Affirmation: "I release my expectations."
In the summer of 2018, I took a trip to LA. A mentor of mine invited me to a small showcase for some agents and managers because we both believed I might be ready for a bigger market. Earlier in the year, I'd auditioned for a manager, and it looked promising, so I jumped at the chance to be seen again. That trip shifted my life.
Before the meeting, I sat outside of the massive building where the agency was located. I sent up a prayer, feeling like I needed to nail my audition. The response I got from God: "This isn't it." I really wanted what I heard in my spirit to be a fluke, so I just kept on moving like I didn't hear it. I walked into the building with my head held high and started my audition rituals while I waited. I walked into the room, hoping that the voice I heard earlier would change His mind. I performed, but there was no magic.
I don't claim to be the best actor in the world, but when I am telling the stories I'm supposed to tell, magic happens. When I'm where I'm supposed to be, magic happens. My performance in that room was satisfactory, but there was no magic. You couldn't tell by looking at me, but I left LA devastated.
A depression set in, and it stuck around for about a month before I decided to see a therapist. This wasn't the first time I'd been depressed. It was just the first time I felt ashamed of being so devastated. It was also the first time I got fed up and sought professional help.
With that decision, I turned the page and started a new chapter of my life called self-discovery. I didn't know it at the time, but that's what happened. An audition rejection turned into a fascinating process of learning who I was, who God was, what I wanted, how to take care of myself. I started blogging a month after my first therapy session to document my journey, and it's been a mind-blowing experience.
A year later, I signed with one of the reps that were in the room on that fateful day, and two years later, I'm still on the journey.
The last few weeks I have been practicing releasing control of my life. It's one of the things I actively wrestled with God about for a year. I would let go of one area of my life while clinging to another. Or... I would let go of something that was bothering me and then pick it right back up again, not really understanding how to trust. At the beginning of 2021, I finally surrendered fully. I want to say it was because I'm super spiritual. It's not. I just got tired. Trying to control things you can't and shouldn't control is exhausting.
I let go and started enjoying my imperfect life.
This brings me to today's experience.
Last fall I auditioned for the role of Whitney Houston in the upcoming biopic about her life. I was thrilled because this was my dream role. To be honest, I thought the whole thing was a no-brainer. I look like her. Dramatic roles are my wheelhouse. I'm sure every other woman in my acting category felt the same way: THIS IS MY COME UP. I laugh about it now. To assume that any opportunity is yours is really just entitlement. But I still assumed.
I auditioned. It was fine, but there was no magic. I felt the lack of magic while I was auditioning and after the fact. I was confused about it. Prayed about it and through it, and over time I had to let it go. So, I did. I wasn't sure if the project fell through or if I wasn't the one, but I noticed the silence and moved on.
This morning I thought about Whitney and looked her up. I learned that the role was cast.
In the past, I would have pretended that it didn't bother me. I didn't pretend. I let myself be affected.
This was something that I thought I wanted.
I let myself feel.
I shed a tear.
I watched my thoughts go by.
Then as quickly as the disappointment came,
I am not kidding. That's exactly how it happened.
I was fine!
I have to take a moment to celebrate how monumental that is for me. Two years ago, it took me months to process agent/manager rejection. This morning, I learned that someone else was hired for my dream role, and I processed that thing in MINUTES. I wasn't pretending to be okay. I was actually okay.
That's the value of the work I've been doing. That's the value of taking a journey with God that I didn't even know I needed. That's the value of seeking help when I felt embarrassed. That's the value! I don't have to get stuck in my expectations. I don't have to fall apart when I don't get my way. I can feel and move on. I feel LIBERATED.
Where do I go from here? I keep releasing and moving forward. I keep creating and letting go. Remember, a year after that meeting in LA, I ended up signing with a manager that was in the room on that not-so-magical day. So, the truth is, everything that is mine finds me at the right time. I don't have to strain. I don't have to force. It finds me. I just have to be in the right place when it does.
For now, I release my expectations and just flow.
Affirmation: I keep my channel open.
