In college I majored in the Pretend Arts, and aimed to pretend other people’s words, professionally. Directing, producing, and writing my own material scared the character shoes off of me.
In my thirties parenting made me a daily director and producer. I took charge of the most unreliable cast ever known; one who constantly put props in their mouths, pooped in their costumes, fell asleep on the job, were notoriously unreliable taking direction, and had less than stageworthy diction fank you vewy much.
Then the internet made me a writer. Because perfectionists can’t simply enjoy a hobby, I immediately set my sights on a book deal even though I had zero publishing credits. I wrote compulsively. Thankfully, I also engaged with a whole community of mostly women writing online. That online community manifested into real life collaborations, opportunities, mentors, and friendships spanning years.
I created LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER in collaboration with hundreds of powerful women. We birthed a phenomenon. LTYM snagged a book deal and network TV opps, millions of social media impressions, thousands and thousands of dollars for nonprofit causes, and thousands and thousands of stories still being shared on stages and online.
Now solidly in my forties, I’m a freelance multi-hyphenate creative professional. I still perform, but haven’t pretended much of anything personal or professional in 20 years.
10 lessons from the past 10 years:
- I’m a perfectionist and I had to learn how to deal with it. Opportunities and success fuel me, I’m highly-motivated and goal-driven. However, an overfocus on acheiving– and specifically basing my self-worth on outside accomplishments and praise from others– leveled me, literally (in the form of severe back pain). In order to heal, I had to set down my impatience for stardom LOL I mean results, and turn my focus inward and toward active daily practices. That shift in perspective away from ego and toward service–and becoming a devotee of process over product–changed everything. I speak about this regularly. Join me Monday if you’re local.
- If you want to do something, create it yourself. Once in a while I get invited to speak or sought out for an opportunity, but 98.9 % of the work comes from me putting myself out there. The other 1.1% only happens because of that 98.9% I put out there, and the support I receive along the way.
- Serving others keeps me balanced. Creativity and ego dirty dance, baby, and can lead right back to #1– perfectionism. When I tip into that abyss, shifting my focus to others airlifts me out again.
- Let yourself out of the box. I let myself out of the I HAVE TO BE A FUNNY WRITER 1000% OF THE TIME box and LTYM was born. I allowed myself back on stage, hell I even allowed myself to sing on stage again. If a voice inside you keeps nagging at you, it probably wants OUT OF THE BOX.
- New skills utilized faithfully = new resume, new career. I had strong writing skills before, now I get paid to write. Creating shows made me a legit producer. Managing a community and mentoring women taught me leadership. Running a business and events forced me to learn about branding, marketing, PR and a zillion other things. Ten years online taught me successful engagement with both audiences and brands, and turned me not only into a freelance creator, but also a consultant. Like I said, multi-hyphenate!
- Keep going. You might never attain your most heartfelt dream, but you definitely won’t if you don’t show up and do the work.
- Naming heartfelt dreams is so important and scares me. I prefer to get things done and then talk about them, rather than the other way around. Also, after dreams come true you wake-up very much yourself again with exhaustingly similar struggles (sometimes moreso). My heart says BOOK. But it also says BROADWAY and likely will until the day I die. Maybe what’s more important than BOOK and BROADWAY is writing and performing.
- Writing helps me figure things out (see #7) and sharing my vunlerability invites other people to do the same. I love connecting authentically with open-minded open-hearted people.
- People-pleasing makes the internet rough. Oh, likes. FFS.
- People-pleasing makes leadership rough. Being good at being liked is an asset. It also gets in the way. You can manage it, but it takes a toll. Same with empathy and leadership.
- Leave them wanting more. Ooops.
Thank you for showing up here and in real life audiences, friends. You’ve companioned me through raising my family, through reclaiming my professional life, and through learning to more deeply engage with people, communities, and stories very different from me, myself, and mine. I don’t know my next heartfelt dream, but everything I learned with you over the past decade will help get me there. Fank you vewy much.