the MIRREN LEE

The 2012 Act Three Journey of an Actress/Coach/Writer.

Posts Tagged ‘new year’

Day 364 Blame the Lizards

Posted by themirrenlee on 01/01/2013

I’ve really messed up the numbering for my goal of posting every day. Yesterday was really 365, but I didn’t realize in the beginning that every post would be counted – duh – so that I have more numbers than days of the year, but some are random from the every day challenge.

I’ve been thinking and pondering and wondering what I should do next, format wise. I still have writing projects to finish that require the dedication I’ve given to my daily post. But should I still commit to do that daily for the discipline?

January first is the quietest day in Australia, which is why it’s my favorite. People are usually so wrecked from partying the night before that all you can hear are headaches and snoring.

David and Katie combined a barbeque with David doing movie/comic book podcasts, so I had to apologize to the guests for not being social. It’s a big day for me to retreat and plan what I’m going to do next.

Unfortunately, my brain is as screwed up as my post numbers, and I have reached no conclusions.

Therefore, I will leave you with the latest score:
Lizards still 3 Cat 1,427

The carnage is starting to get to me.

It’s affecting my ability to think.

Why don’t the lizards fight back?

I’m just feelin’ confused on many levels …

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Day 6 What Defines You?

Posted by themirrenlee on 06/01/2012

What defines you?

Your work, your relationship, parenthood, your hobbies, your beliefs, even your addictions can make up who you feel you are.  So you might say, “I’m a lawyer, a husband/wife, a father/mother of 3, a movie buff, a smoker and a Christian.”

Ways in which you define yourself are often the areas that people look at when making resolutions for a fresh start, especially at the start of a new year.  They might say, “I’m going to quit my job, get a divorce, leave my kids, stop going to the movies, give up smoking and relinquish my faith.”  Of course, most people don’t go to that extreme in one hit, and nor should you!  If you give up everything that defines you in one fell swoop, then as my counsellor once said, that way lies psychosis.  You have no idea who you are or your place in the world, and you can suffer an existential breakdown.

What is interesting, though, is giving up just one part of what you define as who you are can really tear a hole in your psyche.  For instance, we’ve all heard the stories of people who lose their jobs not knowing then how to redefine their identities.  If you’ve done the same thing all your life, especially if you’ve been respected for it, then losing it can be very traumatic.  It not only involves a loss, it may also involve a change as you look for something else to do if the previous identity door is now closed to you.  My post on change talks about how scary it is for many people.

The thing is, changing what defines you is often a good thing.  Addictions spring to mind first, of course.  There is a school of thought that says when dealing with an addiction the best way to get on the path to breaking it is first to stop making it part of your identity.  So you would say, “I smoke,” not, “I’m a smoker,” because then you’re identifying a habit you’d like to break, not making it part of what defines your identity.

Maybe you’re in a job/relationship/whatever that isn’t good for you or doesn’t make you happy.  Then it would be a good thing to look at how you want to redefine some areas.  The only change I would say you’re not allowed to make is being a parent.  Back to my post on choices.  You chose it, your kid(s) didn’t.  Don’t add to the misery of bad childhoods and missing parents.  Step up to the plate and suck it up.  You’re not happy as a parent?  Too bad.  Make it work through the choices you make.

As for the other defining areas, my interest in writing and pondering about them comes from my own big changes this year.  Since I was a preschooler, I defined myself as an actress.  My nickname was Sarah Bernhardt (look it up).  It’s all I ever wanted to do.  I came to Australia at 18 years old after years of acting classes – I had my first Method class at the age of 9!  (On reflection, not that wise because what 9 year can draw on emotional memory effectively?  But I digress.)

I worked on TV in Australia and found out my theater training hadn’t prepared me for it, so I went back to Los Angeles and onto England (with my son I had at 16 in tow – more on that later) for further training.  Somewhere along the way I found I had a gift for teaching, and in my 20s that’s what I started doing.  I started with actors, then moved into business and psychology based courses and soon, before I knew it, even though I was still doing some acting, I had defined myself in my own, and everyone else’s, eyes as primarily a teacher.  Or the term I prefer to use is coach because I feel I coach people to go out on the field of life and win at whatever it is I taught them.  At the beginning of the new Millennium I started coaching actors in the American dialect for the U.S. productions that are made down here.  Somehow, that mushroomed and now I’m defined primarily in that role.  I am a voice teacher first, an accent/dialect coach second, but being known for my dialect coaching led people to ask me if I knew a good voice teacher!  You have to watch out for how narrow those definitions of you can get.

