Why not me, why not now?

I was a teenager during this weird time where magazines were still something the youths read and social media wasn’t really the dominant force of how we intake information. I grew up in a small town, relatively isolated from mainstream cares. The women around me were kind, but almost uniformly looked down on ambition. I honestly never remember hearing a woman being admired for anything but her beauty or her kindness.

The combination of these factors and the reality that there weren’t really outlets questioning the images we put into young girl’s psyche led to a sort of idolism of perfection that rears its ugly head often for me still. I thought the ONLY successful people in life were size twos, established, came from money, had money, had fame, had a beautiful partner. Don’t even get me started on the heteronormative ideals on femininity I ingested in gulps from the first step I took into youth group.

Black and white thinking ordered my life for a long time. Either you are successful or you are not. Either you are a failure or you are not. Either you are skinny or you are fat. Either you are white or you are Hispanic. Either you are smart or you are not. Either there is a God or there is not. I steadfastly avoided gray areas. I think many of my own struggles with religion came from the inability to find a theological framework that answered every question I had succinctly. The same type of thinking bled over into my ideas about myself.

The leading thought that kept me out of acting for over a year was, “Once I lose sixty pounds, then I will be ready to be an actor.” In my mind, if I wasn’t willing to starve myself for that goal then I wasn’t willing to make the commitment necessary to be a “real” filmmaker. When I finally made myself go out for auditions, I blamed every failure uniformly on my inability to play a thin, quirky girl (which is still an obstacle because of breakdowns written by casting directors blind to social realities). When I got cast for my first short film that would later be selected for SXSW 2019, I was at the heaviest I’d ever been. Walking onto set, I was certain that everyone would be disappointed in my existence. It was that same thought over and over again, either you are perfect or you don’t deserve this opportunity.

It was the same thought over and over again: Either you are perfect or you don’t deserve this opportunity.

Little by little as I got one gig that led to the next, I started to maybe believe that I needn’t reach perfection to continue doing this thing I was obviously good at. I went to classes to improve myself, continued to workout and struggle with my weight. I got used to the constant rejection inherent to acting. SXSW 2019 happened and I got to be a “real” filmmaker for the week – I had a badge and everything to prove it. I wrote and directed and produced my own short. The momentum of success was enough to silence the doubts that plagued me in between projects.

Then I got sick. The momentum was gone. I left my agent when the audition requests stopped coming altogether. I found myself at this same point of needing to believe in myself again, and I felt like I just didn’t quite have the juice for it anymore. My imperfection was a barrier to entry back into the game. It didn’t matter how good I felt, I felt like I had to convince myself and everyone else all over again that I was worth the invest of time and belief. Time passed. I hadn’t applied to any new agents. Hadn’t had any new projects. The weight I had put on during the sedentary lifestyle of illness made me feel like I had fallen backwards.

During our trip to Cancun, I began to ask myself who my role models are now. Unlike the teenage girl I was a decade ago, I have quite a few. Misha Collins is a philanthropist and actor I respect. I love Jamila Al Jamil and iWeigh has honestly changed the way I think about my body. Bryce Dallas Howard is this badass director who is strong and powerful and feminine. So I cleaned up my Instagram feed and let it be filled with people (both celebrities and friends) whose lives looked like what I wanted. Not perfection, but fulfillment. Commitment. Passion.

Universally only one thing was true of all of these people I admire: they weren’t perfect. Some even actively pointed out their flaws in an effort to humanize the idea of celebrity. I hate the idea of “Celebrities, they’re just like us!” (because they aren’t – their personal trainers, chefs, assistants and housekeepers will tell you so). But I finally had found in work and online people who were in the throws of building their life into something meaningful. I wasn’t left with the hollow image of the “final result.” The thought finally hit me, “Why not me?” If I work as hard as these people have at something I’m innately talented at and absolutely love to do, why can’t I build my life again. Whose opinion am I afraid of? Is my fear of failure so powerful I will let it dictate my life?

Failure is such a loaded word anyways. Is it not attaining perfection like I fantasized about as a teen? If so, we are all failures. None of us exist in that perfect state outside of Photoshopped and sanitized essays. Maybe what failure really meant was not even trying. When I asked myself what I was more afraid of, never having an agent again or never getting off of this couch again? – I realized that if I didn’t try, I’d never forgive myself.

So I’ve applied to agents. I’ve applied to some roles. I’ve reached out to a director I’m working on a project with. I’ve started writing the essay for my friend that sounded too important for someone like me. I have as of yet received no gold stars. But I’m trying. I’m giving every day my best, no matter what my best looks like that day. When I ask the question: Why not now, why not me? At least I know the answer will never be because I stopped trying.

