Too Much…Too This…Too That

black and gray microphone with stand

Photo by Soonios Pro on Pexels.com

Too sensitive

Too bossy

Too loud

Too emotional…

If you’ve ever had the word “too” weaponized against you, you know how baffling and painful it is.  So many women have felt the pain of this three-letter word. I have and I am not allowing it to hurt me anymore.  Not now, not today, not ever again.  Someone’s hurtful use of the word “too” is now my marching orders to go further in that direction.

It’s brave to be who you are, as you are, in a world that says, “You’re too much” and yet never enough at the same time. Ladies, I am sorry that someone tried to dim your light.  I am sorry that someone tried to quiet you down.  I am sorry that someone tried to stunt your leadership growth.  I am proud of you that you kept shining, kept speaking and kept growing in spite of a world that says confusingly, often at the same time, that “you’re too much,” and will never be enough.  I’ve had enough of it, personally.

This International Women’s Month, this is my focus:  to reclaim the parts of me that were “too much” and to shush the nonsense monologue in my head that says I’ll never be enough for this romantic partner, or that job, or that level of income.  It’s time to kick “too much” and “never enough” out of our lives.  They’re two-word poison pills we keep swallowing that stunt our growth, joy and potential.

You are never too much.  You are beautiful and brilliant just as you are AND always enough.  Wishing you a healing International Women’s Month.

 

 

Silence Is Not Always Golden

I’ve been talking more lately, and not because I’ve been feeling chatty.   I’ve realized how much I’ve kept under wraps and repressed to keep the peace and to just get along.  Frankly, it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever done to myself.  Silencing myself has been a huge burden.  I’ve been grieving.  I’ve been healing.  I’ve been shouldering some difficult situations that don’t have easy answers.

copy of copy of copy of copy of copy of copy of copy of body positivityThere’s a lot of good too, but I’ve realized in the past week that not all silence is golden.  Not all silence heals.  Sometimes, you have tell someone what you feel.  We all want to “look our best” at the expense of feeling our best and fessing up that there may be some issues.

One of the biggest things on my mind and my heart this week is remembering Fortuna.  She was diagnosed this time last year of renal lymphoma and in April, almost four months to the day later, she died.  Her death and issues around her death had me in a deep state of shock and denial.  I told few people she had actually passed.  I loved her so much and I couldn’t speak about her without being immobilized by grief, pain and anger.  fortuna and kristinCancer is a cruel disease and some of the circumstances I dealt with peripherally didn’t help either. I’ve been having a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to help raise funds for research to help both people and pets who are suffering from this rare disease.  I still tear up each time I post about the fundraiser.  It’s okay.  Better a thousand tears than a mess of hardened, bottled up feelings.

Tuna was naturally very expressive.  She always would tell you what she wanted.  You didn’t have to guess.  She was not coy.  She didn’t hide what she thought.  So much of what is hurtful and damaging grows in silence.  We don’t acknowledge something someone said or did hurt and then it just becomes part of us somehow.  My silence magnified my pain.  I was getting harder and harsher as time went by because I was really angry.  I was angry at cancer for killing her and turned some of that anger on myself.

I am doing better now.  The tears are still there, but the what-ifs or what-could-I-have-done-betters are now mostly gone.  I got to a point of surrender–and if you know me, surrender is not an easy thing.  I’m used to winning..  I expect myself to overcome.  The word “surrender” is not a go-to for me, but it has been lately.  I’ve surrendered some of my pain, some of my angst by talking about it.  Talking about her life and her suffering has helped heal some of mine.

If you have something that’s burdening you, please get some help.  “Suffering in silence” may seem noble, but it can hurt too.  It can make your pain greater.  We all have problems to face and once you get in the habit of airing them out, the problems become more manageable.

sunset hands love woman

Photo by Stokpic on Pexels.com

Silence is not always golden, but the love in our hearts is.  Speaking from the heart, even when it’s inconvenient, will always serve you better than pushing your feelings down.  I miss Tuna every day.  I miss her honest green eyes.  She not only saw people; she saw through them.  I miss they way she chewed my hair.  I missed her demanding things of me as a matter of course. Today and every day, ask you if your attitude of “put up and shut up” is really serving you, or if you may be hiding something you really need to heal.  Today, I am still healing from my loss of Tuna.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you for caring.

