?”
I looked at him and said “Honey, it’s just a show. All we can do is our best with the circumstances we are given. This is live theatre. The unknown of it all is the best part.”
We wiped all the makeup off his face (why the hell was he wearing makeup?) and he went back on stage and tap danced his face off in the ghost number, maskless.
After waking up from the dream this morning, I remember almost every detail of it. I remember what the black box theatre looked like, what his dressing room looked like, and most of all, what his face looked like when he turned from me to go back on stage.
He went on stage as though he could care less what happened, but yet he loved that part of what he was about to do. He was ready, and fearless, and excited.
I feel incredibly calm this morning, for the first time since I returned to Hawaii after my two and a half week visit home to the east coast.
I think Ethan was trying to teach me a lesson.
First of all, the whole mask thing with the eye holes being closed?
Simple lesson. Take the mask off. Take the hard shell off. Let the guard down and be vulnerable. Shutting life out is not the answer.
Since I’ve returned to Hawaii, nothing has gone right. I almost set the apartment on fire this morning, I had only one student in the hip hop class that I taught on Saturday, my boyfriend and I are sharing a car that I don’t know how to drive (fucking stick shift man), and I’ve felt extremely lost and confused, wondering if I’m doing the right thing.
So I clench up and hunker down in my cold-hearted, New Yorker shell that I brought back with me without realizing it, and pretty much snarl at anything that comes within a six inch radius of me. Including my beautiful roommate – the man I love.
First lesson of the dream is to open my eyes and take in whatever is happening – even if I don’t like it at the time.
Second lesson: life isn’t a movie.
One of my directors used to say, “This is live theatre, baby. If you want predictable perfection, go to the movies.”
Life is live theatre, guys.
Sometimes, people are gonna forget their lines. Sometimes, zippers don’t zip in a quick change. Sometimes, we trip over our own two feet because we were too focused on the next scene instead of staying right here in the present one.
And finally, today, with the help of Ethan, I woke up from my obscene obsession with perfection and laughed a little bit over the smell of burning plastic in the kitchen.
It’s like, dude, we have to laugh.
Okay, so there’s traffic and you have to pee really bad before work. (No, just me?)
Okay, so the milk in the fridge is sour so you have to drink black coffee and it’s horrible. (No, just me?)
Okay, so you’re only back in Hawaii for less than two weeks and already want out because everything isn’t dreamy and tropical and easy like you assumed it would be. (Yea, probably just me.)
But dude, in the next five years, will any of it matter?
This isn’t a movie. It’s real life. Shit happens.
Five years ago, Ethan and I were putting together Lucky Stiff. Naive, young, and full of hope for what the future would bring.
We literally never, ever know what tomorrow will bring. So we have to live today.
Right now, I’m lucky enough to be living in Ethan’s home state, just trying to do the best I can while I’m starting a brand new chapter from scratch, with not a clue of what I’m doing. I’m just going off my intuition.
My gut tells me I’m supposed to be here, so I’m figuring it out one day at a time.
I want to honor Ethan this week by spreading the message I think he was trying to share with me.
Stop expecting perfection, and just move through your day the best you know how.
One of the four agreements in Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, is simply, “do your best.”
Just do your best.
I guess, this is my newest mantra.
Life isn’t a movie, baby. This is live theatre. Shit happens. Hiccups occur. We trip and fall. And as soon as can, we gotta laugh about it.
So, Ethan – man oh man, mahalo, my friend, for visiting me in my dreams last night and reminding me that it’s all gonna be okay. You are deeply missed, madly loved, and forever appreciated.
Mele Kalikimaka, everyone.
And to my entire Company 1B family – my Lucky Stiff family from days gone by – look at how far we’ve come. Know that five years ago, we were naive, young, and hopeful. I hope all of us still have bits of those traits in our hearts even now, as we grow older. And all of you – no matter where you are across the world – are always in my heart.