I’ll put the psycho in your psychosomatic

AFter six years of being sick, you would think it gets easier to hear a doctor tell me “I don’t know.” Or to hear them ask if I’ve been to a psychiatrist. The answer is yes – I’m one of the most therapied people I’ve ever met, but the relevance of that fact to the rest of my symptoms is minimal.

It’s a story you hear over and over again in the community of people who suffer from debilatating chronic illness. Go to doctor. Go to specialist. Go to another specialist. Be told that maybe what you’re feeling is a result of psychological and not physiological isses. Go to therapy. Try as hard as you can to make your body feel better with the power of positive thinking. Fail. Question your own ideas of reality. Lose trust in yourself. Spiral into helplessness. Still feel sick and now incapable of ever getting better. Fall out of medical and psychiatric care. Retreat from life because you’re tired of explaining yourself. The list goes on.

In a way, I’m glad my neurological symptoms flared up so extremely last month. Not being able to talk or walk and watching my body go through uncontrollable tremors actually has me feeling the sanest I’ve felt in so long. As I go through relapse and remissions and flare-ups over and over again, I start to ask myself if I’m making my symptoms happen. I wonder if there’s some part of me that needs that kind of attention. But I realize now that there is no part of me that wants to be ill. My life as a filmmaker and an influencer gives me plenty of attention – attention in recognition of my hard work and my abilities. Not pity for a body that won’t function.

So as I sat across from a neurologist who answered “I don’t know” to questions about my immobility, questions about my speech issues, questions about why my brain feels like it’s on fire so often finally didn’t hear him saying, “You’re making this up.” I heard the words of a quitter. I heard the words of someone lacking compassion and empathy in a job that decides how well someone lives or doesn’t. I heard the issue on the other side of the table instead of feeling inadequate again.

We grow up with this idea that doctors are infallible. We are taught to cater to their opinions and to accept whatever they say as gospel. If there is anything I can tell you from $75K in medical bills over six years and contact with a dozen or more specialists, it is that doctors are NOT infallible. They do NOT know your body better than you do. I can tell you that psychosomatic is most often a cop-out diagnosis from an overworked or unimaginative professional.

Yes, I’m angry. I’m angry for myself and the psychological stress of second guessing every pain in my body and every bout of inability. I’m angry for the hundreds of women and men who every day walk into a doctor’s office and are dismissed out of hand. I’m angry that I’ve met maybe one or two doctors with the kind of time and moral center it takes to stick with a patient until they’re on their way to long-term wellness. I’m angry that so many people don’t understand how exhausting it is to have to put your life on hold while you wait six months for an appointment with a specialist who will listen.

Most of all, I’m grateful that I have advocates in my life who have helped me continue the unbelievably daunting task of getting a diagnosis. I think of the people I’ve met in chat rooms, in waiting rooms, in groups or online who are alone in this fight and outgunned by a health care system that encourages bandaids instead of lasting change. My mother, my husband and my family have never once questioned my desire to get better. They’ve never made me feel lazy for being sick. They understand that when I am well, I am a flourishing, busy person. They understand that more than anything I just want a chance to be that person for the majority of my days.

Please, if you have people in your life who suffer from illness, be an advocate for them. Sometimes that means calling the doctor when they’re too tired to make appointments themselves. It means keeping in contact when they’re too sick to initiate it on their end. It means accepting that they know their body better than you do. If they say they don’t feel good, or something is wrong, listen. When you can, make the medical professionals in their life listen, too. Little by little maybe we can all chip away at the walls the chronically ill are forced to hide behind. Thank you for reading. Share with the people in your life who need to hear they’re not alone or how they can take care of those who need someone.

My Anti-Resolutions Resolutions

Why I’m a Bit Against Resolutions

I used to be very very pro-resolutions. A new year, a new start, a chance to correct some mistakes from the last year. But, I think the idea that we need to need to fundamentally change something about ourselves every year is a little bit ridiculous. “I need to be more adventurous,” “I need to exercise more,” “I need to eat better,” etc.

I think goal-oriented resolutions are often steeped in some form of self-hate or a societal ideal of what an adventurous, fit or healthy person does. Instead, this year I’ve decided to reflect and evaluate some of my relationships with the world around me that started changing in 2018 and I’d like to think about more in 2019.