So far, the greatest gift I've received this decade is learning how to keep my channel open to the Divine. The last year or so has been full of ups and downs, twists and turns. Not all of them have been bad, but I spent most of the year wrestling with the idea of letting go.
If you've followed my blog for any amount of time, you will see that it's a constant theme. That's because it's been such a constant conversation between me and God. When I got sick back in 2019, so much of it was about my stress levels and my ability to relax. God and I were in a constant state of tension over it because I wanted to figure out a solution immediately, and I wasn't getting what I wanted. He wanted me to just let go and trust. I wanted to control it and heal. Answers were coming, but I had a hard time seeing them or processing them because I was holding on way too tightly to the whole thing.
But here's the magic of last year... I also saw my family move through four months without work and come out with more than enough. I also received a whole business when I wasn't even checking for it, and my relationship continues to blossom. What did these three things have in common in my life? I was COMPLETELY unattached to their outcomes. It sounds crazy, but it's true. As obsessive as I can get about some things, there are other things I could completely care less about, and I am ALWAYS winning in those areas.
Let's take money for example. I stopped caring about money YEARS ago. I'm not kidding. I know that on some level we need it to survive, I guess. But something interesting happened to me when I launched out on my own ten-ish years ago. I started working for a company that paid me very little, like almost nothing. But I worked there because I felt like that's where I was supposed to be at the time. I reasoned that if God wanted me there, He would have to figure out a way to get me there and back (my car wasn't working at the time), and He would have to make sure my living expenses were covered. I completely let go. I budgeted the little money I did earn, took public transportation back and forth to work and rented a room. I left the rest up to Him. I figured, if I ended up on the street after doing what God wanted me to do, then He was the one that was going to look crazy, not me. I kid you not: I didn't miss a day of work. I always ate. Rent always got paid. And my pay check dates and due dates did not always line up. I had ZERO stress, even when circumstances changed on me. Fun fact: One time I was given just a few days to find another place to live, while I was pulling twelve hour shifts. I pivoted without complaint and got another place in record time.
I haven't "struggled" like that in a minute, but if I'm being honest, I wasn't struggling then. I wasn't holding on too tightly to that experience at all. The circumstance wasn't ideal. It lasted about two years, but I moved through it without strain. That season of my life taught me how to NEVER be without. Not worrying about it and doing what I believe I'm supposed to be doing has been the key to keeping that channel open. Even now, my husband and I both work in the entertainment industry. We're both freelancers. My friends with really stable jobs ask me how I'm okay with not knowing when either of us will work. I shrug and say, "God takes care of us." And He does each and every time.
Last year, I did the same thing with my career. Babay! Let me tell you... That's one area of my life I've been holding very tightly, and it just wasn't working. If I'm being honest, I don't think I even had a spiritual epiphany with that one. I just got tired of struggling with it. I let it go. I still auditioned, etc. But I let go of all outcomes and just flowed. The second I let go, ideas started pouring in. It was almost like, I was tuned into a radio station I didn't know existed and I just needed to write it all down before I forgot. It's crazy. It's not like I'm some mad scientist, sitting around and thinking up the next thing I'm going to do. It's the complete opposite. I can be taking a shower when a scene will just come to me or an idea. I literally have to try to hold the information just long enough to finish my shower and get to my computer. I whole company came out of me that way. Wow... This one is relatively new to me, so I'm still reeling from how ideas kind of overtake me. My job is to simply capture them and release them into the world. My work also feels deeply satisfying now, a feeling I haven't felt in my career in a long time. Okay, God. I see you.
My love life is the quintessential example of letting go. First of all, I met my husband when I wasn't even checking for somebody. Seriously, we laugh about it now. Neither of us was really actively looking. I'm pretty sure I was just figuring out that my crush at the time (another guy) wasn't the right move. The love of my life came when I wasn't looking. I wasn't forcing it. It's like he just dropped into my orbit. Our love is still that easy. We like each other. We laugh all the time. We talk about everything. We aren't perfect, but our love is a gift that makes my life richer. You would think I would be doing all I can to hold on tight to my good man. I'm not. lol. I can't tell you how little I'm trying to control our situation. I've literally told him to his face and some of his family members (haha) that he is always free to leave. I'm not holding him hostage. I'm in my relationship because I want to be. I only want him here if he wants to be here. The minute that it changes, he's free to go! I mean it. I'm not interested in being in something I have to control like that. For all that, I might as well be alone: less stress.