 

 

Mind the Gap

If you’ve ever been to London, you’ve probably taken the Tube, aka the subway.  Most people who ride the Tube remember  signs everywhere saying, “Mind the Gap”.

asphalt communication commuter danger

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Years later, I’ve been fascinated with gaps, but mostly gaps in thinking, gaps in awareness, gaps in consciousness.  What I’ve learned from my own life and observing others is that gaps can cause pain, especially a gap between who we truly are, today, this moment, and who we’ve been taught or conditioned we should be.  The larger that gap, the more we feel that pain.  One of the biggest issues I’ve had to grapple with concerning gaps is the gap between who I am, physically, and what advertising. retailers and diet culture tells me I should be.

It’s about time we “mind the gap” in other places than subways.  We need to mind the gaps of our thinking, the gaps in our aspirations, the gaps in our awareness.  If you don’t mind the gap in the subway, you may slip and fall and worst case scenario, slip just as a moving train is whizzing by.  Life has many in opportune moments–sudden illness, unexpected death, catastrophic financial loss, just to name a few.  There’s plenty of chaos to go around.  If we are not minding our mental gaps, those unexpected trains may hit us too hard.

Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of body positivity (1)

Body positivity is about acknowledging our gaps–acknowledging the pain they cause and most importantly, bridging or closing the gap.  Exercise, eat right, train, but also realize we live in a culture that privileges dangerously thin representations of women’s bodies.  Temper your expectations of yourself with a little compassion.

Sometimes I Press the “Random” Button

Sometimes not everything is peachy in Kristin-land.  I have my ups and downs.  There’s that catchphrase, “The struggle is real.”  Well, the stupid is real too and some days are full of very real and very consequential stupid.

fml bitmoji

I have had to learn how to manage a few roller coaster situations  in the last few months.   I’ve had to work on checking in with myself and I’ve found a surprising source of happy-my Tumblr.  My Tumblr has been godsend the past few months.

My Tumblr consists of mostly things I find fun, interesting and make me happy.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pressed the “Random” button, seen a photo I’ve long forgotten and broken into a smile.  It’s my happy bank.

tumblr screen shot

There’s a lot of rancor on social media.  It’s the zeitgeist.  However, I think we all need a little digital happy place, one that we don’t feel the need to impress too much or grow following, just a space to let those memories that make us happy “be”.  If I were craftier, I’d scrapbook, but then I’d have to carry it around everywhere.   Considering my penchant for mislaying things, it’s probably best that my happy bank is digitized.

My point is, sometimes life hits hard.  It may be difficult to see the blessings.  You may be barraged by stupid.  When those times come, it’s important to remember the good times.  Fill your happy bank and your heart will always be full of gratitude when you need it most.  For me, it’s a small space on Tumblr.  Explore what works for you.

 

Dear Facebook,

Dear Facebook,

Please, please, please make the “thankful” flower a permanent thing.

thankful flower

I think this little flower emoji is so powerful.  We all need to be better about expressing gratitude.  There are so many things that go wrong in the world, so much unfairness, bad vibes and mistrust, that we NEED more gratitude in our daily lives to counterbalance all the toxicity and dross.  Since social media is so ubiquitous, especially Facebook, this little flower emoji, I think, could do a lot to elevate social media culture.   Gratitude is scientifically proven to reduce aggression, improve health and help self-esteem and mental strength.  

I actually started a petition about this.  Please check it out!

In Gratitude,

Kristin West

The Mask: Acting when in Mourning

“To weep is to make less the depth of grief.” HENRY VI, PART III

It’s true that actors suffer for their art.  We go to countless auditions, get told no more often than yes, among many other grievances.   Actors are bettors.  They gamble on themselves constantly, each day, in the name of their art and their talent.