This mud run was a great team building exercise at work and a really fun goal to work toward. An example of healthy exercise habits in my life.

My Relationship with food and exercise

I’m pretty sure my first ever magazine subscription was to Shape magazine when I was about 13 years old. Thirteen! At the time I was much chubbier than all of my friends, bullied and lonely. I remember thinking that their social behaviors were punishment for my inability to lose weight and look like them. So I started counting calories (again, at thirteen), doing Mauro Pilates for sixty minutes a day, and trying really hard to fit in with the other kids around me. I actually ended up losing about thirty pounds. And wouldn’t you know, by my eighth grade year I ended up getting voted the class’s Princess at our formal. In my mind, the weight loss was the reason people liked me – not the confidence that I had gained from the weight loss.

Now, eating healthy and exercising in and of themselves are amazing things to do for our bodies. They really are. But when the actions themselves are steeped in shame and punishment/reward mentalities, they become more harmful than good. The diet culture wants us to look a certain way to feel validated, and they use food and exercise as weapons in that war. Having been a fairly visible person my whole life (as an actor, model, youth leader, etc.) – I was very much of the mindset that being a leader meant looking a certain way and setting a certain example about discipline with food and exercise. So instead of saying that I’m going to eat healthier and exercise this year, I’m going to continue to build on the work I did last year in disassociating food and exercise from forms of self regulation.

An account I love to follow on Insta that discusses this is @annamaried.rd , who focuses on intuitive eating and listening to your body, and is run by a certified dietician. I think when we listen to what our body wants we can come naturally to a place where weight loss and healthy weight happen. We know when foods make us sick, or make us feel sluggish, or make us feel energized and ready for the day. When we listen to those cues, we can usually figure out what our body is craving from us.

A healthier idea about exercising is a natural extension of a healthier idea about food. If food is not something we use as punishment/reward, then exercising isn’t something we use to “make up for” our eating habits. It’s just something we do to feel stronger, get to know ourselves better, enhance our life and get more energy. For me personally, it’s something I do to have a place to watch my own progress as a healthier person and to stimulate the endorphins that make my depression more manageable daily.

My relationship with creativity

As a creative person who makes money off of being creative, it’s really easy to get into the mentality that I must be an expert at all times. Due to some negative messaging I received growing up, I have a really hard time showing anybody anything but perfection – especially in areas of my life where I want to succeed the most. As an actor, photographer, musician and writer being vulnerable enough to ask questions is something I find incredibly taxing. My hope for this year is to evaluate that reluctancy in the creative space because I think it prevents me from releasing the creativity in me.

For example, with acting I have a hard time just sitting in classes and absorbing because I’m usually surrounded by people who have been doing this longer than I have. I want to seem like I’m just naturally great at the job – which is a totally normal instinct. But for me, acting is only fun if it’s a place where I can funnel emotions and stories into something an audience can connect with and learn from. If I’m not allowing myself the freedom to experiment in how that gets done, then I’m not allowing my creativity to really grow. I’m just showing up to a class to check a box on a resume instead of letting myself play and have fun. I don’t want to set the goal of “I want to be a better actor” – I want to set the goal of “I want to have a relationship with acting that’s focused on the process and not the outcome.”

Especially in a creative setting, the lack of quantifiable outcomes makes resolutions murky at best and incredibly stifling at worst. My hopes in just taking a reflective attitude on my thoughts around creating is to allow a space not ruled by anxiety, but by freedom and choice. I personally need to be free from pressure to do my best work – otherwise I hide from the things I enjoy.

So what does all of this mean?

My main point here today is that resolutions aren’t the only way to approach your new year. Resolution mentality is often based on the idea that you need to fundamentally change something about yourself every year. I just don’t agree. I think you’re awesome, and that evaluating the things in your life that are holding you back and are bringing you stress is much more important than adding another to-do to your hectic life.

If you have areas of life where you’d like to learn and grow but experience anxiety when you take steps in that direction, examine those anxieties. Are you dealing with a fear of rejection, fear of failure? Are you doing this because you think it’s what you’re “supposed” to do or because it’s an area of your life you are passionate about? Honor yourself this year. That’s my goal for you. What do you think about that?

Thoughts: Wait for you.

For theatric auditions I do a monologue from Women of Manhattan, where Rhonda is trying desperately to get her friends to understand that she isn’t okay and she doesn’t want to be okay right now. My favorite line from the whole thing is: I’m waiting for me. And I may take awhile.