I was in long term relationships 4 times, but I found you’re not identified as a “wife” until you actually get married.  I hate that term with its baggage of pre feminist roles, and always used the word partner.  But I was still defined as someone’s other half.  I found it hilarious that when we spoke of our friends, my partner at the time and I would say things like, “Is that Sam of Sam and Susie, or Sam of Sam and Rebecca?” Defining the partnerships instead of the individual people.  Now I am divorced, but have been so for 20 years, so I’m not really defined that way anymore.  Now I’m defined as alone.  Interestingly, so many people seem to think that is a bad thing, but I found that after years of being the other half of someone else, I love now being the complete whole of myself.  It was no one’s fault, either.  I just wasn’t very good at keeping myself well defined and intact when merged with someone else.

I am a mother of 2, and was a single mother at 16, which was a far bigger deal in 1967 than it is now.  My son was defined as the only child in his class with a single parent – today it’s as common as not getting married.

I’m known as a reader because I read constantly – it isn’t just a hobby to me, it’s a source of creative input and emotional solace.  I also believe the answers to all life’s questions are in books!

So I have all of these aspects of what defines me, plus, of course, many others, just as you do.  This year, for me, part of the changes I want to bring to my life is to change some of my definitions.  I want to be more of an actress and less of a coach, for instance.  I want to live in a different place, meet some new creative people, and finish my many writing projects (finally) so that I can truly define myself as a writer as well.

So that’s why I ask, ‘What defines you?’  It’s a very good question to ask yourself as we start 2012.  Do you know all the answers or are you confused about your identity?  It’s hard to live a life satisfied with what you have if you don’t know whether or not it’s what you want!  Or maybe you do know the answers, and you’d like to change some things.  You’ll be a lot happier if you do, even if it seems hard and scary at first.  Finally, maybe it’s a question you’ve thought a lot about and are perfectly satisfied with where you are in life and with what you’re doing.  But, frankly, I doubt it.  From my years of coaching experience, I found that most people don’t question or examine their lives enough, for fear of what action they might have to take – those scary ol’ words “change” and “choice” start poking their heads up and asking for attention.

It’s a new year.  Is it also going to be (maybe at least partly) a new you?

I’m just askin’ …

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Day 4 Change

Posted by themirrenlee on 04/01/2012

Change.

Without change, we’d still be sitting in caves waiting for someone to invent fire.

And yet so many people are afraid of the very concept of change.  It’s a huge area of concern for organizations, especially nowadays when change is so constant in so many areas, both large and small.  I used to teach courses in how to handle change, and it’s a subject that really brings out the fear in people.

Susan Jeffers says in her book, “How to Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway,” that all fear comes from the idea that you “won’t be able to handle it”, whatever “that” is.  Even when we tell a loved one to be careful, what we’re really saying is that if anything happens to them we won’t be able to handle it.  One of her techniques for curing fear is to move your thresholds, in any area of your life.  For instance, if you’ve never spent more than $30 on an item of clothing, then spend $50 and move your boundaries.  The same idea applies to handling things.  If you’ve never been able to handle change, then start making small ones and move your boundaries further.  I have asked people in my classes to simply change the routine they go through when they first walk through the door of their houses upon arriving home.  Many of them say they then lose their keys!  However, the underlying idea is a good one because if it feels uncomfortable then you probably need to do it.  Our physical memory is our strongest memory, but it can be changed with practice.  Move where you put your coffee cups and see what happens the next time you go to reach for one!  But once you get used to the new routine, you’ll find that a neural pathway is created in your brain, your physical memory kicks in and you find the new routine, well … routine.

This time of year is my favorite because it’s all about change, fresh starts, new horizons.  As an Aquarian, it’s in my personality to like change anyway, according to astrology, and I certainly live up to that expectation.  I have made resolutions involving changes in the areas of my health, my professional life, and where I’m going to live – just for starters.  It’s so exciting.  As an optimist, I always presume that the changes will be good ones, especially after the last year, which was not a great one for me.  However, I have decided that it was a learning year, a seeding year, and that’s why it was hard.  I’ll be able to go into this year with a lot more experience, wisdom and knowledge, all gained from the pain and difficulties endured last year.

Everyone needs to embrace change, and express it.  That’s what makes society progress and, hopefully, improve.  If you fear change, don’t worry, there’s good news: you CAN change that fear if you work hard enough, commit hard enough to getting comfortable with it.  As Yoda said, “There is no try, only do.”  As someone else said, “Try to get out of that chair.  You can’t try.  You either CAN get out of it or you can’t.”  So don’t try, just do.  It’s important.  For you.  For society.  Because a lot needs changing.  And it needs all of us to do it.

I’m so excited about this coming year.  I hope you are, too.  If not, because you’re afraid of what changes might be coming, stop and take a look at what bad changes you can prevent in your life, and what good changes you can start making.  Get excited about your life.  That can only make you happier, and when everybody is happier 2012 can’t help but be a better year for everyone.  It all starts with just a little change.

I’m just sayin’ …

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