Rewind time to...mid-March 2020 - what were you doing? I’d won a Best Supporting Actress award for the film "Wuthering Heights" at the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema in California. Joyfully, I accepted the award and shared a speech for artistic recognition with gracious accolades for my film team, family, and friends. For more than a decade I've championed my film acting heroine’s journey; the acknowledgement was well-earned for artistry and persevering.
When the hoopla of winning an award dies down, you're left with you and your trophy… then what? On the heels of the award win was fast escalating news about our entire world being in trouble. With the deadly outbreak of COVID-19 quickly becoming a global pandemic, any award winning honeymoon heroine feels got dumped quickly as the plane wheels squealed to a halt on the airport runway at home. I charged off to the grocery market as Shelter in Place notices went up around the world.
Toilet paper was nowhere to be found, along with many necessities, due to mass panic purchasing by hordes of people who were terrified like me about the effects of a worldwide crisis. I'd gone from a glowing award winning actress reality… to a stark fact I might not even be able to wipe my ass in coming days. I’d hoped to have a celebration with friends and family. Instead, being considered essential personnel at my regular job, I masked up and collected every remnant of hand sanitizer in bottles at home to arm myself with light sabers of cleaners against these microscopic health invaders. Like a lost cork in the ocean and with dinner plate sized eyes of fear, I bobbed up and down between work and home stepping outside of that circuit for needed supplies and sanity giving walks close to home.
No one could predict how the coming days, weeks, or months were going to go. I sensibly set the award aside. I assisted a friend with videos for her small yoga business to go online, helped handle a serious family crisis, dropped supplies to people, and quickly re-sorted life to prioritize basic needs.
Chasing unsanctioned activities of dust bunnies in long forgotten room corners, decluttering closets, deep cleaning cupboards, garage, and anything I could get my hands on combated my full body panic and zombie apocalyptic imagination. As I’d pass my award, I would sideways glance at it wondering how to... or even should I, share more than a Facebook post about this awesome achievement. Other times passing by it I'd gush happy exhilaration then the air would be sucker punched out of me by my army general survival brain hoarsely barking orders in my head where my focus should be so we could be ready for anything.
I felt like a human cannonball launched forcefully into a girdle of reality one size too small making me reckon with many parts of myself. There was no way out but to deal with thoughts and feelings squeezing in on me about many things. Besides the pandemic and becoming ready for what I feared was total world collapse, I kept thinking about my accomplishment too and felt a sad sinking feeling I wasn’t doing right by myself. What does winning an award for my artistic endeavors mean? And even more, does it mean anything to receive an acting award in a pandemic? If so, what?
The safe thing was let it sit on the shelf and be quiet but it wouldn't. It was vibrating with wild tribal delightful light energy.
As I shoved the glorious win down inside myself, an unrelenting primal drumbeat began pounding at my head. I hunkered down in the self-dug foxhole in my mind guarding my award winning feeling like a secret crush so no one could expose and shame me for having that feeling. I felt like covering it up like the wart I had on my finger in 5th grade. An award is not a wart, but it felt like one to me since winning it occurred in a time where lives and global safety were at stake.
Googling for guidance on how to handle winning I found sports and lottery win references. Some articles had terse cautionary tales about not making it your identity and some had very mixed feeling messages. I found articles about success mindset, psychology of a winner, and a process to get to a win but nothing about integration of the energy and feelings that come .after. winning... and nothing about how to do that in a pandemic. How do you hold onto a winning feeling so it becomes part of your inner landscape of words in a healthy, progressive, thoughtful way? In asking people, I got a few decent appetizer bite sized ideas or a return of surprised words I was struggling with this.
Hoping for insight, I flipped the subject over and tried a different approach. In Googling coming in next to or last place or not placing at all (losing), there was plenty to read but nothing felt good in my gut. I’ve flopped at things and been near to or in last place many times… Being in next to or last place, remaining unnoticed, and even giving away credit for my work were self-dismissive mindsets I’d lived by. I’d convinced myself being "less than" was the way to be. The metal clanking of battling word swords in my mind made me aware how hard I was keeping that part of my identity. Warring thoughts started giving me the kind of threatening juicy noisy stomach cramps you dread. Considering the shortage of toilet paper in the world, that was not good.
As the sniping of the nasty COVID-19 virus firing at the world worsened, often the Darth Vader Imperial March theme music thundered through my head leaving me to wonder if there was hope anywhere in all of this. With barely scraping by exhaustion from intense mental and emotional loads and seeking answers, I shot into the sweet arms of Mother Nature. I needed to find some sort of center, get my face .out. of the news, and stop cleaning every God blessed thing in sight. I was registering a whisper of a 911 energy pinging alarm sound inside myself to pay attention… This is important. Owning yourself in your light is important as it’ll be planting purposeful, helpful seeds in your life now and for the future.
By frequenting my favorite mountains again, a surprising realization wiggled into my awareness like a puppy dog’s nose nuzzling into your arm when you’re busy and it wants you to play. Because of the pandemic, I was stopped in my boots from my usual high speed way of doing life. The ugly stitching of a poor self-concept together with bad quality self-talk could be vividly felt and heard in myself.
No clear answers came roaring through. The situation around the world grew darkly grave with the horror of George Floyd’s death escalating and unleashing civil unrest that spread globally. What I thought was important evaporated out of my awareness as this tragedy wrecked us everywhere.