The first time I read through this little nugget of a phrase I didn’t really understand why I connected so much with it. I’d spent a lot of time waiting on things. Waiting on my body to heal. Waiting for the move back to Austin. Waiting for life to sound okay again. But what I think “I’m waiting for me” made me realize was that sometimes we hide ourselves so deep down inside of ourselves that it takes awhile to emerge from underneath the wreckage.

In Rhonda’s case, she was buried beneath a relationship. In my case, I was buried beneath years of lies mascarading as religion, a major depression, and old ideas of self that were clinging on for dear life. While I was stuck inside as a hermit, I truly believe that I was playing a waiting game of inching closer and closer to my true self. Every series that I burned through on Netflix, all the books that took me twice as long to read, every attempt at working again as a secretary or a manager, or whatever else I thought would pass the time – those were all ways for me to wait out the part of me I knew still existed somewhere.

Back in the day I used to have every five year plan that existed. I always knew what I wanted out of the month, the year, my life in general. If there’s any quality I can ascribe to the waiting period of my life, it’s the intense lack of direction. Now that I’m more settled into the person I want to be, I can say with confidence that we can’t find our true North until we find who we were created to be. I was waiting for something, anything, to be the right answer to the upheaval. But no answer can be the right one when we’re searching from somebody else’s point of view.

So I guess my advice from all of this is wait for you. Whatever has gotten you buried, a failed relationship, the wrong career path, or just simply forgetting to honor your true desires for too long – carve it out of your life as swiftly as you can and then be patient. Your little slow but sure ascent may look different than mine. Now that I know I was heading back toward acting, it makes more sense that TV and movies helped me find my way while I was waiting. Yours may be a book that strikes you. Or a person. Or a place. Or a hobby. Whatever it is, let yourself enjoy the process and watch what emerges.

The life you build from a place where you truly have found yourself is a life that’s sustainable. It’s a life that can make you happy. So don’t worry right now if you don’t know where you’re headed. When the truest parts of you come back to life, it will be worth the wait.

Thoughts: Stories Still Matter.

I’m writing a novel. Just throwing that out there. I’ve had the idea for a few years but wasn’t ready to commit to sitting down and putting it onto a page until these past couple of months. It seemed indulgent to sit out and type up a story about people who didn’t exist when I was having a hard time just keeping up with my own existence.

But now I’m sitting here in my favorite coffee shop (Mazama Coffee in Dripping Springs) – halfway into the plot I’ve outlined and I realize I’m really doing this thing. It makes sense really – I’ve always been a writer. Actually, when I was a kid I used to go to my dad’s office in the summers and create miniature books out of printer paper and just make up stories to fill them with. In retrospect, most of them had plotlines that were eerily similar to the Chronicles of Narnia. Probably can’t blame an eight year old brain for a little bit of plagiarism.

In a world where things are chaotic and messy, stories have always helped me make sense of things. As a kid I had taught myself how to read before kindergarten, which led to me being basically the smartest ass kid of them all in the beginning years of reading. I had no sympathy for people still learning and was generally disruptive – so I got sent to the next grade level for reading time. When that didn’t work, I got sent to a gifted and talented teacher who put Harry Potter in my grubby little elementary hands and said “Go nuts!”

I remember the feeling of the world just dropping away for awhile as I turned the pages. I didn’t understand kids, they didn’t understand me. But when I was reading about Hermione and Harry and Ron I wasn’t lonely. In them I saw my own potential to be exceptionally brave, exceptionally smart and accepted above all.

As I got older the books became more plentiful – there was The Bloody Jack novels that taught me being a girl didn’t have to mean any one thing. The Twilight series taught me all the wrong lessons about love that took me a few years to unlearn. Tim O’Brien’s books in high school made me feel normal for my sometimes dismal outlook on life. In them I saw the potential for hope and reality to coexist.

When I got to college the stories fell off of my map. And in that time when my imagination was shut so far into its cage, I felt my dreams and my hopes grow smaller. Sickness got in the way. Misguided religious idealism got in the way. But most of all, I lost my ability to see any day beside the one in front of me. I lost my ability to see the story I could live. On the high seas or in a castle or on the muddy banks in Vietnam.

I found stories again when I was doing outpatient therapy for six hours a day after quitting my job. I was still suicidally depressed most days – incapable of seeing the forest through the trees. I wanted desperately to move forward with my life, but the damage I had done to my own soul felt irrevocable in every way. When I picked up The Awakening by Kate Chopin, I identified so viscerally with the main character’s identity struggle that I pushed past the anxiety that popped up any time I focused on one activity for more than a few minutes.