I say all this to say, that I realize each department of my life is like a channel. If I want to stay open to the good that's trying to get to me, I have to be open. That means, releasing expectations, being okay with not knowing, and moving when I feel compelled to move. Fear, worry, and control only get in the way and block the channel trying to get good to me. I'm not perfect, but I'm soooo happy to be in a space where I am finally keeping my health channel open. I look forward to sharing all the good that comes through it.
Affirmation: "Suffering makes me stronger."
On Christmas Eve, I was sitting in an Urgent Care waiting room, trying not to cry. I couldn't move my neck without feeling pressure in my head. On top of that, I kept feeling like I was disoriented. I just wanted relief.
Twenty minutes later, I learned that I had vertigo.
Three days later, I learned that a root issue was weak muscles in the neck.
I had to start rebuilding that part of my body.
First of all, I am seriously abbreviating this story because we don't have the time. But I will say that it was a journey of learning how to "allow" (sounds familiar?) the process to unfold, pray for answers, and quietly listen to my spirit to know how to move. Answers came little by little until I had an actionable plan to move forward. I am thankful.
The biggest lesson I got out of this adventure is learning how to SUFFER. Americans and people of faith have a hard time with that word. For a long time, I had a hard time with that word. The second we feel an uncomfortable experience, we are looking for the exit sign. But, what I've learned through this particular experience is that pain is not a bad thing. Pain tells us something. Without pain, we don't know when our bodies are sick. Without pain, we don't know that our souls are broken. We need all sensations to know how we are really doing. You may be able to fool the outside world, but you can't lie to pain. It's honest. It's necessary. And NOBODY wants it.
As a matter of fact, I set up my entire life to avoid suffering. I had one painful experience in high school that made me tighten up and start protecting myself. I did it for years. Living open but not really. Free but not really. Creative but only where I felt safe. I said I trusted God, but I didn't. It was a small and suffocating experience.
I decided to move through this particular experience differently. I wouldn't avoid the pain. I would simply move through it. I wasn't trying to end the pain anymore. I was determined to HEAL. Actually, heal. So, my game plan was to cry every time I felt like crying, do my physical training exercises, start reintroducing my routine to my system little by little, do some soul healing work (that's a whole other post), and let myself be uncomfortable. Yes, I gave myself breaks when necessary. I wasn't trying to stress myself out. But I was trying to work on the parts of my system that needed strengthening. To do that, I had to intentionally make myself uncomfortable to retrain my system. It's been a wild experience.
I've made more progress with this particular healing than any other experience, and ironically, I'm recovering faster.
Here's what I now know:
1. There is suffering that comes because of our bad choices, and we should take responsibility for that. But there is a suffering that happens just because life sucks sometimes. We can't avoid it. The sooner we make peace with that truth, the sooner we can learn from the experiences that hurt.
2. I have to LISTEN to my feelings. Emotions are there for a reason. They are there to tell me what's right or wrong. I now sit with them. Express them. Listen to what they are trying to say. That's how I get to know what's really going on in my heart. I now journal with tears streaming down my face, unapologetically.
3. I can keep living my life as I heal from what ails me. I don't always have to make a hard stop.
4. Suffering has an expiration date. No hard time lasts forever. Correction, no acknowledged hard time lasts forever. If I keep pretending to be okay when I'm not, that's when I get stuck in it. Suffering isn't a dirty word. Suppression is. And I'm not the one to determine the expiration date. It ends when it ends. I'm simply focused on the process of healing and let God figure the rest out.
5. Suffering makes me stronger. I've ALWAYS come out of hard experiences okay. If I'm being honest, I become a whole BEAST after making it out of a hard time. It took me a long time to notice the pattern, but now that I know it, I can use it to my advantage.
I don't avoid experiences anymore. I am open to the journey God has for me without resistance. I choose to move through each experience like water and come out on the other side STRONGER.