With resolute refocused energy I opened up my heart more and rolled up my sleeves for a long game. I got active for a culture of people that’s endured centuries of abuse by marching in Black Lives Matter, deepened my understanding, amplified voices, held space for and had vulnerable conversations. I was on a couple dozen Zoom introductions as Hollywood’s barriers came crashing down. I donated to the Actor’s Fund, Breonna Taylor’s justice, and stayed the course with regular commitments. I completed a digital course "Book More TV" learning to pivot into digital auditions in a rapidly changing film industry. I helped with details of a family member’s move in the middle of last year’s pandemic and took care of my brother before, during, and after his surgery. Ugly crying, laughing, dealing with holy terror anxiety, laying on the floor, I stepped-up care of my mental, physical, and emotional health and helped friends and family with the same. I headed up a huge office move for work as co-workers were handling deep crises. I turned a small area in my garage into a performance space to give my inner artist a gym and home, read books, wrote poetry, completed several classes in the Masterclass Online series, increased my photography skills taking nature pictures, filmed and edited a one-minute short film, focused on deepening my craft of acting & mindset, kept up with and supported my films in post-production, submitted five digital auditions, filmed on a closed set for a virtual play festival, remained a solid constant at work, patronized local businesses to support my local community, snowboarded, Zoomed birthdays and a couple of auditions, was accepted and shared talent as a guest artist at my local college, began activist emailing, grieved several deaths with dear friends and so many other things...
Back to time now… mid-March 2021. The world’s emerging slowly to greet each other in person and activity. We are making it. Our lives will never be like they were (HUGE understatement). I’ve seen whole hearted compassion grow with awareness of each other’s wounds where badges of busyness and flags of indifference were once proudly flown high. Beauty’s begun returning to the gift of us relating to each other. Frantic life paces turned up-side-down are now registering more gratitude. I’ve had some clearer space to bring into more focus the last twelve months.
When your name's called for something you’d only hoped for, I experienced a full body deep moving realization I’d done something powerful. All eyes were on me. Pretending not to see, witness, claim your own awesomeness or even hide from it, no matter what rages on in the world, damages yourself and others by keeping inner narratives in a powerless state rather than an empowered one.
In that special moment of achievement, I accepted the incredible synergy of grace wrapping around me and people witnessing me that imparted joy and hope to all of us for staying in the game! The award represented physical evidence of self-empowerment I hadn’t considered up until this point or given myself credit for my artistic work. There’s celebration and a responsibility to such a win.
Winning isn’t a narrative naturally imparted to a lot of us. Losing seems to be the narrative we absorb from the outside in and somehow that narrative has a ready string of words from fouled up meanings we’ve taken from events and people in life. Winning does not have qualifying statements in it. It celebrates fully, completely the soul place the achievement comes from and the robust discipline needed to receive it. I am humbled and grateful for some dear close-up people in my life space that offered a solid unified uplifted voice in support of me whilst I figured this out. We made moves every day to handle whatever microscopic to epic sized obstacles life hurled at us together.
Without being aware, I’d taken the empowered feeling, decided what winning meant to me, acted on it and put it to work in life this past year. Because of the huge crises in the world at large and in my life, I heard loud and clear an internal microphone check. The deep listening to inner alarm bells gave me a gift of recognizing the most life-giving-line of conversation is able to be affected in yourself… which blesses you into your growth and that’ll inspire you AND others into their empowerment too.
I’m giving it meaning now. Winning means the heroine isn’t away at distant places winning awards, conquering dragons - but bravely stepping up to ownership of a line of choices she makes to deal with and share her dark and light and talents right where she is. Where your light is - is your heart. your values, your work ethic, where you can be seen in all your glory. Where your dark is - is what makes you real, human, gritty, passionate, and whole. Bringing the two parts together, stopping the warring, allows a bigness of space inside yourself for the brilliant use of both and gives you self-acceptance.
I've given and will continue to give lavish and public and private praise and gratitude to everyone I've worked with and supported me. Up until recently, I wasn’t able or willing to take the same praise and gratitude inside myself because I judged and deemed it bad that I want to do amazing things in life, embarrassment of my personal gifts and talents, and honestly, sometimes, of being a woman… Now, I can say and believe I was important in this journey too. It won’t become part of my identity rather it’s becoming a valuable part of my heroine’s journeying.
Winning is evidence I showed up. Perhaps this is covered somewhere in detail, but thankfully, it wasn't anywhere I could find outside myself no matter what I Googled or who I asked. The strange and quarantined graces of Shelter in Place and in helping others around me during this pandemic made me go to the one place I kept skipping over for guidance, myself.
Can you survive winning? Hells yes! Prepare yourself to roll into a better inner narrative that’ll light the way and join me in up-leveling beliefs in yourself to evolve with it! Our BEST hope my dear is inside each of us changing that self-concept narrative to a better one that imprints clearly empowered sureness of energy that lets you know, I can do this and am important in this journey!
Finally, a year later I feel I can say with mucho gusto owning it, gushing with my whole heart, and eyes full of hot sloppy happy tears… (have to cue opening music for Star Wars music in my head since I love it so much!)
Dad, mom, family, and friends, I .am. an award winning actress!
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As I finished this today, my heart breaks all over again - there's more work to do. The world needs our open mind, heart, activism, and your absolute best self. God bless and peace be with the hearts and families in Atlanta, GA. from the string of shootings at Asian businesses.
In sharing my heart and growth through blogging, stories, and poetry, I have faith you'll find possibility, empowerment, and inspiration to create like a champion in your own life.
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