“I would give up the unessential; I would give up my money, I would give up my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear; it’s only something I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me.”

For someone digging themselves out from under years of self-imposed ideals about who I was “supposed to be,” the story of Edna Potelier helped me see that the process of becoming true to self is chaotic and messy and sometimes painful. I found myself in that story, and to me that’s why stories matter.

In life we get lost from our truest selves so easily. We have so many messages telling us who we’re supposed to be, what we’re supposed to do. Stories are a place where we don’t have to be anyone. We just have to sit and intake the truth our characters present. We just have to observe and gleen any truths we can from the actions from which we are removed. Stories give us a space to learn about ourselves and grow.

So as I sit here, elbows deep in pages of text about people who’ll never really be, I remind myself of the stories that have changed me and taught me and shaped and molded me. There have been times when I’m upset with the way my story has gone. But I haven’t given up on stories in general. I think there’s so much for us to learn. I think stories still matter.

Thoughts: All the Little Joyful Things

I wouldn’t categorize myself as a happy person. I have a pretty dark outlook on the whole fate of the world and British humor slides into home for me most of the time. There’s been a lot of pain in my life for me to just bluntly accept that life is sunshine.

But I would say I am an incredibly joyful person. I think it’s a symptom of feeling every emotion very deeply within me. When I’m sad, I’m devastatingly so. When I’m anxious, there’s usually a panic attack headed to a theatre near you. When something makes me laugh, I laugh hard with no abandon.

Joy for me is taking a delight in the moment and savoring it. I find joy in making my pour-over coffee, in a stranger smiling genuinely at me in the store, at a really well done joke or one liner. It’s a spark of pure appreciation for the world around me.

There are so many things that are wrong with this world. There are political and cultural battles to be fought. There are wrongs to right and injustices to be brought to light. I hope that we are all the kinds of people that are aware of those things and fight for people.

But I also know that we can’t make it on the mission alone. There’s too much life that falls out of the purview of our latest cause. So in the moments when you can, I hope you’ll choose joy. It doesn’t make you a hypocrite to both know of suffering and celebrate little victories. It makes you a whole person. Whole people are the ones that change the world.

Thoughts: Annie

All About Annie

For the entire month of September I will be posting pics and causes that make me super happy to be headed in to my 25th year. Today I celebrate Annie, who came into my life as a suggestion from a therapist to help with depression after leaving my full time job. She’s a cuddle bug with a sweet soul that we adopted from Operation Kindness in Dallas (a no-kill shelter where we were living at the time). 


Annie was four when we adopted her, and had just had puppies at the beginning of the year. Her fur was matted, she was shrunk back in her kennel. I actually cried when I saw her because I could just tell that what she needed most in the world was to be loved. And we’ve gotten so much in return. She’s six years old now, and she’s been a little bit of hope for me on some of my worst days in my worst year. 


If it weren’t for amazing no-kill shelters like Operation Kindness and Austin Pets Alive!, sweet puppies like Annie (and our other furball, Dusty) wouldn’t have a chance. There are thousands of animals in need, and without no-kill shelters, they die waiting to be taken home in overcrowded shelters that lack funding to support the constant influx of animals. If you wnat to help solve the problem, you can make sure to spay and neuter your pets and choose adoption over going through breeders.


Adopting animals from shelters in your area is the most responsible way to expand your furry family – and a cause I hope you can support by donating at the link below:

Thoughts: Failure is not a messenger of fate.

I grew up with this mentality: If it’s meant to be then things will just work out.

Sure. Things do happen like that. When we are on the right path, the projects and people we put our heart and soul into give us back that energy. I’ve said it before, and I truly believe it: the universe rises to meet our expectations.

But that mantra is not an excuse to stop when things get hard. The world is not telling you something because the life you want (job, person, house, etc.) requires that you fight for it. The rewards we obtain most easily in life are not necessarily the rewards we need most.

Take for example my academic life and career. Hate me if you’d like, please, but school and work were never hard for me. I didn’t study once for a test in the fifteen years of schooling I received. Communications, writing, basic science and math all came so easily to me. I never hated school but I don’t really think I learned a ton, either. I did the subjects that were easiest because I thought natural inclination meant divine intervention.

So following that process through to a career, I went into corporate communications. I got a prestigious internship in Dallas at Southwest Airlines and then went to work in marketing and administration. I was so good at it. It came easily to me, and the accolades kept the little voice in my head from getting too loud for awhile. Again. Natural inclination meant to me that I was born for it. Born for a job I didn’t love in a career I was terrified would be my life. How depressing.