As someone who’s experienced this twice, there may come a time in your acting life where you may be on stage or on set and someone you love dies.  The thespian’s motto is “The show must go on.”  Yes, it does, but sometimes it may not be in your long-term best interest for it to go on with you. Sometimes, though, the time on stage or on set may be healing.

The first time this happened to me, I was 17 years old and performing in a community production of Othello  Though it wasn’t a professional production, I treated acting as my profession.  My grandfather died a week before opening night.  My mother spoke to director on my behalf and his response to her was, “Is she still going to be in the show? She’s really talented.”  It was about the show for that director, not necessarily what could be done to keep me in a safer space.  When I came back to rehearsal, it was weird.  Fellow cast members didn’t know what to say to me or how to act.  I didn’t hold that against them.  It’s hard to know what to say when someone close to you has someone die.  I was very close to my grandfather and though legally almost an adult, I had a hard time coping with all the feelings.

The second time this happened to me was six months ago.  My godfather, whom I held in high regard, died unexpectedly.  We had been talking on the phone a lot in the six months prior.  He was going through stuff.  He was in mourning himself and then took a sudden turn for the worse.  I was in the middle of filming a short film when I heard the news of his death.  I let my director know what was going on via email and he was very kind and compassionate.  He let the cast and crew know that I had a death.  Everyone was very kind.  He worked around my schedule so that I could leave the state to go to the funeral.  He was a true professional.

Both times, at least to me, there was no discernible impact to my performance.  I got on stage and set and executed the director’s vision to the best of my ability.  However, I can tell you that the earlier experience with the death of my grandfather has followed me in some not-so-healthy ways.  When I saw another production of Othello five years after my grandfather’s death, I was in tears most of the play.  I had this deep association of Othello with my grandfather’s death.  I saw Othello two years later and I was just angry the whole time.  I had to go because of the drama academy I was enrolled in required me to go.  I am hoping time will help me shed my baggage with Othello.

Here’s some advice to you if you are acting and lose a loved one:

  1.  Don’t feel pressured to do or be more than you can handle.  Ask for an understudy if you need one.
  2. Evaluate where you are in the processes.  Are you in first rehearsal?  Final dress rehearsal?  Are you filming for one day?  Thirty?
  3. How much responsibility do you have to your family?  If you are in charge of making funeral preparations for the loved one, take a long look at what you can handle or sustain.  Funerals are very messy to plan, even under the best of circumstances.  You may be able to take a week or two off your production or have the producers change a shooting schedule, but there’s not really a do-over on a funeral.  If you have responsibility to your family, focus on your family first.  Above all, the funeral is to help you find closure and if you have any doubts, choose to focus on the funeral.
  4. Reach out to your director and/or producer.  If it’s to hard to talk about it, send an email about what has happened and what you may need.  If you have a manager, ask them to help you work out the issues with production.  Focus on your healing.
  5. Do not push for emotion.  You are likely maxed out.  You are an instrument.  Don’t break your instrument.  If you’re not feeling it, don’t force it.
  6. It may not be a good idea to bring a recent death into your scene work.  I’ve seen this really mess folks up.  It’s going to be time before you go through those stages of grief and bringing something in that’s too fresh and too raw may harm your psyche more than it helps your scene.  It’s not brave to dredge up something that you are unprepared to handle.  It is brave to assert your healthy boundaries.
  7. Care for your body and care for your spirit.  Acting is already hard, with a great deal of little disappointments.  Having a death cloud you doing what you love is a real downer.  Take extra care of yourself.  Enlist a friend to check in with you from time to time.  An actor friend who you trust is a great choice.

As actors, we constantly search for emotion.  We study emotion.  There will be times when our life on stage and screen  may be impacted by a death or other tragedy.  Above all else, “…to thine own self be true,” and care for yourself in your time of loss.  As an actor, you are your instrument, you are your truth and you owe it to yourself to care for yourself as best you can in your time of loss.