So you can see how the background beliefs I let dictate my life for so long have molded the way failure hits me. In my head, failure isn’t just something that happens because of fixable problems. No, the issue isn’t that I didn’t study hard enough or work hard enough or put this thing as a priority. In my head, the issue is that I am a constant Icarus, and my dreams are the sun. I am left consistently burned and disheartened

We did GISH last week, and of all the things, a stupid rocket cake woke me to the fact that failure hits me way too hard. Our friend Roxy built this cake for us and we were supposed to figure out how to launch it six feet into the air. I didn’t really help at all. I just said, Hey Zach this will be cool, make it work!

So to nobody’s surprise, the rocket didn’t work. I still couldn’t tell you what goes into making a rocket because it didn’t come easily to me so I left it in Zach’s hands. The failure hit me so hard because it didn’t feel like something I could fix. It felt like this stupid rocket cake was a message from the Universe: You’re not smart enough, funny enough, creative enough, etc. to be doing things like this.

The truth though, is that it didn’t work because I didn’t do anything to help make it work. The truth is that sometimes we get rejected (in acting like every week) because of small changes we can make but haven’t yet. Hence, me taking more classes this fall and working with an acting coach. Because I think I have given up on the lie that failure is more than just a chance to learn.

Instead, I’m learning from those failures and not discounting the dreams these failures are working toward. There are so many successful people that have come before me who paved their own roads with learning experiences. So, don’t give up yet and I won’t either. The easy way is usually not the right way, and you deserve better than the life comes without trying.

Thoughts: Do good.

This week marked the start of the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt (GISH), “break from normalcy” that benefits a nonprofit I love called Random Acts. My participation is also contributed to by the fact the whole thing is the brain child of one of my biggest role models Misha Collins. The whole thing centers around the idea that normal people can make the world a better place by just consciously trying to do so. In the following days, I’ll be dropping by a park to instigate a pillow fight, setting up a bubble wrap stress relief station and donating to at least one charity to fulfill a few of my missions.

The hunt got me thinking about how easy it is to do good if we make the choice. I included a picture of a mission trip I took to the Dominican Republic a few years ago not because I’m super proud of my motivations behind that trip but because we turn making the world into a better place into such a spectacle at times. When I was so involved with the church, I spent a lot of time doing things like that mission trip in order to check the right boxes. So in kind of a violent response to all that “charity” with the wrong motivation, I recoiled from volunteering or helping people when I left.

But as I do this silly hunt and have fun putting positivity and kindness into the world, I realize that just because my motivations were skewed doesn’t mean the world suddenly stopped needing my help. We all have this goodness inside of us that the world desparately needs. You have a kindness and an ability inside of you to make the world around you a better place. Your obligation is not one to anyone or any religion, but in that by existing you have been given the choice to do good.

The messy planet we live on is overwhelmingly broken at times, so I’ve included some ideas to get us started on putting good things into the world. Choose goodness by:

  • Buy cool things from cool people. Organizations like Stands offer products that you’ll love and would pay for anyways, and the proceeds go to really cool charities. Think of your shopping habits as a way to help the right people get the right kind of resources to the right places.
  • Volunteer. This can seem like such a daunting task, but it really doesn’t have to be. Sites like Volunteer Match connect you to causes you care about and give clear next steps on getting involved hands on.
  • Vote. Ah! You’re talking about good things in this world and bringing in politics? What are you thinking?? Here’s the truth: politics in its essence is the allocation of finite resources. When you register to vote and show up to the polls, you help good people get the resources they need by voting for candidates who represent the interests of those without.
  • Be kind. The rest of these choices might not happen today. They can, but they may take you a little more time. But if there’s anything I can ask of those of you who read this, it’s to hold yourselves accountable for your attitude. The world is a big, messy place filled with messy people. It can’t get fixed overnight. But you make it better when you hold a door, forgive small mistakes and don’t take the every day annoyances too seriously.

So what’s the bottom line? You don’t need a big fancy trip to a developing nation to do good (though if you’re headed that way, please tell me about it and go you!). The world changes when a handful of people, a hundred people or just you decide to choose goodness. Let me know how I can help.

Thoughts: It’s time to leave it behind.

I have spent my last year in equal parts grief and elation. Elation, because I now hike and hip hop and have a fun part-time job and am pursuing my dreams of working as an actress and a singer. Grief, because for all of the life that’s bursting up around me, the years I spent alone in my house are shown in their darkest relief.

There are days when I am so overwhelmed by the loss of my early twenties that I don’t want to get out of bed. I feel opressed by the weight of unfairness and I honestly feel like a punching bag for the Universe at large. So in my protest I lay in bed. And the Universe still keeps moving. How depressingly like all those years I’m mourning in the first place.

We were in hip hop last week, doing some stretches when my instructor yelled, “Pick that thing you’re going to leave behind and leave it here with this last breath.” The feeling of nausea that rolled over me was immediate. My very aware brain said, “Leave your anger here.” My heart said, “Screw you, I need that anger. I need that hurt.”

So over the past few days, I’ve been trying to decide if that’s true. There’s a huge chunk of me that wants to think that holding onto the pain of those dark years gives me some sort of motivation. Maybe in the beginning that was true. Maybe fighting for myself in response to those feelings helped fuel the grueling days of just waking up at a reasonable time. Maybe that anger helped to blind me against the chips stacked against me.

But I look at it now, and I think the sadness and the grief have started to take me away from the present. When they hit me like a wave and I allow myself to be taken, I stop seeing the weight coming off and start thinking about all the weight going on while I ate my feelings away. I stop seeing the growth of people joining the #myinvalidlife movement and start thinking how much more I could have done by now if only I wasn’t on the couch. I stop seeing a happy person who’s finally breaking free from so many years of shame and self hate, and start seeing a person who’s been unfairly saddled with too much heartache.

And look, all those grief-coated observations are true. They’re at least part of a bigger truth. But like Hannah Gadsby mentioned in her special, I can’t move on to accept the story if I’m still living in the setup (in her case, of the joke, in my case, of the rest of my life). I find that hope and positivity are much greater motivators than the heavy, double edged sword of pain. Because letting that fuel you comes at a price. The weight of having so much darkness around makes the road forward feel that much steeper.

So this week I’m leaving that grief behind, a little bit at a time. I’m telling myself that I’ve had my time to mourn, but that pain doesn’t serve me anymore. I’m pulling myself into the life I’ve built in the here and now. I’m choosing hope for a better future and gratefulness for the progress I’ve already made.

What do you need to leave behind this week? How can I help?


Thoughts: It’s never too late to begin again

Growing up, my mom had a magnet on her fridge that said “If you’re on the wrong path, God allows U-turns.” I’m not really religious anymore, but the sentiment has stuck with me. In some of the darker moments of my life I’ve felt backed into a corner, absolutely incapable of being anything other than the person. Before I left my corporate job, I used to have this sick feeling of being stuck on a treadmill doomed to never stop running.

Inertia applies to life just as much as any other object set in motion. It takes an outside force to knock us in a new direction. Sometimes that force is thrust upon us. For me it was illness. For some people it’s the loss of a loved one. Sometimes it’s something happy like meeting the love of your life. But the kind of force that moves us in a new direction knocks us on our ass.

At least, that’s the easier way. When something or someone comes along and forces us to adapt for survival, we don’t have a choice in the matter. But the truth is, the decision to change, to apply that same kind of knock you off your feet force to your life is available any time you truly decide to start over. It’s not easy. It doesn’t have the inevitability of another type of change. It requires digging your heels in and not wavering. If you believe in your ability to do this – I do – then it’s never too late to start over.

The decision is the easy part. The walking forward to the new direction is the hard part. Take it from someone who started over after she got the dream job with her college degree only to wake up miserable, comfort is the biggest enemy in starting over. Even if you’re miserable right now, staying as you are is always easier than changing. Here’s some steps to help make the transition a little easier to digest:

Know thyself. If you haven’t asked yourself why you are unhappy yet, now is the time to do so. You’re not unhappy because you’re job sucks. You’re unhappy because what you need out of a job (sense of purpose, friendship, support, financial security, etc.) isn’t being provided for you. You aren’t tired of being fat. You’re tired of not fitting into your clothes, or not being able to keep up with your kids, or feeling run down at the end of the day, etc. Understand your motives before you look for a solution.

Clearly state what you want. I want to be a professional actress, but the sugar coated way of saying that is “I want to work a creative job.” NO. Don’t sugar coat. Give yourself a laser focused goal. I want to weigh x pounds or run x miles (always take into consideration your body type and doctor’s advice for health-related goals). I want to open up a dog shelter (not I want to work around animals). Don’t give up before you’ve ever started – be honest about what it is you want out of life.

Break it down now. For me, the goal is acting. The steps are auditions, acting and dance classes, networking, losing weight, eventually moving to LA. I’ve broken these down into segmented chunks so that I don’t get overwhelmed by the nebulous idea of “acting.” You want to open your own business? Start with what, then for whom, then take that business class you’ve been wanting to take, then draw up a plan, etc. Whatever your next goal is, break it down into pieces so that you can start racking up wins.

Take the first step. I’ve written before that your life can’t change unless you do. Deciding to actively pursue the life you want instead of dismissing your desires is a huge change to your outlook on the world. So do it. Do it and see that the world won’t crumble. Do it and know that you’re allowed to want happiness. Do it and see that you aren’t broken, you’re just lost in a life created for someone else. Do it and tell me how great it feels.

I hope you find some motivation in here to really start taking your heart seriously. It took me a long time to admit that I was important enough to fight for, but I want you to know that your happiness is a BIG deal. It’s worth the hard fought battles that come with starting over. It’s worth discomfort and not knowing what’s coming next. The world does not require your unhappiness because you made your way down this path. If you’re stuck in a relationship that doesn’t lift you up, unfulfilled by your career, unhappy with your health, unhappy with yourself – those things and so many more are fixable. Believe in yourself as much as I do. You have the power to change your life.

Thoughts: The right one is worth all the heart break.

I lived inside of books from the time I was about five years old. I didn’t understand the kids my age and they didn’t understand me…. So basically I became a hopeless romantic from the very first Harry Potter book in 1st grade and never really learned how to dial any of that back. I had a boyfriend pretty much always, and was usually pining for someone else in tandem with whoever I was dating. But because I firmly believed every single person was “the one” I stuck around and hurt every single time things started going wrong.

I don’t know if there is any way to gauge the amount of heartbreak I’ve put myself through in my short 24 years of life, but as an example, I remember after reading Twilight in 8th grade I convinced myself that my love could never be eternal and cried for about a week straight about it. I pined for a boy for years, stuck by his side even though he was aloud to have feelings for other people and I very much was not. But it didn’t matter. I dated tall guys, rich guys, poor guys, smart guys, dumb guys. I dated boys who ‘loved Jesus more than me’ and a guy who was five years older than me in high school. And the ending hurt every single damn time. Sure, there were some greatest hits – the guy who was my first kiss and backup plan for about ten years, the guy who used to text me Moulin Rouge lyrics, the guy who I thought finally understood how my brain works, the guy who broke up with me the day after I was diagnosed with clinical depression.

In fact, there had been so many guys in my life since the first grade that when I met my husband Zach I was super done with dating. Then this dorky, not smooth at all guy with questionable texting etiquette came into my life and made me fall in love with him.

I seriously questioned my feelings for Zach ALL of the time because everything was just so easy. There wasn’t any drama. There weren’t fights over why he was looking at so and so. He told me he loved me when we had been dating for a couple of months and I just KNEW that so instinctively that I forgot to acknowledge it until a couple of minutes later. “Oh, by the way I love you, too.There’s not a right way or a wrong way to fall in love. Hell, there’s not a right way or wrong way to live your life – if you don’t want a partner then that’s super okay. But if there’s anything my love story can tell you, it’s wanting that for yourself isn’t a bad thing. Wanting to be loved unconditionally and letting yourself hurt instead of settling for the mediocre is so okay.

Yes, it’s painful to have hopes and dreams and expectations. It’s painful to ask for someone to really see you and then have them turn away. But pain is a necessary part of the process of learning who you are and what you need. You wouldn’t know hurt if you didn’t know yourself. If you didn’t know that no, you can’t just be a pretty face to someone and it hurts that that’s all they see. Or no, you can’t just see someone a few times a month and be satisfied, but that’s what they want. Heartbreak – well it’s a hazard of the territory, but it has the ability to teach if we let it.

As much as I’m annoyed by that hopeless romantic who threw herself into any boy who gave her the time of day – those heartbreaks were the guideposts that made it clear that Zach was the partner I needed in life. He and I fight, we have slumps. He’s not super romantic at times and neither am I. But I know that he loves me and I’m never afraid of those same feelings that plagued my love life for so long. You can have them, too. Maybe I’m saying don’t give up. But if I’m honest, I think I’m saying let those heartbreaks fill the ultimate purpose: Know thyself. Learn why the hurts hit you the way they did and file that away under the: this makes me who I am category. It’s worth being seen for who you really are. It’s worth knowing love doesn’t have to cost us ourselves.

Happy Anniversary, my love, I’m glad every heartbreak led me to you.